Three Colleges


Primitive Methodism was from the beginning concerned with ‘education’. John Wesley had always encouraged his preachers to read and study and the Primitive Methodists did the same, largely at the instigation of Hugh Bourne.

As the 19th century progressed and congregations became more knowledgeable and sophisticated they demanded better educated ministers. The need for a more professional approach and a formal programme of ministerial training became evident. It now became necessary not only to provide teaching for converts, but for members and their children so both ministers and congregations began to demand more specialised training. Primitive Methodism was anxious to provide a good thorough education in the context of sound religious teaching for its young people and so the Connexion embarked the three colleges.

Elmfield College, York 1864 – 1932

The Elmfield estate in York  1863 was chosen as the first site and the 1863 Conference agreed to ‘The Establishment of a Connexional Jubilee School’, the property was purchased and the deeds drawn up. Samuel Antliff became the Secretary and the Rev. John Petty was appointed as the first Governor, with his wife as the Matron. Elmfield lives on as part of Ashville College, Harrogate.


The Ladies College, Clapham, 5 The Cedars, Clapham, London 1874-1881 or 1887

The rules in 1863 for Elmfield College restricted entry to boys only. Pressure grew for some educational opportunity to be provided for girls. The very idea of secondary or middle-class education for girls was quite adventurous as although there were schools for the daughters of non-conformist parents most of these were privately run and The Ladies College as planned by Primitive Methodism was to be a Connexional Institution. In 1876 William Rowe was appointed Governor and Secretary and he remained so throughout its existence with his wife as the Lady Principal.

Primitive Methodist Boys School, Bourne College in Quinton, Birmingham 1876-1928

Initially a property was found at Summer Hill; Mr. R.G. Heys. B.A. was appointed as Headmaster, and the College, opened its doors to the first students in January 1876. The College moved to a larger site in Quinton which opened in 1882, T.J.S. Hooson, B.A., aged nearly 21, was appointed as its one and only Headmaster.

Bourne College

A full description of the Colleges can be downloaded by clicking the image below:

Three Colleges Cover