Brookfield Agricultural School

Like a scene from a crafted German Expression film the old Brookfield school twists and slants in so many bizarre angles it is a wonder a single wall still stands.

I pass the old Brookfield school two or three times per week but never had time to give it much of an explore. Situated between Lisburn and Moira the Friends Agricultural School as it was also known opened at Brookfield in 1836.

The Clock Tower

[box]Click on a photo to view it larger on flickr. The full set of urban decay photos can be viewed on flickr.[/box]

As we passed tonight the current resident of the headmaster’s house was out and we sought permission to photograph around the old school.

Brookfield School Maypole

Taking the necessary warnings and limits to the visit onboard we ventured in to the small outside area surrounding the old school. The old school is in such a state of decay it would have been an act of madness to enter.


Unlike my visit to Hilden Mill / Barbour Threads there was a real sense that if the wind was to blow a particular direction this building was ready to concede.

The building has also been the victim of vandals and our kind guide recalled that the fire brigade were needed a few years back when someone lit a fire inside one of the old halls.

The Boys' Quarters

Built in 1836 Brookfield School was a Quaker Boarding school for abandoned children not necessarily from the Quaker denomination. The boarding school catered for 11-15 year olds educating and schooling the boys in a range of agricultural duties.

The old Dining Hall

The school formally closed in 1922 and despite some attempts to revive it as a private boarding school it was eventually sold in 1930 to a local farmer and used for a variety of purposes for a short time after this date. A total of 1624 are returned as having been pupils at the school during the period it remained open. A copy of the Register is now in the Public Record Office.

Dining Hall

In 2012 there really isn’t anything left and I would go as far as to say there has been significant decay in the last year or two (See : Abandoned Friends).

(Click to view larger).

[box]The original photo is from an article entitled “Brookfield School, Moira” by G.R. Chapman on the Craigavon Historical Society Website. [/box]

Some of the original farm machinery still remains although it is difficult to identify the rusted remains.

The sun was particularly high in the sky creating shadows on the already twisted building that exaggerated the subsiding walls and tower.

Brookfield School built in 1836

Equipped with the X-Pro1 I decided to use the wide (18mm) lens and close quarters to draw on the geometric anomalies. The conversion to mono also acts to hide the detail provided by the sun and allows the shadow lines to add to the visual confusion.

Like Hilden Mill, it is sad that these buildings of such historical importance are left to the elements. It won’t be too many more years until they are completely forgotten.

You can view the full set of urban decay photos on flickr.


  1. Thanks for posting photos. I wondered about conditions. Great grandmother & great great grandmother attended, as well as their siblings. Not for abandoned children. A boarding school originally for Quaker members, and later for those who were no longer Quaker members. I am not sure it was always a happy life.


  2. Thank you for this posting. So may ghosts. Am doing a brief listing / history of agricultural education in the UK and Brookfield is the earliest institution I can find offering agricultural training.

  3. I have just found out William Warburton DAVIDSON who was Superintendent here until he retired in 1900, is in my family tree!!!. He had taught there for 40 years. I have been looking for the DAVIDSON’s for 36 years! His 2 sisters (one, my gggrmth) came to Sydney Australia in 1850’s! Wonderful – thanks so much for photos. Barbara

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David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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