The Reality Of St Bede’s In The 1950s & 1960s

People recently have been remarking on the language used in my blog postings and how it offends some and puts them off attaching to my ideas.  Well I feel very sorry for having offended their honourable dignities but feel that I do not really want to attach myself to those whose dissonance makes them so sensitive.  For come on now, we are talking here of grown religious men sticking their fully engorged pricks up small still forming arseholes with all the blood, shite, pain, clerical cum and mental stress that ensues from this act.

Myself and the Venerable Helen sat up last night discussing such and although Helen is very squeamish, she thought it right that I use words closer to the point than the words we read in newspapers and books that tend to soften the blow to the readers eyes and generally soften up everything around this most grievous and horrific of acts.  This softening of processes makes it easier for the reader to pass over the subject without emotion being stirred.

However for me and over the last four years since picking up this cudgel the emotion that swells up in my body is so great, I feel I need to use the words with the most punch and if I feel that fuck, cock, arse, shagged, cunt, prick, words that I have used recently, best describe the message, so I will use them.  We have to get across to the general reader the horror being raped is to the victim and in this instance pretty words do not come into the equation.  So I will continue, if you like, to shock the poor reader, if only to stir them out of the languor most people exist in, to shake them into reality.

So to introduce these languorous masses to reality. I have decided to tell the story of one victim, one survivor, of the abuse suffered by so many children at the hands of Monsignor Thomas Duggan at St Bede’s College in Manchester.  I am able to tell this story which is as bad as any experience I have heard because of the idiocy of the Court system whereby this boy’s experience was thrown out by the lawyers because of the Statute of Limitations which states that any abuse committed before August 1954 is not allowed and nobody so far as the ability or the wherewithal to challenge this idiocy.

The subject of this story is about 74 years of age now and for the purposes of this story we will call him John.  He entered the last year of Prep in September 1950 from St Cuthbert’s School in Withington.  He now lives in the Antipodes.  In that last year of Prep he had some very chilling moments with Fr Bernard Rylands, the head of Prep which did not go any farther than furtive touching and watching as he changed for swimming and PE.  John did not know why he should feel uncomfortable, he was only 10 but he knew it was wrong and he eventually chose to avoid these situations, ducking classes but telling nobody.

Later in that Autumn term of 1950, John started to get sent up to Monsignor Duggan, the Rector of the College, on a regular basis. He recognises now that Rylands must have been pimping for Duggan.  He remembers the long walk from the Prep, across Wellington Road and the playground of the Main School, down Our Lady’s Corridor and up the stairs to the 1st floor study.  Even now after 63 years he can remember the study, the furniture, the smells of the room.  Nothing happened that first meeting, Duggan just warned him about his behaviour and sent him on his way. But not long afterwards, John was once again sent up to Duggan, this time the atmosphere was more intense.  Duggan told him to remove his trousers and underpants, he was sat in his armchair and he pulled the naked John over his knees and began to rub his hands over the young boy’s arse, long, gentle strokes followed by a squeeze of the buttocks.  This went on for several minutes and then Duggan told John to put his clothes on and go.  John was totally confused.  This man who had been massaging him was the next thing to God and John had not then reached puberty and so did not understand.

In the following Spring of 1951, John was back up with Duggan again and the same scenario, stroking and kneading of John’s backside.  Duggan said “if I warm up your bottom like this the spanking won’t hurt as much” and then his hand slipped down John’s arse and started to caress his bollocks, this went on for a long time until Duggan took hold of John’s prick and began, caressing it, stroking and squeezing it.  By this time John was totally alarmed, he could not understand the situation but he knew it was wrong, but Duggans grip was strong.  Eventually with John still struggling, Duggan gave his arse a beating with the palm of his hand and told him to get dressed and go.

That night John decided to tell his father what had happened. He was too embarrassed to tell his mother, but he knew both parents, who were both strong Catholics, loved him and would protect him.  John’s father was furious, not with Duggan but with his son for telling such lies.  So strong was his faith he could not accept a priest would do such a thing and gave John another hiding for telling lies.  He doubly hit him for first of all being so naughty to be sent up to the Rector and then again for telling lies and told him never to repeat that filth in front of his mother.

Following that third occasion and for the rest of the term and into the Summer term of 1951, John was sent up to Duggan by Rylands between four and six times and on these occasions he was raped by Duggan.  On each occasion the preliminaries were as before, trousers and underpants off and Duggan would proceed to fondle John’s buttocks, thighs, bollocks and prick, trying to relax the taut muscles in the boy’s backside.  Sometimes he was over his knee, sometimes stood up but bent over while Duggan held him close and toyed with John’s prick.  As John was bent over he could feel Duggan rubbing something against the cheeks of his arse, he only later realised it was Duggan’s fully engorged cock.  Duggan was groaning and spewing out his semen, he would then wrap his cock in a small towel after he had finished and turning his back tell John to go.

Sometimes John struggled but soon learnt that the harder he struggled the bigger the beating he got.  John was now starting to feel complicit in this abuse, his prick was starting to become erect as Duggan tried to masturbate him and has he realised the less struggle the less beating, he stopped resisting.

He joined the Main School in September 1951 and his new form teacher was doing the same as Rylands, as though he was under orders.  Every few weeks he was sent up to Duggan with the same resulting performance.  John started to withdraw into himself. He had no friends, his school work was suffering and in September 1952 and John still only 12 years old, he was sent up again to Duggan for some homework misdemeanour.  Duggan told John to remove his clothes and bend over the arm of a Chesterfield couch.  Duggan stood behind him as usual and began his warming up exercises but there was more of an urgency this time.  He had hold of the tail of Johns shirt and had it pulled up to his shoulders, John braced himself for a beating but he felt a new sensation something hard was pushing up into the cleft of his buttocks and against the tautness of his arse and it took him a while to realise it was Duggan’s cock.  It was an aggressive approach not like the tenderness of before and John was off guard.  John reacted by tightening his buttock muscles and Duggan kept kicking John’s legs further apart. John was pleading with him to stop but Duggan managed to break John’s resistance, his cock tearing into the boy’s small clenched anus in a moment of unbearable pain.  John screamed with Duggan ordering him to silence, the pain continued as Duggan thrust himself time and again into the young boys body, eventually climaxing and quickly pulling his cock from the boy with the same pain.

Duggan produced a towel and used it to wipe the blood, shit and cum issuing from the young boy’s arse and told him to get dressed and get back to class.  He was now in a permanent state of pain with every movement and Duggan told him he was lucky to get away without a good hiding.  John went home and as he crossed Fog Lane Park he went into bushes and removed his underpants, which were full of shit and blood and some greasy liquid, buried them and then went home telling nobody of his ordeal.

A few days later on 17th September 1952, a date etched in his mind, a teacher told John to go and see Duggan the following morning.  He was in a daze he could take no more, so on the way home at the tender age of 12, he decided to take his own life, he had been told that by stepping in front of a bus he would be killed.  So on Wilmslow Road in Fallowfield on 17th September 1952, this 12 year old kid did just that.  Even the bus driver thought he had killed him, but John was lucky, he had multiple injuries, his legs had been torn to shreds.  He was taken to Withington Hospital in a coma where he remained for some days, his legs in plaster and in traction.

After coming out of the coma the nurses brought John news that the Rector was outside waiting to speak to him.  John became so distressed he flailed about in the bed and half fell out wrecking the traction equipment and the careful plaster encasing his legs.  Duggan was asked to leave and the nurses soon realised that John had broken most of the stitching in his legs, back for emergency surgery but his right foot never came right and to this day he still has the scars and troubles with the big toe of his right foot.  His mother found half the big toe in his sock days after the operation when they gave her his soiled clothes to wash.

John was in hospital for three months before being allowed back to school on crutches, he had to give up sport, and again Duggan called for him.  He was terrified his scars were just healing but with the sight of the erect cock jamming up his arse, he looked around grabbed a book and hit Duggan where it was sure to hurt and they both fell on the floor, Duggan lost his grip and John grabbed his clothes and ran from the room, pulling his trousers on as he ran and went straight home.  When John’s dad came home that night he could see his son was in obvious distress and eventually the story came out and this time he believed him and he told his son to return to school, stay out of Duggan’s way and he would sort it.  And he did and he secured a meeting with Bishop Marshall and Duggan a few days later.

John was called out of class to meet his father who had been crying, the Bishop and told him that he believed Duggan’s story and not John’s and that also John would have to leave St Bede’s.  According to lads who contacted John afterwards, the following morning Geoff Burke, the headmaster, called an assembly of all pupils and told them that John had been dismissed from the school for bringing it into disrepute.  John went to St Mary’s School in Levenshulme, a senior school of a local parish church.  This was in the days before comprehensives and he sat out his time there, taking no examinations and leaving school at 15 in the hope of picking up some job or other.

His father was a broken man that day and slowly deteriorated and died five years later at the age of 50.  Duggan himself went from strength to strength abusing and shagging kids for another 10 or 12 years.  John from a child became an argumentative young man, always in fights at work and could not keep a job for any length of time.  He eventually ended up in Australia, married a gem of a woman, a school teacher, but again his temper stopped him time and again in the job market.  His wife could not understand the underlying weaknesses in her husband, he never told her of his ordeal until in late 2011 when I eventually persuaded him to sit her down and tell everything after 40 years of marriage.  She now knew why he would never have kids, he did not want them destroyed like he was.  She wrote me a remarkable letter thanking me for my persistence, I hold it dearly to this day and it is my motivator when times get hard with this fucking bunch of shite that calls itself the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

John and his wife now live happily in the full knowledge of each other, their bliss only marred by the stupid Statute of Limitations and the inanity of British Law.

28 thoughts on “The Reality Of St Bede’s In The 1950s & 1960s

  1. I had tears rolling down my face when I read this, and I’d heard his story before. This is why your blog is so important Paul. I sincerely hope those people who have put you down over the years read this post and finally understand why it has been so important for these poor victims to have a voice. It’s simply horrific and people really do need to wake up to the reality that this kind of rape and abuse of children is endemic and at the core of our society.

    It’s not just about this single school. Pedophilia is at the heart of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the House of Windsor and every institutional organisation. People find this very hard to believe, but it has become utterly clear to me that this truly is the case and often it’s even worse than rape – horrific murders of children in Satanic ritual abuse (see

    Bravo, Paul. It’s a horrible subject, but it must be faced off if we ever going to get through this shameful part of human history.

  2. Imagine sitting face to face with this man, listening to every word, video recording the testimony to relay the words to the entire world. Then imagine asking him…

    “So why are you telling us this now? Are you doing it for the money?”

    Then imagine picking up a hefty pay packet financed by us, the victims of this horror.

    We are a nation of idiots

    1. I’m not sure what you are trying to say here Danny. Perhaps for those of us who are verging on senility you might explain. Are you saying the BBC are a bunch of bastards. If so I would like to hear it from everybody, do not veil your thoughts in mystique. Tell it as you find it

  3. If you refuse to pay your TV license fee there is a small, but by no means improbable chance that you will be taken to court and fined. Three things…

    a) It is worth £1000 to have your day in court.
    b) I, Daniel Malpas promise to pay the fine of anyone found guilty of refusing to pay their TV license, assuming you have made clear your intentions to the licensing department already.
    c) By continuing to pay your license fee, you are contravening* Section 15(3) of the 2000 Terrorism Act (

    Anyone up for a little fun?

    *Apologies for the source but they were the only MSM agency to cover it, I think!

  4. Paul, It’s about time that stuff like this was made available to the public. It brings the reality home far more clearly than the usual veiled references to “abuse” in the newspapers can ever do.

    It will certainly shock most people, which can only be a good thing. If it shocks some of the catholic clergy enough to make them understand the human cost of clerical abuse, it might even begin to change attitudes in high places.

    I can see that your being so direct might upset some people, but if you want to change the world for the better sometimes you have to rock the boat.

    You have my full support.

  5. To all:

    As a P. S. to the above

    A number of people have, in various postings, as well as myself, asked one simple question. Why the silence from the MEN?

    Rather than wait for anybody else to do so (feel free if you wish to do so yourself), I sent an e-mail to the Editor today, pointing out their code of Omerta regarding Bede’s and abuse is somewhat inconsistent, compared with other similar cases, fully reported in the paper. Is it because there are no celebrities involved, no column space because of current abuse case reporting or, more sinisterly, because it’s Bede’s?

    In the words of the unlamented Thatcher Apologista hack, the late John Junor, “I think we should be told”.

    I await a reply. Watch this space.

  6. I am Rick Merrin’s sister living in BC, Canada… there is so much I could say and comment on. I feel so sick about so much. I myself am 12 years younger than my brother and grew up in a different generation, experienced all the goodness of the church as such in and out of school. My faith as such due to positive experiences is strong but I have struggled for years with the politics, the misuse of power within the church. My husband is a family therapist who has worked for 20 years with victims of First Nation residential schools here and also with the fallout of the man who was called Bishop Hubert O’Connor.. Due to legal restraints I am not in a position to purposefully do anything to assist my brother and others who went through these appalling arocities but I WILL speak up and out when I can. May I refer you all to a remarkable woman called Syvia who has tracked these criminals in her own effort to help cleanse our church as such.
    There is a Canadian journalist called Linden MacIntyre who wrote a brilliant book called The Bishop’s Man. When accepting the Giller Prize for Literature a few years back he said the award went to all those priests and religious who were the “good” ones who had also been betrayed by this evil. My heart goes out to my brave brother whom I love so much and feel so much for.

  7. Thank you Paul for telling your readers some of my experiences in the 1950’s at the infamous St Bede’s College. Duggan has haunted me all my life. Stepping in front of a bus at the age of 12 trying to rid yourself of the horrors of Duggan is a constant vision that is my endless companion even 62 years later. I had the misfortune to look down and see the mess I had made of my body, before I passed out. That picture is with me every day too.You kindly mention my wife, without whom I would have been a basket case many long years ago. I still find it hard to believe no one else from my Prep class of September 1950 has not come forward with similar evidence. The hardest thing for me to bear, and it still leaves me cold and distraught to this very day is the fact my father did not believe me the first time I told him. I know that he carried that burden to his early grave, a truly broken man. If readers have any questions for me and Paul approves, I will answer them as best I can. Paul, maybe its time for me to use my proper first name? There were 9 or 10 of us in that first class , out of 23, that shared the same Christian name.

    1. Thank you Peter from Queensland in Australia. I cried with every word I read. Another brave man. Good luck Peter and give my love to your wife.

  8. Brilliant article Paul – a copy should be sent to the Vatican !!!!!!!!!!!! and they should be forced to name every evil sadistic cleric that they well know about !!!!!!!!!!

  9. Paul, I have asked a blog called “Clerical Whispers” to have a look at this, it needs a wider audience. I know that the Managing Editor of the MEN, is one of yours, what is wrong with him, why no campaign, is someone leaning on him?

    I am so glad I didn’t pass my 11 plus back in 1957.

    1. Well 1221 people have read it in two and half days since I published it, I think Clerical Whispers is a little too polite to publish without changes being made but thanks for the thought.
      O’Neal and ace cub reporter Keegan, he who took five months to write a 500 word article have a fair shout at MEN, both Bedians, there may be more, tossers seem to piss in the same pot.
      You were the luckiest lad alive when you failed your 11+ in 1957, you could have joined me in hell.

  10. To Ancoats Man, from a Newton Heath Man:

    I’m afraid the Managing Director is not the only Old Bedian on the MEN payroll. A certain reporter who wrote a story regarding abuse at the Alma Mater in March 2011 was of the same ilk.

    I’ve asked the News Editor himself (by e-mail) regarding this somewhat glaring omission, since the story appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times on 12 January and also on BBC 10 o’clock News on Friday 31 January.

    If that doesn’t rate the story as newsworthy, I don’t know what does.

    I await the MEN response.

  11. To all:

    One further week on, 11 days and counting since my e-mail to the local rag, and still silence from the MEN, without even the decency of a reply to an honest request. Busy doing nothing at the Factory?

    Furthermore Ace Reporter Mr Keegan (ex-Bedian, no less), who first ‘broke’ the Bede’s abuse story almost three years ago, was so busy with work, he was able to pen a missive concerning the fate of a certain team who were unable to beat another certain time at football this week.

    I’m afraid his prose has not improved in three years, sadly it’s still as turgid and uninspiring as ever. Must try harder.

  12. To all:

    Excuse my mistake in the last posting, for ‘time’ in the second para, read team.

    My excuse is I was so bored reading the article on said footy match I almost fell asleep posting this blog, hence the mistake.

    Once saving grace – at least the rag has a decent cryptic crossword. ‘Nuff said.

  13. I have been extremely shocked by Rick Merrin’s experiences and others unknown to me. We both played for the First XI football team, and I had no idea what was going on, as Rick was always cheerful, good to have around, and wasn’t a bad keeper. I think he was what was called a “Church student”, but I always told him hell would freeze over if he made the priesthood.

    I thought Duggan was strange (as did everybody), and Mullholland was downright perverse. His 1st Juniors football team hardly won a game, whilst the 2nd Juniors hardly lost one, including the one at the end of season when we challenged the 1st and beat them convincingly 3-0. I wonder why they were not as good as us?

    There were some brilliant teachers who did make things worthwhile. But after having left Bede’s, and long before these scandals came to light, my overwhelming impression was that Duggan’s era cast a pall of joyless gloom about the place.

    I can understand why Rick and others were silent. But I can not understand how the good priests and good lay-teachers knew nothing.

    I have lived in Yorkshire for a long time. I always tell them (the Yorkies) I am doing missionary work. If it helps I would love to see Rick again, as I assume he lives not too far away over the border.

  14. To: Eric Barlow

    Please read my posting in later blog re Bede’s dated February 2014. I was a Johnny-come-lately who only had to endure two years of TD’s Reign of Terror (1964/66).

    I can assure you that students in my year never once mentioned TD’s abuses of students, I kept in contact with classmates for over a decade after leaving Bede’s, the subject was never mentioned once.

    A plausible explanation for my and other fellow students of the 1964 intake having total ignorance of TD’s antics was that by the time of our arrival, he had ceased abusing students, eventually being fired off to the back of beyond i.e. Langho, a place about as geographically far away as possible from Whalley Range, whilst still remaining in the Diocese of Salford.

    I repeat, I don’t think it’s fair to tar all the teachers with the same brush and assume they all knew what was going on, but did nothing about it. I’d suspect the dog-collar wearers who were located at the Alma Mater had more of an idea of what was going on, that seems a fairly logical supposition.

    I think the Finger of Suspicion might better be directed towards some of the clergy, including the deceased ones, about to be cited in the soon-to-be-heard court cases.

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