Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


For an article about Blackpool Grammar School written by the ex-pupil & broadcaster, Alistair Cooke (1908-2004) click here.


  Some of us just can't believe it

WHEN old students of Blackpool Grammar School gather at the end of this month to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its Opening some of them just won't believe it.

It simply can't be 50 years, they will say, since they transferred from the old Pupil Teachers' Centre in a top room of the Winter Gardens to the fine new school in Raikes-parade just as it can't be over 32 years since I passed out of the portals as a schoolboy for the last time.

But it is.
Ah. well—it's worth the pang to look back to those
Sweet boyhood days. that were as long
As twenty days are now.


The Grammar School has an odd history. One might almost say that it happened because the Town Council couldn't make up its mind.

The council secured the land in Raikes parade with the idea of establishing a technical school - and then dithered. While it was dithering somebody had the bright idea of combining it with a secondary school, then quite a new departure, and of adding to it the "pupil teachers" who gathered for instruction in the top room aforesaid under the redoubtable Joseph Turral, BA. a man destined to leave his mark on Blackpool.

The combination explalns why parts of the school were equipped for technical instruction, and why, for many years. it was familiarly referred to in the vernacular as "Blackpool Tec" or "Blackpool Sec" indiscriminately. It was, remarkably, not until 1933 that it became officially "Blackpool Grammar School."

In its 50 years the Grammar School has had only two headmasters. Mr. Turral retired in 1933. Dr. E. Benson, his successor retired last year. The school awaits the coming of its new head, the Rev. H. M. Luft. of Merchant Taylors. Crosby. Mr. Turral, dynamic, spectacular and lovable, will live in the memory of all his pupils and become a legend to their children. Dr. Benson, a more retiring personality, has nevertheless worked wonders in most difficult times.

When the school opened under Mr. Turral it had 120 pupils and seven teachers. At one period during the war, under Dr. Benson. it shared the building with the evacuated High School for Boys. Manchester. and also accommodated the hosts of other evacuees for whom its services were required. and the total was actually over 700. Yet the standard never fell.

I never knew the school without the girls, who left in 1925 for the new Collegiate School. The fun and charm of their presence was something which succeeding generations missed...but this is an historical, not a romantic article. Yet the influence of that happy, chattering flock who made the place so gay all those years ago still remains. There is a Grammar School Old Girls' Association as well as a Collegiate School one and all are linked. with the Old Boys. into the Old Students' Association.


Continuity—yes, that could well be the keynote of the jubilee celebrations. For instance, in 1910 the sports championship cup was won by one W. Haythornthwaite: that same W. Haythornthwaite is now acting headmaster. It would be invidious to pick out too many famous Old Boys. but two of my time, Jack Robinson and "Young Cooke." have since become Sir Roland Robinson, MP for Blackpool South. and Alistair Cooke, the broadcaster and journalist, whose words can help to shape the fate of nations.

Earlier there was Harold Noble. now famous in music, later there was A. W. G. Kean, whose scholastic achievements made university history: today J. T. Hodgson is the Cambridge centre threequarter and will probably soon be the England one, too.
As for local life. the Grammar School's contribution to it over all those years has been profound. There is so much more to be said, but no space in which to say it. It's odd, but I almost have the feeling I should hand this in to Ivor Coombes for marking, just as I used to. He started teaching English at the Grammar School in 1919 and he's there yet!