History of Calderstones School (1924-1999)
Written by former Headteacher Brian Davies
The history of education in schools on Harthill Road is interesting, distinguished and well established. This is not an attempt to write a detailed account of that history, rather it is the intention of the writer to remind you all of some events which you experienced, some which you may have heard about and perhaps others of which you were unaware.
I must thank without naming them all of those friends and colleagues who have told me of their experiences here but would like to mention a few by name who have been of particular help: Malcolm Gratton, the former Head of History has been avidly researching past copies of "The Quarry" for me during the autumn term; Juliet Jamieson our ex-Librarian has produced an account of the development of both Quarry Bank and Calder schools; Ivan Swainbank is a fountain of knowledge on buildings and events; Dave Bennion, who was the longest serving teacher and a former pupil has also shared his knowledge with me; Alan Finch, who unfortunately cannot join us in our celebrations, has often shared his memories and love of the school with me. Despite their efforts it may well be that you find mistakes within this account, if so blame should not be attributed to anyone other than myself.
Calder High School and Quarry Bank High School almost share the same birthday. Hartfield House, which became Calder High School, was built by Charles Wilson in 1846. In 1882 it became the property of John Walmsley, a Liverpool shipowner. Legend has it that he would climb to the top of the tower to watch his ships dock in Liverpool. There is certainly a fine view from the tower and the Mersey is clearly visible but few ever venture that high these days as the stairs are in very poor condition and liable to collapse. The house was unoccupied after 1917 and was bought in 1920 by Liverpool Corporation for £6,500. The intention was to convert it into a school.
The house at the centre of Quarry Bank High School was completed in 1867 although other dwellings had stood on this ground. Evidence of these earlier houses were uncovered when the maths block was built, again when the swimming pool was built in 1962 and again when an addition was made to the Technical Studies block in 1988.
In January of 1997 excavations on Quarry field uncovered further evidence of earlier occupancy. The house was built for John Bland, a prosperous timber merchant, and the woodwork and mirrors of the entrance hall are most impressive even to present day visitors. This house was also purchased by Liverpool Corporation in 1920 with the intention to convert it into a school.
The initial plan was that both Calder High School and Quarry Bank High School should open in 1921 but there were complications with the boys buildings so that only Calder opened on time.
On 15th September 1921 Miss Florence A Macrae opened the doors of Calder High School to 162 girls (127 fee paying) and 12 staff. She later said: "On the first day the building was not finished. There were workmen in the corridors and on the roof. No text books or ink had arrived and there was no platform in the Hall. I remember standing at prayers on a rather unsteady set of boxes - afterwards found to contain the school soap which was missing."
Miss Macrae was progressive and interested in the well-being of academic and non-academic pupils. She created an orderly and happy atmosphere. "I always have a soft spot for the non-academic girl, who is the salt of the earth and does not get much recognition."
There is no doubt that, in choosing the school motto - "Courage, Honour, Service", she expected much. An ex-pupil, Barbara Rawlinson (1933-42) wrote the words for the "Courage, Honour, Service" which was set to music by Mr Robinson (Music Master) and sung at the school service in Allerton Parish Church on 27th June 1942 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the school. It has been rumoured that the girls played lacrosse because (i) Miss Macrae thought it less dangerous than hockey; (ii) the gardener thought it would do less damage to the field!
It was not until January 11th 1922 that Quarry Bank opened. The first Headmaster R F Bailey, formerly a housemaster at Shrewsbury School and an old Etonian described the day thus: "Eighty boys sat an entrance examination having assembled in front of the largest looking glass in any school in England."
R F Bailey was not the first choice for Headmaster but it was discovered that the successful candidate had mislead the appointments panel with regard to his schooling and his qualifications. As a result the position was offered to R F Bailey with long lasting consequences. In 1922 there were 225 pupils.
R F Bailey wanted to develop the ideas he had absorbed at public school into the new school in south Liverpool. He introduced the House System which survived and expanded upto 1967 - Mersey, Esmeduna, Wavertree and Sefton (established in 1923), Allerton and Childwall (established in 1936) and Aigburth and Woolton (established in 1946). He started the Unity Boy's Club and devoted his life to the boys of Quarry Bank and the development of the school. R F Bailey was held in great esteem by those who came into contact with him and even today Ashlars speak highly of him with affection and some awe.
WWII obviously affected both schools and marks a watershed in their development. Evacuation to Wrexham took place during the January and February of 1940, there was some slight damage to the site during bombing raids. Lessons were held in air raid shelters, gardening replaced PE on the curriculum. Teachers and Old Boys continued to join up and tragically sixty-nine of them were killed and are remembered on the honours board at the bank of Quarry Hall.
Both Miss Macrae and R F Bailey retired in 1947 after 26 years in charge of their schools. R F Bailey died on 1st March 1951 and later that year the Lower School of Quarry Bank High School was renamed 'Bailey House', its forms, 1R, 1F and 1B. Miss Macrae died on 16th December 1958 - eleven years after her retirement. Both live on in the memories of former pupils from the early years of the schools' existence.
The only other Headmistress of Calder High School was Miss Georgina Baker who took charge in September 1947 and remained in the post until retirement in 1967 when Calder High School and Quarry Bank High School merged with Morrison to become Quarry Bank Comprehensive School.
In 1949 Miss Baker introduced the 'House System'. The school was divided into four Houses named after prominent Liverpool families: Molyneux, Moore, Norris and Stanley. Permission was obtained to embody part of the crests of these families in the House badges. Each house had a House Mistress, Captain, Vice-Captain and Committee. Marks were won for work, conduct, games, House gardens and competitions such as music, dramatics, speech making and sports. Various trophies were competed for in this way. The same year saw the formation of the Board of Governors.
Calder always had the reputation of being a school with excellent standards of teaching and academic achievement. Also it would be remiss not to mention the valuable contribution of the non-teaching staff - caretakers, housekeepers, gardeners and school secretaries. As Georgina Baker wrote in the last school magazine (July 1967):
"For myself, farewell, after 20 years is not easy to say. Hard work and happiness have always gone hand in hand for me and I am sincerely grateful to all those staff, girls and parents who have made Calder a place where co-operation and friendship have eliminated friction, leaving one's vital energy for the things that matter."
Miss Georgina Baker died on 29 November 1990 - 23 years after her retirement.
Mr E R Taylor was Headmaster of Quarry Bank High School from 1947 until 1956 when he moved to Wolverhampton Grammar School. In November 1954 the school was visited by 6 of Her Majesty's Inspectors for a week who gave the school 'a satisfactory report.' It was during E R Taylor's time that a certain John Winston Lennon was admitted to the school on 4th September 1952.
Mr William E Pobjoy, a languages specialist, became Headmaster in 1956. He was to see major changes take place during his time at the school. The popularity and success of both schools meant that new buildings were added to them throughout the period between 1921 and 1967, even a swimming pool in 1962 for use by both schools despite the sandstone wall separating the boys from the girls.
In 1961 W E Pobjoy took the revolutionary decision to ban corporal punishment at Quarry Bank High School a decision some 25 years ahead of its time as the rest of the city did not follow suit until the mid 1980's! Some would say that this was the major event which took place at the school during the 1960's but others might argue for the impact of reorganisation of Liverpool's education system along comprehensive lines in 1967.
Calder High School and Quarry Bank High School closed in the July of 1967. Miss Baker retired and Mr Pobjoy became Headmaster of Quarry Bank Comprehensive School. Some building work took place, two holes were knocked in the sandstone wall, and Morrison Secondary Modern School situated on Rose Lane became the 'remote' wing of the new school. Morrison was the junior wing where first and second year pupils were taught. Calder became the base for third and fourth year pupils while Quarry Bank was 'home' to the fifth and sixth forms.
Both children and staff were hurled together in a way which only a few months previously would have been unthinkable. I have heard many stories of those final years of the 1960's and I am sure that those of you who were present remember them well. For the staff one of the most compelling results of the amalgamation was "escort duty" taking a crocodile of young pupils "up" or "down" between the main site and Morrison for swimming and music.
W E Pobjoy was always a foresighted individual and seeing major changes in terms of the National Curriculum on the horizon he decided that 1982 was a good time to retire having served the school for 26 years. His successor was Mr John B Chapman who had joined the school in 1958 as a teacher of Geography. Mr Chapman is big man in every sense and spent all his teaching life at the school (unique among the schools' 7 heads).
J B Chapman has a great love for geomorphology, the outdoors and educating each pupil. He spent several years of his life at Colomendy which from 1958 onwards has been an 'institution' with the school. Quarry Bank High School was the first secondary school in Liverpool to use Colomendy for residential educational experiences. We continue to be one of the major users of the centre.
Another area of extra curricular activity associated with J B Chapman is the annual trip to the Norfolk Broads. These trips began in 1950 and continue to the present day with Mr E D Bennion (the present Head of Maths) having been on 46 of them as boy and man.
Mr Chapman's tenure as Headmaster saw the school undergo remarkable changes: the introduction of the National Curriculum, a second reorganisation in 1985 when Quarry Bank Comprehensive School was merged with Aigburth Vale High School and the sale of two remote wings to bring the school together on one site for the first time in 1989.
The National Curriculum has had a major impact on staff and pupils of the school. In the early years there was great uncertainty about courses and options and it was only J B Chapman's great experience which steered the school through troubled waters.
The reorganisation of 1985 left the school on four sites - one half a mile away from Calder and Quarry the other 2 miles away. There were 1800 pupils and 127 staff (70 of whom had never set foot in any part of the school) as a result of the LEA policy that all secondary should only accept 180 pupils per year from 1985 onwards, Community Comprehensive School 13 (renamed Calderstones for the opening) was to reduce in size to 1180 pupils and 78 teachers by September 1990!!!
As the school reduced in size and the council needed more money the two remote sites of Aigburth Vale (housing) and Morrison (Tescos) were sold and further buildings were erected on the main site.
Having seen the school through these major upheavals John Chapman retired in August 1990 after 32 years at the school. He still lives close by with his wife Jean who he met at Quarry Bank High School.
The 1990's have seen Calderstones go from strength to strength thanks mostly to the excellent foundations constructed during the previous sixty five years. Brian Davies became Headteacher in September 1990 having joined the school in 1978. The major development this decade has been the introduction of Local Management of Schools. This makes the Governors responsible for the budget of the school, the buildings, staffing and education of pupils.