Former headmaster provides fascinating look at the history of Alnwick school

A fascinating book on the history of the Duchess’s High School in Alnwick has been updated by its former headmaster.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 6:00 am
Gym class at the Duchess's High School in Alnwick.

In 1958, to mark its 150th anniversary, history mistress Anne Littlejohn compiled a history of the school.

Now, ex-headmaster Roy Todd has continued the story up to 2008 and has published its history in conjunction with the earlier work.

“Between us, we have illustrated 200 years of education history at the Duchess's School,” said Roy. “Someone else will have to record 2008 to 2058!”

The former Duchess's High School in Alnwick.

Anne charted the history of Duchess Julia’s private and independent school which educated young girls of all abilities, to its adoption by Northumberland County Council as a selective Grammar School educating girls who had passed the Eleven Plus Examination.

Roy takes up the story in 1958 and relates the history of the school as it moved in 1966 from Bailiffgate to Howling Lane and back, in part, to Bailiffgate in 1979 following its re-organisation as a co-educational, comprehensive school.

The re-organisation debate in the mid 1970’s was contested fiercely in Alnwick because there was not a single site in the town on which the 13 -18 High School, catering for 950 students, could be sited satisfactorily.

The book examines the steps by which the Local Education Authority’s plans to site the new High School on the premises of the Alnwick Secondary Modern School were thwarted by a group of governors, parents and teachers determined to see it located at the Duchess’s Girls’ Grammar School.

Headmaster Roy Todd raising money in Charities Week.

Once established there the story of how education evolved in the final decades of the 20th century is related in the following chapters.

O-Levels and CSEs replaced by GCSEs, Ofsted nspections replacing Inspections by HMIs, the advent of a National Curriculum and Local Management of Schools are some of the topics covered as the academic and sporting achievements of the students are recorded and illustrated with photographs taken at the time.

The launch is on Wednesday, December 4, at the Bailiffgate Museum at 7pm and anyone interested is welcome and invited to attend. Copies of the book will also be available for sale, priced £7.99.

Art class at Duchess's High School.