Search launched for World War Two evacuees at Alnwick Castle ahead of spring reunion

Alnwick Castle is searching for students from a Newcastle school who were evacuated during the Second World War.
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The last of the evacuee schoolgirls left Alnwick Castle 80 years ago this year, and a reunion of the former Church High School in Newcastle will be held on May 6 to mark the occasion.

Daniel Watkins, education, learning and engagement officer at Alnwick Castle, said: “We hope to invite as many former pupils as possible who were evacuated to the castle during the war to join us for a special day to share memories and enjoy a delicious cream tea and entertainment.

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"If you, or your mother, aunt, grandmother or great grandmother was at school at Alnwick Castle during this period, please get in touch.”

Wartime evacuees at Alnwick Castle.Wartime evacuees at Alnwick Castle.
Wartime evacuees at Alnwick Castle.

In 1939, Church High School in Newcastle functioned as both a boarding and a day school with 220 pupils.

During the war, children were deemed safer in Alnwick due to bombing raids that threatened Newcastle.

Alnwick Castle was home to 120 boarders and 20 staff members, while other students were billeted with local families.

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Children of all ages were evacuated from Newcastle schools to Alnwick Castle. The youngest child was four years old, and the oldest was 17 years old.

Alnwick Castle became the school’s main base and address during the Second World War.

Other than the Duke’s housekeeper and head gardener, who stayed behind when the Percy family moved out to the nearby village of Lesbury, it was entirely staffed by Church High School’s teaching and domestic staff.

Day pupils lived in Alnwick (either with their own families or in billets) but the largest proportion of pupils and teachers boarded at the castle. The dormitories were situated on the first floor and some were in the castle towers.

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Newcastle Church High School joined Newcastle Central High School for Girls in 2016 and became Newcastle High School for Girls.

Approximately 20 former wartime evacuees, or their relatives, have been in touch with the castle about the reunion.

To find out more, contact Daniel Watkins at Alnwick Castle on 01665 511114 or email [email protected] or write to the castle.