The original Boys’ School was founded in 1620 by John Harrison, citizen and Merchant Taylor of London.
The Guild of Merchant Taylors in London is one of the twelve great City Livery Companies that have survived from medieval times. The Merchant Taylors’ Company was originally an association of citizens controlling the craft of tailoring; over the years members’ interests spread into commerce and philanthropy. Merchant Taylors’ Schools are proud of their historical links to the Company, and still welcome visitors from the Company every year. We are a famous School with an enviable reputation. We are determined to remain true to the guiding principles of our founder: to provide an academic education to pupils from the surrounding area.
Well Known Old Boys
Well Known Old Boys
Charles James Matthews
Stage Comedian of renown
William Watson Rutherford
Lord Mayor of Liverpool
Lord Mayor of Bootle
John Lawson Walton
Appointed Attorney General 1905
George Edward von Worm Kruger
Designer of the Collar of the Order of the
British Empire and silver coinage
Arthur and Frank Witty
Founders of Barcelona FC
Lord Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie
Archbishop of Canterbury 1979
Author and Broadcaster
Formula 1 and BBC Commentator
Ben Kay MBE
International Rugby Player
International Rugby Player and Coach
BBC News Business Correspondent
BBC Chief Political Correspondent
Lord Mayor of Liverpool in the Millennium Year
Alfred James Costain
Member of Costain building dynasty
Guy De Launey
Freelance Broadcast Journalist
Sir Robin Mountfield
Eminent Civil Servant who became permanent
Secretary of the Cabinet Office. Also brought
Nissan to the UK in the 80s
Sport loving Philanthropist and successful
Financial Services Entrepreneur
Well Known Old Girls
Well Known Old Girls
Professor Janet Finch
Vice-Chancellor Keele University
Became the first female vet student
allowed to study non-small animals by the
Ministry Of Agriculture
Tony award winning costume designer.
Joy Swift MBE
Creator of the original murder mystery weekends
Commissioning editor for Paris Vogue and
two novels published
Dame Beryl Bainbridge
Award winning novelist
BBC Radio presenter
Kelly Cates (nee Dalglish)
Sky Sports news presenter
Anna Louise and Caroline Mason
Award winning swimmers who
represented Great Britain
Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain
BBC World News Correspondent
BBC Radio presenter
2020 is the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School by John Harrison, Merchant Taylor of London.
To mark this event, the archivists at the Boys’ School and the Girls’ School have organised a display on the Schools’ website of 400 objects [200 from each school] which have, in some way, a connection with the history of the school.
The objects featured, along with brief descriptions and explanations, will each appear on the website for one week beginning on Friday 4 March 2016 and changing each Friday until early 2020.
23rd June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #69-The Community Drama Society
The Community Drama Society was set up by members of staff and their wives following a meeting on 3 July 1925. An important voice at this meeting was that of E B Powley [Head of English] who had previously organised such a Society at Caistor in Lincolnshire and explained that the Society should be self-reliant producing its own costumes, scenery etc. This informal meeting was followed by a more formal one in September at which officers of the Society were elected and the future programme decided. Membership of the society was open only to those connected with Merchant Taylors’. However, this exclusion did not, it seems, extend to Patrons of the Society which included the Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Sybil Thorndike. “Productions” were presented at 8 pm on alternate Friday in the School Hall [now the library]. Initially, it seems, the “productions” were selected readings of English plays.
In February 1926, the Society presented a production of Hamlet at the David Lewis Theatre in the centre of Liverpool. Members of the cast included Mr Vernon Milton [son of JH Milton, Senior Master], WH Barugh [later Head of History], RDL Williams [later Chairman of Governors] and HT Crawford-Smith [later Head of Classics].
The length of time for which the Society existed has not been established. There are enthusiastic reviews in the school magazine of 1931 and the archives contain a membership card for the season 1929 – 30 but, thereafter there is silence.
23rd June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #69-Sport’s Day Prize
This silver plated cigarette case with the Merchants crest was given to the winner of the father’s race at sports day. This one was donated Mrs Moira Cribbens, daughter of the 1933 victor, Commander Cresswell.
It is typical of the time when every father smoked, the girls might win a silver crested teaspoon for winning a race and it was considered lucky if you managed to collect a set by the time you left school! In the early days of the school, parents had subscribed to a special sports day fund with which substantial prizes like tennis racquets, bags and cups were given. Miss Fordham pared the prizes down to the teaspoons and retained the money in reserve for sports equipment like new ropes for the gymnasium. The combination of Miss Fordham’s departure and the Second World War put an end to the ostentatious silver prizes as Miss Brash presented modest silk ribbons to winners.
16th June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #68-Original Artwork for the Cover of Merchant Taylors’ Review
The “Merchant Taylors’ Review” was the forerunner of today’s Crosbeian.
The plate used for the front cover of the School Review from its inception in 1890 was beginning to show signs of wear by 1912. Following over twenty years of use it was finally retired and its place taken by a new design, the original art work for which is shown here.
The new design was produced by a sixth former of the day Abraham Carel Voigt. The son of a Southport doctor, he went on to qualify MB ChB at Liverpool in 1921 and, it seems, eventually moved to practise in Rhodesia.
The first issue of the Review to bear the new cover was No 59 in early 1912. In the general notes headed “Obiter Dicta” the editor [or the Headmaster] sings the praises of the new design in a style suited to the times and he describes the subject matter as symbolising “the “good ship Crosby starting out on a new voyage under new Governors”. [The school’s governance had passed from the Merchant Taylors’ Company to a local board in 1910].
The sail carries the crests of John Harrison and the Merchant Taylors’ Co.
This printing block was used for another twenty years and was replaced in 1944.
16th June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #68-Stanfield Making Music –LP
This LP was recorded on June 29th 1972 in the music room (ground floor left room of old Stanfield House).
The school magazine (1971-1972) states that “Stanfield’s music making is so varied and of such a high standard that it seemed a pity not to capture these pleasing sounds to keep; consequently a record was made of the many songs and recorder and percussion pieces and this will be on sale shortly”. Such delights as, Kumbaya, The Miller of Dee and The Gay Musician were included amongst the eleven songs on offer.
Music had always been such a strongpoint of the curriculum with Mrs Mann at the forefront urging the girls to sing and on one memorable occasion even lip-sticking the word SMILE onto her forehead so there she was facing the choir and back to the audience and the choir would smile!
This particular LP found its way into the school archives via a charity shop that one of our girls happened to be volunteering in; she bought it and donated it back to school. Thank you to Imaan Rizwan-Alvi in November 2011 for having the good sense to buy it.
9th June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #67-The Cricket Team of 1886
The origins of MTS cricket are largely lost in the mists of time. It is known that the headmaster of the day bought some land in 1854 which was intended for use for school cricket and the move to the new site in 1878 boosted interest in the sport. The earliest fixture list in the archive collection dates from 1883 but the earliest cricket team photograph, shown here, was taken in 1886. It was presented to the school by Rev P W Pheysey who was captain of the team in that, his final, year.
The Reverend gentleman on the far left is Frederick Finnis Grensted who had become Senior Master in 1882 and was one of the Vice Presidents of the Cricket Club.
The Captain is Percy Wootton Pheysey who was later ordained and became Chaplain to the Bishop of Liverpool.
He was followed as captain by E W Lovegrove [also in the photograph, though currently unidentified] who went on to be a headmaster at a number of schools including Ruthin 1913 – 30.
The pavilion behind the players is the original building which stood on the College Rd side of the field and was described in the April 1895 School Review as “The building that, until last term, rejoiced in the appellation of “Pavilion”. It seems to have been an unloved building “far from adequate to its requirements”
9th June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #67-The Foundation Stone of the New Maternity Hospital
On May 12th ,1924 Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles ( only daughter of King George V and sister of the future King Edward VIII and King George VI) came to Liverpool to lay the foundation stone of the new maternity hospital. This was a particular cause of hers as she had trained as a nurse during World War One. At that time Liverpool was chronically short of maternity provision, the maternity hospital was on Brownlow Hill and this new one was built on Oxford Street (it is now university accommodation).
As can be seen from the programme the Princess received purses. Our school magazine states that,
“In March, a collection was made for the new Liverpool Maternity Hospital, and Beatrice Hill (Head Girl) representing the school presented the money in a purse to Princess Mary, who came to lay the foundation stone. The purse, which was especially made of blue leather, stamped with the crown and the Princess Mary’s monogram, is now the property of the head girl”.
The School’s Guide Company and Brownie Pack also went by train to Exchange Station and marched up to Exchange Flags, the Brownies being arranged around the central monument. They were then inspected by Princess Mary, who was the President of the Girl Guides. The Brownies decided “it must be fine to be a Princess”!!!
2nd June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #66- The Jopsons, Père et Fils
Samuel Rolison Jopson and Norman Brooke Jopson were father and son. Both attended MTS, the former 1873 – 1879, the latter 1899 – 1909. The archive collection holds a considerable quantity of material associated with them: reports, certificates, exam papers, obituaries etc. Two of these items are shown here.
S R Jopson was born in 1864. While at school he was elected to a Harrison Scholarship and was a prize winner, both academically and as a long distance runner. He went on to travel the world as an agent for a steel manufacturer, styling himself “Commercial Traveller”.
Norman Brooke Jopson was born in 1890 and, like his father, was elected to a Harrison Scholarship at MTS. He also won various prizes, played for the rugby XV and went up to St John’s College Cambridge in 1909 to read for the Medieval and Modern Languages Tripos. Having excelled in French and German, he went on to study various other languages including Italian, Spanish, Russian, Czech and Sanskrit. He eventually rose to become Professor of Slavonic Philology at London University [1934 – 37] and Professor of Comparative Philology at Cambridge [1937 – 55].
The brevity of the comments compared to the in depth observations expected these day is noticeable.
Another observation concerns Armour’s signature. On SR Jopson’s report of 1876, he signed his name in black ink. On NB Jopson’s in 1899, he signed in red ink. It has been suggested that he changed the colour of his signature when he was made Doctor of Divinity in 1891 …. But that is research for another day!
2nd June 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #66- House Captains’ Badges
These are the original House Captain badges worn from 1917 to 1942.The house system was introduced in 1917 and five colours were chosen, red ,green, blue, yellow and violet. The early editions of the school magazines have house notes in them and the names of the teachers attached to each house. House marks and de-merit marks were awarded for academic achievement and for success on the sports field.
From 1942 to 1961 there were four houses, Barrett (red), Blundell (Blue), Fordham (Yellow) and Harrison (Green) and the house captain’s badges were changed to much smaller ones. The house badges which were smaller still and worn by every girl were pinned at the top and in the centre of their gymslip.
26th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #65- The Raj Rana Trophy
In week 27 of this series, mention was made of an Old Crosbeian, Robert Arthur Edward Benn, his travels and his diplomatic postings to India and Afghanistan.
In 1904 he was in political charge of His Highness Raj Rana Bhawani Singh, Bahadur of Jhalawar, Rajputana on his tour of Europe. As part of his tour, Benn brought his companion to his old school on Sports Day, June 29. This was, in fact, Henry Cradock-Watson’s first Sports Day, having been appointed headmaster in 1903 and his wife presented the prizes. The Raj Rana was a guest on the presentation platform and announced that he would present a trophy to the school to be awarded to the best athlete in the Under 15 age group. This is the Raj Rana trophy which is still awarded 113 years later.
He then ensured his popularity by asking for and being granted a half holiday for the school.
26th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #65-Tree Planting at Chesterfield Road Games Field
This set of photographs shows a rather bleak November afternoon in 1931 and a group of girls planting trees at Chesterfield Road. The junior school notes for the 1931 school magazine enlighten us with,”one cold day in November we all went up to the new playing field and planted trees. Many of us had flowering shrubs. Each tree bore a label with the name of the girl who planted it”.
Mary Rigg in Lower 6th even wrote a poem about it-
Our Tree Planting November 1931
Upon unusual mission bent,
To our new playing field we went;
Muddy we were, but undismayed
(The day was dark and drear
The rain very near)
Eager to reach our destination,
We, through a gap quick made our way,
Our joyous anticipative way!
And lo! The trees! A revelation!!!
For we had come to plant in line
A poplar, sycamore or pine.
The willows and the beeches fair
Lay green and grey together there
Some hunted for the silver birch,
Some for acacias made search
Some thought that a laburnum yellow
In spring time had no fellow;
Others preferred a prunis gay,
Especially on a day so grey, because they pictured that glad hour
When prunis should to blossom flower.
Then on our shoulders the trees we bore,
And, summ’ning up all our garden lore,
Into the ground
Full safe and sound,
We thrust each tree. Ah! Forty years hence,
How lovely will be our recompense!
And 76 years later we would still be reading her poem!
19th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #64-Camels Cricket Club Cap
The Camels Cricket Club was founded in 1927 to field a team of cricketers drawn from Old Boys and current and former staff. Membership was to be by invitation only and the first tranche consisted of 29 invitations under the Presidency of S B McQueen.
In later years, one of the stalwarts of MTS cricket, as both player and coach, was L B P Adams [known to everyone as Bill]. He was also invited to play for the Camels and while he was President he designed a Camels cap for which his son designed the badge. Only one example, a prototype, ever existed and was occasionally worn by Bill and his son while batting. This prototype is in the school archives.
19th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #64-Tennis Colours 1920/30’s
Tennis has always been a popular sport at the girls’ school. The white silk embroidery shows the highly stylised letters forming MTGS fashionable in the late 1920/30’s.It was worn on the left breast pocket of the tennis dresses as worn by the first team of six members. The photograph shows the tennis team from 1932 wearing their tennis outfit.
The girls are back row, Ruby Gregson Hilda Podmore Doreen Dickinson
Front row, Nancy Hodgson Laura Chadwick and Jean Grant
The school magazine listed their playing against Huyton, (the old Huyton College was the sister school to Liverpool College it merged into co-ed in 1973) Belvedere, Grove Street, (the old Liverpool Girls’ College closed in 1981) Birkenhead, and Higher Tranmere (the Higher Tranmere School for Girls on the Wirral was destroyed in 1941 by enemy action) with three wins, one draw and one loss.
It also has some rather brutal comments under the title, “Criticisms of the Tennis VI”-Laura-(the captain) “her net play is erratic, because she is too slow on her feet: this combined with her small stature, tend to make her net play uncertain”. Whilst Doreen, ”Her backhand drive is weak and therefore gives her opponents the opportunity to smash the net. She should realise that a weak shot, to be any use at all, must be well placed”.
12th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #63-Cadet Camp at Winchester 1923
To give it its full title, “Public Secondary School Cadet Association Camp” seems to have begun life in 1915 with a camp at Marlborough; a site which was to be the venue until 1920.
Following the ravages of the Great War, the Cadet Corps in school found its numbers decreasing but by 1923 they were again increasing and it seems that this year was the first in which there is a report of the contingent attending Cadet Camp. This camp was held at Winchester and a booklet was issued afterwards giving details of the activities which had taken place. Interestingly, the camp was originally intended for Cirencester but was diverted to Winchester after a report of a smallpox outbreak in Gloucestershire. The reorganisation reduced the numbers attending from 1200 cadets to about 900. The MTS Contingent was led by Captains Wright and Hill. The activities included athletics, swimming, boxing and cricket as well as more military subjects including musketry and signalling.
There is an interesting section in the booklet called “Lost and Found”. This includes the following:
“The following articles have been found and are in the possession of Capt Pensom:- 2 Rifles, 2 Greatcoats, 2 Water bottles, 1 Bugle.” It is difficult to imagine the furore following the mislaying of 2 rifles today!
12th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #63-Widening of Liverpool Road August 1929
This photograph shows the knocking down and flattening out of the front of the girls’ school. The Victorian villa,”The Mulberries” had been purchased by the school in 1911 and one side of the main corridor protruded into the road. With the increase in motor cars on Liverpool Road it was deemed necessary to widen the road at this narrowing and part of school was compulsorily purchased by Lancashire County Council.
The photograph was given to the school by Mr Wright, the Borough Surveyor who also happened to be the father of four pupils here, Gladys, Dorothy, Olga and Josephine.
Employee’s health and safety does not seem to be of great concern, the man on the roof and the ones below him have no hard hats, the DANGER signpost is presumably in place for pedestrians. There is no scaffolding in place, just ladders for a three storey building!
5th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #62-A Portrait of Rev Edward Owen
This is another portrait which the school does not actually own but which appears as an illustration in Mark Luft’s History of the School. The original painting is in Warrington Museum.
Edward Owen never became headmaster of Merchant Taylors’, Crosby. He joined the school as usher in September 1753 while Antony Halsall was still headmaster. He was a Classical scholar who came to MTS after graduating from Jesus College, Oxford.
When Halsall died in 1755, Owen ran the school single-handedly and became the de facto acting headmaster. When the search for a new headmaster began, Owen and three others applied for the post. The position eventually went to a John Norcross who, in spite of applying for the post seems to have been reluctant to take it up and finally, in February 1757, withdrew his acceptance of the job. Meanwhile, Owen was struggling to run the school single-handedly.
In the end, it all proved too much for Owen who applied for, and was offered, the post of Master of Warrington Grammar School where he shone as both headmaster and cleric, becoming Rector of Warrington in 1767. He spent about 50 years as headmaster at Warrington, dying in 1807. He is, according to Mark Luft’s history of the school, the only member of staff of Merchant Taylors’, Crosby ever to have been given an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.
5th May 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #62-The British Empire and MTGS
This page comes from a 1938 school atlas and helps to contextualise the opportunities that were opening up across the world as never before. The Reverend Stone in his sermon preached at St. Michael’s, Blundellsands as part of the 1938 Golden Jubilee celebrations said,
“Some of you educated girls will be called on to educate the girls of Asia and Africa, and become teachers in the high schools of China and India. You will be called on to educate the girls to become native teachers and create the nursing profession and dignify and raise womanhood of backward races. What a vision!”
The racist and jingoist terms of the sermon were appropriate to the day- although it makes uncomfortable reading now (even with the particularly racist terms edited out).
In 1938-Joan Williams was teaching in Toronto, Canada, Mildred Podmore had married a doctor and they were in Hyderabad in India whilst Florence Walker was in Nyasaland (now Malawi) with U.M.C.A. (Universities Mission to Central Africa).
In 1937 Nancy Service is working in a shipping office in Brisbane, Australia. Irene Aikman was in Malaya and Dorothy Hovenir was in China with her diplomat husband, whilst Lione Nicolson had sailed across the oceans to be married in Singapore!
In 1936 Gwynneth Povey was in Delhi in India working in the Girl Guide Offices. Barbara Bateson had gone to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to take up a government appointment in nursing.
Other girls were teaching in Ireland, France and Germany. June Bassett in 1934 is out in Argentina with her family, razing forest to plant tobacco farms!
28th April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #61-The Main Corridor in about 1900
These two photographs show “then and now” views of the Main Corridor. The photographs are taken looking along the corridor towards the library [as it is now] or Great Hall [as it was in 1900].
The image on the left is taken from the range of post cards of the school produced about 1900. The long view along the corridor is now, normally, interrupted by the fire doors that have been installed following a fire brigade inspection several years ago.
Other differences include:  the elegant light fittings of 1900, presumably gas, which have been replaced by the more mundane strip lighting of modern times.  The retiled corridor floor, though with the access grids still in place.  The principal difference is on the left side of the corridor as viewed in the photographs. In 1900 this wall was still pierced by windows which gave a view onto the quad before the light was blocked by the building of the Williams Hall.
28th April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #61-The Grandfather Clock
All the many and varied pieces of antique furniture around school also fall under the care of the school archives!
Up until fairly recently the grandfather clock had always stood in the school’s hallway. It was recalibrated and sent off for refurbishment in 2006 and chimed perfectly from that point. There was a very brief period when it was banished to the bottom of the library stairs but fortunately Mrs Robinson rescued it and when her office and the school office exchanged places it was installed in pride of place there. If you pass her door on the hour you can still hear its chimes.
In the school magazine of Autumn 1924 (school magazines were initially published termly), Joan Williams a sixth former wrote an article entitled “The School Clock” which although a little pompous by today’s standards reflects attitudes of the time.
“The clock which the girl who rings the bell, should know right well, is just an ordinary grand-father clock in every respect except in regard to its bright, unique brass face. It stands just opposite the Entrance Hall (sic) door, and seems to impress upon visitors its importance as soon as they enter the Hall. Dear old clock! You still go on with your old, monotonous task, and your fingers move remorselessly over your interesting brass face; and, come what may, go what may, they perform their task well”.
21st April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #60-“Reynard the Fox” signed by John Masefield
R J A [Roland John Alfred] Shelley attended MTS 1881 – 1887 and throughout the rest of his life maintained strong connections with the school, being President of the Old Boys [of which he was a founder member] in 1904 and 1931. He led an active life outside the school too, being a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Ancient Manuscript Society and was President of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society in1932 and 1933.
He donated many books to the library. Among these is a 1926 edition of Reynard the Fox.
Pasted inside the book is a photograph of Masefield in army uniform which gives the date of the photograph as 1915, the year in which he served as an orderly in a British hospital for French soldiers.
The photograph and the fly leaf are inscribed “For R J A Shelley from John Masefield” with the addition on the flyleaf of the date “October 6th 1926”.
21st April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #60-Empire Day 1940 Certificate
This certificate was presented to Joyce Forshaw on May 24th 1940-Empire Day along with her first year classmates for,
“helping to provide comfort and contentment to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the British Commonwealth who have rallied to the cause of safeguarding freedom, justice and security”
It is likely that it was given for knitting-many articles were knitted by the girls for the Services, the Vth Form put on plays from which the entrance fee went to the wool fund. The Guide Company at school were collecting separately for the Empire Day Girl Guides’ Ambulance Fund and the junior school collected an impressive 4,390 cigarettes for wounded soldiers.
Empire Day originated after Queen Victoria’s death and was, “to remind children that they formed part of the British Empire and that they might think with others in lands across the sea, what it meant to be the sons and daughters of such a glorious Empire”.
From 1958 onwards it became known as Commonwealth Day.
Joyce Winter, (nee Forshaw formerly Preston) was at school 1939-1946 and donated this to the school archive in 2012.
14th April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #59-Aerial Photograph 1948
This aerial view of the school shows the site as it was before the “modern” buildings were added.
The lodge and the Main Building can clearly be seen, though the Headmaster’s house [by this date an admin and teaching building] is off the left side of the picture. The main corridor, library [as it now is, main hall as it was in 1948] and the “balancing” wing at the west end of the corridor all form part of the original building. The extension to the latter with its differently shaped roof was added in about 1890. The Armour building was added in 1913.
Clearly the Williams Hall has still to be built and the small building with the chimney behind the tower which will give way to the Williams Hall entrance is an office and toilet block. The site occupied by the building across the quad from this block has served a number of purposes over the years. Initially it housed a Fives Court, then a chemistry laboratory and finally, as in the photo, a toilet block and armoury.
Beyond the extension to the North Corridor is a long single storey building which may be the dining hall. Can anyone confirm this or reveal what it actually is?
Beyond that again is a small building which was, in 1948, the geography room which later became the music room and which has now been subsumed into the Music Building.
Other buildings which are yet to appear are the Armour building extension , the York building , and the Luft building . The swimming pool , gymnasium  and Wylie building  have all to appear.
With the Armour building extension of 1956, the school lost its Fives court the end of which can just be seen at the back of the Armour building.
The parade ground is still overgrown and the number of trees on the site was much greater then than it is now.
14th April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #59-The Office Comptometer
Anyone younger than about seventy would have no idea what this. This is the forerunner of an adding machine which then of course was eclipsed by pocket calculators from the 1970’s onwards.
This was given to our archive by the then school secretary, Mrs Jean Murphy in 1998 when she was clearing out old cupboards in the office, she remembered being taught how to use one in secretarial school in the 1960’s.
Looking at the leavers of July 1945, both Jean Ellison and Marjorie Knowler left school in Lower V (year 10) to specifically do comptometer training as opposed to general secretarial training. Many girls left at the end of Vth form to do secretarial training at either Southport Technical College (now Southport College) or had a coveted place at Miss Foulkes Secretarial Training College in Rodney Street which guaranteed a place at one of the top offices in Liverpool especially having attended MTGS beforehand.
7th April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #58-Photographs of the Boys’ Club in its Early Days
James Darling was a member of staff at MTS. After leaving the school he went on to become headmaster of Geelong School in Australia, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Co and was honoured with a knighthood in 1968.
Before he left Merchants’ he had major input into the founding of The Boys’ Club in Seaforth in 1924. This club was intended for boys aged 14 to 18 with the aim of “allowing them to realise their potentialities”. This was to be achieved by providing a range of activities intended to “extend” the boys. These activities included 5 a side football, snooker, darts, table tennis and a workshop in the winter and these were augmented by cricket in the summer. Summer camps and weekends also figured as can be seen from the photographs. The property was badly damaged in air raids in the war and not opened again until 1950/51.
Financially, the club was supported for many years by a regular collection among the boys of the school who, along with members of staff also gave much of their time to volunteer work at the club.
7th April 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #58-Hours of Sleep
Despite this letter being dated from 1943 and obviously under wartime conditions the contents of this letter home to parents and advice therein has hardly changed even for today’s girls seventy four years later.
The amount of homework has hardly changed for each year group, and we still encourage girls to spend the correct amount of time allocated for homework and not spend too long on a task.
Evening meal served as soon as girls returned from school, as recommended, could only happen in the days of full time housewives!
However I think most of our 6th formers would baulk at the idea of going to bed at 9.30 pm on school nights and even year 7’s might find 7.45/8 pm rather early. It just goes to show how little sleep we exist on these days.
Also midweek cinema going was frowned upon but Miss Brash was considered lax compared to her predecessor, Miss Fordham who would tour the local area in her car checking that no Merchants girl was out and about on the streets playing when she should have been at home doing schoolwork and that included weekends! The only acceptable excuse for Miss Fordham for not being at home doing schoolwork was attending church. She refused girls permission to attend music or dance examinations in school time as her philosophy was they shouldn’t be having the lessons in the first place!
31st March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #57-The Emrys Jones Lecture Book
Robert Emrys Jones was an Old Boy of the school, having attended MTS 1918 – 24. He was a benefactor of the school in many ways. One of his enduring legacies was to establish an endowment which provided “for an annual lecture by a person of high achievement in the sphere of Arts, Science, Medicine, Sports, Exploration, Defence or Public Service”.
The first lecture was given in 1959 by the man who was the leader of the successful Everest expedition, Sir John Hunt. Although it has not proved possible to adhere strictly to the “annual” nature of the lecture, a speaker has delivered a talk almost every year. The list of names includes such celebrities as: Peter Scott, Lord Shackleton, Lord Constantine, Sir Bernard Lovell, Laurens van der Post etc.
The Trust Deed requires that the names of those who deliver the lectures be recorded in a permanent form along with the title of their lecture. This record is kept in the “Emrys Jones Book”. One page in this book is dedicated to each lecturer. Since 1970, the lecturer has been asked to sign the page on which their lecture is listed. This book now contains the signatures of, inter alia, Colin Cowdray, Chris Bonnington, John Dankworth, Sir Richard Hadlee and Tanni Grey-Thompson. The photograph below shows the pages dedicated to Lord Runcie [OC] and Steven Redgrave.
31st March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #57-The Upper Five 1998/1999
A more recent colour photograph taken of the whole year group before they went on study leave for GCSEs in May1999.Their form tutors sadly are not on this photograph but would have been, Mrs Clarke, Mrs Colvin, Mrs Phillips and Miss Standard.
This is a typical photograph always taken at this time of year with the whole year group of U5 (year 11) and U6 as a memento before anyone left the school, the archive has a large collection from the 1940’s up to the present day, including this year’s photos which have only recently been taken.
24th March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #56- F M Grant and the Boat House
Frank Mortimer [Pop] Grant attended MTS 1899 – 1905. It was 53 years later, in 1958, that the report headed “The Boat Club” appeared for the first time in the Crosbeian. The President of the club was F M Grant. Such Presidency was well deserved for not only was it his ambition and energy that resulted in the formation of the Boat Club, he was also responsible for the building of the Boat House.
Foundations for the Boat House were laid down next to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in 1956. The structure which rose from them was designed entirely by Grant in every detail. Moreover he went on to construct the majority of the building himself. Having designed, built and, indeed, funded the cost of the Boat House he then gifted it to the school.
These photographs from the archives show the Boat House at various stages in its construction.
24th March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #56- Stationery Account Book 1912-1913
This page from the ledger whilst interesting to see the value of stationery stock midway through the school year was £21 3s 7d, that no geometry books had been sold in the Autumn term and presumably the girls hadn’t needed new hat bands either as 153 were still in stock it does give an insight into the curriculum. Drawing books are the most expensive individual items along with physics and botany books at just over five old pence each-current worth about £1.88.
Physics books are sold but no chemistry. Physics was introduced at this time as with the purchase of the Mulberries in 1911 a new science laboratory was able to be converted from one of the downstairs sitting rooms- now Biology 3.
On other pages are listed the colours of the exercise books, a rather jolly mix of dark green for writing, brown for grammar, dark blue for composition, mauve for French, purple for arithmetic, grey for geometry, crimson for English, red or grey for drawing, brown with squared paper for algebra, green for botany, myrtle for German, holly for Latin, wine for history, dark blue for geography, yellow for dictation, Wedgwood for scripture, dark blue for physics and manuscript paper for music.
Other sundry stationery items were sold, pens, blotting paper, pencils and India rubbers along with hymn books, hat badges and hat bands.
17th March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #55- The Book of Remembrance
The Book of Remembrance commemorates all former pupils of the school who lost their lives in the Second World War.
The book was unveiled at a ceremony on 25 May 1952 attended by almost 2000 pupils, parents and friends of the school. The service was conducted by Canon L W Grensted DD, MA [Old Crosbeian] and the book unveiled by Mr Pape, President of the Old Boys Association.
The book now rests in the Tower entrance to the school in an alcove containing a case designed by the then school architect John Nelson, B.Arch., A.R.I.B.A. Inscribing of the book was carried out by Miss Grace Best A.R.C.A.
According to the Crosbeian of the time Ronald Williams as part of the ceremony, recited from memory, the names on the Roll of Honour [over 100 names].
17th March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #55- Summer dress fabric 1970’s
Once the very old fashioned blue and white flowery fabric called Tobralco (see object 19) had been dispensed by Miss Walsh in the mid 1960’s, a new blue fabric pattern was introduced in the 1970’s. This was worn by Stanfield and younger members of the senior school and it rather resembles a man’s pyjama pattern!
This object has only just recently arrived into the school archive-it was donated by Fiona Sims (nee Stewart who attended MTGS 1972-1979) when it was unearthed on a house move by her parents! It is a valuable addition to the archive and it comes with the original bill from George Henry Lee –now part of John Lewis. Fiona states that girls were expected to make their own school Summer dress in needlework lessons at school ”hard to believe now”, the fabric was priced at £1.05 per metre when it was bought in January 1977 and 3.5 metres were deemed enough to make a school dress-Fiona obviously never made hers as the piece is intact!
10th March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #54- Martin Heath -1960
A Photograph of Martin Heath Winning His Heat in the 1 Mile Race at the LAC Schools’ Challenge Cup Meeting at White City, 1960
Martin Heath is, arguably, one of the best middle distance runners MTS has produced. He attended the school 1950 – 1960 and rose to be a top athlete in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he was at school and, later, when he had left school and gone up to Cambridge University. Gifted academically as well as on the sports field, he was a Harrison Scholar and winner of several prizes and athletics trophies, captain of the school athletics team and cross country team. Additionally, while at school, he was Northern Junior Mile Champion, English Schools Senior Mile Champion and English Schools Cross Country Champion among other achievements.
Heath ran for the University athletics and cross country teams and as a member of these teams, he ran alongside such athletes as Bruce Tulloh and Herb Elliott who was already an Olympic Champion at 1500m. Although invincible at the mile throughout his career, Elliot came closest to being beaten by Heath at a meeting in the early 1960s. Heath was ahead of him on the last bend. Elliot however, produced a burst in the last 15 yards and won the race “by a stride” with a time of 4m 9.9 s against Heath’s 4m 10.1s.
10th March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #54-It’s a piece of cake!
Whilst not literally true- it is actually a piece of icing, it does reflect the strange and wondrous objects that make up the school archive.
MTGS has a long history of producing in-house fantastic cakes for memorable occasions be it catering or the home economics department, there are pictures in old school magazines of the Founders day cake, the 1948 Golden Jubilee (of the school ) cake and the centenary cake in 1988 .It is from there that this piece of icing was saved.
It shows part of the Merchant Taylors’ Company Badge with the lion of England representing the monarchy and the three tents show the tents, draped in ermine that the company made for the crown on wars abroad. This same design was on the badge was worn by prefects here from 1922 to 1972 and now is worn by our 6th formers as their 6th form badge.
3rd March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #53-An Early School Photograph (c 1890)
The earliest school photographs in the archive collection date from the 1880s. An earlier photograph does exist. In Mark Luft’s “History of Merchant Taylors’, Crosby” there is a photograph of the boys of the school taken in 1871 [outside the 1620 building]. Unfortunately, the source of this photograph and its whereabouts are unknown.
The earliest held in the archive collection is from 1881 but is rather faded.
The photograph presented today was taken in about 1890. The member of staff seated at the centre of the scene is the much mentioned J H Milton who, at this stage had worked at the school for two years. The boys are members of his form.
The backdrop for the photograph seems to be the West Door of the school.
The archives also holds a key to the photograph and some of the boys are identified below:
- Roger James Tipple [MTS 1887 – 92]. Known to his friends, apparently, as “Boozer” Tipple.
- Harold Cobham [MTS 1887 – 92]. Moved to Glenalmonds School where he died in 1894. His brother, Elijah was killed serving with the RAMC in WW1.
- John Pearson Purvis [MTS 1889 – 90]. Emigrated to British Columbia 1891.
- Charles Norman James Dunman [MTS 1887 – 94]. His son later attended the school [1918 – 19].
Notice the lack of school blazers. The use of straw boaters by some boys while most wear peakless caps with a badge on the riband.
3rd March 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #53-Miss Christine “Chrissie” Blakey & Miss Lucy Mason
Christine Blakey had been a pupil at MTGS from 1892 to 1897 under Miss Bolton. Her niece, Nina Ward was a teacher at Barrow when Miss Fordham was there and so she was influential in Miss Fordham’s decision to move to MTGS, also bringing Nina Ward with her, the much respected history teacher who was here until 1948!
Miss Blakey taught intermittently at MTGS from 1908 to 1911. She also taught at “Hartfell” a private school for girls in Birkdale during this time on her afternoon off! At Hartfell she taught Science-clearly defined as botany and chemistry. At MTGS however she taught geography, English and botany and as the testimonial shows she was a much respected teacher. From here she went onto teach at the High School for Girls, Wellington in Shropshire until she retired in about 1928. In the archives we have her Board of education certificates required for her pension as well as testimonials.
This one from MTGS before she left to go to Shropshire is important in the school’s history; the eagle eyed amongst you may spot the headmistresses’ name in April 1911 as Lucy A Mason. Miss Mason was the acting headmistress who took over after Miss Bolton’s forced departure in 1910-she had in effect been running the school from about 1907 when Miss Bolton became incapacitated due to her alcoholism. Miss Shackleton’s appointment as the new head in 1911 was a bitter blow for Miss Mason she resigned soon afterwards, but this document is one of the few remaining pieces of evidence she was ever in charge of MTGS. She is also linked to Dr Wiglesworth, Miss Bolton’s husband as by 1911 she is living as a boarder in his house-see object number 28!
24th February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #52-A Portrait of Rev Joseph Clark
Joseph Clark was headmaster 1829 – 1848. The portrait which accompanies this article is actually a photograph of Clark’s portrait. The school does not, unfortunately, own the portrait itself. The photograph is taken from an original painting and is reproduced in H M Luft’s history of the school by permission of Rev J M Barrow.
Throughout these 200 articles there has been, and will be, frequent references to Canon S C Armour as the finest headmaster the school has ever had. The time during which Joseph Clark was headmaster undoubtedly represents the nadir of the school’s performance! When he took over the leadership of the school in 1829 the school had 42 boys on the roll. Although the number of attendees went up as well as down over the next twenty years, by the time of his dismissal in 1848 the school roll numbers only 4 – and they were Clark’s children. Worse still, the four children were one boy and three girls. Clearly this contravened the statutes of the school which dictated that no girls were to be admitted. Effectively, the roll was reduced to one boy!
24th February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #52-The Cherry Blossom Tree
When the first cherry blossom appears on the tree by the centenary hall there is always an assembly to do with the message of peace-now it is usually one of the senior staff who takes it but it used to be considered a huge honour for a class to put on the cherry tree assembly. This is one of the most poignant traditions that MTGS still has.
The school magazine of 1945/46 lists under “Gifts to the School”
“…An original present to the school has been given by Margaret Walker and Betty Robertson. A flowering cherry tree is to be planted in the school garden. They ask for a service to be held in thanksgiving for peace each year when the first buds of the cherry tree break.”
Margaret and Betty were the deputy head girls for that year. Betty went on to Manchester University to study English, having won the Fordham prize for best results. Margaret went to Dartford Physical training College to become a P.E. teacher, having played in our first teams for hockey, netball and cricket and collecting the art prize along the way.
17th February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #51-The 1655 Brass Plaque
Staff and pupils at the Boys’ School walk past this treasure every day without affording it a second glance! Apart from the 1620 building itself, it is the oldest extant item associated with the school. The plaque currently rests in the entrance under the tower having for many years been mounted on the main corridor to the right of the entrance to the Williams Hall.
The brass carries two coats of arms: Harrison’s on the left and the Company’s on the right. Although undated, there are various characteristics of style, design, wording and material that point to its production in the Commonwealth period and specifically 1655. The wording is believed to be the work of Edward Mollinex [Headmaster 1652 – 1660].
When originally mounted it lived above the door to the old school building where it remained for almost two centuries. It was certainly seen by James Gregor Grant [See item No 7] in 1810 when it seemed to be in good condition. Between then and the coming of Canon Armour in 1863, the brass became covered in plaster and whitewash but was fortunately saved by the new headmaster who had it cleaned and transported to the new building when it was opened in 1878.
Students of English should NOT be guided by the over-enthusiastic use of apostrophes in the English translation of the Latin!
17th February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #51-Mrs Trist’s European Dancers
When Miss Brash became headmistress in 1939 she resurrected the subject of music which had fallen by the wayside under Miss Fordham. Miss Brash herself played the violin and very soon after her appointment a full time music mistress, Miss Cholmeley was employed and both an orchestra and music society were formed. Miss Cholmeley only lasted a year before her conscience led her to joining the Wrens as part of the war effort but the school has never been without a full time music teacher since.
The senior school were allowed to have a Christmas party in 1941 and were entertained by the staff dance band!
Mrs Trist held dance classes at school and one of the highlights of the 1944 school year were the five European dances which were performed to parents in June 1944 with the school grounds decorated with fresh flowers as a backdrop. The girls all wore colourful “peasant “costumes. The upper fourths (year 9’s) gave a gymnastic display and it was such a success that the evening was repeated in July. A collection was taken at this which amounted to £8 14s 6d which was for the Inter-schools Committee Fund “for equipping schools in Europe after the war”- according to the school magazine of 1943/44.
10th February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #50- The Fontannaz Trophy
Parents, Old Boys and various organisations have a history of presenting trophies to the school. In 1958, a trophy was given to the school which was probably the largest silver trophy ever presented. The cup was the gift of Mrs Mary Fontannaz in memory of her husband, Mr A E Fontannaz and it was to be awarded for House Rugby.
Alfred Ernest Fontannez was born in Liverpool on 4 August 1892, the son of Antoine Jean Fontannaz, a Swiss national and Swiss Consul General. He attended Merchants’ 1901 – 1907 and died in 1951 at the early age of 58. He was the middle of three brothers who attended the school. In 1907 Alfred left school, aged about 15, and joined the training ship Conway on the River Mersey later becoming a produce broker.
10th February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #50- The Mulberries
As you walk along the main corridor from the vitreum towards the dining room, passing the offices, biology lab 3 and the magnificent staircase do you ever wonder who lived in the house before it became part of our school?
The beautiful carvings on the stairwell with the clearly defined capital B on the newel post give an indication of the splendour of the property that was once “The Mulberries”.
Census records show that a corn merchant William and Jane Humphreys lived there in 1851 but by 1861 Michael and Catherine Bousfield had purchased it although they lived in another house in Everton. He was an extremely prosperous cotton merchant whose estate at death was valued in millions! He ordered extensive renovations of the house including the stairwell. The census shows that apart from the family, four servants and a gardener were also living there.
The eldest son, Henry unfortunately died during the Russian flu epidemic of 1890.His eldest son, Eustace was a pupil of MTBS. Eustace was killed in action during the First World War in Egypt in 1916.
Catherine and her second son, Harvey who was a solicitor in Liverpool continued living at The Mulberries and are shown on the census of 1901 as occupying it. Harvey died later that year and Catherine died in 1907.It was on her death that the building was sold to the Merchant Taylors Company for £3,500 who incorporated it into the girl’s school. There is a large brass plaque by the school office to this effect.
The house had enormous grounds so in the 1912 school prospectus MTGS could boast six tennis courts, five netball courts and a hockey field! The trees and some of the gardens were retained and became known as the ladies walk.
There is a very large family grave in St Luke’s churchyard in which most of the above are buried and inside the church, the lectern is dedicated to Michael Bousfield.
In 1929 the front of the building was sheared off to accommodate the widening of Liverpool Road by the council and rebuilt in a flattened style. This is why the “central” corridor only has rooms off one side of it!
With thanks to Lindy Cassedy, (nee Bousfield) great granddaughter of Michael for supplying the family information.
3rd February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #49- The Archaeological Society and the Excavations at Sefton Hall
The school’s Archaeological Society was founded in 1956, its first President being a member of staff, J F Elton. It is in the nature of school societies that they flourish while their enthusiastic, passionate founder is on the staff at school but frequently fade away when he or she leaves. It was Elton who first proposed the dig in a talk to the society in October 1957 when he announced his intention to uncover the ground plan of Sefton Hall. Excavations by the school began in 1958 and continued until 1961 Though Elton left before they were finished he was succeeded as President of the society by R H Gambles who continued the work with equal enthusiasm and did not allow the society to fade.
In 1961 the site was scheduled as an ancient monument and excavation ceased. The school still holds the detailed drawings of the site made by the Society.
3rd February 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #49- The Library Porch
In 1620 when the building was built, this was the west porch facing the sand hills and the sea. Until the 1700’s it was the front door of the school ushering in the new pupils and launching the older pupils out into the world.
In the mid part of the last century, up until the late 1980’s the only time this door was opened was on A Level results day. The girls would collect their results envelope from the then 6th form common room (now the lower library) and go out onto the quad clutching their results to meet anxious parents and have a strawberry tea!!
It is therefore appropriate for the careers section of the library to be housed here, for nearly 400 years the porch has faced out towards the new world as our young ladies now must do…
27th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #48-Opening of the Armour Building 1913
In 1913, Canon Armour, who had retired in 1903, came back to the school to open the Armour Building. These two photographs were taken at the time of the opening.
The first photograph shows Canon Armour attempting to unlock the main door using a golden key that had been presented to him for this purpose. The story is told that this key [being soft] bent and would not unlock the door. Consequently a small boy called Joe Reaney was inserted through a toilet window with a steel key and unlocked the door from the inside! This story may be apocryphal but I’ve always thought it a good story and the photo does have a label with it saying “Canon Armour unlocking the door with the golden key” Joe Reaney eventually retired as laboratory technician in 1967 having worked at the school for almost 60 years so the incident does not seem to have harmed him! Behind Canon Armour stands Sir W Scott Barrett [Chairman of Governors], Mr Metcalfe [architect], Canon Armour’s daughter [Mrs Chase], her mother, Canon Armour’s wife, is seated in front of her, Mr Chase, Mr Cradock-Watson [Headmaster] and Rev Armour [Canon Armour’s brother].
The second photograph shows the boys of the school dutifully waiting on the small patch of grass outside the lodge [both still there] with the hooded and gowned staff standing behind them. The younger boys are still wearing Eton collars and caps but the jackets are not “uniform” blazers and badges are absent.
27th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #48-Birthday Card for Miss Fordham
This rather beautiful hand drawn card was presented to the headmistress Miss Fordham on her birthday by the Guides and Cadets from the school’s Guide unit (Cadets were senior Guides –a bit like Rangers are today).
Miss Fordham was almost a cult figure in the school at that time, the whole school had an extended recess (morning break) in which they would parade around the gardens to celebrate her birthday and each class would present her with a present, often a bowl of bulbs.
Her birthday fell on February 2nd-Candlemas-hence the subject of the card.
If you look closely you can see that the usual regulation Guide neckerchief was not worn but instead they wore their school tie thus reinforcing the links to school.
20th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #47-The Art Room in about 1900
This is another view of the inside of the school portrayed on the series of postcards issued in about 1900. The image shows a class taking place in what was then the Art Room [or Drawing School]; a room that few, if any will immediately recognise today. Today progress has turned this [at least partly] into Computer Room 1 and the room no longer occupies the full width of the building.
Today, the wall with the framed pictures is the wall of the staff computer/quiet room. Several new walls have been added; one runs from the door in the centre of the picture [though the door is no longer there!] parallel to the wall with the two large windows. These windows and the smaller one to their right still exist though the latter now look onto the dining room rather than the outside world and the two tall windows give a view of the stairs leading to room M3!
As with many of these photographs of the inside of the school, notice the large number of missing/broken shades on the gas lamps.
20th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #47- Junior School Uniform
The junior school was still at that point part of the senior girl’s school, they had classrooms in the wooden huts (roughly where the music office is now) and the little ones were housed in Rooms 6 and 7 which is now the lower library.
This shows the three types of uniform worn by them and modelled by a rather serious little girl-judging by the tulips and wallflowers in the background of the top right photograph this was taken in Spring and she is quite happy wearing her Summer uniform. The other two photographs were taken at the same time, you can just see the kindergarten dress peeping out from beneath her coat, hence her wearing the wrong socks!
13th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #46-Freedom of Halesowen Granted to Richard Lovell Corlett
Richard Corlett attended MTS from 1906 to 1915 after which he saw service as an officer with the East Lancashire Regiment in the Balkans before going on to study medicine at Liverpool University. He graduated MB ChB in 1922. This was followed by his qualifying DPH [Diploma in Public Health] in 1929 and MD in 1930. He later became Medical Superintendent of Hayley Green Hospital, Halesowen and Medical Officer of Health for Halesowen and Stourbridge. It was on his retirement as MoH of Halesowen that he was granted the Freedom of Halesowen, in 1962. He died in 1993 and the beautifully produced scroll granting the Freedom and the silver casket in which it was presented to him were given to the school.
The framed scroll granting the Freedom of Halesowen to Dr Richard Corlett and the silver casket in which [unframed] it was presented to him.
13th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #46-1988 –Centenary Year Celebrations
The centenary year celebrations of 1988 were massive-a committee had been in place for three years to ensure something significant took place every month and Stanfield too took part. This photograph shows Mrs Margaret Mann, headmistress of Stanfield and her staff with a class of upper infants (year 2) dressed up as Victorians at Wigan Pier. This trip was a huge undertaking as the whole of the infants and juniors went as part of Stanfield’s contribution to MTGS’ celebrations.
6th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #45-The Medals of James Charles Jack, MTS 1886 - 95
James Charles Jack was the most decorated Old Crosbeian of the First World War. His medal group includes:
1 Distinguished Service Order
2 Military Cross with 2nd award bar
3 1914/15 Star
4 British War Medal
5 Allied Victory Medal with Oak Leaf for Mention in Despatches
6 Delhi Durbar Medal
His first award of the MC was Gazetted on 28 September 1916. The citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry during operations. He directed the successful cutting of the wire from an exposed position under heavy shell fire. He was once partly buried. When his wires were cut he established communications by visual signalling and when the enemy counter-attacked in great force he was able to bring a heavy fire to bear on them which broke up their attack and inflicted heavy losses.”
The bar to his MC was Gazetted on 31 May 1918. This citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During a daylight raid on the enemy’s trenches he went forward to observe and report on the artillery barrage and the progress of the raiding party. He remained at his post with great coolness and determination under an intense enemy barrage until he was severely wounded. He has always set a splendid example to all ranks.”
Major Jack died of wounds at the Casualty Clearing Station at Vignacourt on 31 May 1918.
His DSO was Gazetted posthumously on 27 July 1918.
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While his battery was being heavily gas shelled he superintended the removal of his guns to higher ground clear of the cloud of gas and continued to fire heavily throughout the bombardment. Another day when the enemy got close to the guns, he withdrew his guns without losing one. His fine courage and initiative throughout were a splendid example to his men.”
6th January 2017 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #45-Bolts from the Blue
This wonderfully atmospheric photograph was taken in 1934.The caption on the back reads, “Christmas parties 1934 Upper VI Bolts from the Blue”. According to the School Magazine 1934/35 these were the prefects and all dressed in silver and blue.
It was taken in the then assembly hall which doubled as a gym, you can just see a gymnastics box in the bottom right hand corner. This room has changed beyond all recognition as it is now computer rooms 1 and 2!
Discounting the Head Girl and her two deputies (who presumably came dressed as something else-even the staff joined in by dressing as toys), there are 11 prefects listed in the magazine and a careful count of legs implies there are 11 girls in this photograph!
The Prefects for 1934/1935 were, Dorothy Jones, Dorothy Stott, Jean Tankard, Nancy Hughes, Jean Turner, Betty White, Joan Chambers, Marion Darling, Sylvia M Smith, Moira Thomas and Joyce McCarraher. Of these, 5 went onto teacher training colleges, 3 went to Bedford College and 1 to King’s College in London. 1 went to Liverpool University and 1 to Aberystwyth University.
It is one of my most favourite photographs in the archive. It is of its time, the girl at the front looks so happy at the general silliness of the whole thing and some of the others are trying to suppress a smile. I wonder who took the photograph.
30th December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #44-A List of Prizes 1875
This is the earliest list of prizes awarded for results in the summer examinations.
The overall winner of the Montefiore Prize was John Rutherford [MTS 1868 – 76] who gained prizes in Divinity, Classics and Mathematics with commendations in English, Drawing and French. In his last year he became Head of school and went on to graduate LLB and later was called to the bar.
The Montefiore Prize was established, probably in the 1850s, following a donation of 100 guineas by Sir Moses Montefiore, a member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. It is still awarded as a prize for Classics today.
Other names on the list of which something is known are:
F M Sergeant [Frederick Marsh] who left school at 15 and became an apprentice in the mercantile marine eventually obtaining his Master’s Certificate in 1885 and retiring as Commander RNR.
J Hyland [James] who became Head of School in 1878 when the school moved from the 1620 building to the new site. When he died in 1947 his ashes were scattered on the school field.
J S Hyland [John Shearson], brother of the above, qualified PhD, MA Leipzig and followed a career in geology. He was made FRGS in 1896 and FChemS in 1898. He died in Ashanti in 1898.
R A Costain [Richard Arthur] eventually became director and Chairman of his father’s building firm, Richard Costain & Sons Ltd
30th December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #44-The Magazine
The very first edition of the school magazine was published in the Spring term of 1920.Quite why it took so long for the school magazine to get off the ground is unclear-MTGS had, already been existence for 32 years. It had been decided in 1916 to launch a magazine under the auspices of Miss Bunce, the English teacher but nothing came of it.
However in 1920,with Miss Shackleton the headmistress away on extended leave in America it appeared under the editorship of a sixth former, Marjorie Bateson and a sub-editor, Mollie Symington both in Lower 6th.Marjorie went on to study French in France and Mollie went on to teach.
The early magazines were termly and then settled into an annual reflection of the school year, the cover changed from the rather austere navy blue of the early ones to the beautiful drawing of the school crest by Miss Ellingford the art teacher which lasted from 1930 to the mid 1960’s.
The cover then changed again into a rather boring blue one which only lasted a few years and then came the practice of the girl’s designing their own cover as now. The editorship passed from the girls to the English department after a few issues and it wasn’t until the new committee system in the 1960’s that a magazine committee was established to help the poor beleaguered English teacher in charge and it still remains a popular 6th form choice of committee today.
23rd December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #43- Headmaster’s Garden and Pond
The article shown in week 37 showed an image of the Headmaster’s house taken from his garden. This week we present two related photographs taken in the early part of the 20th century.
The first photograph shows the entrance to the Headmaster’s garden to the left of the lamp standard. The Head’s privacy is protected by bushes and a thick privet hedge and it will be noticed that the window to what is now HM’s study appears to be bricked up. The area now occupied by the Junior School Hall is totally changed.
The second photograph shows the pond in the Head’s garden where, apparently Canon Armour used to keep geese. The house can just be seen through the trees with the houses of College Avenue on the left. The Ian Robinson Sports Centre now occupies this space.
23rd December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #43-The Lester Family
As you walk through St John’s Gardens (in between St George’s Hall and the museum) in central Liverpool cast your eyes to the statue of the man holding a waif like child.
This very impressive statue sculptured in bronze by George Frampton in 1907 is to the memory of Canon Major Thomas Lester. Canon Lester was a leading figure in the Liverpool area dealing with child welfare and the founder of several charities. He had been Vicar of St Mary’s in Kirkdale from 1855 until his death in 1903 where he did enormous amounts of charity work including founding the Stanley Hospital, the Major Street Ragged Schools and a girl’s home in Walton Road. He was chairperson of the Liverpool Ruskin Society.
He was also the father of a daughter, Florence born 23rd January 1871 who aged 17 was the very first pupil to attend MTGS.
Katie Lester, Florence’s cousin was pupil number two, is the daughter of the Reverend Edward Lester, vicar of St Paul’s in Kirkdale and younger brother to Canon Major Thomas Lester.
Here is the opening page of the original admissions register showing the two Lester cousins.
16th December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #42- Image Magazine
Image [the magazine] was first printed and published in 1962. It was founded by two members of staff, C D Price and C J Woodland as a vehicle for creative writing and in the early years of its life produced several issues per year. The articles were originally typed onto a wax stencil and printed using a pre-photocopier, spirit based Banda machine. Over the years, the magazine and its base, Image Press, in the attic of the B building [or School House as it is now grandiosely known], expanded with the introduction of letterpress printing and offset printing before eventually giving way to the photocopier.
In 1964 the magazine was placed among the top 12 school magazines following a judging of 600 such publications by the National Association of School Magazines. In 1965 the Association placed Image first out of all magazines entered.
Printing of “commercial” jobs for the school [tickets, programmes etc] was also carried out by the press and it was the pressure of an increasing amount of this work along with a drive towards higher standards and experimental techniques which required the number of Image magazines produced to be reduced, it eventually becoming an annual occurrence.
The last Image magazine was produced in 2010 – issue 50. Its role has been continued by a new magazine called The Clock Tower.
16th December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #42- The Move to Stanfield
The junior school had always been up with the seniors, in the early days the whole of the juniors were in classroom 6 which is now the left hand side of the lower library. By the late 1930’s they were in the “temporary 1922” wooden huts which were situated approximately where the music rooms are now.
The juniors’ mothers were not very happy with this arrangement particularly during World War Two where they argued should a bomb drop their children would have no protection whatsoever.
The Governors leased a large house in 1941 on Blundellsands East Road called “Daisyfield” to allay their fears but the little ones had to walk up to school every day for their lunch. By 1945 Stanfield was leased by the school which was handily placed almost exactly halfway between the two senior schools and in 1952 it was purchased by the school.
These extracts from the school magazine of 1945/46 give a flavour of what the actual girls thought. Elizabeth Parkhouse and Shirley Smith both write of the beautiful grounds (at one point in its chequered past Stanfield had been a market garden). (Mr) Halewood was the gardener. Shirley Smith left school in 1951 to go on to secretarial school and Elizabeth Parkhouse left in 1954 to read theology at Cambridge University and then went on to teach.
9th December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #41- The Works of T E Peet
Week 10 of this series [May 6] featured a parody written by T E Peet. In addition to this whimsical work, the archive collection contains a number of more serious works by T E Peet. Being an archaeologist with an interest in the Middle East who taught himself hieroglyphics and Coptic as well as Italian and Greek, his works are scholarly and esoteric.
Born in Liverpool in August 1882, he excelled at school [1894 – 1901] in every way, being a Harrison Scholar, a member of the cricket XI [captain 1901], rugby XV and winner of school prizes. He went on to study at Oxford and graduated in 1905. His interest in things archaeological began in about 1899 when he and his school friend, Charles Ryle Fay attended a lecture at Liverpool University on recent discoveries in Crete.
His first published work was “The Stone and Bronze Ages in Italy” a work much praised at the time for its mature approach and which was the leading work in the field for many years afterwards. A 1909 first edition, gifted by the author in September 1909 and inscribed by him, is in the archive collection.
Shortly afterwards, Peet shifted his sights towards the archaeology of Egypt, in particular the excavations at Abydos upon which he worked from 1909 – 1913. The collection contains his 3 volume work “The Cemeteries of Abydos” published in 1913 and 1914.
Peet became Professor of Egyptology at Liverpool in 1919 after serving with the army in the War and reader in Egyptology at Oxford in 1933. He died at Oxford in 1934 aged 51 while awaiting ratification of his professorship by the Privy Council.
9th December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #41- Fees
Ask any parent and the subject of school fees will come up. Remember Mollie Badcock’s diaries (object number 30), her father was concerned about her fees way back in 1933 as can be seen from this correspondence.
Ruth as she was known then, it was only later that she used her middle name Mollie, had won a scholarship to the school in 1931 and thus was eligible for reduced fees. Fees were then set termly at £5: 6s: 8d with an extra 5 shillings per term for games tuition and the school magazine. This is equal today to approximately £327 per term ( www.thisismoney.co.uk/historic– inflation-calculator). Using the same calculations but in reverse today’s termly fees of £3,650 would have been £62 in 1931 so either today’s fees are a bargain or they were grossly overcharged in 1931!!!!
It appears that her father’s income from running a pharmacy in 73 St John’s Road was also below the cut -off point of £400 per annum-this roughly equates to just over £25,000 today so slightly below the current average salary. It would seem that full fees had to be paid termly and then a reimbursement would occur at a later date.
Cheques were paid into the local branch of Martin’s Bank in Waterloo, at 98 South Road , which later became Barclays Bank and was finally closed in 1976-to this day the school still banks with Barclays.
2nd December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #40- 184 Liverpool Road
The accompanying illustration shows a sketch of the building at 184 Liverpool Rd [known occasionally as South Lawn and nowadays as Milton House]. Built in the last quarter of the 19th century it was initially, as might be expected, a private house, being occupied by a timber salesman and a solicitor, until, by 1911 it has passed into the hands of Edward Hartley, a member of staff at the school who ran it as a boarding house [see the archive item for 21 October] for a number of boys attending Merchants’. One of these boys was Harry Rostron [mentioned earlier – see the entry for 7 October] who would have been living here when his father, as Captain of the Cunard liner Carpathia, was rescuing the survivors of the Titanic.
At some point in the next few years the house became a preparatory school and was known as Crosby Preparatory School.
Edward Hartley worked alongside John Herbert Milton, Senior Master at the school. John had four children, two of whom play a major role in the life of “184”. These two were a daughter Ethel Constance Ada Milton and a son John Herbert Vernon Milton.
Ethel had graduated BA from Liverpool University and occupied a number of teaching posts before she started work at Crosby Preparatory School in 1922 and where she seemed to stay for many years. Many of her former pupils refer to the school as Miss Milton’s School. Ethel died in 1950 and ownership of the school [if it was not already vested in him] passed to her brother John Herbert Vernon Milton.
The uniform colours of Crosby Preparatory School were maroon and green as shown in the attached photograph. These happened to be the same colours as the neckerchief of the St Luke’s Scout Troop in which JHV Milton was a Group Scout Leader. JHV was sponsored for involvement in the Scouts by Rev Edward Hartley in 1924 [He had become Vicar of St Luke’s in 1918]. [What a tightly knit community is Crosby!!]
In 1967, Milton had a meeting with the Headmaster of the day, Mark Luft and promised to leave Crosby Preparatory School to Merchants’ in his will. This he duly did and the property passed to MTS following the death of Milton in 1970. At the time it still catered for about 100 pupils. When the last of these had left the school, the property was incorporated completely into the running of MTBS when it became known as Milton House and was used for teaching smaller sixth form groups, particularly those studying Classics.
2nd December 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #40-The School Librarian
As early as the first school inspection in 1905 there was comment that no school library existed at MTGS and it was again raised in 1911 as a negative feature of the school. After a mammoth fund raising to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the girl’s school in 1948 the top floor of the old school building was renovated to form the library.
However there was still no professional librarian employed until 1971 when Miss Joan Ryan joined the staff, working across both schools as the librarian and teaching English at MTBS. Soon she married Mr Stuart Potter of the MTBS maths department and they both remained at Merchants’ until 2000, when Stuart was asked to umpire at the Sydney Olympic Games and early retirement suddenly appealed! For a short time in the late 1970’s the “new library” or “library extension” existed in what is now computer rooms 1 and 2 but had been the hall and gym. The old 6th form common room became the lower library in the early 1980’s and was fitted out as a classroom and still to this day is used for Governor’s meetings as well as teaching and library activities. It is currently one of the biggest school libraries in the local area.
Mrs Barry arrived in April 1998 at MTGS as a part time library assistant and took over Mrs Potter’s role in September 2000.Thus in the history of the school there have only ever been two professionally chartered librarians.
The members of the sixth form library committee wear the purple shield as their badge and have done so since 2010. Prior to that the distinctive white round badges was worn by them from 1994 onwards and previous to that the librarians wore an oval badge, depicting the tree of knowledge holding an open book as designed by Joan Potter.
25th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #39-Natural History Society Outings 1905
The Natural History Society was one of the earliest school societies to be formed, being founded early in 1905. Initially, the President of the Society was the Headmaster, Mr Cradock-Watson supported as Vice-President by the ubiquitous J H Milton and, keeping it in the family, F C S Milton [J H Milton’s son] acted as Secretary.
The Society was divided into four sections: Ornithology, Entomology, Geology and Conchology.
The Society’s first outing was to Bidston Hill in March 1905. The first photograph shows a group of pupil on this outing on what looks like a rather chilly day. J H Milton is on the right of the group.
On 16 June 1905, Mr Milton organised another outing, this one to Hilbre Island. Two photographs from this trip are shown below.
25th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #39- The Junior Athletics Squad 1999
This was the junior athletics squad 1998-1999 who had won through the regional heats to get to the national finals held at Corby on July 3rd 1999.Mrs Anne Stenson former head of P.E. kept meticulous notes and on her retirement donated everything to the school’s archive. Her athletics’ standards book covering nearly twenty years is an exemplar in how to keep records!!!
The photograph shows from left to right
Back Row-Clare Truesdale, Becky Howell, Siobhan Tarleton, Katie McGing, Steph Evans, Felicity Key and Laura Harman
Front row-Annette Lilley, Nicky Richards, Hannah Jacks, Rachel Jacks and Sophie Atwood
Floor-Liz Sweeney and Sophie Gaunt
18th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #38-The Centenary of the Old Boys’ Association
In his forty years at Merchants’, Canon Armour introduced several things in an attempt to emulate the atmosphere and surroundings of the larger public schools. He introduced the singing of a School Song, the giving of prizes and Speech Day, the school Houses [or Sets as they were known in his day] and the Old Boys’ Association. This last grouping was suggested by Armour in a letter to a number of Old Boys when he invited them to a lunch in the summer of 1889. Following a fairly slow initial response, it was decided that such an Association should be formed on 1 January 1890. Consequently, 1990 saw the centenary of the founding of the Old Boys Association.
The centenary was marked by a number of occasions including a Service of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral in November and a “Special” Old Boys dinner in March at which the participants were presented with a small commemorative goblet.
The Guest of Honour at the dinner was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr R A K Runcie [OC].
18th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #38- Miss Elsie Martin
This charming photograph shows Miss Elsie Martin seated on the extreme right at the front of this photograph taken in about 1918.She is shown with her fellow domestic science students at college, possibly the Colquitt Street School of Domestic Science in Liverpool. She had been handpicked by Miss Fordham to join her at Merchants having been previously on the teaching staff at Barrow High School for Girls-she was one of the trusted clique of teachers that Miss Fordham brought with her. Miss M. O. Martin was her sister and taught French at Merchants.
Miss Elsie as she was known (to distinguish from her more academic sister Miss Martin) was also responsible for school housekeeping, ultimately she fed the school at lunchtime, put on superb lunches for visitors and kept both Miss Fordham and Miss Brash well fed. After Miss Rose gave up teaching needlework Miss Elsie also took on sewing and there are stories of uninspiring lessons of darning bloomers and combinations whilst a girl read out a Dickens’ novel. The girls who were streamed by academic ability that had the misfortune to fall into B housecraft were often used as cheap labour! Old girls remember being taken to staff houses to learn how to clean carpets etc. She finally retired in 1950 after 27 years at the school. In the 1957 big fund raising Garden Fete she is billed as having a stall “Miss E. Martin’s Stall- a delectable attraction” presumably selling home -made confectionery.
11th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #37- A Postcard of The Headmaster’s House
When Canon Armour marched his pupils along Liverpool Road to their new school in 1878, he would have found, on arrival, the main school building, the lodge, the Headmaster’s house and a fives court. The last of these disappeared many years ago but the other three components remain, outwardly unchanged in many ways but inwardly, often transformed.
The Headmaster’s house, situated at the end of the drive is a large dwelling. Occupied when new by Canon Armour and then by his successor, Henry Cradock-Watson, it remained in use as the Head’s house until the arrival of Rev C J Russell in 1929. On 14 March 1929 it was decided at a Governors meeting that “school house be used for part of the school premises” as of September, £500 being set aside for the conversion. The changes resulted in extra classrooms used to accommodate, over the years, both Senior School and Junior School classes, administration offices [headmaster’s office and bursar’s department] and, until recently, Image Press.
The view shown on the postcard [part of a series taken about 1900 – 1910] is taken from what was the Head’s garden, later occupied by the tennis courts and, latterly, by the Ian Robinson Sports Centre.
11th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #37- The Sniggery Woods Scholarship
This is very much tied in with object number 29 (the set of initials WB 1914 on the 1620 building)
During the preparations for the First World War, the 3rd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment had spent the Summer run up in Crosby. The officers were billeted in the 1620 building and the men in tents at Sniggery Woods in Little Crosby.
Once war had begun the Battalion, moved up the coast to Barrow-in Furness where they spent the war on coastal defence work. Their commanding officer was Lieutenant- Colonel John Vaughan and the Second-in-Command was Major Alexander Greg, there were approximately 800 N.C.O.’s and men under their command. Major Greg was the owner of Quarry bank Mill in Styal and initially the majority of the men came from the Warrington area, as the need for more men increased, they were drawn from St Helens, Ormskirk and Southport as well as the villages in between.
In December 1914 the commanding officer presented the prizes (in the interests of economy the leather bound books had gone and a simple certificate sufficed).The Regiment was so grateful that they instigated the Sniggery Woods scholarship-the conditions of eligibility can be see here. The money in it lasted until 1967 when the last pupil received the final balance of £6. 11. 6d from it, fifty three years later.
4th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #36 -Golombek Chess Display
Harry Golombek OBE [1911 – 1995] was a British Chess International Master and an Honorary Grandmaster.
On 5 February 1948 Mr Golombek [leaning forward on the left of the photograph] played 35 games [including nine members of the school’s Chess Club] in a simultaneous display. Two boys, A G Leaver and R V Noble, drew their matches. The remainder were, perhaps unsurprisingly, defeated.
The matches were arranged by courtesy of Waterloo Chess Club.
In the background smoking his pipe is Mr Thomas Llewelyn Winhall, President of MTS Chess Club and a member of staff at the school.
4th November 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #36 -Book Prize
In the early days of the school Prize Giving was held at the end of the academic year. A great marquee was erected in the school grounds and various local dignitaries would be invited, the Master and Wardens of the Merchant Taylors’ Company would come and sometimes The Countess of Lathom would present the prizes, it was the social highlight of the school year as well as recognising the educational achievements of the girls. By 1892 prize giving had to be moved to the Alexandra Assembly Rooms in Crosby (sadly no longer there now replaced by a block of flats),and the timings changed to November to coincide with the Boys’ Schools’ Prize Giving-as is remains to this day,124 years later.
The prizes all were with rather serious works of English Literature beautifully leather bound and with the school emblem embossed on the front. The early remit was to reward as many girls as possible, hence this rather heavy tome of Shakespeare’s Works being awarded in 1894 for clay modelling to a presumably grateful fourteen year old Edith Griffiths! Edith was one of four sisters who joined the school in May 1892, their parents being Arthur and Ann Griffiths, residing locally in Fairholme Road with Arthur is listed as a paint manufacturer.
28th October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #35 - Naval Section Cadets at Training
The cadet corps at MTS was started in 1915. Starting as the Junior Division of the Officer Training Corps it was renamed The Junior Training Corps during World War 2 and was a completely army based organisation. The Sea Cadets and the Air Training Corps catered for those in schools with sailing and flying inclinations.
In 1948 the three service units operating in schools were amalgamated into the Combined Cadet Force, a formation which still operates today. The photographs below the training offered to the RN cadets in 1951.
The lesson in photograph 1 is taking place in the white, single storey building on the right of photograph 2
This building and the whaler [in the right hand photograph] are in the place now occupied by the Wylie building.
Perhaps some of our Old Boys will recognise themselves in these photographs!
28th October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #35 - Petty Disbursements Book 1888-1936
This book was started in May1888 just before MTGS officially opened in June 1888 and the early entries are all to do with setting up the school, advertisements in the local press, Liverpool Post, Liverpool Mercury and Liverpool Courier and the sending out of school prospectuses.
A year later this page gives us in greater detail a flavour of the school at the time. The Merchant Taylors’ Company forwarded a sum of £50 every quarter for school expenses, which was not an inconsiderable sum.
Out of this was paid wages-Rawlings was the caretaker-he lived in the tied house in the grounds (now the drama studio),the charwoman who must have come in daily to clean on a very low wage and someone was paid for mangling-the art of removing excess water from washing-presumably this was for the boarder’s bedding. Local tradesmen were used, Mr Webster brought the coal, Mr Holt made the curtains, and Mr Sutton delivered coal and firewood on a very regular basis .Mr Bates the joiner and Mr Tingling the printer also were used by the school. On this page we are in exam season, school had to pay for carriage of the Oxford exam papers-the girls in form V (year 11) took the Oxford Local Certificate and the 6th form took Higher Certificate. Prize Giving was known as Prize Delivery and took part at the end of the Summer term. A grand marquee was hired (at the cost of £5-proportionately a lot of cost) and erected in the school grounds. Apparently a policeman was also paid to be on duty! Medals had to be bought for callisthenics prizes (this was a form of gentle gym involving barbells and clubs accompanied by piano music).
21st October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #34 - A Portrait of Reverend Edward Hartley
In the staff register, Edward Hartley is listed as teaching English Subjects, Classics, Mathematics and Shorthand (!)
Born in Bury in 1867, he attended The Grammar School, Bury and the University of Oxford from which he graduated BA in 1894 and MA in 1897. Having taught in Scotland for three years he came to Merchants’ in 1895 and stayed until 1918 when he left to become Vicar of St Luke’s, Great Crosby.
In his 23 years on the staff he emerged as a man who was not a specialist but could turn his hand to teaching most subjects of the day. A coach at cricket and rugby and an athlete of some distinction, he was also (to all intents) the founder of the school’s oldest society, the Debating Society, which he rescued from oblivion.
Hartley took Holy Orders in 1909 and became assistant curate at St Nicholas, Blundellsands and, as stated above, Vicar of St Luke’s in 1918. He was appointed a school governor in 1928.
Popular with the boys, he had a firm but quietly expressed discipline. Known as “Old Ned” to the boys his defining feature seems to have been an irrepressible cheerfulness and a sense of humour which delighted in a joke (including those at his own expense).
Edward Hartley died on 1 February 1932 aged 65.
21st October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #34 -Proficiency Medal for Swimming
This rather magnificent medal was awarded to Betty Newton in 1918.It is entitled the proficiency medal for swimming and on the reverse side has the St John the Baptist lamb from the Merchant Taylors’ crest. It is solid silver as the hallmark is clearly visible. Betty would have worn it on her school djibbah (gymslip) as it has a metal bow pin.
Betty Newton was a pupil here from 1910 when she joined aged 6 until 1921.Her father was a sailor and they lived near school in Everest Road, her older brother, Wreyford attended the boy’s school. She played left half in the first hockey XI and the first ever school magazine of Spring 1920 says of her play, “she is rather slow and requires a little more dash. She keeps her pace well and is fairly reliable”. Although by today’s standards this would be unacceptable all the players got criticised and rarely praised, this report would have been written by one of their peers, probably Mary Lewin, the sport’s captain!
She went on to study at Liverpool University, graduating with a BSc in Botany and later emigrating to Canada. She remembered fondly that her piece in the school magazine of the history of MTGS was supposed to have won a prize but when no prize appeared her UV form (year 11) put on a concert which raised enough money to buy an inscribed book for her.
14th October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #33 - The Constantine Bat
James Cecil Ambrose attended MTS 1909 – 1915. The story goes that J C Ambrose won this bat as a prize in a charity draw at a charity match held on the school ground in 1943. The bat was signed by and presented to him be Learie Constantine.
The match was probably the match between S G Shepherd’s XI and L N Constantine’s XI played, according to the Cricket Archive website, at Crosby on the 9th and 10th August 1943. Although the exact ground is not given by this source. Constantine was the top scorer with 72 runs.
The match was played in aid of the Mayors of Bootle and Crosby War Funds.
About 20 years ago, the bat was loaned to a shop owner who displayed it in his window where the sun caused the signature to fade. Close inspection of the blade, however, shows evidence of the indentation caused by the signing.
The bat was presented to the school by James’s son Peter Ambrose in 2010.
14th October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #33 -Toad of Toad Hall 1951
Toad of Toad hall is of course the stage adaption by A.A. Milne (of Winnie The Pooh fame) of the 1908 story, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
It was the middle school production in the Autumn term of 1951 culminating in a performance at St Luke’s Church Hall. This hall is now known as The Comrades Club in Crosby. School at that time did not have a big enough hall for productions, the centenary hall still nearly 40 years away and the purchase of the Armstrong Furnishing Depository (the Thompson Building) still a good 25 years in the future.
Here is a photo of the “Wild Wooders” posing with their tankards. They are in alphabetical order, Valerie Battersby, Lorna Bradburn, Lillias Cothliff, Rosemary Fearon, Ethne Hancox, Alison Hardie, Irene Harwood, Gaynor Melrose, Joyce Mitchell, Valerie Roberts, Sheila Stark and Phyllis Thompson. One of these little Wild Wooders, Ethne would later be Head Girl in 1956!
7th October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #32 - Some Maritime Connections in Admission Registers
Everyone is familiar with the story of the sinking of the Titanic on the night of 14/15 April 1912. Fewer are familiar with the loss of RMS Empress of Ireland on 29 May 1914. Loss of life in both cases was significant, 1517 in the case of the Titanic, 1012 in the case of the Empress. Both of these disasters had connections with boys in the school.
The survivors of the Titanic were rescued on 15 April by the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia. Her captain, Arthur Henry Rostron had three sons who attended MTBS: Harry Maxwell Rostron [MTS 1910 – 1917], Robert James [1912 – 1914] and Arnold Richard [1920 – 1924]. At the time of the rescue, only Harry Maxwell was attending. He later became an engineer who went on to become General Manager and Engineer of the Liverpool Overhead Railway Co, Ltd.
RMS Empress of Ireland
The Empress of Ireland was a Canadian Pacific liner that sank in 14 minutes in the St Lawrence River after colliding with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad on 29 May 1914. Her captain was Henry Kendall. His son William Easterbrook Wright Kendall attended MTS 1912 – 1919.
7th October 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #32 - 1981 School Prospectus Photograph
To prepare for the publishing of a school prospectus several “staged” shots are always taken of different aspects of school life. This one comes from a selection taken at Stanfield and shows Mrs Ashworth with a year one class doing some intense story telling using a Dick Bruna (creator of Miffy) book.
The background would suggest it was a Friday of Spring term but the girls are in Summer uniform dresses. This rather loud print dress did not last for very long, the junior girls were not keen on its resemblance to pyjama fabric! It was quickly replaced by the more familiar blouse material worn as a shirt-waister dress by all girls in Stanfield including juniors and then again later by the blue and white striped dress as worn by the girls only in reception/infants today.
30th September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #31 - School Library when used as the Great Hall
This photograph shows what is now the library in its former incarnation as the “Great Hall”.
The lack of the 1st World War Memorial beneath the rose window dates the photograph to before 1923.
It was in this Hall that morning assemblies would be held with the Headmaster making announcements from the lectern beneath the large honours board, his staff arrayed round the sides with the pupils standing in the body of the Hall.
Of the three honours boards on display on the far wall, magnification shows the board on the right lists winners of the Tyler Prize while the one in the centre could, possibly, list entrants to Oxford and Cambridge colleges.
The essential architecture of the room, the roof and windows, remains the same though the wooden steps outside the windows which acted as a fire escape have been removed and what appear to be gas mantles have been replaced by electric lighting.
30th September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #31 -Room Numbers
This sketch map from a science open day in 1973 shows the school layout before the second big batch of building works ( the Centenary Hall, the Davies Wing, the Thompson Building and the “new “ science block).The first big building project having been the gym and Derby Wing in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
If you look carefully you will see that some rooms have numbers, once upon a time all the classrooms had numbers. The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted that even now the library office has Number 5 on it, the library has a Number 6 and the door at the foot of the library stairs (behind the newspaper rack) still has a Number 7-these are the only remnants left of the old numbering system.
The map also shows how domestic science (home economics) was taught near the school kitchens. The lower library was the 6th form common room and the library extension referred to on the map is now Computer rooms 1 and 2.This large room had until the building of the gym been used as the school hall. The sick room had been the gent’s toilets at this time! The current RS room is on this map rooms 19 and 20 and what are now Physics 3 and the nearby run of cupboards are shown on this map as rooms 17 and 18.
23rd September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #30 -Chemistry Laboratory 1900
This splendidly atmospheric photograph shows the school’s chemistry laboratory in about 1900. The laboratory probably occupied the site of the fives courts which were converted in the late 1880s or early 1890s following a letter from the Charity Commissioners to the Governors pointing out that “little or no use” was made of the courts.
This is now the space occupied by the Music Building.
The four pupils, who will remain forever anonymous, are clearly working in an environment untroubled by health and safety measures! The photographer has not even bothered to have the broken test tube and contents cleared up from the floor! One wonders what strange and exotic names appeared on the labels on the bottles.
23rd September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #30 - Molly Badcock’s Diaries
Ruth Mary Badcock was a pupil here from 1931 to 1940 going on to read zoology at University of Liverpool; she then did a Masters and taught ecological science at Keele University. She was a keen member of the Old Girls Association and on her death in 2014 left a large donation of her memorabilia to the school archives. Whilst it is very rude to read other people’s diaries I hope you will find this snapshot of a typical 1930’s schoolgirl’s life interesting-life was much simpler then-Molly’s life revolved around family, school and church. The massage is I think some sort of physiotherapy.
1934 January 21st Sunday-Went to church with mummy. Wrote nine letters in afternoon and evening. Read a lot. Sylvia came down for medicine for Auntie Claude.
Monday-Mr Griffiths (Mrs Langford’s brother) came to tell us that Mrs Langford was in the Chester Infirmary for an operation but that she was getting on nicely.
Tuesday-Posture class 8.30 I have got some funny new exercises. Nothing unusual happened. I walked home from school about three times this week (Molly lived in St John’s Rd Waterloo).
Wednesday- Got on quite well at sewing nothing unusual happened. Did more intervals with Mr Robinson in singing. (Mr Robinson was the singing teacher who had to be chaperoned as it was unseemly to be left alone with a girl)!
Thursday- Mummy had her hair cut. Posture again. Did a lot of teamwork in hockey. Had to stay up late doing art homework. Miss Fordham did not take prayers this morning.
Friday- learnt to travel on the bar in gym. I got on slightly better than usual on it. Art in the afternoon, we learnt about vanishing points. Miss Fordham did not take prayers.
By 1937 she was aged 15 and her interest in the natural world can be seen from her diary entries with references to her pets, plants and the weather.
Monday 4th January-Clematis in bud. Walked along the shore to Hall Road and back home inland with Marjorie. Potted the daffodil bulbs, sent bulb order and token to Sydenham’s.
Tuesday-massage. Very bitter afternoon, sewed and read
Wednesday-Sydenham bulbs arrived. Planted some in my window box. Mummy, Marjorie and I went to see “The House That Went to Sea” at The Playhouse, very well acted.
Thursday-Marjorie and I went for a walk round Crosby in the morning. Went to tea with Marjorie in the afternoon.
Friday-Put bone meal on the garden in the morning and took Vic (the dog) on the shore……went to town and had tea at Henderson’s café.(This was a large department store in Liverpool on Church Street, roughly where Boots is now)
Saturday-massage 9.45 scrubbed all guinea pigs hutches out.
16th September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #29 - Founders’ Jewel of the Old Crosbeians’ Lodge
John Herbert Milton, for many years Senior Master at MTS, died in 1925. He, apparently, long held dear the idea of setting up a Freemasons’ Lodge based on members of the school. This idea came to fruition on 15 June 1928 when the “Old Crosbeians” Lodge of Freemasons, No 4992 was consecrated at Liverpool.
At the time this was believed to be a unique case in the Masonic Province of West Lancashire of a Lodge based on a single school.
The original founders appear to be fourteen in number. The archive collection contains two of the founders’ jewels.
The first Master of the Lodge was Charles K James [MTS 1886 – 90] and the founders included Vernon Milton [MTS 1900 – 04], son of John Herbert Milton.
The first Secretary of the Lodge was I W Butler-Wright, that well known member of the school staff.
16th September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #29 -Carved initials of W.B. 1914
As you walk around the 1620 building there are names carved into it from previous generations of schoolboys, some dating from the 1760’s and several from the 1800’s.The reasons for these are not entirely clear and some have been carved with great care.
However as we all know no Merchant Taylors’ girl would ever dream of defacing her school building so why the much later set of initials?
We are very proud to have been the only school in Merseyside who in the Summer of 1914 in the run up to the Great War billeted soldiers. WB was therefore an officer of the 3rd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment who was briefly stationed here, the men being in tents at Sniggery Woods in Little Crosby before moving further up the coast to Barrow-in Furness. The commanding officer even presented the prizes at the December 1914 prize giving. The Regiment was so grateful that they contributed the Sniggery Woods Scholarship for several years as a thank you-local girls were eligible for this.
School went back a little late in September 1914, once the soldiers had moved on the girls’ mothers insisted the whole school was fumigated and then repainted!
9th September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #28 -A Photograph of the Cadet Force 1915
A cadet force in schools was formed nationally in 1860 but it was not until many years later that MTS formed such a corps. A suggestion came from Old Boys serving with the Volunteer Force as early as 1903 that a cadet unit should be formed at the school but due to lack of funds, nothing came of the suggestion until 1912 when a Junior Company of Cadets was formed which was attached to the Sixth (Rifle) Battalion of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). The corps was formally recognised on 30 March 1915 with William Parry, a teacher of Maths and Science, as its commanding officer. Initially there were two companies: the senior formed of boys over 14 and a junior company of younger boys.
The attached photograph was taken in July 1915 and contains images of some pupils who did not survive the war.
9th September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #28 -Miss Bolton’s Marriage Certificate
Whilst this appears an innocuous piece of paper it hides a greater mystery with perhaps a whiff of scandal about it………
Until 1944 when it was finally lifted, presumably due to a shortage, there existed a marriage bar on women teachers, when a woman teacher got married they had to give up teaching.
Miss Isabel Bolton was the first headmistress of MTGS; she came from being second mistress at Liverpool Ladies College, Grove Street which had been re-founded in 1876 as a girl’s public school. She therefore had the experience and the local knowledge to start up a new school. Dr Arthur Wiglesworth stood her surety, being described as a surgeon and physician of West Derby, Liverpool.
The 1891 Census has Dr Wiglesworth, his second wife Mary and five children living with two servants at 1 Brougham Terrace, West Derby. Also living with them is Miss Isabel Bolton listed as a school mistress presumably whist at Liverpool Ladies College. In the April 1901 Census, still at Brougham Terrace, now part of West Derby Road, there is listed Dr Wiglesworth, Mary and four children still at home along with Margaret Boubier a French school mistress!
Miss Bolton was listed at 30 Myers Road West in Great Crosby on the 1901 census, which was the then MTGS boarding house. She was living with a servant and the assistant mistress Lucy Mason.
The marriage took place in secret in London in 1902 following the death of Mary Wiglesworth. It had to be secret, she would have lost her salary and pension and he would have lost his surety! Isabel therefore has no profession or it would have attracted attention.
Miss Bolton resigned in 1910 due to “ill health”-more or likely she was an alcoholic, there had been unfortunate incidents in front of pupils and she was forced to go. Miss Mason the second mistress ran the school but was not made head teacher. She left MTGS on Miss Shackleton’s appointment. However by the 1911 Census she is found living as a boarder with Dr Wiglesworth at 13 The Esplanade in Blundellsands!-Miss Bolton having died in the intervening year.
2nd September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #27 -Robert Arthur Edward Benn
A Portrait of Robert Arthur Edward Benn CIE, FRGS
Robert Arthur Edward Benn is not a name that will be known to many people. He seems to have been, however, the archetypal intrepid Victorian with an exceptional knowledge of Afghan affairs.
Born on 4 February 1867 in London to Charles Edward Benn, an East India Merchant, Robert would have had a fairly comfortable upbringing. At the time of his baptism in March 1867, the family was living at 1 Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, a very fashionable address.
By 1880, the family had moved to Liverpool and in this year Robert began his time at Merchant Taylors’ where he stayed until 1884. He went on to study at Heidelberg and Sandhurst before being gazetted to the Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1887.
During his army career, he seems to have taken on a political role. In addition to his progression through the ranks, Lieutenant 1889, Captain 1898, Major 1905 and Lt Colonel 1913 he held a number of political appointment in India and the Middle East. These included Intelligence Officer on the Baluchistan-Afghanistan Boundary Commission of 1894 – 5 and Military Advisor to His Highness the Khan of Kalat [1895 – 8].
In 31 January 1898 he married Edith Parker at Quetta, Bengal and by her had two children, Gladys and Lawrence.
He was Consul for Seistan and Kain from 1900 to 1904 and in this last year he was in political charge of the Raj Rana of Jhallawar on his tour of Europe. During this tour, Benn and the Raj Rana visited his old school on Sports Day and the latter presented to the school a cup, still awarded today – the Raj Rana trophy.
Benn went on to fill other political roles. He became Political Agent in Chagai, Baluchistan from 1906 – 12 and Consul in Muscat 1914 – 15, finishing as Resident in Jaipur, Rajputana 1916 – 22, the year in which he retired from the Political Department. Even following retirement he went on working for his friend the Raj Rana being Administrator in Jhalawar State, Rajputana 1922 – 28 and 1929 – 31.
Benn was, however, not simply an “office” soldier. He fought in the Burma Wars of the late 1880s and took part in operations in Muscat during the First World War. He twice completed the journey from India to Western Europe on horseback.
He died in Alassio, Italy in 1940
2nd September 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #27 - The School Gates
The School Gates
These are during the course of the school day usually wide open so to see them shut with notices removed you can truly appreciate the dates in the metalwork.
Prior to the opening of the vitreum in 2009 recent girls used to come into school through the front (staff) car park-it was only on odd occasions were girls allowed in through the then front door (which no longer exists),as this was deemed suitable for visitors only .
Obviously earlier than when the side door was instigated in the 1980’s everyone came in through the ornate front door which Jenny the school maid used to polish the brass bell and letterbox every day!
The school’s previous iron gates which had St John The Baptist’s lamb from the school crest in them had been donated for scrap metal for the Second World War,war effort. It wasn’t until the centenary year of 1988 that these lovely new gates were given by the Old Girls Association to the school as their centenary gift. It a long lasting reminder of their continuing support to us.
26th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #26 - Staff Photograph 1982
Staff Photograph 1982
This week we offer something more “modern” from the archive collection. This photograph shows the staff of MTS probably at the beginning of the academic year 1982 – 83.
All but one of those shown have now left the school or retired. Some younger male colleagues from those days will, no doubt, be surprised at the amount of hair they had, to say nothing of its colour. The headmaster of the day, Mr Johnston-Jones is not shown in the photograph but ringed is J D Pugh, Head of RS and later to move on to become Liberal Democrat MP for Southport.
Staff shown are from left to right:
Front Row; I Wallace, RB Mynors, AJ Whittaker, RH Gambles, C Daley, D Edmonds, SA Bessex [later Dunning], PA Lally, JH Williams, DJ Snowden
Second Row; RE Fairburn [p/t], A Stanyer [p/t], CH Bailey, IL Callow [p/t], S Webster, TW Holden, DA Burns, CD Price, DB Burton
Third Row; DH Proctor, CJ Limb, TLT Robey [p/t], KM Stanley, PE Judge, JA Kent, JD Pugh, DR Morgan, GRB Jones [Head just showing], JC Irlam, RH Panton, JM Potter, JP Preston, TW Hildrey
Fourth Row; DA Blower, SJ Williams, MI Williams, TB Hughes, KT Stanyer, JK Smallcombe, JC Whitehead, CA Hall, IW McIntosh, JR Park [Head just showing], MA Slemen, MA Rice-Oxley, FS Potter, J Le Poidevin
PDA Murphy is not shown and was probably taking the photograph.
26th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #26 - James Fennings
To the right of the Headmistress’ office is this large brass plaque commemorating the opening of MTGS on June 28th 1888.
According to the admissions register, the school opened with only twenty pupils on June 11th 1888-it seems almost a test run to open a school so close to the end of the Summer term!
Mr Fenning was the Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and it is entirely to him we thank for having the foresight to drive through the opening of MTGS against a very reluctant Board of Governors. He also was instrumental in organising Harrison Scholarships for the girls which previously had only been allowed for boys.
By the time the school finally opened his tenure of being Warden had passed on. The schools’ history by Sylvia Harrop published for the centenary year was dedicated to him, so he did get some public acknowledgement finally!
19th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #25 - Old Crosbeians’ Athletic Club
Old Crosbeians’ Athletic Club
The June 1927 issue of the Crosbeian announced the formation by the Old Boys’ Association of an athletics section. This probably followed an appeal in the December 1926 issue for all Old Boys interested in track athletics and cross country to contact the Association’s Secretary with the aim of not letting former pupils who had proven their worth on Sports Day rust away with the passing years.
The initial response produced a membership of about twenty and it was intended that a race for Old Boys would be run on Sports Day.
This gathering of former pupils was given the name Old Crosbeians’ Athletic Club. They trained at the ground of Waterloo Rugby Club and members paid 5/- to join [for those who have never used “old money”, that’s 25p!]. There were two training session per week – Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30 pm.
The Club’s first Annual Sports meeting was held on 10 August 1927 at Waterloo Rugby Club and began at 7.30 pm on a wet and miserable day which produced sticky running conditions; conditions used to justify the slow times! Competitors included those whose names had appeared often in the Crosbeian athletics section: JE Deyes [1918 – 24], ARB Thomas [1913 – 23], IW Calder [1923 – 26], R Cairns [1919 – 25] and HF Mellor [1918 – 24] to name but a few.
The following year saw the first inter-club meeting with Liverpool Harriers and Athletics Club when they OCAC won five of the nine events but lost on points. Further contests followed though the club suffered from low membership numbers which, at the end of the 1928 season amounted to a mere twelve. Attracting more former pupils seemed to prove a problem and the reports in the School Magazine became less frequent.
When the OCAC ceased to operate is unknown though there is, in the archive, a ticket to a dance organised by the club in 1934.
The accompanying photograph shows an athletics vest with the OCAC badge sewn on to it. This was donated to the archives by Bryan Edwards [1922 – 1928].
19th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #25 - Vera Hall 1914-1964
Vera Hall 1914-1964
Vera was born in Royton Road, Waterloo in July 1914 just before the start of the First World War Vera had a sister, Dorothy who was two years her senior. Vera attended Crosby Road North School before attending Merchant Taylors’ School for Girls’ in 1926. She enjoyed the athletics side of the school as well as the creative side, playing most sports.
Her father died suddenly in December 1926, followed two years later by her grandfather. Vera persevered with her studies nonetheless, before leaving school in 1930 to go to Commercial School.
Vera met Cyril as a teenager but they were told by both sets of parents they were too young to marry. They eventually did marry in February 1939 moving 25 miles away with Cyril’s job. It must have been a huge wrench for Vera, moving away from all her family and friends. Luckily for Vera she had a devoted sister, Dorothy who made a career for herself as a nurse, never married and kept in regular touch with visits, letters and even went on holiday with them when their two daughters arrived.
12th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #24 - Monitors' Minutes Meeting
Monitors Minutes Meeting
The idea of delegating authority to senior boys in the school was, it seems, another of Armour’s ideas. This group of Monitors [and in earlier days Promonitors] under the leadership of the Head of School was “to maintain order and discipline both in and out of school”. The Board of Monitors held regular meetings at which the punishment of pupils who infringed the school rules was discussed. Minutes were kept of these meetings and these demonstrate the power of the Monitors of the time. The earliest minute books in the collection date from 1927 and the latest 1955. The punishments inflicted covered the spectrum from “lines” to “caning”. Indeed, they sometimes seem to get a little above their station as is evidenced by an entry in the minutes of 23 September 1927 where it states the monitors proposed a motion in which they “disagree with the Headmaster’s action in over ruling the monitorial recommendations for promonitors and deplore the step of closing the library to monitors. Such a step is incompatible with the dignity of the Board”.
The image above shows a typical entry from the early days of the meetings. The names of those appearing before the board have been removed to protect their undoubted innocence.
12th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #24 - The Entrance Hall 1956
The Entrance Hall 1956
This photograph has had a long life. It was taken in 1956 and used in the Governor’s fundraising leaflet appeal to raise £30,000 for new buildings, (more of Miss Brash’s indomitable fundraising in her drive to improve the school’s resources) and also appeared in the 1961 March edition of Lancashire Life as part of an article on the girls’ school.
It is an unusually composed shot taken through the now former front door across the hallway to the other door leading into the grounds. A rather embarrassed girl is holding the door open. Behind the door can just be seen the top of the honours board with head girl’s names on it. This board is now safely on the other side of the doorway just opposite the head mistress’ office. To the right can be seen the old grandfather clock which currently stands in the head mistress’ office. The settle under the window can now be found on the library corridor opposite the heads of year’s office. The school mascot, Jane Harrison dressed in her Summer dress too is seated at her little desk. Her desk is kept at the foot of the library stairs and whilst Jane is too precious to go on permanent display she actually lives safely in the library office.
5th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #23 - A Proof Set of Silver Coins of the Realm
A Proof Set of Silver Coins of the Realm
This proof set of the British silver coinage of King George V was presented to the school by George William von Worm Kruger Gray an Old Crosbeian and designer of the coinage. The set consists of a crown, half crown, florin, shilling sixpence and threepence.
Christened George William von Worm Kruger his family originally hailed from Jersey though he was born in Kensington on Christmas Day 1880. Having moved to Liverpool when he was five years old, he entered Merchant Taylors’ in 1892 and left in 1895.
It was during this time  that he, his brother Norman and another boy were involved in the tragedy on Crosby beach of which he was the only survivor. [This incident will be referred to more fully in a later contribution].
When he left school he initially attended Bath School of Art and later won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art from which he went on to develop a career as an artist in stained glass and became a heraldic designer of note.
His designs include the Collar of the Order of the British Empire, the Great Seal of King George VI, the Mace of Westminster Abbey and the coinages of various colonial nations. His initials can be seen on the reverse of the coins he designed, as in the centre of the sixpence below.
In 1918 he married Audrey Gray and added her surname to his own to become George Kruger Gray, probably to avoid post-war reaction to an obviously Germanic surname.He died in 1943.
5th August 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #23 - The New Kitchen
The New Kitchen
This photograph posed for publicity purposes was taken in 1959.It was built during Miss Brash’s drive for improving the buildings in the girl’s school. It was during her tenure as headmistress that the gym, the Derby wing, the music rooms (now the 6th form common room) and this new kitchen were all built. Miss Brash had a particular flair for fund raising and engaging and encouraging others to do so!
It should also be recognised that two of the largest donations to the girl’s school both came from Miss Brash, one when her sister died unexpectedly in 1968.This was used to improve the dining room and the then cookery room in 1969 and then later in her own will in 1976 she bequeathed money to the girl’s school which was used for bursaries.
The catering staff look slightly bemused by the photograph, it is hard to establish what exactly they were cooking maybe afternoon tea for a staff meeting-it looks likes sandwiches, cakes and scones. At the school prize giving Miss Brash praised the new kitchen which provided dinner for 300 which was the maximum accommodation then –the extensions to the dining room came just ten years later.
29th July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #22 - The Order of Service for the Opening of Gymnasium
Order of Service for the Opening of the Gymnasium
The old gym [or to give it its full and correct title, the War Memorial Gymnasium] was opened on 31 May 1956 by Lord Tedder GCB, Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
What began as a fairly overcast day emerged, eventually, as a sunny summer’s afternoon in which the opening ceremony was watched by about 2500 people including relatives of the 106 Old Crosbeians who lost their lives in World War 2.
The ceremony saw the Book of Remembrance [dedicated in 1952] brought by the Head Boy from its place in the tower to the large marquee erected on the field where a scroll which formally transferred ownership of the building to the school was presented to the Headmaster.
Speeches were made by Lord Tedder, the Headmaster, HMW Roberts [the Chairman of the Friends of Merchant Taylors’ School who raised the necessary funds for the gym] before Lord Tedder was asked to cut the tape formally opening the building.
29th July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #22 - The School Gardens
The School Gardens
What is the connection between these two little ceramic pots and the beautiful school gardens that we are lucky enough to possess?
The older generation may well recognise them as ink wells, indeed if you had them in your hand you can see blue ink that has stained right through the white china of the pot. They would of course been placed in a desk holder usually with a sliding metal cover in the top right hand of a wooden desk in all the classrooms in school. A few years ago they were dug up out the school gardens by the caretakers and given to archives!
School has always been proud of the lovely gardens, most of the land came with the purchase of “The Mulberries” in 1911 and from 1912 Mr Wright the gardened was employed. He was called up and so during the First World War years the school gardens were tended by the upper fifths (year 11) as part of their biology lessons. They managed to grow sufficient vegetables to feed the whole school and donate some to Red Cross Hospitals. The vegetable garden continued until 1921 when it became a tennis court. Mr Wright and his wife who acted as the school housekeeper lived in the little house in the school grounds (which is now the drama studio) until his retirement in 1932.
22nd July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #21 - Dr D Temple Roberts Maths Notes
Dr D Temple Roberts Maths Notes
Don Temple Roberts [apparently known to the boys as “Prof”] came to the school in January 1943 to teach mathematics. He died suddenly during the Christmas holiday of 1965/66 and in the obituary written by H M Luft, the headmaster, he is described as having a “mind which valued truth and accuracy and scientific exactitude”. These values are demonstrated in the notebook containing some of his maths notes; the care and clarity of presentation are evident throughout.
Awarded an MSc by Leeds University in 1939, he became Senior Mathematics Master in 1952 and President of the Liverpool Mathematical Society in 1955/56.
22nd July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #21 - The Maud Cup
The Maud Cup
This cup, which is a splendid example of art deco pewter ware with coloured enamelling representing the five houses, blue, red, green, yellow and violet, has a long and mixed history. Currently it resides in Miss Tyndall’s office as she likes it as a piece of art and we regularly use it to entertain visiting primary school children as a Harry Potteresque sorting cup.
It was presented to the school by Miss Maud Taylor for the house which came top both in work and play and was presented as part of the Sport’s Day prizes.
Miss Fordham on her appointment from Barrow Girls Grammar in January 1922 wished to surround herself with a group of trusted friends whom she imported from her previous school and Maud Taylor was perceived to be a threat and squeezed out. On her departure in July 1922 Maud presented the impressive cup whose full name, the Miss Maud Taylor Cup had to be read out every Sport’s Day prize ceremony thus perpetuating her name and infuriating Miss Fordham!
It was first presented in 1922 and the last engraved date on it is 1937, it was however still being awarded up to 1941 according to the school magazine. It was rendered obsolete in 1942 with the renaming of the original five houses into Barratt, Blundell, Fordham and Harrison.
It has been recently sent for conservation work and the yellow house enamelling was repaired as it had flaked off.
15th July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #20 - Menu for the First Old Crosbeians' Dinner
Menu for the First Old Crosbeians’ Dinner
The Old Boys’ Association [Old Crosbeians] can trace its origin to a cricket match in June 1889 when Canon Armour invited some of his former pupils to lunch and suggested that they gather on a regular basis. Twelve old boys attended the first committee meeting, a number which had grown to fifty by the time of the inaugural dinner which took place on 22 March 1890.
The dinner was held at the Bear’s Paw restaurant at 53 Lord Street, Liverpool, generally acknowledged in its time to be the finest restaurant in the city and renowned for having a stuffed bear in the foyer. The Bear’s Paw was owned by John and Martha Cobham, parents of Elijah Cobham who attended MTS 1890 – 1893 and who was killed serving as an army chaplain in WW1. The restaurant was destroyed by enemy bombing in WW2.
15th July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #20 - Library Plaques
The lower library above the entrance door has a wooden plaque from 1970 commemorating the school’s 350th anniversary. The red and gold coat of arms is actually that of John Harrison the founder of the school. It is the only representation of him in the girl’s school.
In the upper library above the Birch room entrance is a rather splendid plaque of green Westmorland slate commemorating the diamond (60th) anniversary of the girl’s school in 1948.The library had been formed by knocking together the two upper rooms in the 1620’s building and was opened by the Mayor of Crosby, Miss Rollo who was also a governor of the school.
8th July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #19 - Opening the New Building 1878
Opening the New Building 1878
By the 1870s, the population of the school had outgrown the original 1620 building. Land on which to build a new school was bought in 1874 and the new building was opened in 1878.
The official opening day of the new school was Thursday 27 June 1878 and the Earl of Derby was invited to “cut the tape” but he was unable to attend the ceremony because of public duties and his place was taken by his wife, the Countess of Derby.
This week’s item is the seating plan for a lunch given in the new Hall, now the school library, on the day of the opening. The cover is printed in gold on card.
At this time, The Company still played a major role in the Governance of the school as can be seen by the prominent positions given to the officers of the Company. Even the Headmaster, Canon Armour is below the “top table”, though presumably not below the salt.
The band of the 15th Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps played music outside the Hall.
The school then closed for the summer holidays!
8th July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #19 - The Burning of the Panamas
The Burning of the Panamas
This photo taken in July 1959 shows a group of sixth formers (Babs Walmsley, Adele Taylor, Pat Broadbent, Pat Gore, Pam Seatree and Jeddy?) burning their panama hats on the last day of term as was the tradition.
You will see that they are wearing the regulation Summer dresses, a blue and white floral fabric in the Tobralco range from Tootal. It was hard wearing and washed well; many mothers at this time still used their own dressmaking skills and produced the dresses according to the official school pattern. These girls are wearing the modernised version with the same fabric cuffs on the short sleeves and white pointed collars. Originally the dresses had white Peter Pan style collars and white cuffs. All the dresses came with an inverted pleat down the front, “to allow for the growing girl”!
The dresses were introduced in the mid 1930’s by Miss Fordham, previous to that there had been no concession to the change in season and girls would swelter in the Summer heat with gymslips, black lisle stockings and heavy navy wool knickers. It was not unknown for the black dye to run and stain the girls’ legs and feet.
The panama hats were introduced by Miss Shackleton in 1919 replacing the straw boater from 1911.The 6th form girls were allowed to keep their boaters but they were troublesome to maintain. An old girl remembered that if they got wet they had to be pressed back into shape with flat irons and if they became discoloured by the sun they had to be bleached with salts of lemon. This was the poisonous chemical, Potassium hydrogenoxalate! However during the Second World War, especially once clothes rationing was introduced, a cheaper imitation hat was allowed but it never cleaned up properly and took on a very dingy yellow hue. Many old girls still remember the chore of having to clean their hat with a slice of stale white bread!
The dresses finally went in the mid 1960’s and the hats (both Winter and Summer) in 1971.
1st July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #18 - Old Crosbeians’ Blazer
Old Crosbeians’ Blazer
This week’s object is believed to be an Old Crosbeians’ blazer. At present, the origins of the design are shrouded in mystery. It clearly incorporates the four colours associated with the school: chocolate, blue, gold and black. It sports three brass buttons and a badge which is stitched from wire with great attention to detail.
The archive collection contains several of these blazers all of which belonged to pupils who attended MTS before World War 2. Those that are labelled with dates are dated in the 1930s.
Does anyone know when this blazer was introduced or who suggested its introduction? Is it, in fact, an Old Crosbeians’ Association blazer? The answer may be hidden in one of the Old Crosbeians Association minute books but the archivist has trawled through 30 years worth of minutes and not found it mentioned!
Any ideas can be emailed to T.Hildrey@merchanttaylors.com
1st July 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #18 - Menu Cards from the Lunches Served to the Lancashire Education Committee
Menu Cards from the Lunches Served to the Lancashire Education Committee
An annual event in the school’s Summer term was the luncheon hosted by MTGS for the members of the Lancashire Education Committee. This committee approved a considerable number of scholarships for girls to our school in the days when the school was a Lancashire direct grant school, (approximately 62% of girls were on some sort of grant or scholarship from the local councils).
The 1938 menu, created especially for the school’s Golden Jubilee is a rather slap up affair of eight courses. Galantine of beef is a cold pressed meatloaf glazed with a sauce, sardine éclairs are little choux pastry boats lined with a sardine and nutmeg mixture usually for a starter but here served with the cheese course. Charlotte Russe is an elaborate trifle like pudding which would have added an exotic twist to the safer English puddings on offer.
By contrast the 1940 menu is less extravagant presumably due to rationing of food. It is also single sided to save paper and rather charmingly hand drawn instead of being printed. It is highly likely that the peas and potatoes served were grown in the school gardens as part of the war effort.
24th June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #17 - Houses and Sets
Houses and Sets
Current pupils of the school will be familiar with the House structure and the names of the Houses: Armour’s , Warings, Stevens’ and Harrisons. The first three are named after former headmasters and the last after John Harrison, the school’s founder.
The form of the system has changed since its inception in 1894 when it was introduced by Canon Armour at the instigation of the then captain of rugby and cricket, J C Jack. Jack’s idea, unchanged in principle, was to divide the school into “Sets” which would compete against each other and so lead to an improvement in standard in various areas of sport.
Initially the school was organised into six Sets, each the responsibility of a leading sportsman of the school and by whose name the Set was known. The first six Sets were known as Jack I, Lester I, McCombich, Hughes III, Jack II and Witty I [using the nomenclature beloved of Public Schools in which the eldest pupil of a given name was denoted by I, the second eldest by II and so on]. This system did not last long and by 1896 the system had been reorganised to reflect the area in which the boys lived. The Sets were then named North, South, East, West, Crosby and House. These Sets were later reduced to four in number and with some renaming became North, South [formed from a coalescing of South and House], Crosby and Waterloo [a coalescing of East and West].
It was with the arrival of Charles Russell as Headmaster in 1929 that the Houses [as he chose to refer to them] become recognisable as the system we run today. He renamed the Houses: Armour’s [formerly Crosby], Waring’s [formerly Waterloo], Stevens’ [formerly North] and Harrison’s [formerly South]. Exactly why he chose Stevens is unknown for he was Headmaster for only a short time, 1851 – 2, while others served for far longer. Armour chalked up 40 years service and the two Warings, father and son between them accumulated 53 years!
In the 1920s and 1930s each House/Set produced a card showing its officers and its member by form, such as the one below.
24th June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #17 - L4C Technology 2001-2002
L4C Technology 2001-2002
Mrs Janet Custard donated a huge number of photograph albums when she retired from being Head of Physics a few years ago. The department had documented all their lessons and trips over a period of fifteen years!
This one shows L4C (year 8) technology lesson where they all made photograph frames using LED lights. Technology was part of a carousel of lessons with home economics and drama that each year 8 took for a term and was taught by Mrs Custard and Mrs Large from the physics department.
Pictured from left to right are Naomi Moore, Fiona Reid, Victoria Murray, Jo Richards, Harriet Stevenson, Elizabeth Todd, Geraldine McVeigh, Jessica Smith, Sarah Wilson, Miranda White and Smita Nadkarni.
17th June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #16 - The Mystery of the Un-named Child
The Mystery of the Un-named Child
In the 1830 register mentioned earlier in this series, there is recorded the attendance of a child whose name is not given in the register. The attendance of this child is recorded in this way from 1839 to May 1840.
The identity of this child is still unknown but ideas have been put forward to account for his/her presence.
At one time, it was suggested that this mysterious attendee was the Prince Imperial of France, the son of Napoleon III who lived in Southport for a short time. The use of the blank space was no doubt considered a security device by whoever made the suggestion. However, the originator of the story clearly did not know his history as the Prince Imperial was not born until 1856!
Another version of the story, initially more plausible, was put forward by Luft in his History of the School. He suggested that this pupil could be one of the children of Joseph Clark who, having allowed the numbers in the school to fall dramatically tried to bolster them by teaching his own children. Clark’s eldest child, Elizabeth was born in 1836 and would only be three or four years old when she was added to the register. Additionally he would want to cover up the fact that he had admitted a girl [no matter how young] as allowing girls to attend the school was specifically forbidden in the school’s statutes. In the early days of the school, the statutes were framed and displayed on the wall of the building. The first of the statutes simply states: “You are to present male children only to be freely taught in this school”. In 1848, Clark wrote to the Company admitting that the numbers in the school had fallen to such an extent that he was simply teaching his own children [one boy and three girls!!]. The Company requested his resignation in 1849.
17th June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #16 - Leaving Card from Miss Frodham to all School Leavers
Leaving Card from Miss Fordham to all School Leavers
Miss Fordham, Headmistress 1922-1940, took prayers every morning, she herself was a devout high Anglican and always favoured girls who were lucky enough to be daughters of the clergy! Religious Instruction as it was then known (R.S. today) was not taught by a specialist so each form mistress took her own form of teaching which tending to reflect her personal belief, there was much copying out of Old Testament verses.
At the beginning and end of every term she would read her favourite text from the Bible, Philippians 4, verses 4-8 ,”Rejoice in the Lord always……apparently with special emphasis on the line, “whatsoever things are of good report”!
This is the leaving card that every girl who left the school received from Miss Fordham. On the back of this one is written, “on leaving school 1935”
Miss Ellingford, the art mistress illustrated it and a framed copy still hangs by the lower library door, much remarked upon by our very old girls.
10th June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #15 -Memorial to Dr Arthur Frame Jackson
Memorial to Dr Arthur Frame Jackson
In the Tower entrance to the Main Building is a brass memorial to an Old Crosbeian who gave his life helping others.
This former pupil was Arthur Frame Jackson who was born in 1884 and attended the school from 1897 to 1902 making him another of the outstanding young men who passed through Merchants towards the end of Canon Armour’s reign.
Outstanding he certainly was, both academically and on the sports field. Having entered the school as a Harrison Scholar he went on to win the Stanley Prize for Natural Science, the Tyler Prize for Divinity and the Great Crosby Scholarship. He represented the school as a member of the Rugby XV 1899 – 1902 and was the Captain of the swimming team in 1902. In the same year he gained a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge to study Natural Science, eventually gaining 1st Class Honours in 1905.
Having graduated he went on to study Medicine at Liverpool University being awarded his MB in 1909 and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine in 1910. At the same time as undertaking all the studying involved he managed to find the time to play rugby for Peterhouse, Birkenhead Park and for the County of Cheshire and to row in the Peterhouse boat.
In September 1910, he sailed to China as a medical missionary and was serving at the Mission Hospital in Moukden when there was an outbreak of plague [cholera]. Jackson caught the disease and succumbed to it on 25 January 1911 aged 26.
10th June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #15 - The Stanfield Good and Bad books circa 1960’s
The Stanfield Good and Bad books circa 1960’s
These were kept for the whole school and members of staff would enter appropriate comments depending on the book.
Rather than risk public humiliation, here are a few anonymous excerpts from the bad book;
Upper II -X cleaned rabbits in indoor shoes, indoor was heavily underlined
(thankfully for parents the practice of having two sets of shoes for school, one indoor, a brown sandal and one outdoor, sensible black lace-up has ceased.
Allegedly it was done to save on cleaning costs).
Upper I- student X had such a greedy helping, that she never reached pudding stage.
Kindergarten -student X left the room with 2/3 of milk not drunk!
Remember those little milk bottles with a straw, lurking about all morning getting warm….?
The good book shown on the Upper I page, Jane Dawbarn who keeps getting praise for courtesy grew up to be Mrs Jane Roberts, who taught at Stanfield for many years retiring as deputy head in 2012!
3rd June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #14 - The Science Society Gravel
The Science Society Gravel
This gavel was presented to Harold Tunley, president of the Society and the school’s head of physics at the 300th meeting of the Society on 20 October 1953.
The 1st meeting of the Society took place on 2 February 1928, the Society having been founded by the same Harold Tunley, who became the first Chairman of the society with the Headmaster, Mr Cradock-Watson, as President. This made it the second oldest school society.
Regular lectures were arranged with speakers from both inside and outside the school and visits of a scientific nature were undertaken. The early enthusiasm for the Society was maintained in the following years with attendance at the lectures averaging about 50. Particularly encouraging for the organisers of the events was the interest shown by members of the Classical and Modern Sixth as well as the Science Sixth.
Harold Tunley came to Merchants from Manchester Grammar School in 1927 after serving six years with them. He retired in 1964 having made a huge contribution to the teaching of physics within the school and a significant contribution to science education in general being a committee member of the Science Masters’ Association and helping to develop the physics syllabus when GCE examinations were introduced.
3rd June 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #14 - The Mulberry Room
The Mulberry Room
If you walk along the main corridor now, you might wonder at the odd shape of the wall by the three offices currently used by Mrs Bush, the caretakers and the learning support office. This is because up until 2008 this was one room known as The Mulberry Room, it was used for meetings, exams and as the staff dining room.
Old Girls may remember the elaborate procedure at lunchtime of the curtaining off of the corridor and staff used to eat in the corridor just outside it!
In the early days of the school it was an earth sciences and biology room, it had mahogany desk tops around the walls and a sink in the corner .Prior to 1911, when it was part of the old Victorian villa, “The Mulberries” it was a morning room with lovely views of the gardens and the three mulberry trees that used to be planted in the lawn immediately outside it. Sadly there is only one tree left now. The lawn used to be called “The moni’s lawn” as the school prefects (monitors) had the extra privilege of being allowed to sit on it in Summer. The school kept silkworms that were fed on the mulberry leaves and the berries in Summer were much prized for jam.
27th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #13 - The 1830 Register
The 1830 Register
This is the earliest school register still in existence that records attendance at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby. It was discovered in 1929 in Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London and now forms part of the school’s archive collection. It was clearly started by Joseph Clark, headmaster from 1829 – 1849. Among other things, it lists all the pupils who attended the school from 1830 – 1843, the days they attended, the books used in the school, those in receipt of charitable donations etc.
When researching his history of the school, Mark Luft studied this register and compared its entries with the baptism registers of the local churches. He showed that some boys came to the school at the early age of four with the average age of entry being eight year and of leaving, ten. The numbers attending the school were quite small and even those who attended did so sporadically, particularly at harvest time.
On the last page of the register, several boys are noted as leaving on 6 November 1843 with the observation “6th Nov. Papists’ New School Opened”
27th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #13 - L4C Technology (2001-2002)
L4C Technology 2001-2002
Mrs Janet Custard donated a huge number of photograph albums when she retired from being Head of Physics a few years ago. The department had documented all their lessons and trips over a period of fifteen years!
This one shows L4C (year 8) technology lesson where they all made photograph frames using LED lights. Technology was part of a carousel of lessons with home economics and drama that each year 8 took for a term and was taught by Mrs Custard and Mrs Large from the physics department.
Pictured from left to right are Naomi Moore, Fiona Reid, Victoria Murray, Jo Richards, Harriet Stevenson, Elizabeth Todd, Sophie Cafferty, Chan Latham, Sarah Wilson, Miranda White and Smita Nadkarni.
20th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #12 - “Reach For The Sky” signed by Douglas Bader
“Reach For The Sky” signed by Douglas Bader”
In 1961 two Emrys Jones lectures were given to the school. One of these was given by Group Captain Douglas Bader CBE, DSO and bar, DFC and bar FRAeS, DL.
Douglas Bader was a legendary Second World War fighter pilot. He originally joined the RAF in 1928 aged 18 and was subsequently commissioned in 1930. A year later he crashed his plane while undertaking unauthorised aerobatics and, as a result, lost both of his legs. Against his wishes he was made to resign his commission but re-entered the RAF in 1939 on
the outbreak of World War 2 and was accepted as a pilot. He fought over Dunkirk and in the Battle of Britain until in 1941 he was shot down, captured and eventually sent to Colditz Castle where he was liberated by American troops in 1945. Heleft the RAF in 1946.
The book “Reach for the Sky” was written in the 1950s and gave an account of his life until he left the service. Group Captain Bader signed a copy of the book after the lecture and the volume with his signature is now in the school archives.
20th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #12 - Botanical drawings by Dora Shaw (1891 to 1989)
Botanical drawings by Dora Shaw (1891 to 1989)
Dora Shaw, aged 10 and her younger sister, Marion aged 7 joined the school in September 1901.
Dora won prizes for her drawings, including the Clothworkers’ Company Silver Star for her map of England and Wales in 1908.She had her map drawings exhibited in both 1908 and 1911 at the Royal Drawing Society.
Samples from her 1908 botanical specimens book can be seen here. Biology with a heavy emphasis on botany was the only science taught in the early days of the girl’s school.
The girls were expected to make drawings from life from the plants and press specimens too; another book of Dora’s has pressed flowers and weeds in it. The botany mistress was Miss Fanny Fordham who was the elder sister of Miss Emily Fordham who was headmistress of the school from 1922 to 1939.
Dora’s daughter Joan (who herself is a botanical artist and designer) donated a large amount of her mother’s art and needlework, including her meticulous 1907 darning and patching sample books!
13th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #11 - The 1941 Hockey Team
The 1941 Hockey Team
The hockey 1st XI of 1941 contained among its members Robert A K Runcie, seen here seated second from the right in the front row.
In the 1939 season Runcie had made occasional appearances for the 2nd XI and in 1940 was elevated to the 1st XI.
According to the School Magazine he was an obvious choice for goal-keeper and clearly impressed the coaches as he was awarded his 1st XI colours [which he is wearing in the photograph] and was credited in the hockey report for the year as making many fine saves.
He continued to be a member of the team during 1941. Once again he was described as making many valuable saves though never by using his stick. He noticeably buoyed up the team with his ever present cheerfulness.
At the end of the school year he left the school and joined the Scots Guards and eventually became Archbishop of Canterbury.
The other members of the team are:
Back Row [left to right] CWB Costeloe, NAC Dyke, IPG Howson, EE Williamson, GA Abrahams, WC Shepwen, FH Jarrett
Front Row [left to right] JD Sutherland, FJ Punter, P Winter, RAK Runcie, J Hill
13th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #11 - The 83rd Girl Guides
83rd Liverpool Guide Company
Miss Fordham introduced the school Guide Company in 1922 when she started as headmistress, it was an idea of which she wholeheartedly approved and brought it with her from her former school in Barrow.
The Guides were seen as very special in school, pages in the school magazine were devoted to their camps, badges and good turns. Eventually both a Brownie Pack for the younger girls was established and a Cadet (now known as Rangers) was used for the older girls to train them up to be leaders of the future. Many of our old girls from that time went onto run local units of their own.
This is a 1930’s photograph of the Guide Leaders (all staff) and senior Guides leading the procession at the Ascension Service (now known as the Thanksgiving Service) towards the end of the Summer term, note that they are in full uniform including coats and the thick dark brown lisle stockings that were compulsory!
The Cadets, Guides and Brownies marched at the head of the crocodile of girls, flags flying, walking down from school to St Faith’s with the rest of the school following behind. Meanwhile on the same day a similar crocodile of Merchants’ boys would march the other way St Luke’s, no acknowledgement of each other was allowed under any circumstances!
However, “sly glances were exchanged” according to one rather daring Old Girl…..
6th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #10 - The Peet Parody
The Peet Parody
Thomas Eric Peet was born in 1882 and attended Merchant Taylors’ 1894 – 1901. This was a period, towards the end of Canon Armour’s headship, which produced some of the most talented and successful alumni of the school. Peet was one of these talents. Following successful academic careers at school and at Oxford he followed a career in archaeology which led to his being appointed Professor of Egyptology at Liverpool University in 1919 and Reader in Egyptology at Oxford in 1933.
While still at school, Peet produced a parody based on Bunthorne and Grosvenor’s song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Patience”. In this he represents the characters and traits of some of his peers.
According to Crawford-Smith who is caricatured in verse four, the verses refer to members of the Upper Sixth of the time. Peet supposedly produced the parody in what was then Room 11 [possibly now the maths office] at the beginning of a Greek lesson in about 1900!
The allusions are, today, somewhat obscure. In a letter to T J P York, Crawford-Smith claims to have gone through the verses with C A Watson [See verse seven] who explained to him the meaning of the words “long-to-see-DIP-ical” but then omits to say what it means!
These images shown here is Peet’s own hand
A horsely dressed young man
A white washed wall young man
A khaki waistcoatica lecture and notical
Do-it-in style young man
This is Charles Ryle Fay who attended King’s College, Cambridge and later became Professor of Economic History at Toronto University During the Boer War, Fay wore a khaki waistcoat as a sign of his patriotism.
An ancient Greek young man
A Roseberryite young man
A classics historical go to see Dorical
Sandhills at 3 young man
This is Constantine Cleanthes Michaelides who attended King’s College, Cambridge then entered the Consular Service
A microscope slide young man
A butterfly net young man
A hunt for a grubical, redmatted, tubbycal
Beard like a mat young man
This is Professor Laurence William Grensted who attended Oxford and Manchester Universities and later became a lecturer in the psychology of religion at Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society.
A capturing smile young man
A chase me I’m nice young man
A sure-you-won’t-tellical last from Dolgellical
Only thirteen young man
This is Henry Thomas Crawford-Smith who went on to Merton College, Oxford, returned to MTS and eventually became senior Classics master.
A criticise all young man
A theory of games young man
A modern and chemical, judge and condemnical
Work like a horse young man
This is Harold Nicholson who went on to King’s College, Cambridge and eventually became headmaster of Taunton School.
A witty remarks young man
A self-contained young man
A do-the-thing-toff-ical, scoot and hand official
Score every time young man
This is Christopher Milner who went on to Keble College Oxford and became Rural Dean of Tynemouth. While at school he played rugby and was described as “fast, with a tremendous hand-off”.
A quiet and shy young man
A bit of a fraud young man
A stylish and typical ling-to-see-DIP-ical
Waterloo front young man
This is Charles Arthur Watson who went on to Cambridge and became a chartered accountant
A tall and strong young man
A shove-the-whole-scrum young man
A very prosaical work-the-whole-day-ical
Rise to the top young man
This is Doctor Arthur Frame Jackson who went on to Peterhouse, Cambridge to study medicine. He moved to China and died in the outbreak of plague in Moukden in 1911.
6th May 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #10 - An Early Prospectus circa 1898
An Early Prospectus circa 1898
This document was donated to the school archive in 2003 by a member of the public who found it whilst renovating a property in Rockferry on the Wirral.
The school had been in existence for ten years, had a very good local name and was beginning to get excellent exam results. The quality of the early teachers was improving, and for a girl’s school was quite radical in employing four gentlemen teachers all of whom had to have a female chaperone present during their classes.
Dr Wiglesworth was a Liverpool GP who had stood £250 surety for Miss Bolton upon her initial appointment as Headmistress to the school; single women still had to have a male financial backer regardless of their social status. Both Dr Wiglesworth and Mr Pelham will be revisited as future subjects.
Point 19 The Harrison scholarships were originally awarded to the brightest eleven year olds at entrance exam and it is only much later that are awarded to the top girls for the duration of their 6th form. Their monetary difference has changed significantly too from the now partial remission of fees to the then not inconsiderate two years free schooling.
The curriculum was conservative, only natural sciences were taught with much emphasis on botany rather than general biology, no chemistry, physics or advanced mathematics were offered. However the traditional female accomplishments had to remain so singing, drawing, needlework and cookery were all taught to placate parents and Governors who feared the girls would become overeducated “bluestockings” and thus unsuitable for matrimony!
29th April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #9 - The Library circa 1900
The accompanying photograph is taken from a series of postcards produced by the school in about 1900.
It shows what was then the school library which was later [about the mid 1960s] converted to the staff common room in which role it continues to this day.
Canon Armour is seated at the table and the library has, apparently, been abandoned by all the boys in the school. Canon Armour’s presence dates the photograph to before 1903, the year of his retirement.
Clearly most of the interior decoration has changed though the fireplace still exists though it is no longer “coal fired”.
29th April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #9 - 1988 Merchant Taylors' Girls' School's Centenary Year
1988 was the Centenary year for the Girls School and was celebrated in style. A small committee of staff had spent four years in the planning of all the celebrations and the culmination was a visit from the the Their Royal Highness’ the Duke and Duchess of York.
Here we have their signatures in the Visitors Book. The royal visit incurred a vast amount of security protection and the police swept through prior to their visit and sealed off the areas as they went – Mrs Joan Potter ( the librarian at MTGS 1972-1999) rescued one from the library door!
Huge amounts of memorabilia were produced for the year
and this rather cute teddy is an example of on of the products on sale at the time.
22nd April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #8 - Merchant Taylors' Cadets Inspected by Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery
22th April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #8 – Merchant Taylors’ Cadets Inspected by Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery
In the last week in July 1952, the RAF section of the Combined Cadet Force held their annual camp at RAF Hawarden south west of Chester but just in Wales.
It was in this week that Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery visited the base and a Guard of Honour was formed for him which he inspected.
The Guard included cadets from Merchants, St Ignatius College, Strathallan School and others. The two Merchants’ cadets chosen to join the Guard of Honour can be identified from their shoulder flashes and are closest to the camera.
Does anyone know who they are?
22nd April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #8 - Ration Book
The Second World War affected Merchant Taylors’ Girls School in many ways. It was the first time married women teachers taught in the school to release the single women for war work. School numbers initially fell as some pupils were evacuated to North Wales, travelling to school became difficult especially after night time bombings and family life was disrupted by mothers suddenly going out to work. Numbers picked up later as Essex schools were evacuated up to us.
Public exams were taken in the old huts amidst sirens, one OG recalls the siren going off and a box of biscuits was solemnly handed around the girls who still in the middle of their exam were not allowed to speak to one another.
This Board of Education memo from 1943 shows that the older pupils were expected to do their bit by filling out the details in the local population’s ration books. Miss Brash, the headmistress has signed the bottom presumably in agreement with the process.
15th April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #7 - James Gregor Grant - “The First Old Crosbeian of Distinction
15th April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #7 – James Gregor Grant – “The First Old Crosbeian of Distinction”
James Gregor Grant, described as above by Luft in his History of the School, was born in Liverpool in 1799 and attended Merchant Taylors’ from 1808 to 1812
during the headmastership of Matthew Chester. His father, J
ames Grant was an actor and his mother, Clementina Sobieska Grant [formerly Jones] was the
daughter of an inn-keeper in Gloucester whose hostelry was visited by the Young Pretender, Charles Edward around the time of her birth and who insisted on being her godfather
and giving her the names of his mother who was granddaughter of the King of Poland!
His parents having moved to Liverpool, Grant boarded in Crosby while at the school and seems not to have been very impressed with the place describing his arrival as “entering the dull, dead, silent, solitary village”. Indeed in those days, there was little around the village except moor and sand hills with little if any means of travel to Liverpool.
James [junior] probably received a fairly rudimentary education at Merchants but started acting at an early age, certainly appearing alongside his father in Shakespearean plays as early as 1807. From there he went on to greater things acting eventually alongside Sarah Siddons and her brother John Kemble, both outstanding actors of their day. Before those heady days, however, the family moved to Sunderland where James was initially apprenticed to a wood-carver, ran away to sea when he decided he disliked this new profession and eventually returned to Sunderland where he subsequently established himself as a poet, author and dramatist.
He is now best known for his romance “Rufus or the Red King” of 1838 described by The Metropolitan magazine on its release as “A powerful story” and for his poem Madonna Pia of 1848. Grant died in London in 1875.
15th April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #7 - Staff Group c 1913
15th April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #6 – Staff Group c 1913
The teaching staff with the Headmistress, Miss Shackleton in the very centre. Miss Helen Shackleton was Headmistress from 1911 to 1921, she steered the school through the difficult years of the First World War and then the Spanish flu epidemic. She was appointed as much for her ladylike demeanour as for her academic credentials, her predecessor had left under a cloud and she was deemed by the Governors to have the right characteristics to appeal to mothers of girls. She was also distantly related to the Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Miss Bunce who taught English is seated on the middle row, extreme right and Miss Ward is the mistress on the left on the back row.
Miss Bunce introduced the school magazine, the first issue being in 1920 with the head girls as editors. It remained in this format until 1930.
This photograph was taken in the front entrance, the grandfather clock is the same one in the Headmistress’ office today. The settle and chairs on which the staff are sitting can be found on the library corridor and at the top of the stairs by the school office. This entrance was only changed in 2009 when the newly built vitreum was opened.
8th April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #6 - The Boer War Memorial and Edwin George Parslow
8th April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #6 – The Boer War Memorial and Edwin George Parslow
The Boer War was fought in South Africa between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902. Eighteen former members of the school took part in the fighting and all are commemorated on the memorial; those who died and those who survived. The memorial is an oak panel and for many years hung on the wall of what was then known as the Great Hall, now the library. At some point, possibly when the conversion of the Hall to the library took place, it was removed and put into storage where it was largely forgotten until rediscovered by the school’s archivist some years ago who arranged for it to be rehung on the wall of the library.
The names recorded on the memorial are:
Colonel Peakman Diamond Fields Horse
Major W H Edwards
Lieutenant T N Duncan Royal Engineers
Lieutenant A K Kyrke-Smith The King’s, Liverpool,
Lieutenant J R S Shinkwin Army Service Corps
Lieutenant G Bingham 29th I Y, Denbighshire
Lieutenant A Buckley 2nd Vol Comp, The King’s, Liverpool Regiment
Sergt H K Costain 1st Vol Comp, The King’s, Liverpool Regiment
Corpl R S Thornton 32nd I Y, Lancashire Hussars
W M Radford 23rd I Y, Duke of Lancaster’s Own
C P Webster 23rd I Y, Duke of Lancaster’s Own
F P Pearson Vol Service Corps, Cheshire regiment
B H Cook Australian Contingent
W E Rylands Brabant’s Horse
F Parslow Daily Chronicle War Correspondent
G H Townsend 29th I Y, Denbighshire
B H Hoyers S A Mounted Constabulary
C J Lewis 29th I Y, Denbighshire
The memorial was suggested by Henry Cradock Watson who became Headmaster in 1903 and it was paid for by money raised from the pupils of the school. It was unveiled on 21 October 1905, the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Three of the above, Kyrke-Smith, Pearson and Hoyer [whose initials are actually BG not BH] were killed in World War 1.
Only one in the list actually died in the Boer War – Parslow [again, entered with wrong initials. He was E G not F]. Edwin George Parslow was the War Correspondent for the Daily Chronicle and the Liverpool Daily Post and was trapped in the besieged town of Mafeking. Initial reports considered his death to be due to the accidental discharge of a firearm by a Lieutenant Murchison, the bullet hitting Parslow in the head. Later, witnesses reported that the two men had an argument which led to Parslow’s death and Murchison was charged with wilful murder, court-martialled and sentenced to death. This sentence was later commuted by Baden-Powell to penal servitude for life. Murchison was subsequently declared insane and committed to Broadmoor in 1902 where he died in 1917.
8th April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #6 March 1967 German Exchange Trip
8th April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #6 March 1967 German Exchange Trip
Mrs (Linda) Woodhall arranged an exchange trip with a girls’ school in Gottingen in Lower Saxony for the Lower 6th and Upper 5th (year 11).The photograph shows our girls with their hosts just about to embark on a trip to the Harz mountains. Mrs Woodhall taught at school from 1966 to 1972, she and her husband are in the centre of the photograph, the lady in the dark suit is the senior English teacher from the host school. Our girls reciprocated in the July when the German girls came to stay in Liverpool. Only a few girls have been named in the photograph, Catriona Carmichael who went to Leeds University to read French, Angela Millins who went on to read German at Durham University, Linda Harrison who went to Hull University to read psychology and Elaine Millins who took a gap year in the recently independent Zambia and then went to read sociology at university.
The final reminders letter to parents for this trip contains the memorable final paragraph regarding appearance:
“We would like to point out that in the manner of dress and general behaviour, Germany is not quite so advanced as England! Mini-skirts and extravagant clothing are frowned upon, and even regarded as “improper” by some people. It would therefore be an offence to our hosts to ignore their ways. Makeup too, should be worn discreetly. Heavy eye-makeup is considered the height of bad taste.”
Consequently the girls look very demure, not quite the image of happening 1960s Liverpool!!!
1st April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #5 The School Song: Portraits of its Composer and Author The School Song, along with the founding of the Old Boys’ Association, the introduction of School Houses and most team games, was one of the many things brought to the school by Canon Armour in an attempt to foster a sense of community. Being himself neither poet nor composer, Armour sought the help of two men, W E Heitland [the poet] and Edward Rendall [the composer] who never actually met and probably never knew each other. According to Mark Luft’s research for his history of the school, Rendall never visited the school and Heitland did not realise until thirty seven years after Armour asked him to write the poem that became the words of the song that they had been used for that purpose! William Emerton Heitland was born in 1847 in Norfolk and was the godson of the Duke of Wellington. He attended Dedham Grammar School and Shrewsbury School before entering, in 1867, St John’s College, Cambridge to study Classics from which he graduated BA in 1871 and was elected a Fellow of the College. He lectured at the college and found time to produce several learned books on the classical world. Heitland appears to have been visiting Armour when he was asked to produce a poem for the school . According to Heitland he began this task on his journey back to Cambridge, submitted the result to Armour and largely forgot about it. Only when he published his book “After Many Years” in 1926 did the Secretary of the Old Boys recognise his name and write to him thanking him for his work on the Song. This was the first intimation that his words had been put to good use! W E Heitland died in 1935. Edward Davey Rendall was a cousin of a friend of Canon Armour’s. He was born in 1858 in Oxfordshire and went to Harrow School which he left in 1877. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated BA in 1881, MA in 1888 and MusBac in 1894. He seems to have spent his life teaching, serving at Dulwich College from 1884 to 1901 [where he was teaching when he wrote the music for our School Song as well as theirs] and at Charterhouse. A payment of five guineas was authorised for the composition! He died in 1920. The School Song was sung for the first time on Speech Day in December 1890 when all five verses were sung – a feat rarely performed since! 1st April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #5 Sports Day Since 1911, Sports day has always been a highlight of the school year. Whether like now the entire school is bussed off to Wavertree Sports Stadium or in former years it was held in the school grounds, long before the buildings expansion of the 1960s that has gobbled up the former gardens. 25th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #4 Hansel and Gretel For four nights in July 1954, MTGS performed Humperdinck’s opera “Hansel and Gretel”, this was the brainchild of the head of music Miss Kathleen Kitchen (in whose name a music prize for string playing is still given every year).It was a very ambitious undertaking with nearly 40 girls taking part. The main roles were played by three different pairs each singing one act so as to rest their voices. This photograph shows Hansel and Gretel in Act II played by Ethne Hancox and Patricia Amery surrounded by the Angel chorus in suitably stylised costumes. The angels were played by Valerie Battersby, Patricia Fulcher, Helen Jasperson, Brenda Jones, Dorothy Langton, Patricia Law, Alison McKechanie, Sylvia Pratt, Norma Steventon, Pamela Smith, Fiona Taylor, Katrina Taylor, Mavis Warden and Mary Whinyates A comprehensive review of the opera can be found in the school magazine 1953/1954 The image above shows a hand-drawn plan of the school dating from about 1890. The green area on the right shows the proposed new building to be erected as an extension to the North Corridor. This was completed in 1893. Until that time the school had consisted of four classrooms along the main corridor [as now], the present library was in use as the “Large Hall” for assemblies while the current staff common room was the school library. The Williams Hall and present dining room were still many years in the future. The stair case outside the [then] library led to two classrooms on the first floor. 18th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #3 Easter 1930 School trip to Paris Three very brave school mistresses, Miss Martin, Miss Jackson and Miss Ward led a party of our 5th and 6th forms (years 11,12 and 13) to Paris for a fortnight, taking in Chartres, Versailles, Fontainebleau as well as the sights of Paris. The girls on the ferry are, Pauline McCormick, Doris Cannell, Margaret Grant, Kathleen Wolfenden and Hilda Chadwick. Pauline and Margaret both played in the first XI hockey team and Margaret was captain of the netball team. Pauline and Doris were both prefects and Pauline was House Captain of Violet House. Doris Cannell is remembered every year at MTGS Prizegiving as the George Green prizes for physics and mathematics are given in memory of her. Doris wrote an acclaimed biography of George Green, the mathematical physicist from Nottingham, in her retirement. Prior to that she had been the principal of Nottingham College of Education and oversaw its amalgamation with Trent Polytechnic to become Nottingham Trent University in 1974. 18th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #3 The 1620 Building The bequest of John Harrison was used to erect the building which originally housed the Boys’ School and still exists today as part of the Girls’ School. This building was begun in 1620 and eventually received its roof in 1621. The building was erected in a garden of about one acre and was of two storeys. It was built of stone by a local man, William Hunt and had two porches – one facing west to the sea [the view in those days would have been less restricted!] and one facing east onto the garden. The ground floor consisted of a single large classroom used for teaching by the Master and the Usher [at the same time]. Leading to the upper storey was a stone staircase where the usher and any servants employed by the master were provided with lodgings. The master had a separate house adjoining the school. The building is Crosby’s oldest and is a listed building with a grade II* status. These two unusual views are taken from sketches made in 1828 and show the surroundings of the school were still rural. 11th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #2 – The School that John Harrison Built This charming story was written and illustrated by two pupils. It was first published in the School magazine of April 1930, having been used for the opening of the new wing in 1929. The new wing is the section which leads from the main corridor, just past Mrs Bush’s’ office up to the end of the dining room. It gave the school two laboratories, a dining hall and six new classrooms. 11th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #2 – A portrait of Rev John William Coke-Norris (1874 – 1961) John William Coke Norris was born in Coventry in 1874 and, aged 26, came to Merchant Taylors’, Crosby in 1900. He had studied Latin and Greek at St John’s College, Oxford, and qualified BA in 1897 going on to qualify MA in 1900. Having passed with 1st Class in Mods and then 1st Class in Lit Hum he clearly “knew his stuff”. He left MTS in 1903 to take up a teaching position at Harrow where he remained until about 1930. Although we have no record of his teaching methods while he was at MTS, the histories of Harrow describe him as humourless, emotionless and dry as dust and, additionally, as a disciplinarian whose pedantry and attention to detail were useful to him as the school’s timetabler. Highly qualified though he was he had difficulty inspiring the able boys but seems to have excelled at teaching those boys in the bottom form. In 1925 Harrow School welcomed through its doors an able boy, the future playwright Terence Rattigan. Coke Norris was still teaching Latin and Greek to the lower forms in the school. Some sources say Rattigan was never taught by Coke Norris, others [eg Christopher Tyerman in his History of Harrow School] that he taught him Greek. It seems likely that they were teacher and pupil. Coke Norris took early retirement from Harrow while Rattigan was still at school and one of his pupils [some say Rattigan, some say not] presented him with a book as a leaving present. This act formed the basis of Rattigan’s play “The Browning Version” and it is generally acknowledged that the play’s character Andrew Crocker-Harris is based on John William Coke Norris. Coke Norris died in 1961.
1st April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #5 The School Song: Portraits of its Composer and Author
1st April 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #5 Sports Day
These two sports day programmes show a little of what has changed in the intervening years. The cover of the 1939 one shows girls running in their school uniform, their djibbas (as gymslips were routinely called) tied at the side by a girdle. Miss Ellingford, the art mistress drew this picture. The 2001 programme gives a much more competitive feel to it, a girl dressed to win, with a stop clock in the background.
The eagle eyed among you may spot the difference between the camels in the crest-one hump or two?
The content of the day varies wildly, the 1939 one includes races for the watching adults, be they parents, staff or old girls. Also slow bicycle races where the last ones wins and the old favourites egg and spoon, plant pot and sack races. The 2001 sports include much longer distance running and more field events other than just the high jump of earlier, with less emphasis on the novelty ones.
25th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #4 Hansel and Gretel
25th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #4
Interestingly, in the plan there appears to be no corridor opposite the [then] library as there is today [opposite the staff common room]. This seems to have been converted from part of the original classrooms when the building was extended. The room labelled “Lecture Room” in the 1890 plan is now partly used as Computer Room 2 while the “Laboratory” is now the staff changing room. In each of these rooms is the remains of a fireplace. These fireplaces are off-centre in the present rooms but are central to the full width of the building, further indication of the lack of an original corridor.
One of the two corner buttresses on the plan is clearly visible on the west front of the building marking the original extent of the North Wing.
The extension of the wing added two more classrooms on the ground floor and others on the first floor. However, unlike today, there was no corridor along the length of the upper floor. These new rooms were accessed by an ornate wooden staircase which began about half way along what is now the north corridor. This staircase was later removed when the dining room was extended, the staircase at the end of the corridor was added and the upstairs corridor built.
18th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #3 Easter 1930 School trip to Paris
Hilda left school to go to Reading College of Art, Kathleen read English at Liverpool University and Margaret went to Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham all leaving in the Summer of 1930.Pauline and Doris left the following year 1931, Doris to Liverpool University to read French and history and Pauline to Bedford College, London to read English.
18th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #3 The 1620 Building
11th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #2 - The School that John Harrison Built
The illustrator, Margaret “Peggy” Nesbitt had to leave school suddenly at the end of Christmas term 1929 due to the ill health of her mother, she was in UV (Year 11) and thus took no school exams. Winifred Potts left in Summer 1930 after taking her school certificate, to go into office work.
The style of drawing is very much of its time and it is interesting to note that the Governors are shown as four men – the two lady Governors were clearly overlooked by the artist (much as they were by the rest of the governing body, rarely being voted onto sub-committees etc)!
11th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #2 - A portrait of Rev John William Coke-Norris (1874 - 1961)
1st April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #5 The School Song: Portraits of its Composer and Author
The School Song, along with the founding of the Old Boys’ Association, the introduction of School Houses and most team games, was one of the many things brought to the school by Canon Armour in an attempt to foster a sense of community. Being himself neither poet nor composer, Armour sought the help of two men, W E Heitland [the poet] and Edward Rendall [the composer] who never actually met and probably never knew each other. According to Mark Luft’s research for his history of the school, Rendall never visited the school and Heitland did not realise until thirty seven years after Armour asked him to write the poem that became the words of the song that they had been used for that purpose!
William Emerton Heitland was born in 1847 in Norfolk and was the godson of the Duke of Wellington. He attended Dedham Grammar School and Shrewsbury School before entering, in 1867, St John’s College, Cambridge to study Classics from which he graduated BA in 1871 and was elected a Fellow of the College. He lectured at the college and found time to produce several learned books on the classical world. Heitland appears to have been visiting Armour when he was asked to produce a poem for the school . According to Heitland he began this task on his journey back to Cambridge, submitted the result to Armour and largely forgot about it. Only when he published his book “After Many Years” in 1926 did the Secretary of the Old Boys recognise his name and write to him thanking him for his work on the Song. This was the first intimation that his words had been put to good use! W E Heitland died in 1935.
Edward Davey Rendall was a cousin of a friend of Canon Armour’s. He was born in 1858 in Oxfordshire and went to Harrow School which he left in 1877. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated BA in 1881, MA in 1888 and MusBac in 1894. He seems to have spent his life teaching, serving at Dulwich College from 1884 to 1901 [where he was teaching when he wrote the music for our School Song as well as theirs] and at Charterhouse.
A payment of five guineas was authorised for the composition!
He died in 1920.
The School Song was sung for the first time on Speech Day in December 1890 when all five verses were sung – a feat rarely performed since!
1st April 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #5 Sports Day
Since 1911, Sports day has always been a highlight of the school year. Whether like now the entire school is bussed off to Wavertree Sports Stadium or in former years it was held in the school grounds, long before the buildings expansion of the 1960s that has gobbled up the former gardens.
25th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #4 Hansel and Gretel
For four nights in July 1954, MTGS performed Humperdinck’s opera “Hansel and Gretel”, this was the brainchild of the head of music Miss Kathleen Kitchen (in whose name a music prize for string playing is still given every year).It was a very ambitious undertaking with nearly 40 girls taking part. The main roles were played by three different pairs each singing one act so as to rest their voices.
This photograph shows Hansel and Gretel in Act II played by Ethne Hancox and Patricia Amery surrounded by the Angel chorus in suitably stylised costumes.
The angels were played by Valerie Battersby, Patricia Fulcher, Helen Jasperson, Brenda Jones, Dorothy Langton, Patricia Law, Alison McKechanie, Sylvia Pratt, Norma Steventon, Pamela Smith, Fiona Taylor, Katrina Taylor, Mavis Warden and Mary Whinyates
A comprehensive review of the opera can be found in the school magazine 1953/1954
The image above shows a hand-drawn plan of the school dating from about 1890. The green area on the right shows the proposed new building to be erected as an extension to the North Corridor. This was completed in 1893. Until that time the school had consisted of four classrooms along the main corridor [as now], the present library was in use as the “Large Hall” for assemblies while the current staff common room was the school library. The Williams Hall and present dining room were still many years in the future. The stair case outside the [then] library led to two classrooms on the first floor.
18th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #3 Easter 1930 School trip to Paris
Three very brave school mistresses, Miss Martin, Miss Jackson and Miss Ward led a party of our 5th and 6th forms (years 11,12 and 13) to Paris for a fortnight, taking in Chartres, Versailles, Fontainebleau as well as the sights of Paris.
The girls on the ferry are, Pauline McCormick, Doris Cannell, Margaret Grant, Kathleen Wolfenden and Hilda Chadwick. Pauline and Margaret both played in the first XI hockey team and Margaret was captain of the netball team. Pauline and Doris were both prefects and Pauline was House Captain of Violet House.
Doris Cannell is remembered every year at MTGS Prizegiving as the George Green prizes for physics and mathematics are given in memory of her. Doris wrote an acclaimed biography of George Green, the mathematical physicist from Nottingham, in her retirement. Prior to that she had been the principal of Nottingham College of Education and oversaw its amalgamation with Trent Polytechnic to become Nottingham Trent University in 1974.
18th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #3 The 1620 Building
The bequest of John Harrison was used to erect the building which originally housed the Boys’ School and still exists today as part of the Girls’ School. This building was begun in 1620 and eventually received its roof in 1621.
The building was erected in a garden of about one acre and was of two storeys. It was built of stone by a local man, William Hunt and had two porches – one facing west to the sea [the view in those days would have been less restricted!] and one facing east onto the garden.
The ground floor consisted of a single large classroom used for teaching by the Master and the Usher [at the same time]. Leading to the upper storey was a stone staircase where the usher and any servants employed by the master were provided with lodgings. The master had a separate house adjoining the school.
The building is Crosby’s oldest and is a listed building with a grade II* status.
These two unusual views are taken from sketches made in 1828 and show the surroundings of the school were still rural.
11th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #2 – The School that John Harrison Built
This charming story was written and illustrated by two pupils. It was first published in the School magazine of April 1930, having been used for the opening of the new wing in 1929. The new wing is the section which leads from the main corridor, just past Mrs Bush’s’ office up to the end of the dining room. It gave the school two laboratories, a dining hall and six new classrooms.
11th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #2 – A portrait of Rev John William Coke-Norris (1874 – 1961)
John William Coke Norris was born in Coventry in 1874 and, aged 26, came to Merchant Taylors’, Crosby in 1900. He had studied Latin and Greek at St John’s College, Oxford, and qualified BA in 1897 going on to qualify MA in 1900. Having passed with 1st Class in Mods and then 1st Class in Lit Hum he clearly “knew his stuff”. He left MTS in 1903 to take up a teaching position at Harrow where he remained until about 1930. Although we have no record of his teaching methods while he was at MTS, the histories of Harrow describe him as humourless, emotionless and dry as dust and, additionally, as a disciplinarian whose pedantry and attention to detail were useful to him as the school’s timetabler.
Highly qualified though he was he had difficulty inspiring the able boys but seems to have excelled at teaching those boys in the bottom form.
In 1925 Harrow School welcomed through its doors an able boy, the future playwright Terence Rattigan. Coke Norris was still teaching Latin and Greek to the lower forms in the school. Some sources say Rattigan was never taught by Coke Norris, others [eg Christopher Tyerman in his History of Harrow School] that he taught him Greek. It seems likely that they were teacher and pupil.
Coke Norris took early retirement from Harrow while Rattigan was still at school and one of his pupils [some say Rattigan, some say not] presented him with a book as a leaving present.
This act formed the basis of Rattigan’s play “The Browning Version” and it is generally acknowledged that the play’s character Andrew Crocker-Harris is based on John William Coke Norris.
Coke Norris died in 1961.
4th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #1 – John Harrison’s Will John Harrison, Merchant Taylor of London , wrote his will on 15 May 1618. He died on 24 July 1619. On page 6 of his will he makes the bequest which leads to the founding of the school. The section outlined in red reads as follows:
4th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Boys' School Item #1 - John Harrison's Will
“…. I give and bequeath unto the said Master and Wardens and Assistants of the said Company or fraternity five hundred pounds in money to the end that they or their successors, Master and Wardens and Assistants of the said Company or fraternity for the time being, shall erect and build in Great Crosby in the parish of Shefton [sic] in the County of Lancaster, where my father was born, within convenient time after my decease one free grammar school for the teaching, educating and instructing of children and youth in the grammar and rules of learning forever, which shall be called by the name of the Merchant Taylors’ School, founded at the charge of John Harrison. And I will that the said school shall have continuance for ever of one Master and one Usher…..”
4th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Item #1 – John Harrison’s Will
John Harrison, Merchant Taylor of London , wrote his will on 15 May 1618. He died on 24 July 1619.
On page 6 of his will he makes the bequest which leads to the founding of the school. The section outlined in red reads as follows:
4th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #1 Constance Mary Plint, born June 9th 1892 came as a pupil to MTGS in January 1906 aged 13. It was quite common for girls to be taught elsewhere and “finished off” here. She lived locally, in Cooks Lane. She worked her way through school, passing her Oxford Locals as a junior in 1907 in, Writing from Dictation, Arithmetic, Religious Knowledge, History, Composition, Grammar, Literature, Botany and Drawing. You may notice the lack of science, this is because it was considered too hard for girls, “it would tax the female brain” so no chemistry, physics or higher maths was taught until a decade later. The delicate subject of reproduction was avoided by only teaching botany and not biology! Constance then took her Oxford Seniors in 1909 and gained her teaching diplomas from the National Froebel Union by distance learning in 1911 and 1914. Subjects she studied included Singing, Blackboard Drawing, Child Hygiene, Nature Knowledge, Handiwork and Knowledge of Child Nature! She would have studied these whilst learning the practical side in school, thus becoming a pupil-teacher a common career choice for young women. By 1918 she was the Kindergarten (reception) teacher here as this photograph shows. She then went to teach at Crosby Prep School (Miss Milton’s) and then onto Tiffin Girls School in London. Constance died in 1981. Several members of the Plint and Carmichael families (great nieces and nephews) have attended Merchants.
4th March 2016 - Merchant Taylors' Girls' School Item #1
4th March 2016 – Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Item #1
Constance Mary Plint, born June 9th 1892 came as a pupil to MTGS in January 1906 aged 13. It was quite common for girls to be taught elsewhere and “finished off” here. She lived locally, in Cooks Lane.
She worked her way through school, passing her Oxford Locals as a junior in 1907 in, Writing from Dictation, Arithmetic, Religious Knowledge, History, Composition, Grammar, Literature, Botany and Drawing.
You may notice the lack of science, this is because it was considered too hard for girls, “it would tax the female brain” so no chemistry, physics or higher maths was taught until a decade later. The delicate subject of reproduction was avoided by only teaching botany and not biology!
Constance then took her Oxford Seniors in 1909 and gained her teaching diplomas from the National Froebel Union by distance learning in 1911 and 1914. Subjects she studied included Singing, Blackboard Drawing, Child Hygiene, Nature Knowledge, Handiwork and Knowledge of Child Nature! She would have studied these whilst learning the practical side in school, thus becoming a pupil-teacher a common career choice for young women.
By 1918 she was the Kindergarten (reception) teacher here as this photograph shows. She then went to teach at Crosby Prep School (Miss Milton’s) and then onto Tiffin Girls School in London. Constance died in 1981. Several members of the Plint and Carmichael families (great nieces and nephews) have attended Merchants.