School Days

by Northern Life

School-Days-SquareReader’s Memory –

I read with inerest the article submitted by Ann Prinsloo in the October/November edition of Northern Life, as I recognised some of the names she remembered from her days in the preparatory school of West Leeds High School.

I went to the Girls’ High School in September 1953 and have in my possession a copy of the school magazine published in summer 1956 – a first edition after some years when it had lapsed. In this issue some of the girls mentioned by Mrs Prinsloo are reported as having gained their GCE O-levels in summer 1955. These were Sylvia Maude and Mary Morrell from form 5X, Christine Beecroft, Jennifer Grimshaw and Janet Moore from Form 5Y and Jill Stocks from Form 5Z. In my copy of the school magazine of January 1958 it is noted that Mary Morrell gained her A-levels in summer 1957 and was awarded a Higher Technical Scholarship, so presumably she went on to further education. Summer 1957 was a memorable one as this was when the school celebrated its Golden Jubilee. The head girl that year was Suzanne Beauchamp who had started her career in the preparatory School (the KG building – the Kindergarten) in 1942. Looking carefully at the photograph I think that Suzanne Beauchamp is the girl seated immediately to Miss Padman’s right. She went on to university on a Senior City Exhibition but I do not remember which university or the subject she studied. I have a copy of the booklet issued in 1957 to mark the Golden Jubilee, which gives an interesting account of the school’s history. It records that fees for under-10s in 1907 were three guineas a year. I wonder how much the fees were when Mrs Prinsloo’s parents had to pay them. The school was absorbed into the state system after the 1944 Education Act and fees were abolished. Miss Jackson, who had been head of the Preparatory department since 1913, retired in 1947. Miss FC Guest became headmistress in 1944 and was still there when I left to go to college in 1960. The original school building in Whingate, Armley, was shared by both the girls’ and boys’ high schools but run quite separately. The girls left for a completely new building in Congress Mount in 1959, leaving the boys to occupy the whole of the old building which in 1987 was given Grade II listing. The boys remained there until 1992 when they joined the girls again as a large mixed comprehensive which moved once again into new buildings in 2009. In 1980, 20 years after leaving school, I re-established contact with my former classmates. We now try to meet for lunch in Leeds once a year. This year we were meeting on Saturday October 8th so I can assure you that I would be taking this latest copy of Northern Life with me. I am sure it will have prompted memories for all of us. It would be good to hear if anyone else responds to Ann Prinsloo’s article. Yours sincerely Patricia Pack, Darwen.