Getting the Grammar right in Blackpool

Blackpool Grammar School... but which one? It is easy to confuse the Blackpool Grammar School run by Mr Sankey in Adelaide Street with Blackpool Secondary School at Raikes Parade, which became Blackpool Grammar School, pictured below, in 1933
Blackpool Grammar School... but which one? It is easy to confuse the Blackpool Grammar School run by Mr Sankey in Adelaide Street with Blackpool Secondary School at Raikes Parade, which became Blackpool Grammar School, pictured below, in 1933
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Pardon our “grammar” but there seems to have been a mix up in Blackpool over the years as to the origins of a particular school.

Many people have linked Blackpool Grammar School on Raikes Parade with the Adelaide Street building now housing the Comrades Club, whose future is under threat.

BLACKPOOL Grammar School RAIKES PARADE  HISTORICAL(1944). / PREVIOUSLY BLACKPOOL SECONDARY SCHOOL

BLACKPOOL Grammar School RAIKES PARADE HISTORICAL(1944). / PREVIOUSLY BLACKPOOL SECONDARY SCHOOL

But according to local historian Ann Lightbown, who has researched some of the early private schools in Blackpool, this was not the case and there is absolutely no connection.

Anne says: “In the 19th and early 20th century, there were many private boys’ schools in Blackpool, as well as schools and academies for young ladies. Some lasted for only a few years, others changed their names or were amalgamated and many changed premises.

“Children from all over Lancashire and further afield were sent to such schools, so a lot were boarding schools.

“Thomas Sankey came to Blackpool about 1887 and took over the privately-owned boys’ Collegiate School at the north western corner of Coronation Street and Adelaide Street.

“The school was then owned by the educationalist Ebenezer Leigh, who had run a previously-established school there since the 1870s, in premises that were only demolished a few years ago.

“In 1893 Thomas Sankey moved his school further up Adelaide Street to Frogmore, the more easterly of a pair of large semi-detached houses with grounds at the rear and soon advertised that he was changing the name of his school to Blackpool Grammar School.

“The right hand house, Rougemont, was a private school for young ladies, but by 1900 that establishment had moved to Reads Avenue, allowing Sankey to expand into the vacated premises.

“When Sankey died in 1910, the eldest of his seven children, a curate at Pendlebury, took over the running of the school temporarily until the summer holidays of that year. The school was not advertised after that.

“However, the imposing building at Raikes Parade, now the Salvation Army Citadel, was up and running in 1906 as the Council-built Blackpool Municipal Secondary School, for both boys and girls. Some had won scholarships, almost half were fee paying and over 90 were pupil-teachers.

“Two thirds of the children were local and the rest from the Lancashire area.

“Numbers increased and in 1925 the girls moved out to a new school on Beech Avenue, called the Collegiate School for Girls.”

Anne concludes: “The boys remained at Raikes Parade and their school was given a new name in 1933 – Blackpool Grammar School – by which time Sankey’s private school of the same name had not been in existence for more than 20 years.”