Memory Lane: Classmates

Class 1B from 1957-58 Palatine School, Blackpool, submitted by Robert Gibson on the middle row, second from the right.

Class 1B from 1957-58 Palatine School, Blackpool, submitted by Robert Gibson on the middle row, second from the right.

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ROBERT Gibson was one of those pupils for whom education meant “all change” when his school’s status altered from grammar to secondary modern.

He says: “I began my secondary education at Palatine Technical Grammar School in September 1957. I can still put names to many of the pupils of Class 1B from 1957-58. Our form teacher was named Taylor, but I can’t remember whether she was Miss or Mrs.

“At the end of the first year, examination results determined the appropriate class for the second year and I was moved to Class 2A.

“During the late 1950s, Blackpool County Borough Council embarked on the building of the new Blackpool Grammar School at Highfurlong and it was determined that, upon its opening, Palatine would lose its grammar school status and become a secondary modern school. It was agreed that Palatine pupils, having passed the 11 plus, would have the option of transferring. In the boys’ case this was to the new grammar school, and in the girls’ case to Collegiate Girls Grammar School on Beech Avenue.”

Robert says: “The great majority of Palatine pupils chose, with a degree of sadness, to transfer, as did many of the staff.

“During the third year, a choice had to be made as to whether to go into the science, technical, or commercial class for years four and five. By this time we knew that our fifth year would not be at Palatine, but elsewhere.

“Many of my classmates from 3A opted for the science stream. Our class teacher in 4Sc was ‘King’ George Leah. He was a great teacher, and upon our premature leaving in 1961, he said we were the best class he had ever taught and wished we could have stayed for our final year.

“Arriving at the new Blackpool Grammar in September 1961, there were five fifth forms. Class 5X was the express stream of pupils to take their ‘O’ level exams after four years – the supposedly very bright ones. Then there was 5A and 5B. The Palatine 4Sc boys were in Class 5C1, mixed with existing Grammar School boys who had either already performed poorly in the ‘O’ level GCE exams, or were not considered to have much chance of success!

“To say we were not exactly welcome at the grammar school was an understatement. There was also Class 5C2 – another half Palatine class, mixed with more grammar school boys not considered particularly able.

“Our 5C1 class teacher was Denis Quinlan, a PE teacher who himself did not fit the grammar school mould. He had a teaching diploma, but not a degree like the rest of the staff who looked down upon him. Denis’s famous words were that, as usual, he had been lumbered with another class of rubbish.

“The ultimate irony was that 11 months later, in August 1962, George Leah’s words had been proved right and Denis Quinlan was the proudest man in the school as it was his form of 5C1 no hopers, that achieved the best GCE results of the year, surpassing even those of the ‘express’ class of the ‘brightest’ pupils.”

Robert would like to hear from anyone else on the photograph and wonders whether any readers have a copy of the “long” full school photographs taken at Palatine between 1957 and 1961. He can be emailed at robbie.jay@hotmail.co.uk or contacted on 07976 400337.