Former headmistress of Queen Mary School in Lytham supports Lancashire history project

The former Queen Mary School in Lytham
The former Queen Mary School in Lytham
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Joan Charlton’s introduction to education was very different to her own.

The now 98-year-old was well known as headmistress at the former Queen Mary School in Lytham.

Former Queen Mary School headteacher Joan Charlton is now in her 99th year, still driving and baking her own bread

Former Queen Mary School headteacher Joan Charlton is now in her 99th year, still driving and baking her own bread


She took over the top post in 1970 and steered it through various changes until she left 11 years later.


Miss Charlton, as she was respectfully known, was recently interviewed as part of an oral history project being run by archive volunteers at the former school.


Now in her 99th year, Miss Charlton is still driving, baking her own bread and supporting her local community in County Durham.


She recalled her time at Queen Mary School, which moved from the direct grant scheme to independence in 1976, and saw many changes in curriculum and teaching techniques.


Miss Charlton’s own education started in the front room of a local infant school teacher in the ‘gritty little mining town’ of Stanley.
Amazingly for the time, she won a scholarship to study English at Girton College, Cambridge, in an when most pupils could not even aspire to go to university.


During her time as headmistress at QMS, Miss Charlton took the first year senior pupils on a Friday afternoon and recounted stories, entirely from memory, from the Odyssey, Beowulf, the Mabinogion and other ancient myths, sparking a great interest in classical studies and ancient history among the girls.


An avid reader, Miss Charlton recently discovered that she could still understand medieval Latin, when she ordered a history book which she had expected to be in English.


While at Queen Mary School, she formed a lasting friendship with Mrs Joan Putz, who moved to the area with her husband when he became head of modern languages at QMS.


The two Joans discovered that they had attended the same secondary school in Tanfield, County Durham, and that their fathers had been colleagues at a small local coal company.


Mrs Putz went on to teach religious instruction at QMS and her daughter, Cathy, a former QMS pupil, is now head of touring exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Mrs Putz is now a resident at the New Thursby Nursing Care Home and is still in weekly contact with Miss Charlton.


The school later became coeducational, merging with King Edward School, then Arnold School in Blackpool and is now know as AKS.


Volunteers at AKS archives are keen to interview other former members of staff and pupils of QMS, King Edward VII and Arnold Schools in order to record their memories to enrich the archives.

Volunteer, Liz Bickerstaffe, is also writing a book on the history of QMS and welcomes memories from those associated with the school. Contact: archives@akslytham.com or 01253 713850.