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Wigan Grammar Schools   Views: 1460
The Gateway to the Future.   Comments: 33
Photo: DTease   Item #: 31499  
The Gateway to the Future.
  One of the gate posts preserved from the original Wigan Grammar School that stood on this site.

I wonder how many Wigan youngsters have passed out of these gates and gone on to make their presence felt in countries all over the world ?

 [<< Back] 33 user comment(s) below:-  [Leave a comment]

Comments by Veronica, 11th September 2019  
Sir Ian Mckellen for twelve months until he was 12yrs old and then onto Bolton School. Also Colin Bean of 'Dad's Army ' fame...the first building was in Scholes behind Wigan Little Theatre.

Comments by Carolaen, 11th September 2019  
Instant recall to 1963 when when I walked through these very gates as a First Former for 7 very happy years in the main - although I would still pay his money to back to those times as an adult and sort some of the sadist teachers out. Robbie springs to mind. BTW did not start school then in late August and finish at the end of June? We always seemed to be on our family holiday in early July. Or my memory might simply be playing up again.

Comments by Jarvo, 11th September 2019  
Harry Eastham...Ended up being sent to Botany Bay...

Comments by ex-WGS, 11th September 2019  
Thanks DTease. Just seen my grandson off to high school, as it's called now. Brought back memories I can tell you, as did this photo. I was a year before you Carolaen. WGS has mixed memories for me. Some teachers excellent even inspirational, and some incompetent. The way it was taught, you'd expect me to hate history but quite the reverse. Go figure, as they say now.

Comments by Carolaen, 11th September 2019  
A further memory on the first day. One reason we first years went through this gate was that we all.had to stand together and go up to the old school hall. Only then were we told which class form we had been out in. Weirdly but logically we had been informed by letter over the summer which House we were in as you had to buy gym kit etc in the relevant colour - Royal blue for Leigh etc. So sorry there was no Harry Potter Sorting Hat ceremony for us.

Comments by Keith Beckett, 11th September 2019  
Thanks for the photo DTease. I walked through those gates for the first time in fear of the unknown. The last time I passed through I felt confident of the future. Thankfully it wasnít misplaced.
The photo is of the fourth Wigan Grammar school. Number two was on the site of the history shop. There was a plaque on the Rodney Street wall depicting such but it was never replaced after the restoration of the building. Probably skipped by a member of the philistinic tendency on the Council.
School number three was on the present site.

Comments by Alan, 11th September 2019  
That could have been taken last week.

Comments by fred foster, 11th September 2019  ff001a5024@blueyonder.co.uk 
I started there in 1942 in 3A but after the first term I was 31st out of 31 and dropped down into 3B. Miss Hosendoff was our form teacher and I was a creditable 10th. There were a lot of women teachers as the men were in the forces.I recall Miss Swires as science teacher. She came from Yorkshire. Arthur (aigy) Thompson was another old teacher whose punishment was to hold your face with one hand and slap it with the other. His favourite expression was "it's all in the book" Memories!!

Comments by broady, 11th September 2019  
I walked through those gates from 1963 after we were forced to merge " with the elite" from across the road. No great memories, good or bad, some good teachers and some bad. Worked 40+ years in the UK and never asked what year the Battle of Hastings was. Sure I did benefit from my time there.

Comments by Donald Underwood, 11th September 2019  
I arrived the year after Fred Foster.Not through these gates but the ones near the bike shed, nearer to Scholes.We were heavily womanised at that time.As well as the ones Fred mentions & the venerable Miss Macartney who had taught Frank Denning inter alia.,there was Miss Goldberg,Miss Barishnikov,Miss McKie,Miss Evans(apparently a gifted Classicist who died in her native Wales comparatively recently,Mrs Ferguson,Mrs Stuart,Miss Burran,Mrs Knight.I do not remember being well taught until I reached the Sixth Form where Philip Skirrow & T.F Thompson coached me to a University scholarship.I am thankful to the Borough Education Committee under Eddie Maloney's chairmanship for financing me for four years rather than the customary three.Sorry to have gone on but it was a large slice of my life

Comments by Fred foster, 12th September 2019  Fredna66@gmail.com 
I remember the first Latin phrase from Dick Nutt discipuli pictorum spectate I.e. pupils look at the picture.

Comments by Peter Schofield, 12th September 2019  
Sir James Anderton went to Wigan Grammar School and on leaving joined the military Police did his 3 years national service and then joined the Civilian Police Service and eventually reached the rank of Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and was an excellent chief some still say the best chief ever of G.M.P

Comments by Carolaen, 12th September 2019  
Some more famous names from the 1960s - John Ashcroft (I think he was WGS) who oversaw the spectacular rise and then fall of Coloroll, - Dave Marsden (RIP lovely bloke who died much too early in 2010) who was Finance Director of Rover Cars, - Roger Freeman who was a world class rally driver and having more or less retired was killed in 2003 with his co-driver Mark Lovell in a freak accident in Oregon, - Paul Entwistle of well known Entwistle and Joynt Tools. Last and certainly not least is Bryan Talbot the internationally renowned author and graphic artist Bryan (who has posted on this site) now lives in Sunderland with his equally renowned wife Mary. Their book Dotter of her Fathers eyes is a wonderfully evocation of growing up in Wigan in the 1950s and 60s and there are some great illustrations of the town, including WGS, Mesnes Park and the Market Tavern. Bryans web site is amazing and well worth a look as his artwork covers an amazing range. I was lucky enough to be in the same Art group as him and I can assure you that he was just as good when he was 12 years old as he is now.

Comments by Tony Sharp, 12th September 2019  
I remember Dicky Nutt well. I started at WGS in Sept 1958. I was in the C stream and for Latin came 31st, 30th and 31st again in a class of 31 for the first year then not surprisingly dropped the subject. However due to his skills and the matter of Rote learning I can still quote the Latin cases in order - Nominative, Vocative, Accusative, Genative, Dative and Ablative. But I have forgotten have to decline Bonus !! Inter Alia, Latin did not do me much good during my 22 years as an engineer in the Royal Navy.

Comments by DerekB, 12th September 2019  
I was there from 1949 to 1954. The lady who taught us French was French herself, Madame Tissot. Her husband had reputedly been in the French resistance during WW11 and had been killed fighting for them. Even in our last year when we were all strapping 16 year olds, she always addressed us as mes enfants. You certainly didn't mess about in her lessons and, apart from the early lessons, you weren't allowed to speak anything other than French during them.

Comments by DerekB, 12th September 2019  
Realised as soon as I had made the previous comment that the French ladies name was Tisson, not Tissot. Getting confused with the watchmakers.

Comments by baker, 12th September 2019  
cant agree with mr robinson being a bad guy.he was just hard but fair,a no nonsense man.

Comments by Xpat, 13th September 2019  
But! As Dtease wonders. Did you make your presence felt?
I ask this because I heard a university graduate not to long ago , who said the vast majority of his friends are now in employment that has absolutely nothing to do with what they studied for . He, like his friends, he said where all heavily in debt.
Grammar Schools , Universities, education in whatever form is absolutely invaluable. But there seems to be , what I read, this vast army of young people, with qualifications you need a rucksack to hold, and brain cells hanging out their ears like lava, yet still working in supermarkets and fast food shops . I just feel education is one thing, but when you come onto the open water of real life, it is not so straight forward. Just my observation, and by no means an attack on Grammar schools or any form of education.

Comments by DTease, 13th September 2019  
Reading the comments here from ex-pupils of WGS I get the feeling that they are not overly enthusiastic about the education they received there. The quality of the teachers seems to have been pretty much the same as you would find in most schools, some good, some bad and some in the middle. We are constantly being told that Grammar Schools provide a superior education than other systems. It makes me wonder if they are being over hyped.

Comments by Carolaen, 13th September 2019  
First - apologies if this is a longish response but DTease and Xpat raise some interesting questions.

DTease. I can only comment on the period I was at WGS from 1963 to 1970 (just before it ceased to be a few years later). Certainly when I was there there were some fabulously good teachers -Bri Holt (English) was probably everybody's model of what a good teacher was. I also fondly remember Mr Smith who made Physics understandable and fascinating even to a non scientist like me (and got me my only Science O Level. There were quite a few middle of the road teachers and more than a few incompetent and poor ones.

What you have to remember in those days was that most Grammar Schools (WGS was no exception) were very focused on getting a relatively small number of pupils into University and Oxbridge especially - you went on the Honours Board if you got to Oxbridge. If they got 5 or 6 pupils to Oxbridge in a year and maybe another 20 to other Universities (from an Upper 6th Form of say 60) that was seen as an outstanding success. In order to achieve this there was a fairly ruthless exercise from the end of the 1st year to identify what subjects you were good at - and therefore likely to do well at O and A Level. If you were seen as being good at a subject you were put in the top 2 streams and if not you were in the bottom stream. The top stream got the best teachers and if you were in the bottom 2 sets you got some really very poor ones.

If the above sounds a bit elitist and heartless then that's because it was but was effective in achieving the School objectives. To some extent it didn't matter too much at that time because (to address some of Expats points) most people left at 15 or 16 most with some O Levels. However unlike today most walked into jobs immediately often onto training/management schemes/ apprenticeships with local companies such as Heinz, Pilkingtons,Leyland Motors, NCB, GKN etc etc. Even at A Level the majority did not go to University but straight into good level jobs. I well remember there were Job fairs/Careers Days in the 6th Form which offered jobs - I was offered a job as a trainee reporter on the Observer because I was good at English. I didn't take it up. This is so different form today's job Market when to get into most mainstream jobs you have to have at least a Degree and increasingly a Post Graduate level degree as well.

I am not being overly critical of WGS it was just typical of many Grammar Schools at the time in that they very much concentrated their resources on a minority of Pupils who would go onwards and upwards in their view and the majority could leave and get a job. The other thing that would say to those who have a rose tinted view of Grammar Schools of the past was that there was a surprising level of casual violence (teenage boys after all) no stabbings etc but lots of fights. Also there was no problem in getting drugs (pills and dope) - it was the 1960s after all - if that was your thing. Quite a lot of underage drinking in local pubs also went on.

Having said all the above I would reiterate that I enjoyed WGS in the main. The teachers in the subjects I was good at Geography, History, English were excellent but these were because I was in the top sets and got the best teachers. In subject where I was not naturally good at (but by no means incompetent) such as French and Maths in my case the teaching quality even in the 2nd stream was variable to say the least.

On a lighter note when I was commenting the other day on WGS pupils who have made their mark of the world., I should of course have mentioned Mr Northern Soul/ Wigan Casino - Russ Winstanley

Comments by GeorgeB, 13th September 2019  
DTease, just to expand a little on your comments. Hereís my theory for what itís worth. I attended the WGS and by and large didnít like it much. Yes the teachers were a mixed bunch. Donít forget just because you taught at a Grammar school didnít mean you had a higher salary, far from it. What it did mean was that the general academic ability of the pupils was somewhat higher than the average pupil. Combine that with a system that was recognised by the pupils as being of benefit to them, i.e. just because you didnít much care for it didnít mean it wasnít ďgoodĒ for you (Iím guilty). In other words the ďsystemĒ worked largely due to the pupils who attended and their willingness to accept its discipline.

Comments by Keith Beckett, 13th September 2019  

When the Labour Party adopted the comprehensive approach to education around 1960 the writing was on the wall for grammar schools. This led to the better teachers moving to pastures new.
In the years since I left WGS I have been thankful for the quality education I received from some very good and excellent teachers.
My grandson has recently graduated with a first class honours degree in aerospace engineering. When he was being educated in a comprehensive school the level of maths teaching he received was abysmal. I spent six months bringing him up to scratch and, fortunately, he never looked back. But for my intervention he would never have made it to Winstanley College.
In the grammar school days the maths teachers would be teaching at both A level and O level (GCSE today) and had to know their subject. They would have been graduates, in their chosen subjects, of the best universities. Thatís what made the grammar schools beacons of excellence.
In Wigan, one of the few councils to adopt the 1944 education act in full with grammar, secondary technical and secondary modern schools, the local authority maintained grammar school, in accordance with the 1944 act, only lasted for about 35 years and perhaps only 25 years in reality.

Comments by Philip C, 13th September 2019  
I can only say in reply to the many comments about the school that I would be happy to repeat my time there again. It has given me many fond memories . The education given allowed myself and others to have a good career.

Comments by baker, 14th September 2019  
d'tease i cannot agree with you on the standard of teachers at the grammar/thomas linacre.mr gapes my form teacher was a firm but fair fantastic man.i believe he his still alive and living in southport.mr jones, maths, excellent i found them all to be a cut above any i had previously met.as i have previously posted mr robinson was hard on pupils ,but always scrupulously fair.

Comments by DTease, 14th September 2019  
Itís been very interesting to read the comments from ex-pupils of WGS and I can see some of the arguments in favour of a Grammar School education, but I still have some doubts about how you cater for the needs of the other ninety per cent of kids who donít make it there. Can any country these days afford to concentrate on the top ten per cent and ignore the rest?

Comments by Carolaen, 14th September 2019  
DTease. You raise good points about the 90% who didn't go to Grammar School. The point I was making above was that back then in the 1960s even of the ones who passed the 11 Plus probably most left at 15/16 with a few O levels (interestingly no-one bothered then whether it was a C or an A* pass it was just seen as an O Level) and nearly all walked into jobs. Tellingly the same also applied to the Secondary Modern pupils. In my primary school only 4 out of a class of 30 passed the 11+ to WGS or the High School for Girls. However all my old primary school pals who went Whelley SM or All Saints SM had no great problem getting a job either. Today it is so very different with everyone seemingly needing A* passes at every level and Post Grad qualifications to get even trainee posts.

Comments by DTease, 14th September 2019  
You are right about the sixties Carolaen, jobs were very easy to find then. Sadly, the kind of employment that was around then is rapidly disappearing.
We are telling our youngsters that they must work hard at school in order to get a worthwhile, interesting job at the end. But, as Xpat says far to many are finding that the only reward for all their hard work is trivial, part time menial work stacking shelves in Supermarkets and even those jobs are now disappearing rapidly.
If you talk to young people today you can feel the frustration building up in them. The danger is that, sooner or later all that frustration will explode and who can say whether that will be a good think or a bad thing.

Comments by tuddy, 16th September 2019  
I had to go there today for a blood test, as it's now a medical centre. I had w walk around while I was waiting, the honours boards are still in place, and the old house trophys for cricket and rugby are on display.

Comments by Philip G., 17th September 2019  
I always find time to see close-up the names, trophies and photos at my 'Centre appointments, Tuddy. Splendid.

Comments by ex-WGS, 17th September 2019  
Is it possible to just go in to see them, or do you have to have a bona fide reason for being there, i.e. an appointment? And where exactly are they?

Comments by tuddy, 17th September 2019  
Yes you can go in without an appointment.With your back to Park road you enter the building through sliding glass doors in the right hand corner of the old playground. There is a reception desk in front of you, walk past it so that it's on your left hand side, the blood test dep't will be on your right, walk past it and the boards and trophies are in the corridor on the right hand wall. Or, just ask the ladies on reception, they're very helpful.

Comments by ex-WGS, 17th September 2019  
thanks tuddy.

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