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The Oral History Project, part of the wider Blue Coat For All community engagement initiative, has unearthed intriguing personal stories in a bid to record what life was like at Blue Coat School over the changing decades.

Two examples are of John Pinch, from the Class of 1966, and Joan Gordon (nee Evans), from the Class of 1946, whose recollections reveal a School very different to what today’s students experience.


John pictured with his fellow Decoy band mates.

John Pinch’s mother died when he was six and as his father, a railway shift-worker, struggled to bring him up, the School offered a place in Earle boarding house, aged 11, in 1958.

“I had a great set of friends and we formed a gang called The Magnificent Seven. Many boarders’ families were in the Forces and I spent a fortnight with a friend and his family in Malta.

“I spent so much time in Metalwork that I took the classes! The power of Merseybeat and Beatles song Penny Lane’s local locations inspired me to make guitars for our school band The Decoys, as everyone had a guitar in Liverpool!

“Mr Hickman taught me A Level Metalwork and I was inspired by his passion for the Arts & Craft movement. I still have my silver-plated coffee pot exam piece which he entered for the Liverpool Show. This set pace for rest my life, becoming a teacher and silversmith. I made myself a pass key so I could work any time in Metalwork classroom. I must be the only kid on planet who broke into school to work! I just loved making things.


Joan’s official Blue Coat photograph

Joan Gordon (nee Evans) attended Blue Coat School during its evacuation to Beaumaris, Anglesey, to avoid the Liverpool Blitz of the early 1940s as the German Luftwaffe attempted to destroy the strategically crucial port which was Britain’s wartime lifeline.

“Blue Coat was remarkable and moving to Anglesey was an incredible experience, although I saw even less of my mother than previously. I think it was only once during the entire six years of war, as travel was so restricted.

“While the School provided a life-line for helping my family, it was very intimidating for someone very shy like myself to board from such a young age.

“It annoys me is that most of the School’s history is about the boys and the girls get forgotten about. It was equally important for educating boys and girls. I’ve published my experiences to try and make sure people understand the part the girls played.

“Blue Coat was remarkable and moving to Anglesey was an incredible experience, although I saw even less of my mother than previously. I think it was only once during the entire six years of war, as travel was so restricted.  

“While the School provided a life-line for helping my family, it was very intimidating for someone very shy like myself to board from such a young age. Discipline was very strict and woe betide you if you stepped out of line.  

“But Beaumaris was a lovely place and the people were very friendly. Looking back we had a lot of freedom to play out and explore the fields and woods. It was a shock coming back to Wavertree and we were so restricted by boundary rules and only allowed out of the School grounds for two hours on a Sunday afternoon.    

These two very different memoirs of Old Blues give invaluable personal insights into life at Blue Coat School in two highly contrasting eras. Without these testimonies, such evidence of past times would be lost forever and to the detriment of our ability to comprehend how much the School has changed in three centuries.

Read more in Old Blues, Uncategorized

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