Following on from a review about how we talk about our history, particularly our Founder Bryan Blundell, we are about to embark on a student-led project to ensure that we talk about our history in a more open and transparent way. This page will be updated as this project progresses.
The Blue Coat School has a long and extraordinary history. It is a vital part of our identity and a source of inspiration and pride. It has helped to forge our character and shape our values. We are part of a great tradition of Liverpool philanthropy and pioneering social initiatives. This is our story…
The original Liverpool Blue Coat School was founded in 1708 by master mariner Bryan Blundell and the Reverend Robert Styth, the then rector of Liverpool. Reverend Styth took it upon himself to administer the first Blue Coat School, organising a place where poor children could be accommodated, cared for and learn to “read, write and cast accounts”. Blundell provided the Reverend with financial backing for the project.
The original school building was situated in School Lane in buildings formerly used by Cross’s Free Grammar School. In 1719, fine new buildings were erected in the style of Queen Anne. Today, it is the oldest construction in the town centre, now functioning as the Blue Coat Arts Centre.
When Reverend Styth died in 1713, Bryan Blundell took over as the treasurer and trustee. During this time, he noticed the poverty of the period, which was causing the children to neglect the school out of hours and so changed the school into a boarding school that provided food, drink and lodgings for the young generation. The school by then needed extending and enlarging, with changes costing between two to three thousand pounds. The finance for the school to be enlarged was once again provided thanks to Bryan Blundell; the work was finished in 1718.
Bryan Blundell died in 1756 and was succeeded by his son, who held office for 4 years. His younger brother Jonathan then took over and held office until the turn of the century. It was only during the last 10 years of the 18th century that a uniform was introduced.
Blue is not a royal colour – that is purple; it is, however, the colour of alms-giving and Charity. It was the common colour for clothes in Tudor times, and so the charity children were dressed in blue Tudor frock coats, yellow stockings and white bands. The children of The Blue Coat School wore this uniform until 1948.
By the end of the Victorian era, it had been realised that the school buildings were inadequate and in 1899 the trustees of the School took the decision to commission a new school building in what was then the countryside of Wavertree – away from the smoke and industry of the overcrowded city.
The project would cost over £80,000, an amount which was raised with the financial help of W H Shirley. Following his death in 1901, he left, in his will, £38,000 towards the building of the school. Along with many other contributions, the £80,000 was eventually raised and work began on the new school in 1903, which was completed in 1906. These are the buildings still occupied by the school – designed in the late English renaissance style – with later additions including the distinctive chapel dome and clock tower.
The Blue Coat retained its role as an orphanage until the late 1940s; boys and girls in old-fashioned dress having been a familiar site around Liverpool for many years. The school changed its status in 1948 and became a day and boarding school for boys only.
In 1984, the City Council proposed a “cease to maintain” order for the Blue Coat. It was defeated a year later following a successful campaign by the School that was supported by the people of Liverpool keen to maintain one of the city’s great educational institutions.
The boarding school was eventually phased out until only a few remaining boarders lived in the school and the rest of the students were day pupils. The school stopped accepting boarders in 1989, the same year when girls were readmitted to the Sixth Form only.
A New Chapter
In September 2002 – the first time in more than fifty years – girls were admitted into the school alongside boys following an entrance examination. Two splendid statuettes, different but complementary, standing to this day in the School’s Boardroom, clearly reveal the original inspiration of The Liverpool Blue Coat School: it was thoroughly co-educational before the word was coined.
History has given us both a strong sense of identity and a clear sense of direction. As we embark on a new phase of our story as an Academy, we remain faithful to the pioneering principles of our founders.
After three hundred years of success we believe that our history is not just what we did yesterday, but what we make today and tomorrow.
|1708||Blue Coat Hospital founded by Bryan Blundell and Rev. Robert Stythe. First fundraising raised £51.10.|
|1713/14||Bryan Blundell retires from the sea and becomes a Trustee.|
|1718||New buildings erected.|
|1725||First Master of 'new' School, Mr Houghton.|
|1739||Decree of Court of Chancery, County Palatine of Lancaster legislates for Trustees.|
|1756||Bryan Blundell dies and his son, Jonathan Blundell, becomes Treasurer.|
|Late 18th Century||The School's distinctive uniform was adopted.|
|1803||Decree of Court of Chancery, Palatine of Lancaster - the number of Trustees was raised to 100.|
|1821||John Horrocks donates Organ to the Hospital.|
|1865||Scheme of Charity Commissioners for the Blue Coat Hospital.|
|1899||Two Trustees make two adjoining sites totalling 8 acres in Wavertree.|
|1901||W H Shirley leaves £38,000 to the School.|
|1903||The Earl of Derby lays the foundation stone.|
|1906||The Fenwick-Harrison Memorial Chapel opens.|
|1928||Scheme is made by the Board of Education under the Charitable Trusts Act.|
|1934||Governors purchase the William Prescott Memorial Playing Fields on Lance Lane.|
|1939||The School is evacuated to Beaumaris, Anglesey.|
|1940||The Wavertree buildings are requisitioned for the War effort.|
|1946||The School returns to Wavertree.|
|1949||Girls leave to complete their education at Wolverhampton Royal Grammar School.
The School becomes 'Voluntary Aided', and the new 'modern' uniform is adopted.
|1953||Dedication of the Old Blues' Memorial Library.|
|1958||250th anniversary of the founding of the School - ceremonial gates are dedicated and opened.|
|1964||New classrooms, library, laboratories, swimming pool and asphalt yard provided. Sir Alan Tod studies built in the quadrangle.|
|1968||Mr GG Watcyn retires. Mr HP Arnold-Craft is appointed Headteacher.|
|1969||Pen Craig Isaf - the School farmhouse in Wales is acquired.|
|1977||New 6th Form centre built.|
|1984||'Cease to Maintain' order issued by Liverpool City Council.|
|1985||After a strong campaign, Sir Keith Joseph overrules the City Council.|
|1989||John C Speller appointed Headteacher.
Girls are re-admitted into the Sixth Form.
|1997||Michael R Bell appointed Headteacher.|
|1999||Education Secretary, David Blunkett, announces £7 million facelift for the School.|
|2001||Michael G Tittershill appointed Headteacher.|
|2002||Girls admitted into Year 7 for first time since 1949.
Work commences on the rebuild and refurbishment of the School.
|2004||The 'new' School is formally opened by the Earl of Derby.|
|2007||Designated as a Specialist School in Science and Mathematics. School develops partnerships with four primary Schools and Parklands High School.|
|2008||Debbie Silcock appointed as Headteacher.
School's Tercentenary is celebrated with a series of special events and a fundraising appeal which contributed to a new astroturf sports pitch and an additional study area for Upper Sixth Form students.
|2012||Department for Education supports an application from the Full Governing Body for the School to convert to academy status.|
|2012||In November, Ofsted inspectors awarded the School the OUTSTANDING category in all areas, (Achievement of pupils, Quality of Teaching, Behaviour and Safety of pupils and Leadership and Management).|
|1708 - 1713||The Reverend Robert Styth, M.A.|
|1717 - 1723||Mr William Trenton|
|1723 - 1725||Mr Theophilus Price|
|1725 - 1775||Mr Horton|
|1776 - 1779||The Reverend John Shakleton|
|1779 - 1799||Mr John Smith (Old Boy)|
|1800||Mr Robert Parkes|
|1801 - 1811||Mr George Chambers|
|1812 - 1816||Mr. John Fallows|
|1817 - 1819||Mr R W Bamford|
|1820 - 1848||Mr William Forster|
|1849 - 1862||Mr Thomas Wood, B.A.|
|1863 - 1867||Mr Thomas Haughton|
|1868 - 1869||Mr George Tinker|
|1870 - 1888||Mr Thomas Haughton|
|1889 - 1920||Mr Arthur Mercer|
|1920 - 1926||Mr Harry C Hughes|
|1927 - 1944||The Reverend R. Bruce Wilson, B.A.|
|1944 - 1945||The Reverend T C Heritage, M.A.|
|1945 - 1968||Mr G G Watcyn, B.A.|
|1968 - 1989||Mr H P Arnold-Craft J.P., M.A. (OXON)|
|1989 - 1997||Mr J C Speller, B.A., M.A. (Ed.), F.R.S.A.|
|1997 - 2000||Mr M R Bell, B.A. (Hons), F.I.Mgt.|
|2001 - 2008||Mr M G Tittershill|
|2008 - 2015||Mrs D A Silcock|
|2015 - 2019||Mr M Pennington|
|2019 -||Mrs S Yates|