Stretford High School History Blog – Who do we think we are?

August 25th, 2016 | Posted by Chris Hirst in Front Page News | History Blog

Stretford High School only dates back to 1991. However, the building itself has a much longer history. In the early 1920s a man called Albert Dakin wanted to set up a school for the boys of Stretford. He was already running a school out of a collection of buildings spread around Stretford but it took a number of years before he got the funding to finally build his own school. This school was opened in 1929 as the Stretford Grammar School for Boys. This is what our school started life as.

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I love this picture! Great Stone Road is deserted and very little of the current school actually exists at this point. I wanted to find out more about the school from this time so I took a group of students to Sale Waterside and had a look through their archives on our building. We had to book an appointment so that they could get them out of storage.

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We donned our white gloves and went digging. It didn’t take long before we found this booklet. It commemorates the opening of the school.

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This booklet provided a fantastic source of information regarding the early history of the building. We also hit a treasure trove of early material when we found the following photographs of the school in the art cupboard during Christmas 2010.

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Beautiful pictures from a different era! Some of you may be wondering where the girls went if this was the boys school? Well, the Girls’ Grammar School was on the site of what is now PC World. It was an equally impressive building. Unfortunately, it took a direct hit from a bomb during World War 2 and it was demolished (you will be pleased to note that no one was killed. The school was empty when it was bombed!)

It’s very hard to know what school would have been like back then. Fortunately we had a visit (completely out of the blue) from Mr Ian Hughes, a vet who now lives in the Lake District. His family lived in Stretford during the Second World War and he very kindly wrote an account of what the school was like, what Albert Dakin was like and what life was like for a child during the War. Here are his accounts:

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These accounts really brought to life the experience of being a child at our school in the early years of the building’s history. The hand drawn plans also revealed where the rooms pictured above were (and also what their functions were – very different to today!).

Albert Dakin was an interesting character. He clearly cared deeply about the school that he set up. I found the fire watching log for 1941 (where teachers volunteered to climb up on to the roof of the school armed only with a thermos flask of tea, a bucket of sand to put out incendiary fires and a radio to report the number of planes flying overhead towards Manchester). This was clearly a dangerous job (you only have to see what happened to the girls’ school to know what could happen). Despite being, by this point, an old man, Albert Dakin volunteered to be the first teacher to do this dangerous job. It must have affected him badly because he died shortly afterwards. The contribution made by those teachers was enormous. You only have to look at the damage list from an air raid on the school to see that if it were not for their efforts the school would have been destroyed (more than one fire was put out by a teacher pouring a bucket of sand over an incendiary on the roof!)

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This covers the material that we have up to the Second World War. More to come soon on our history blog!

 

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