West Leeds Girls’ High School Jubilee Magazine

This week’s Secret Library Heritage Blog article has been written by Local and Family History’s Josh Flint and will be the first in a new series. This new series will be on treasures from the Local and Family History collection about Armley. This first Armley treasure is the 50th Jubilee of the West Leeds Girls; High School.

Front Cover, West Leeds Girls’ High School Jubilee

The West Leeds Girls’ High School Jubilee, 1907 – 1957, magazine is a great example of the variety of items that we have on Armley in our Collection. This magazine celebrates the first fifty years of the school while also having interesting memories from former and current staff and students. This is a great resource when trying to research the history of education in Leeds during the early 20th Century or just wanting to reminisce about your family’s school days. This blog will examine this magazine and see how the School was constructed and changed throughout its first fifty years.

One of the exciting treasures of this magazine is on the opening page, where there are twenty three signatures of former staff and students from the High School.  Unfortunately, we do not know if this magazine was owned by a teacher or student but I like to imagine a leaving student asking their friends and teachers to sign this Jubilee magazine just before the end of the school year, just as leaving students ask fellow students to sign their school shirt’s today.. Let us know if you recognise any of these signatures.

Signed Front Page, West Leeds Girls’ High School Jubilee, 1907 – 1957

Though only 64 pages this pamphlet has an incredible amount of information about the history of the West Leeds Girls’ High School, such as the names of the head teachers, how many students attended the school and how the school has changed in its first fifty years. This amount of information is invaluable and is normally very hard to find. I particularly appreciate that it is listed how many students attended the school under each head teacher. This type of information is often impossible to find outside of detailed school records.

West Leeds High School, Leodis
Picture of the West Leeds Girl's High School Interior, West Leeds Girl’s High School 1907 - 1957
Picture of the West Leeds Girl’s High School Interior, West Leeds Girl’s High School 1907 – 1957

The magazine goes into great detail about the Head Teachers and Councillors that have had a great influence on the school. The Chairman of the Education Committee, Alderman F. Kinder performed the opening ceremony and it was stated that the West Leeds High School was ‘Situated in a healthy position, constructed according to most modern principals, having excellent accommodation and equipment.’ Director of Education Dr Graham at a Celebratory Dinner 21 years later explained how he, some members of the Council and Architect, West Leeds man Mr Broadbent, that they visited schools on the continent and used this research to design the West Leeds High School when they returned. The School building was so highly regarded that it was visited by over eighty architects from around the country, when they were researching for their own designs. At the Opening Ceremony Alderman Kinder stated that his favourite criticism of the building was that the school was too magnificent and not fit for purpose.

Photograph of the Councillors and Education Chairman, West Leeds Girls’ High School 1907 – 1957

The West Leeds High School was effectively two separate schools when it first opened as it housed both boys and girls but kept them completely separate. This is why it was called the West Leeds Girls’ High School even though boys went to the same building. The first Head Mistress Miss Janet A. C. Anderson with Miss A. Dixon being the Senior Mistress. The magazine describes Miss Anderson and Miss A. Dixon as gifted and striking personality’s and credits them for creating a special atmosphere that allowed the students to flourish. Miss Anderson had many accomplishments during her tenure as Head Mistress but her one of her most important actions, in 1921, was to create the Loans Training Fund, which allowed students to take training in chosen careers before they left school. This training would have been too expensive for many of the students without this fund. The detail of Miss Anderson’s tenure as Head Mistress in this magazine is quite incredible.

Photographs of the Head Teachers, West Leeds Girls’ High School 1907 – 1957

Finally moving to the modern day, which for this magazine was 1957, there are four special student and staff photographs to commemorate the fifty year of the school.  These photographs include The Form Prefects for Summer Term 1957, Captains and Vice Captains of House Teams and Houses, The Sixth Form with Teachers Miss Menzies, Miss Guest and Miss Pickard and a Staff Picture in 1957. This magazine does a excellent job of preserving and contextualising the past while commemorating the present. these ‘current’ photographs show how the school has changed and stayed the same in the past fifty years.

School Photographs from 1957, West Leeds Girls’ High School Jubilee, 1957

This short article has attempted to show how impressive this West Leeds Girls’ High School magazine is. This fantastic magazine and other Armley items are available in the Local and Family History Departments Collection. If you have any memories of the West Leeds Girls’ High School then let us know.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. PAT DAWSON (BELLERBY) says:

    I think my former W.L. friend and class member may have written to you about W.L. Girls’ 50th Jubilee Magazine. It was mine and I handed it in to The Central Library in Leeds with several other school magazines when clearing memorabilia. The class was 5L and,obviously,my name is not on it. I was Pat Bellerby, Head Girl 1959 -1960 and there may be photos of me representing Leeds and Yorksire as a high jumper and winning English Schools Gold medal in 1957. My friend was Pat Pemberton.

  2. Heather Tingay says:

    I am the Heather Mounsdon, who has signed the front cover of the West Leeds magazine, now Heather Tingay and writing to you from Perth, Western Australia where I have lived for the past 45 years. The people on the front cover are form 4W, with our form teacher, Mary Hayworth. There are 2 signatures missing from the page. These are Patricia Bellerby and Shirley Redshaw. After we left school we decided to meet after 20 years to catch up with each other and compare notes. This we did, as a result of the work of Patricia Pemberton, together with the Yorkshire Evening Post. Our numbers are dwindling now, but there is still a loyal group who meet every year, still under the organisation of Patricia Pemberton (now Patricia Pack). My father was the Senior Art Master of the West Leeds Boys’ High School from 1946-1976. My sister Jill Mounsdon was also a pupil at the school from 1956-1960. I married John Tingay in 1975. There is much more I can tell you, especially about what we did when we left school, but I imagine the other members of our form will also be getting in touch with you. I went to Hull University and then taught high school music until my children were born. In Australia I taught piano and organised local music performances. My son is a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra And my daughter a clinical psychologist. We have 5 granddaughters, two at university and 3 about to go to university after the Christmas holidays – which are the long summer holidays here.

  3. JAN HODGSON (Nee Crowther) says:

    I was at WLGHS from 1969 to 1974. Anyone out there remember me? We had a 30 year reunion in 2004. Brill to catch up with the ‘girls’

  4. Patricia Pack says:

    I am Pat Pemberton who found Josh Flint’ s blog about the West Leeds Girls’ High School Jubilee magazine.There were another 2 members of the form who did not sign.They were Jean Stead and Susan Blackburn. Sadly Jean died some years ago.The other members of our group who have also died are Pat Blanchard,Moira Hughill,Shirley Redshaw,Judith Maude and Ann Penrose.Apart from Sandra Scarth and Cynthia Peace,the rest of the group are still in touch.Quite an achievement after63 years.

  5. Karen Rosamund Jennison ( pash ) says:

    I too live in Perth now . I am trying to locate Virginia Wills who attended West Leeds Girls High School in High School 1959 _ 1965. I would love to locate her.

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