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History

Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School was founded in 1907 at the Storey Institute on Meeting House Lane with only 73 girls on roll.  We shared premises with the Technical School and Public Library.  From these humble beginnings the School quickly grew - its proximity to the railway station and tramlines bringing in students from a wide catchment.

Please find the words to the school song below.

Former Headteachers

Miss phillimore   Miss wright   Miss gordon
Miss Phillimore   Miss Wright    Miss Gordon
         
Miss owen   Mrs lea   Mrs barber
Miss Owen     Mrs Lea    Mrs Barber


Mary Phillimore 1910-1930
In 1912, under the strong leadership of our first Headmistress, Miss Phillimore, staff and students cut the sod on the foundations of the new building on Regent Street, which now forms the oldest part of the School.  At the official opening in 1914 the Mayor said of the girls, “In the Lancaster Pageant they played at history, in the school they were reading history and that day they were making history.”

Josephine Taylor Wright 1930-1947
Miss Taylor Wright’s Headship coincided with the Depression in Britain.  In spite of this, more girls than ever were coming through the doors, and extra teaching spaces, a gymnasium, larger Domestic Science accommodation and an improved kitchen for school dinners were completed in 1941.  A year later the school’s admission policy increased to three form entry.

Moyra Gordon 1948-1971
Miss Moyra Gordon took the reins in 1948 and taught handwriting to all first-years, soon knowing every girl by name.  As ever, the school expanded and more teaching space was required.  In 1949 work was started on the Annexe, and in 1957 a Biology laboratory.  St Thomas’s Vicarage on Queen Street was purchased in 1964 to house the Sixth Form: it was known as Q Block (and is now Art).  Soon after this the first floor of Dallas Road School was acquired and refitted to form three laboratories and a Domestic Science room.  It was named Jubilee Block, for the School’s 60th Anniversary, but today is better known as J.

The 1950s and 1960s brought foreign travel, and many European excursions.  These years also saw expansion of the extra-curricular life of the School - Folk Dancing Society, Explorers Club, Council for Education in World Citizenship, Chess Club and the Junior Geological Society, to name but a few.  It was during this period that the School Council was formed.  Student-led groups thrive to this day, from Boardgame Club to LGBTQ+ Society.

Margaret Owen 1972-1981
Miss Owen’s tenure was one of jeopardy for the School, as the abolition of Grammar Schools in Lancaster nearly came to pass.  Computers made their appearance in 1981 and a year later, the girls won a prize of £100 from the British Computer Society for their digital careers database.

Gillian Lea 1981-1986
That year, Mrs Lea took over the Headship, and was soon threatened with the relocation of the School to the site of the Castle School (now Central High School).  When the threat was removed by the amalgamation of the Castle School and the Council of Greaves School, funds were made available for the redecoration for the buildings of LGGS and for essential repairs.

Pam Barber 1987-2007
Mrs Barber continued LGGS’s reputation of excellence and made the school officially ‘Outstanding’.  The School continued to grow and four-form entry was established in the 1990s, welcoming 120 girls each year in Year 7.  A new Technology Block was built, as well as a biology pond, reception, additional classrooms, the pavilion and Astroturf.  Soon afterwards a new suite of rooms was added to accommodate Modern Foreign Languages, the Drama Studio, Lower Sixth Common Room and Mathematics. Under Mrs Barber’s leadership, the School was recognised for its curriculum and as an Investor in People.  One of her last projects was the building of the Centenary Hall in 2006.

In 2007 Lancaster Girls' Grammar School celebrated its centenary year.  There were a number of special events organised and many former students visited the school.  The festivities proved to be an amazing success, with between 800 and 1000 former pupils spending the afternoon in school.  The rendering of the School Song and Jerusalem was an amazing spectacle and provided some very moving moments.  The oldest former pupil to attend, we believe, started at LGGS in 1931 and one past pupil travelled from Australia.

Jackie Cahalin 2007-
In a Chronicle interview in 2007, Mrs Cahalin stated that one of her main aims was to establish proper accommodation for the Sixth Form, which was at the time using premises across the road on Queen Street: Nuttall House, known as N Block.  In 2011, the School took on Academy status and received a grant for building and the Sixth Form Centre was realised.

In 2016, five-form entry was introduced to allow even more local girls to benefit from an LGGS education.  Now in its 111th year, LGGS continues to deliver excellence and is regarded as one of the finest schools in the North of England.  It was recognised in 2017 as the highest achieving state secondary in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria.  (The Sunday Times Parent Power Guide 2017)

THE SCHOOL SONG

At its founding in 1907, LGGS was not a wealthy school. Sharing premises, accepting donations whenever we could, even borrowing from the traditions of other schools in finding our feet. Our first school song was ‘Forty Years On’, which is best known as the school song of Harrow, and many other schools across the world. It is not surprising that, with lines like “Visions of boyhood shall float them before you” it was soon deemed out of place in a building occupied entirely by women.

The School Song of Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School was first performed at Speech Day on the 5th of February 1924. ‘Follow the Light’ as it was originally named, was an immediate hit with the girls: “We are all very proud of this song because it has been composed by Miss Laing, one of our own staff, and set to music by Mr Aldous, our very own singing master, and so, unlike “Forty Years On”, it is our very own and not a borrowed one.” The Chronicle of Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School 1925.

A theme runs through the early accounts of the School: a profound pride in anything that belonged to the School and to the girls, most notably the new building on Regent Street and the statue of St Michael that stood in the Hall for many years. The search for an identity and the affirmation of it as each new tradition became ingrained, harks back to the original poverty of the School, its existence as a box-ticking gesture by the local Council and the shared premises it originally inhabited.

The School Song is so quintessentially LGGS - we sing it to this day in every end of term assembly and Speech Day. It originally had four verses, when the second was dropped is unclear. And while it is a staple of school life, its true significance can be felt afterwards, when you realise how special and unique that small world upon the hill is.

Original School Song Sheet Music

In our small world upon the hill
We live, we live together;
And half forget that good or ill,
A wider world awaits us still
And draws us thither;
But though in quiet we sojourn
To know our guiding light we learn.
And this alone shall be our light
The lamp of beauty, truth and right
Friendship our pathway has prepared
With joy and laughter,
The binding ties of secrets shared,
Of common tasks, delights compared
For ever after
Will draw us close when we discern
The light that here we first saw burn.
And this alone shall be our light
The lamp of beauty, truth and right
Then if we part or if we meet
Yet keep we ever
This thought of strength with which to greet
Coming of victory or defeat,
That time shall never
Dim our fair memories, or turn
To darkness light we made to burn.
It shines in darkness and in light
The lamp of beauty, truth and right.

E. V. Laing

 

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