School was forced to find a new home

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS - SE­BAS­TIAN JONES tells the story of a fa­mous school’s de­vel­op­ment since Vic­to­rian days

WOLVER­HAMP­TON Gram­mar School was founded in 1512 and was orig­i­nally built on St John’s Street in the cen­tre of Wolver­hamp­ton, the land now be­ing the site of the Man­der Shop­ping Cen­tre.

How­ever, by the late 19th cen­tury, the school had too many stu­dents for its fa­cil­i­ties. The school could not ex­pand in its cen­tral lo­ca­tion, as much of the town was al­ready oc­cu­pied with fac­to­ries and in­dus­try and the high cost of the land pro­hib­ited fur­ther pur­chase. Af­ter 360 years on its orig­i­nal site, in 1875 the school moved to its cur­rent lo­ca­tion on Comp­ton Road in what was the western sub­urbs.

Land

The head­mas­ter at that time, Thomas Beach, and the chair­man of gov­er­nors bought the land for build­ing the new school, a house for the head­mas­ter and five acres of land for play­ing sport on. Later that year, John Mor­ton do­nated a strip of land along Mer­ri­dale Lane, a road run­ning on the east­ern bound­ary of the school. With his con­tri­bu­tion to the school, the land given came to be known as More­ton’s Piece.

At this point the school com­prised of a large hall, called the Great Hall, and the tower, but in 1897 and known as “Big School” to­day, and the first science class­rooms were built; how­ever the sciences taught were only chem­istry and physics, as bi­ol­ogy wasn’t taught at Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School un­til 1957, 60 years af­ter the build­ings were first built.

Re­signed

With the science build­ings now in place it led to the ap­point­ment of the first science mas­ter at the school in 1889. Upon this, the head­mas­ter Thomas Beach re­signed from his po­si­tion due to his strong stance against science. This was be­cause of Beach’s clas­si­cal style of teach­ing which was arith­metic, ge­om­e­try, mu­sic and astron­omy.

With the 400th an­niver­sary of the school, a new gym­na­sium was built and was opened in 1915, ad­join­ing the new science build­ing ex­ten­sions which were built in 1908. Due to the lack of fund­ing the school re­ceived while still re­ceiv­ing more stu­dents, tem­po­rary huts were set up in 1926. These huts were heated by coke stoves; this proved prob­lem­atic to the school as some stu­dents knew how to smoke the huts out which then dis­rupted the lessons be­ing taught in them. These huts were closed over time and the fi­nally were fully re­moved in 1969 with the con­struc­tion of the Mu­sic block.

Lab­o­ra­tory

In 1930 the Mer­ri­dale build­ing was opened, named due to it’s lo­ca­tion be­ing near to Mer­ri­dale Lane. The build­ing con­tained a li­brary, physics lab­o­ra­tory, art room and a wood­work room. While physics is still be­ing taught in the build­ing to­day, the other uses for it are now ful­filled by other build­ings and now English and Ge­og­ra­phy are taught in the build­ing.

Fur­ther land, used for sports fields, was bought to com­mem­o­rate the end of the Sec­ond World War.

The school gained in­de­pen­dence in 1979 and to com­mem­o­rate the oc­ca­sion the Jenyns Li­brary was built and opened in 1981. This was named af­ter Sir Stephen Jenyns who funded the con­struc­tion of the school in 1512. He was a wool mer­chant from Wolver­hamp­ton and be­came the Lord Mayor of Lon­don for the year of the coro­na­tion of Henry VIII.

A large ex­ten­sion to the mu­sic block was opened in 2005 by Robert Plant. The last build­ings to be added to the school were the Viner Arts Gallery and the Hut­ton The­atre, which were opened in 2008. The Viner Arts Gallery was named af­ter Charles Viner, an art teacher at the school who was head of art from 1942 to 1968. The Hut­ton The­atre was named af­ter Patrick Hut­ton, who was the first head­mas­ter of the school af­ter its in­de­pen­dence.

A Ju­nior school was opened in 2011, adding the school years 3-6, al­low­ing chil­dren to be ed­u­cated for a to­tal of 11 years at Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School. The Ju­nior school is housed in the Hall­mark build­ing which prior to then was used for the lan­guage de­part­ment, which re­lo­cated to the old art block.

Six years ago Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School cel­e­brated its quin­cen­te­nary and with its place in the Black Coun­try as­sured, staff and pupils look for­ward to many more years yet to come.

Robert Plant con­duct­ing the school orches­tra at the open­ing of the new mu­sic block at Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School in 2005

Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School to­day

Sheep graze in More­ton’s Piece

Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School moved to its present site in 1875

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