West Hartlepool Grammar School for Boys and the Old Boys Association.
The School was originally West Hartlepool Secondary School, opened in 1902 and situated in Lauder Street. The first Headmaster was Mr J Archyll-Jones who was followed by Ralph Todd and then by Edwin Houlton. Mr Houlton retired in the late nineteen sixties and with a very short time left until reorganisation into Brinkburn Comprehensive School , Max Leason became Headmaster to see the Grammar School through its last few years.
For the first ten years the school catered for girls as well as boys and there was a fee attached to their education. A number of Scholarships and Bursaries existed to help those for whom the fees were too great.
In 1912 the Girls moved from the School to the High School for Girls and the boys were left to themselves in the Lauder Street premises adjacent to the Town Hall. They remained there until the premises at Blakelock Road, affectionately referred to as “Brinkburn”, which was the name on the stone pillars at the entrance, opened in 1938.
The school became a Grammar school following the 1944 Education Act and now was, formally, West Hartlepool Grammar School for Boys. In 1967, when West Hartlepool and Hartlepool councils merged, the “West” disappeared from the name of the school.
Reorganisation of Secondary Education on a national scale saw the abolition of most of the Grammar Schools in the country and the disappearance of the 11+ examination. The school was to become a comprehensive school achieved by merging the Grammar School for Boys, the High School for Girls and Elwick Road Secondary Modern School. It was renamed Brinkburn Comprehensive School.
When Brinkburn opened in 1973 there were still more than 500 boys there who had entered the Grammar School having taken the 11+ examination.
An Association for Old Boys has existed for much of the time since the early part of the twentieth century, and still flourishes, although the members are getting longer in the tooth. The boys who were at Brinkburn, but who were Grammar School boys, are also maturing, the youngest of them being 11 in 1972, which will make them 52 now.
The Association publishes an Annual Bulletin and holds a Reunion Dinner every year in October. It has stewardship of a large number of historical artefacts and there were many photographs mounted on the walls of the Merchant’s House reflecting School activity over its lifetime. Although the Merchant’s House was sensitively preserved when the current Sixth Form College was built around it, many of the photographs have been lost.
The setting up of this web site is, in part, to recreate the photographic records as completely as possible. It also provides a forum for Old Boys to communicate with each other.
The Association was fortunate to receive a generous legacy last year from Phil Tomlinson who was our oldest Old Boy. Phil’s instruction was for it to be used to promote the work of the Association and to continue to cherish our memories of the Grammar School. We hope that this website goes some way towards complying with his request.