Percy Jackson Grammar looks back as it looks forward to 80th anniversary

The Percy Jackson Grammar School in Woodlands was opened in October 1939 and it ran as a state grammar school until 1968.

By Nigel Booth
Tuesday, 13 August, 2019, 13:17
The head teacher of percy Jackson Grammar School in 1948, Chas Elliott

This year will see its 80th Anniversary and former pupils have organised a reunion to mark the event on September 28, 2019. Up to three hundred attendees are expected and it will be held at the Doncaster Holiday Inn, Warmsworth.

All former pupils (1939-1967 entries) are welcome and tickets (£25 each) are still available from: Howard Rimmer, mobile: 0773 444 3904.

Ten years ago, in September 2009, the school’s 70th Anniversary was celebrated.

Former pupil, David Read, received an MBE 2009 for services to music

‘Top Brass’ plans to Attend Percy Jackson’s Reunion in September 2019. Among those attending will be former Askern boy, David V Read, who joined Percy Jackson’s in 1945 and played cornet for Askern Colliery Band. After leaving school, he joined the Regimental Band of the Welsh Guards and pursued a highly successful career in the brass band movement as player, conductor and adjudicator. A talented soloist, he has appeared with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (renowned for the film ‘Brassed Off’) and the famous Black Dyke Band. After playing in the National Championships in the Royal Albert Hall on 21 occasions he was invited to adjudicate the event for a further 23 occasions. In 2009 David was awarded the MBE for services to music. David Read received the MBE in 2009.

Other alumni attending will be coming from all parts of the UK and from New Zealand, the USA, Dominican Republic, Netherlands and France. They include Christine Minto née Moody, president of the Birdwell Wheelers cycling club (Barnsley) and former national time trial champion. In 1969 she set the women’s 24 hour record at 427 miles.

The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones née Cavnor, also plans to attend. She was a pupil at Percy’s in the 1960s.

Ernie Roberts and his wife Mollie from Campsall will be among the oldest alumni. They joined the school during World War II in 1941 and 1944 and Ernie became Head Boy.

Chatting in the Old School Hall in 2009

Dr Bill Erskine, who joined in 1942, was a GP in Bentley for many years and will be attending with his wife Susan, a 1944 entrant.

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Dr John Maxwell and his wife Sheila, both 1950 entrants, have tickets. John was regional pharmacist for the NHS Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals.

Gary Goodlad, 1956 entrant and Chartered Engineer, perpetuated the area’s mining legacy and became HM Principal Inspector of Engineering in Mines.

Former staff expected are former head teacher John Atherfold along with Alan Dixon,Ted Fox, Vicky Stocks and Nancy Tagg. The last two ladies were also former pupils of the school.

The school building in 2005

The school’s ‘founding father’ was Ald J W ‘Jimmy’ Lane JP (1877-1969), alderman of the West Riding and a check weighman at Brodsworth colliery. It was named after Alderman Sir Percy Jackson, a very active proponent of education on the West Riding County Council in the 1920s and 1930s.

Designed as a co-educational state grammar school, it was housed in modern Art Deco style premises which “opened for instruction” on October 9, 1939, just a few weeks after the start of World War II. The two-storey building was designed to accommodate 540 pupils and was constructed of steel framing, bearing concrete floors and flat roofs. The total cost of the site, buildings and equipment was approximately £62,000.

The planned capacity reached by 1945 and then in 1948 four prefab classrooms were added. In 1954 the new ‘science block’ was opened with additional laboratories, domestic science rooms and four extra classrooms. The final school population levelled out at around 900 – almost double the original plan.

In its 29 years, the school saw just three head teachers: Mr Ronald ‘Pop’ Field from 1939 to 1945, Mr Cecil ‘Chas’ Elliott from 1945 to 1966 and Mr F John Atherfold from 1966 who oversaw in 1968 the conversion to the comprehensive Adwick School – later North Doncaster Technology College and now the Outwood Academy at Adwick. Cecil ‘Chas’ Elliott was head teacher from 1945-1966. Throughout its life Percy’s supplied educated and able personnel for every kind of business and profession: technicians, scientists and engineers, teachers and academics, accountants, directors of companies local, national and international.

The alumni include Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS), TV producers and writers (eg Coronation Street), radiation and medical specialists, senior lawyers, a champion angler, a poetry publisher and a brass band adjudicator. The list goes on.