It's a special date for former pupils and staff at this Doncaster school

It is 80 years since the Percy Jackson Grammar School in Woodlands opened its doors, and the occasion is set to be celebrated by former pupils.

By Sally Burton
Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 8:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 5:57 pm
The Percy Jackson Grammar School
The Percy Jackson Grammar School

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

Former pupils have organised a reunion on September 28, this year, when up to 300 attendees are expected at the Doncaster Holiday Inn.

Among those attending will be former Askern boy, David V Read, who joined Percy Jackson’s in 1945 and played the cornet in Askern Colliery Band.

Chas Elliott, 1948

He later 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 a further 23 times. In 2009 David was awarded the MBE for services to music.

Other alumni will journey from all parts of the UK, and from New Zealand, the USA, Dominican Republic, Netherlands and France.

David Read with his MBE, awarded for Services to Music

They include Christine Minto née Moody, president of the Birdwell Wheelers cycling club in 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.

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

Former pupils chat at a reunion in the former school hall

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 at the event include one-time head teacher John Atherfold, along with Alan Dixon,Ted Fox, Vicky Stocks and Nancy Tagg. The two ladies were also former pupils of the school.

Looking back in the history of PJGS, 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, an active proponent of education on the West Riding County Council in the 1920s and 1930s.

Designed as a co-educational state grammar school, the modern Art Deco style premises ‘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 built with steel framing, bearing concrete floors and flat roofs. The total cost was approximately £62,000.

By 1945 the planned capacity was reached, then in 1948 four prefab classrooms were added. In 1954 the new ‘science block’ was opened with additional laboratories, domestic science rooms and four classrooms. The final school population was around 900 – almost double that originally planned.

In its 29 years, the school saw 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.

Throughout its life Percy’s supplied educated and able personnel for every kind of business and profession: technicians, scientists and engineers, teachers and academics, secretaries and accountants, directors of companies local, national and international.

Alumni include Fellows of the Royal Society, TV producers and writers, radiation and medical specialists, senior lawyers, a champion angler, a poetry publisher, a brass band adjudicator and a roller-skating judge, an RAF commanding officer and a brigadier in the Royal Army Dental Corps, a knighthood for services to education, a director of EMI Records, HM Principal Inspector of Engineering in Mines etc, not to mention many national honours and awards.

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