Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School
Educating in Lincoln since 1090

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Forty Years On


Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School History Paper No 1


Chris Williams

In September 2014 Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School is able to look back , celebrate and reflect on the first 40 years of its existence, which is why this particular paper is the first to be written for the recently established post-1974 archive.

Some would rightly argue that forty years is too soon to make a sound historical judgement on the performance of an educational establishment, although of course modern inspection teams seem to be able to do this in just a few hours. However, the principal purpose of the archive is not interpretation but accumulation, keeping records and telling the story rather than being the story.

In writing this introduction to the first forty years of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, it is inevitable that there will be gaps. There are many sources as yet untapped and readers will identify both points for amendment and correction, and starting points for exploration in future papers. Additional information will emerge in the months ahead and a second version of this paper will be prepared in due course

For now, the purpose is to provide a relatively short document which will reveal the chronology and pick out the highlights of an eventful four decades. Future papers will explore many of these areas in greater detail and provide a full

Main sections in this paper

A. Forty years – the chronology

B. Beginnings

C. “Four into one did go”

D. Governors, heads and school leaders

E. Buildings for the future

A.            Forty years – the chronology 1974-2014

(1965: Government paper requiring local authorities to draw up plans to end selective education

(1972: Arthur Behenna appointed as Head Designate of the new school in north Lincoln)

1974: September: Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School opens on Wragby Road as a 12-18 institution. 1435 pupils are on roll

1975: May 3rd: Official opening of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School

1984: LCHS becomes an 11-18 institution and has a ‘double intake’ year

1985: Retirement of Arthur Behenna

1985: September: David Cox becomes Headteacher

1990: Loosening of catchment areas provides new recruitment opportunities

1990: Visit of Secretary of State for Education, John McGregor, on the occasion of the celebration of the role of LCHS and its ancestor schools in providing 900 years of education in Lincoln

1992: LCHS acquires Grant Maintained status

1994: Visit of HRH The Princess Royal to open the Calladine Building and the new Withers Pool

2001: LCHS becomes a Specialist Language College

2002: Opening of the Calladine extension

2004: December: Retirement of David Cox

2005: January-March: Interregnum with Chris Williams as Acting Headteacher

2005: April: Andy Wright becomes Headteacher

2007: completion of Special Needs building

2010: completion of the Science block reconstruction

2011: September: LCHS acquires Academy status

2012: completion of Sports project

2014: August: Retirement of Andy Wright. Over 1400 pupils are on roll

2014: September: Martin McKweon becomes Headteacher

B. Beginnings

Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School was the product of political ideology in the 1960’s. It was the policy of the Labour Government elected in that secondary education across the country should become non-selective and that grammar and secondary modern schools should be transformed into comprehensive schools. This expectation was set out in “Circular 10/65” issued by the Department. County councils and local education authorities were required to develop plans to implement this instruction.

In some areas this was achieved with relative ease, but Lincolnshire was not such a straightforward case for all sorts of reasons. These included distance from London, the rural-urban divide and Conservative-Labour politics, factors which continue to ensure the county’s distinctive diversity in its provision, a subject for a future paper perhaps.

The legal aspects of the reorganisation and relative powers of national, county, city and school authorities at different times over the last four decades will also provide the basis of not least one weighty article in due course. Similarly the changing accountability of schools at national and local levels, and also the opening of governing bodies and other processes to teachers, parents and pupils will also merit a closer scrutiny when time permits.

C. “Four into one did go”

The reorganisation of 1974 merged four two single-sex secondary schools, two selective, two non-selective, into one 12-18 non-selective school.

The four sites had different histories after 1974:

-              the Wragby Road site of Lincoln School (boys, selective) was used for the new comprehensive, Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School;

-              the Lindum Hill site of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School (girls selective) was initially used by the Lincoln College of Art, later absorbed into De Montfort University in its expansion period. By the 2000’s, De Montfort contracted back to its Leicester core, and the University of Lincoln took over the Greestone building as it is often called locally. The Lincoln School of Art and Design, or LSAD, was progressively moved closer to the main Brayford campus, and is now (September 2014) to be the home of the new University Technical College;  

-              St.Giles Secondary Modern School for Boys on Macaulay Drive became Myle Cross Middle School (8-12). Today it is the headquarters of CfBT, the Lincolnshire School Improvement Service;

-              Myle Cross Secondary Modern School for Girls was in the other half of the building on Macaulay Drive. Girls and boys had been separated by a corridor in which PE equipment was stored.

And we should not forget a fifth school, also an important player in the 1974 reorganisation. The original Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, known as the Bluecoat School, had opened in 1612 and closed in 1883. Its continuing significance, in addition to the re-use of its name, was for its foundation endowment fund and charitable status, enabling the Governors of LCHS a degree of independence in their actions, but also entailing greater responsibilities as a Voluntary Aided School. As examples of its engagement, the Foundation of Christ’s Hospital at Lincoln contributed around £750,000 towards the cost of the 1974 reconstruction and today nominates seven members of the Governing Body

D. Governors, heads and school leaders

The merger of so many schools and traditions inevitably brought with it a complex process of devising acceptable structures for governance and school management from 1974. Further changes were made over the following decades to mirror legislative requirements e.g. involvement of staff members and parents, and most recently academy status in 2011.

The Governing Body

The first Chairman was Philip Race, Chairman of Lincoln School from 1966, who held the post until the nono-centenial celebrations.. The first Vice-Chairman was Constance Seely, formerly of the Girls’ High School, followed by Nevile Camamile, who in turn became Chairman in 1990 with Joyce Skinner as Vice-Chairman.

At the turn of the millennium, Dudley Proctor became Chairman, supported by Alan Nugent. Just before Dudley Proctor’s retirement in 2004 they switched posts to provide continuity during the appointment and transition on headteacher David Cox’s own retirement. Alan Nugent and Alan Mills were Chairman and Vice-Chairman until 2014, with Nigel Manders and then Nigel Appleton as a second Vice-Chairman, a sign of the increasing volume and range of the responsibilities of the Governing Body in various guises. Overall, there have been four Chairmen in forty years.

The Clerks to the Governors have also provided invaluable continuity over the decades, invariably bringing their wide career experience to the particular routines, demands and unexpected challenges faced by the elected and nominated members. Richard Pepler was the first in the role from 1974 to 1984. The second Clerk was Hugh Taylor followed by Richard Long and a second term for Hugh Taylor. John Thorpe took on the responsibility in 2001. Four Clerks in forty years demonstrates both commitment and the conviction that Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School is a good place with which to be involved

Headmasters, headteachers and school leaders

The nomenclature here has developed over the last 40 years, partly a reflection of the changing social norms. The changing structures are also a commentary on how the much larger school and ever-expanding demands, responsibilities and expectations have led to an increased number of senior posts.

Leaders – the Behenna headship (1974-1985)

Mr.Behenna, Headmaster of Lincoln School and Head-Designate of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, came to Lincoln in 1972 with a background in Cambridgeshire Village Colleges. From September 1974 the new school had two deputy heads – Mr.J.A.Shirley, a geographer? from Lincoln School and Mrs.B.Coxon-Butler a biologist from the Girls’ High School, soon appointed to a headship elsewhere and succeeded by Mrs P.A.Parker, a historian, also from the High School. Mr I.Sexton from Lincoln School and Mr.W.Cotton from SGSMB also had important roles, the latter looking after the St.Giles site in 1974-1975 while the final secondary modern pupils completed their examination courses.

Leaders: the Cox headship (1985-2004)

Headmaster Mr.Cox came from senior post in Chelmsford, Essex. His senior team included Mrs.Parker and Miss Barker (High School), Mr.Sexton (LS) and Mr.Cotton (SGSMS for Boys).

As more senior colleagues retired, new appointments were made between c1986 and c2000 to Deputy Headships and the new post of Assistant Head which replaced that of Senior Teacher. Deputies were Mr. A.H.Jackson (Chemistry), Mr.C.F.White (History), Mr.C.R.Williams (History) and Mr.C.P.Young (Maths). The first Assistant Heads were Miss H.A.Curran (Sociology), Ms.J.Rylands-Bolton (English) and Mr.P.N.Scully (Spanish). At one point there were eight in the Leadership Team with specific responsibilities for areas such as Curriculum, Pastoral Matters, the Sixth Form and so on.

Leaders: the Interregnum (2005)

There was an interregnum for three months after Mr. Cox’s retirement because his successor, Dr.A. Wright, was unable to take up the vacancy before Easter. The Governors asked the Senior Deputy, Mr. Williams, to be Acting Head for three months. They also decided that there would be no other temporary promotions because these might inhibit the new substantive head in the future.

Leaders: the Wright headship (2005-2014)    

Dr. A.D.M.Wright, a physicist, came south from Bedlington High School to take up his second headship at LCHS from April 2005. The Senior Team initially consisted of Mr C.R.Williams, Mr C.P.Young, Mr. C.F.White, Mr. A.H.Jackson, Mr. P.N.Scully and Ms. J.E.Rylands-Bolton.  With full and partial retirements, two new Assistant Heads were appointed i.e. Mr. R.M. Eastham (Geography) and Mr.G. Thompson (Design Technology)

E. Buildings for the future

There was an initial massive programme of development to make the site ‘fit for purpose’ and then a succession of major projects over the following four decades as well as constant refurbishment and relatively minor works to meet immediate needs.

Major reconstruction in 1974

The number on roll in 1907 had been 134 boys taught by six assistant masters. Some extensions to the original cloistered block had taken place, but clearly the buildings on Wragby Road which had served 500 or so boys at Lincoln School would be unsuitable for the much larger co-educational school with a much wider range of abilities of aspirations from September 1974. A major programme would be required to bring the facilities up to the standards of the new age. The specification was to prepare for a school with 1200 pupils aged 12 to 18, the building carried out by Simons of Lincoln:

1971-1975: “Extensions 1971-5 by Hadfield, Cawkwell, Davidson & Partners, project architect G.R.Adams. Two storey range to the E with a continuous looping rhythm over the ground-floor windows. Detached boiler-house completely glazed on two sides” (Pevsner et al. p510)

To the west of the 1907 buildings there was now a new sports complex with both a gym and sports hall, to the north a two storey Science cube with six new laboratories, and the east new facilities for Design Technology, Art and Music, a Main Hall and Sixth Form accommodation, the latter on the site of Headmaster’s garden of yesteryear. The priority rightly attached to maintaining the cloisters in their original form and the increasing administrative demands faced by the school meant that the official front entrance was no longer at the top of the drive and under the clock-tower, but to the east and closer to Wragby Road.

The master plan for 1974 showed also showed a Phase 2 which would link Science with Technology at the back of the school, and also a major development of the Withers Pool. However, the optimism of the 1970’s that there would be a covered pool appeared even less justified in October 1983 by the Education Authority’s decision to end its financial assistance which kept the existing open air facility open for six weeks per annum.

Money for capital projects was a constant concern for various reasons including a fall in the birth-rate and changes in admissions policies in neighbouring schools affecting Sixth Form intake in particular. More will be written about this elsewhere but some headline figures would be a dip from about 1435 in 1974 to 1318 in 1986 and 1155 by 1992. Forty years on, in 2014 there were nearly 1430 pupils on roll. However, the vision and determination of headteachers David Cox and Andrew Wright, supported by the governors and senior leaders meant that both Science and swimming were greatly enriched by new buildings opened in 1994, 2002 and 2008, realising those initial ambitions of the thinkers back in the early 1970’s

From the start budgetary issues meant that some innovations were less satisfactory than others, and as the final quarter of the twentieth century unrolled there were new priorities no-one had envisaged, such as the use of computers. Space was an on-going concern and the school was in frequent conversations with the planning authorities and potential sources of capital.

Other significant building developments

Building projects: the Behenna headship (1972-1985):

Less than ten years later in 1984, the present day primary-secondary division at 11 was inaugurated. The consequence for Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School was the addition of four mobile classrooms between the John Hunt hut and the tennis courts. These were used by mathematicians until about 2002

Several other buildings appeared and departed in this period, notably a two storey portakabin sometimes known as the Ruston Hut lifted into the Biology courtyard, but this soon proved to be inadequate in terms of both size and security for the first Acorn and Proton computers. There was also a notoriously badly-sited temporary toilet block in the Biology courtyard

Building projects: the Cox headship (1985-2004):

A major concern in 1990 was the state of the roofs above the cloisters. The         Collyweston slates were replaced in a long but very necessary contract. Richard Lucas, a Governor at the time, was told that Pattinsons bought a building in Stamford especially to salvage the slates. It is said that they will last sixty years, so if you are reading this in 2050, please check! The rear elevations were covered in composite materials, similar to 'Bradstone'.

In approximately 1990, the metal-framed sliding windows in the 1974 Technology and Sixth Form blocks were replaced with double-glazed units, a sign of the times

1992: Grant Maintained Status and the increased on-site administration which accompanied this greater freedom from local authority control led to three new rooms in a bridge over Reception to link the 1907 buildings with the 1974 block

1992: Two major projects were completed at the same time:

The first was the construction of the third swimming-pool on the site replacing the now derelict Withers Pool of 1960 though the name was retained. This had been the priority of Headmaster David Cox who had been determined to make positive use of the site for the health of children, staff and the community alike. The new facilities designed by Manton and Bartle, project architect Ken White, brought the pool under a roof for the first time and extended it from 25 yards to 25 metres, another sign of the times, which also provided an extended shallow end for teaching. There were also dedicated changing rooms. An early user was Paul Palmer, a Sixth Form student who later won the 400m silver in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and European gold in the 200m in Seville the following year.

The second was the construction of the first phase of a major teaching block to the west of the 1974 Science building. This provided two new laboratories and three Maths rooms to the west of flat-roofed 1950’s block. It was named the Calladine Building after Marjorie Calladine, a former pupil at the Girls’ High School who later taught at St Faith’s Junior School, whose bequest had provided a timely and tidy sum to complete the funding for the Withers Pool. As the swimming block had already been named, the decision was made to commemorate Miss Calladine by giving her name to the adjacent building seen from the pool.

The facilities were officially opened by the Princess Royal, whose bright red helicopter landed on the field to the excitement of all on 9th June 1994.

Language College status from September 2001 enabled some significant work in the rooms dedicated to MFL teaching with two rooms, once a laboratory, being reunited to create an airy ICT space. There was also a first move into the roof with a staircase up to two new seminar rooms used mostly for Sixth Form classes and Chinese, like ICT a subject which not have been considered by the architects a century earlier. Network cabling and then wifi was installed

The Calladine Building extension designed by Martin Noutch was completed in 2002. This provided more accommodation for Science, Maths and ICT, as well as the school’s first lift, the second following soon after to enable James Coyle-King access to the upper floor of the DT block in his wheelchair. Both lifts followed legislation in the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995.

The architecture featured a magnificent oval staircase much loved by photographers, especially when taken with the clock tower and a distinctive modern pergola structure facing the field.

In 2004 the combination of a generous donation from Charles Garton and seed-funding grants allowed the creation of a new north-south access from Main Reception to the east-west spine corridor with a sloping, barrel-roofed corridor in a barren concrete courtyard to the west of the Main Hall. Next to the corridor are the Garton Archive, the Oyler Room and a disabled toilet. These facilities, designed by Martin Noutch were officially unveiled during David Cox’s last term as headteacher in December 2004.

Building projects: the Wright headship (2005-2014)

After 2005 there was another series of projects. These included:

The development of the ‘super-loo’ in 2006 replacing four separate sub-standard toilets in the heart of the school, highlighted by children as the greatest single improvement the new head could instigate;

Remodelling and extensions occurred in 2007 to remove the Lincoln School toilets and various storage areas and create completely new Special Needs accommodation in the heart of the school;

In 2010 there was the total reconstruction and extension of the 1974 Science block with the redesign by Martin Noutch. Distinctive architectural features include some curving walls and the use of light-pipes to produce a traffic lights effect in the Darwin Building;

The major redevelopment of sports facilities in 2010-2012 was enabled by the sale of the Nettleham Road field for housing along the new Palmer Road. The conditions required that the proceeds should be used for sport. This led to:

             construction of a major new block with ground-floor changing rooms facing the fields, a fitness room, a classroom, a dance studio, a lift and, of course, more office space;

             reconstruction of the existing sports hall and gym;

             construction of a base for the caretaking and grounds staff;

             re-grading the two sports fields;

             relaying the cricket square and building a new pavilion on the top field;

             construction of an all-weather sports pitch;

             replacement of the tennis courts, now increased from three to seven

Over the decades temporary buildings provided many ‘temporary’ solutions from as early as 1914, often outliving the people who had decided that they were needed. Even before the reorganisation of 1974, the Wragby Road site held a possibly unrivalled collection of wooden structures although some other county schools might also have claimed this dubious crown. There were already three classrooms in the World War One hospital hut (1917), the cricket pavilion (1930s), two labs in the Biology hut (1954) with extension, the Sir John Hunt building (1963) and two classrooms of unknown date for Special Needs. The post-1974 period brought the Ruston Hut (c1980), four more classrooms for the shift from 12-18 to 11-18 (1984) and a small toilet block. This ‘hutted encampment’ (Behenna) has been progressively removed over the last 30 years by a combination of decay, arson and planned replacement to give Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School the fine site it has today.

Another late twentieth century reality was the increase in car ownership, compounded by the ‘chicken and egg’ of ‘supply and demand’ for public transport and the increased commuting distances favoured by many staff. The handful of vehicles seen in front of the cloisters on early photos is now a metallic band encircling the buildings on three sides. An underground carpark beneath the east road can only be an aspiration!

This is where we are after 40 years.

Chris Williams                                                                           5th September 2014


The author would like to acknowledge the support of Peter Harrod, Assitant Archivist responsible for the pre-1974 collection in the Garton Archive, and many members of the school community, past and present, for their conscious and unconscious contributions to this paper

They include staff members Sandra Allen, Jim Baker, Liz Coupe, Pat Parker, Maureen Smith and Steve Thompson.

Former pupils have also added text and memories. They include David Sleight.

Peter Harrod has been invaluable in filling in details and identifying grammatical and factual errors

The author is under no illusions that others will step forward over time with ‘corrigenda and addenda’ with which to improve the narrative. In due course there will further editions, long before we are reporting on the 50th anniversary in 2024.

Written sources:

Behenna, Arthur; Garton, Charles; Skinner, Joyce; Stuart, Francis (1990): Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School

Behenna, Arthur (1992): Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School. A new school on old foundations.

Harrod P. and Williams C (2012): Occasional Paper No 6: A Brief History of Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Occasional Papers and Items of Interest published on the LCHS website under LCHS History/School Archive on the Menu Bar.

‘The Lincolnian’ magazine collection in the Garton Archive

Pevsner N and Harris J: The Buildings of Lincolnshire, second edition revised by Nicholas Antram. Penguin 1990

About the Author

Chris Williams was a teacher of history and Deputy Headteacher at LCHS from 1986 to 2007 with two three month periods as Headteacher. He now works for the school and a number of organisations on a consultancy basis. He has been Honorary Archivist since 2005. In April 2014 he was appointed to a post with specific responsibility for the Archives of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School since the reorganisation of 1974.