Birkenhead School

Birkenhead School

Infobox UK school
name = Birkenhead School

size = 100px
dms =
motto = "Beati Mundo Corde"
"(Blessed are the Pure in Heart)"
motto_pl =
established = 1860
approx =
closed =
c_approx =
type = Independent HMC
religion = Anglican
president =
head_label = Head Master
head = John Clark
chair_label = Chair of Governors
chair = Dr AG Mathie
founder =
founder_pl =
specialist =
street = Beresford Road
city = Oxton
county = Wirral
country = England
postcode = CH43 2JD
ofsted =
staff = 70(approx.)
enrollment = 700
gender = Fully Co-Educational
lower_age = 3 months
upper_age = 18 years
houses = Beresford, Bidston, Kingsmead, Shrewsbury
colours = Red, Black color box|red color box|black
publication = InFocus
free_label_1 = Former pupils
free_1 = Old Birkonians
free_label_2 =
free_2 =
free_label_3 =
free_3 =
website =
website_name =

Birkenhead School is an independent, co-educational school located on the Wirral, in the north-west of England. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.


The School is subdivided into
* Nursery Department (for children aged three months to three years),
* Pre-Prep (for pupils aged three to five),
* Preparatory (six years from ages five to eleven),
* "Overdale" (two years from ages eleven to thirteen) [ [ Overdale ] ]
* Senior School (five years from thirteen up to the sixth form at about eighteen).

Entrance is via the Prep School, by open competitive examination at 11, by Common Entrance at 13, or by interview at the sixth-form level. The school offers some assistance with fees to pupils who would not otherwise be able to take up a place at the school through a bursary scheme financed by the Birkenhead School Foundation Trust. This charity was established in 1998 and is currently supporting about sixty pupils in the school. A few scholarships are also awarded, based principally on academic ability, but occasionally as a result of exceptional sporting or musical potential. These give a fixed reduction in fee, independent of the parents’ financial circumstances. The school no longer has boarders.

The current headmaster is John Clark (since 2003). Previous headmasters include Stuart Haggett (1988-2003) and John Gwilliam (1963-1988).

As well as a strong sporting tradition, the School has a large Combined Cadet Force contingent. The school also has a student council, created in 2003, which seeks to improve the lives of Birkenhead School pupils.


Birkenhead School was opened in Park Road North, Birkenhead in 1860, and moved to its present site in Oxton in 1871. The Chapel was opened in 1883. The Preparatory Department was established in 1889 and moved to Beresford Road in 1893. During 1899 the ground alongside Beresford Road was leveled to create the school’s playing field. [ School History ] ]

In 1905 the Noctorum ground, approximately 2.3 hectares (5.5 acres), was rented and subsequently bought in 1910. Buildings on Bidston Road were acquired in 1920 for use as a science block and in 1921 the Lodge in Beresford Road was purchased for the use of the school. The Fender Ground, 9.3 hectares, was acquired in 1922 and part was used by the newly formed Old Birkonian Football Club, prior to moving to an adjacent ground in 1926. Matches were played here until 1976, when the club merged with Birkenhead Park Rugby Club. As playing fields nearer the school were developed, Fender Field was later sold. [ School History ] ]

In 1931, "Junior School" was started in Overdale at the top of Beresford Road. The junior and senior schools became a Direct Grant School in 1935 and became then fully independent in 1976.

In 1948 the L.C. McAllester Memorial Ground, 4.7 hectares, was presented to the school. It was officially opened in 1952. A purpose-built science block on Bidston Road was built in 1958, and has since been expanded. In 1982 the Bushell Hall was opened for use by the main school, and the Preparatory School moved into the vacated Shrewsbury Road buildings. These included the original "big school" dating back to 1871, and the recently closed boarding house which at its peak had catered for over forty boarders. The vacated Preparatory School building in Beresford Road was then adapted to provide an extensive Music School. [ School History ] ]

What was the headmaster’s house on Shrewsbury Road was acquired in 1988 so that by then the school owned all the properties in the block apart from the Holy Name Church on Beresford Road. In 1992, the Sports Hall was completed. In conjunction with Oxton Sports Club, an all-weather pitch was completed on the McAllester Field site, and also in 1992 the Preparatory Department’s purpose built Little School was opened in Kingsmead Road South. In 2001 a climbing wall was added to the Sports Hall. [ School History ] ] . Building work, including additional classrooms on Shrewsbury Road and an extension to the Sports Pavilion at McAllester Field, is now in progress to support the co-educational future of the school.

In 2000 the sixth form became co-educational. In 2006 the Nursery Department and the Pre-Prep Department (kindergarten) also became co-educational. In response to the decision of Birkenhead High School to become a non-selective city academy, Birkenhead School became wholly co-educational in 2008. [ Co-educational School ] ]

Notable Old Birkonians

*Charles Harrison Townsend (1851–1928), architect
*Cecil Reddie (1858–1932), Founder and Headmaster of Abbotsholme School, 1889–1927
*Leslie Brooke (1862–1940), children's writer and illustrator
*Wynfrid Duckworth (1870–1956), anatomist, and Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, 1940–1945
*F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead (1872–1930), barrister, Attorney-General, 1916–1919, Lord Chancellor, 1919–1922, and Secretary of State for India, 1924–1928
*Douglas Laurie (1874–1953), Professor of Zoology, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1922–1940, and Founding Honorary General Secretary, Association of University Teachers, 1919–1953
*Henry Graham White (1880–1965); Liberal politician [ [ English Historical Review] ]
*Lieutenant-General Sir Wilfrid Lindsell (1884–1973), Quartermaster-General, British Expeditionary Force, 1939–1940, Lieutenant-General i/c Administration, Middle East, 1942–1943, and Principal Administration Officer, Fourteenth Army, 1943–1945
*Sir Melvill Jones (1887–1975), Francis Mond Professor of Aeronautical Engineering, University of Cambridge, 1919–1952
*Martin Percival Charlesworth (1895–1950), classicist
*Geoffrey Webb (1898–1970), Slade Professor of Fine Art, University of Cambridge, 1938–1949, and Secretary, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England), 1948–1962
*Sir Gordon Willmer (1899–1983), Lord Justice of Appeal
*Andrew Irvine (1902–1924), mountaineer who attempted the summit of Mount Everest with George Mallory
*Nevill Willmer (1902–2001), Professor of Histology, University of Cambridge, 1966–1969
*Brigadier Sir Philip Toosey (1904–1975), merchant banker, Territorial Army officer, and senior Allied officer during the building of the Bridge on the River Kwai
*Henry Pelling (1920–1997), historian
*Air Chief Marshal Sir John Aiken (1921–2005), Director of Training, Royal Air Force, 1971–1973, and Commander, British Forces in Cyprus, 1973–1976
*Gruffydd Evans, Baron Evans of Claughton (1928–1992), lawyer and politician
*Clifford Embleton (1931–1994), Professor of Geography, King's College London, 1982–1994
*William Wade, Baron Wade of Chorlton (born 1932), businessman, and Joint Treasurer of the Conservative Party, 1982–1990
*Donald Nicholls, Baron Nicholls of Birkenhead (born 1933), Vice-Chancellor, High Court of Justice, 1991–1994, and Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 1994–2007
*Andreas Whittam Smith (born 1937), journalist and co-founder of "The Independent"
*Barry Porter (1939–1996), Conservative politician
*Timothy Mason (1940–1990), historian
*Michael F. Land (born 1942), Professor of Neurobiology, University of Sussex
*Tony Hall (born 1951), Chief Executive, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
*Alan Rouse (1951–1986), mountaineer, and first Briton to reach the summit of K2.

Notable masters

*Warin Foster Bushell ["BUSHELL, Warin Foster", in "Who Was Who 1897-2007" online, retrieved 24 May 2008 from [ BUSHELL, Warin Foster] (2008)]
*John Gwilliam
*Ewan Anderson
*Edward O'Hara


External links

* [ Birkenhead School]
* [ Birkenhead School Combined Cadet Force]
* [ Old Birkonians Online]
* [ 2001 inspection report by Independent Schools Inspectorate]
* [,9171,722246,00.html Article from Time Magazine, 1926, reporting speech by F. E. Smith at the school.]
* [ Memories of Birkenhead School in the 1950s]

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