Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and the Great War

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation’s archive is a unique source of material relating to education in West Yorkshire during the period 1914- 19. It is packed with stories and artefacts arising from school life during the First World War.

For example, Wakefield Girls’ High School gave up Wentworth House to make way for a military hospital. Junior boys were encouraged to forage for horse chestnuts, needed to produce the acetone used in the manufacture of cordite. Boys and girls donated their pocket money to pay for ambulances, to provide cigarettes and other comforts for soldiers and to support a host of charities. Staff and former pupils of the Foundation’s schools served in a range of capacities, both in the Armed Forces and on the Home Front.

One hundred years on the First World War is still important to our pupils and their families. Many remember the war because family members served in it and some lost their lives. Others remember the sacrifices made or turn to it as a fascinating period of history.

We want to share stories arising from our archives, providing detail of the lives of the people of all ages who made up our community and took part in momentous events. In pursuit of this we will be hosting a series of lectures and exhibitions throughout the academic year 2015-2016. We will be digitising our archive and making it freely available online for the first time. We will also be working with other schools to explore the local history reflected in our archives. It is our further intention to produce a book arising from our research: Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and the Great War.

As the First World War drew to a close the Schools and their former pupils came together to commemorate those who had served and those who died in the conflict. They pledged never to forget the great sacrifices made during the war. This project is our generation’s way of sustaining this tradition of remembrance.

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation is a registered charity working in the city of Wakefield, West Yorkshire. We provide single sex education for boys and girls from ages 3-18 and run QEGS Wakefield and Wakefield Girls’ High School. We are grateful for the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund in helping us to fund this project.