St Wilfrid's R.C. Secondary Modern School
th July 1954
The Archbishop walking in procession to bless the new building

Blessing and opening by the Archbishop of Liverpool - Dr William Godfrey

In his address following the ceremony of blessing the new St Wilfrid's R.C. secondary school modern school at Litherland yesterday, Dr William Godfrey (Archbishop of Liverpool) said that education without a religious foundation was not worthy of the name.
   An upbringing without this foundation he said, could not produce the good citizen whose life was inspired by the sense of service to God and his fellow men and whose love embraced not only his own family but his nation and the community of which he was a member.
   Dr Godfrey said: “ During the few months in which I have been Archbishop of this See with such a large Catholic population I have been invited on several occasions to lay the foundation stones of new schools or to bless and open those already newly built. Anyone familiar with this city and county, who knew conditions half a century ago, must be impressed by the spacious buildings now erected for our children and the facilities which modern development has placed at their disposal.
   “The citizens generally and the parents particularly, when they see new schools such as the one we are now admiring, will feel happy to know that their children spend their school hours in so healthy an environment.
                             “ So fine a building ”
“They will not feel any misgiving that the material needs of the children have not been the subject of the careful consideration of the education authorities, of architects and builders, and of the priests and people who have all played their part in the provision of such fine a building.
   “I have found however, as I visited the dioceses of Great Britain in recent years, that there is a fear that the material development has not been matched with an equally notable improvement in education. The general criticism, which appears to be well founded, is that the minds of children are now pulled in so many directions that they find it difficult to master the ordinary subjects which we used to consider as the basic essentials needed to equip a boy or girl for the work of life.”
                                    Spelling errors
I think it is generally admitted that the modern generation is rather complacent about errors in spelling. One has even heard it remarked that all the best people spell badly. Such things make one wonder whether educationalists would not do better if they adopted the motto non multa sed multum, which might be interrelated literally as not many things well taught and well learned.
   “We are aware that the teachers are bound to a syllabus and so the critism just mentioned is no reflection on teachers generally, since they are in the grip of a system and are

sometimes at the mercy of theorists who possibly have never
handled a class of children but may simply be indulging their own fads and fancies. Education offers a field for such experiments and the children can suffer as a result.
   “Some people might think that Catholics lay undue stress on the function of religion in education. They wonder why we cannot be satisfied with much less than that which we demand. To this we answer that a religious instruction which is vague and indefinite, cannot build the character of a man, and the parents rightly demand that the environment of the home should find its continuation in the school, and that the teachers to whom they entrust their children should, as their delegates — not delegates of the State—be of such character as to continue the good work begun in the home.
   “This is surely an object worthy of all striving and sacrifice and it is known to all of us that the effort demanded of the Catholic body at present is enormous. So that even with State aid we are hard pressed to play the part allotted to us in the building of such schools as the one happily blessed and formally opened to-day.
   “I must conclude with congratulations and thanks to all concerned in this great project—to the local education authority, the chairman and board of governors of the school, the architect (Mr Anthony Ellis), the contractors (Messrs William Hall and Sons) and not least to the good people of the parishes of this district who have had to raise the sum of £56,000 towards the total cost of £226,000.
   “We are glad to have as patron saint of the school the illustrious northern prelate and sturdy Northumbrian, Wilfred, Bishop of York, and we pray that by the intercession of this holy servant of God, the work of the school may ever prosper for God's glory and the good of souls.”
   The ceremony of blessing the school began outside the building and was completed within the main assembly hall.
   The guests included Councillor P. L. Kearney (chairman of Litherland Urban Council), the Mayor of Bootle (Alderman Peter Mahon), the Mayor of Crosby (Alderman J. Morris), and Sir Henry Hancock (deputy chairman of Lancashire Education Committee). Mr H. J. Brazendale (divisional education officer) and prominent towns-people.
   The Very Rev. Dean Wilcock (parish priest of St Elizabeth's and chairman of the school's board of governors) who presided, said that this was the first Catholic special agreement school to be built in the area. Seventy-five per cent. of the cost was being borne by the county who had done all in their power to ease the financial burden which must be undertaken by the parishes concerned.
   A vote of thanks to the Archbishop was proposed by Councillor Kearney and seconded by Alderman Mahon.

For craftsman of the future
Young Obie newly appointed Head Milk Monitor eyeing up the talent

In St Wilfred's, equal emphasis is to be placed on preparing girls for careers as housewives, as on equipping boys to be craftsman of the future. The school is the first of its kind to be built in the area.
   The parishes of English Martyrs and St Elizabeth's Litherland, have had their own church schools for many years, but the passing of the 1944 Education Act made the provision of a secondary modern school a necessity. The two parishes combined to build St Wilfred's, and the completed project represents the crowning achievment of years of united endeavour. The architect was Mr Anthony Ellis.
   The present total of pupils is 560, and will eventually become 680. Estimated cost of the school is more than £200,000. Laying the foundations was a major task because the site for many years had been a corporation tip.
                                Playing space
The site lies between Hawthorne Road and Orrell Road, and the long mainly single-storey building gives the effect of spaciousness. The school occupies a floor space of over 750 square yards, and the palying space has an area of six acres. There are six classrooms for boys and six for girls. Each of the two departments has its own assembly hall.
   Outstanding features are the housecraft rooms for girls - designed to provide the environment of the modern typical home. There is a series of kitchenettes equipped with solid fuel, gas and electric cookers, ironing boards, dressers and

 up-to-date labour saving gadgets. Other features of the girl's side are a needlework room, art room, a library, and a qymnasium, complete with changing rooms and showers.  
   The boys department includes a woodwork room, a metalwork room, a crafts room, a science laboratory, an art room and a library. The libraries are designed for quiet study with separate tables and shaded lamps.
                               Emergency exits
All the classrooms have emergency exits., basket ball and other games. Adjoining each is a store providing space for books and accessories.
   The assembly halls have a total capacity of over 600. It is hoped that each hall will eventually be equipped with a stage. The centre portion of the school building is occupied by a large dining hall complete with kitchen and servery.
   Each of the school's departments has its own administrative quarters including a head's room, a clerical room, a visitor's and medical inspection room and a staff room.
   The school's interior furnishings and colour schemes combine to give a modern yet entirely satisfactory effect.    Externally, the building presents a solidly impressive aspect and the brick structure, stone lintels and sills are relieved of any monotony by the large windows.
   The playing spaces are arranged in the form of recesses within the shelter of the school walls so that the children, while at play, can still be under the supervision of teachers. There are gymnasium facilities for netball.


Litherland & Ford Digital © Ronnie Cusworth 2002-2007