Updated: Jun 14, 2018
We had a surprise visit from one of Blackburne House's former students, Lorraine, who left school in 1983. After spending many years away from Liverpool living in various parts of the world, Lorraine ventured back to her old school to take an emotional trip down memory lane. When Lorraine emailed, we knew how important it was to her to revisit a place of her youth, so we jumped at the chance to give her the grand tour. As we navigated the beautiful corridors of our Grade II listed building, Lorraine told us many interesting, funny, and sad stories about her school days in a very different era of Liverpool 8. One of her vivid memories in 1981 was during the time of the 'Toxteth Riots'.
Lorraine recalls, during this time, when she and the other girls heard a commotion outside (what is now the Nursery courtyard) so they went to investigate. As the girls stood in the yard, they saw objects flying over the wall! Approaching the spot, what seemed like hundreds of Mars Bars had been flung over the wall and had landed almost at their feet - it was a moment, she said, she would never forget.
Lorraine remarked how, on occasion, she was asked to wash dishes for the teachers and laughed about how different schools must be now! Upon reaching the gorgeous Common Room for our current learners, Loraine was chuckling as she realised it was the same sink she had washed the dishes in during her school days!
Many of the classrooms instantly transported Lorraine back in time, instantly triggering an array of brilliant and funny tales - too many to mention! We even stopped off in a classroom with one of Blackburne House's current students who is studying towards an Access to HE course. It was a pleasure to see an 'old' and current student chatting together about how fantastic it feels to be part of Blackburne House.
The 'school hall' looks different now! We host many events, parties, and weddings in the space that was once reserved for the physical education of girls at Blackburne House.
Our tour finished in the Bistro - the old school canteen - very different to now, of course, where you can grab a bite to eat from breakfast to dinner, or enjoy live music events on (selected) Fridays and Sundays. A far cry from a school dining hall.
Lorraine commented "I feel such a connection to Blackburne House, and loved seeing the building again, after all this time. I am having my wedding breakfast here soon, and couldn't think of a more suitable place to commence the next chapter of my life."
In April, we held an 'Old Girls' Reunion', inviting former school pupils to come and celebrate. It was so successful, we have decided to do another one next year, so will keep you posted!
Blackburne House was named as a Grade 11 listed building in 1974, and the school, known as, Liverpool Girl's Institute, enjoyed great success until 1986, when a combination of the demise of Liverpool industry and the growing popularity of Comprehensive Schools, lead to the closure of the Liverpool Institute High School for Girls. The remaining pupils were transferred to Archbishop Blanch School.
*School leavers of 1984
The building then lay derelict until 1992 when it was identified by Women’s Technology Training Limited (WTEC), known as Blackburne House Education. Plans were put forward, and a new Trust was formed to raise funds and to manage the building. Over the period of 1991-1994 over £3m was raised to refurbish the building using local investors and funding programmes.
The official opening of Blackburne House incorporating WTEC was in September 1994