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Bede School History

If you went to 'The Bede', you probably didn't know the following :-

Sunderland Higher Grade School opened in 1890 near the West Park. The School was divided into Boys and Girls Departments and both of these were divided into Lower and Upper Schools. The Lower Schools catered for pupils aged 9 to 14, while the Upper School took pupils between the ages of 13 and 18 years. Mr G T Ferguson was appointed Headmaster of the Boys' Department, with Miss Janet Todd as Headmistress of the Girls'.

In 1898 the School was renamed Bede Higher Grade School. Initially the School was under the control of Sunderland School Board. However, following the 1902 Education Act, School Boards were phased out and in 1903 the School became the responsibility of Sunderland Borough Council Education Committee.

On 29 June 1903 Bede Higher Grade Junior School opened, in separate premises. It was designed as a feeder for the Senior School but its existence under this name was short lived and within a year it had become known as Cowan Terrace Junior Council School.

In 1905 the Higher Grade School was re-organised as a Secondary School, under the control of a Board of Governors. It was renamed Bede Collegiate School and Mr G T Ferguson was appointed Head of the Boys' School, Girls School and a Pupil-Teachers Centre. By 1910 the Pupil-Teacher Centre had closed and following a further re-organisation in 1911 the Boys' and Girls' Departments were established as separate Schools, with different head teachers.

The school soon outgrew its original premises and in 1927 the foundation stones were laid for new school buildings on Durham Road. The new premises, designed by Wm. and J.R. Milburn of 19 Fawcett Street, Sunderland, took two years to build at a cost of about 112,000. They were officially opened on 19 October 1929. In 1938 the size of the school was significantly increased with the opening of new extensions, including a new physics laboratory, a new library and two new gymnasiums.

In 1939 the outbreak of the Second World War saw the evacuation of staff and pupils to North Yorkshire - the boys to Northallerton and the girls to Richmond. At Easter 1940 the school reopened in Sunderland for the benefit of those pupils who had not been evacuated and by September 1940 most of the pupils had returned.

Following the 1944 Education Act the two schools became Grammar Schools. In 1964 Sunderland Borough Council published plans to re-organise its secondary schools and in 1967 the Boys and Girls Schools were amalgamated to form a mixed sex comprehensive school, under the name Bede School. The School celebrated its centenary in 1990 but closed shortly afterwards in July 1991.

It would be nice to know what happened to pupils during the transition phase between two separate schools, and the mixed sex comprehensive, or indeed, to those who were attending the school immediately prior to its closure. Should you wish to relate your experience then, feel free to pass on your recollections to the webmaster@durham-images.org. They can be published anonymously if preferred.