The Blue Coat School was founded in 1708 with the aim of providing a place where poor children could be accommodated, cared for and learn to “read, write and cast accounts.”
The school has continued to significantly contribute to both the history and culture of the City of Liverpool for over three hundred years and will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Bluecoat Occasions has been established for only a relatively shorter time compared to the main school but has built upon the excellent reputation and created a prestigious venue for all occasions.
- 1709 to 1799
During the Reformation, when monasteries were swept away, many public services such as health and education also disappeared. There was an urgent need for foundling hospitals, and so the Liverpool Blue Coat School was founded in 1708 by master mariner Bryan Blundell and the Reverend Robert Styth, the then rector of Liverpool. Reverend Styth took it upon himself to administer the first Blue Coat School, organising a place where poor children could be accommodated, cared for and learn to “read, write and cast accounts”. Blundell provided the Reverend with financial backing for the project. The original school building was situated in School Lane in buildings formerly used by Cross’s Free Grammar School. In 1719, fine new buildings were erected in the style of Queen Anne. Today, it is the the oldest construction in the town centre, now functioning as the Blue Coat Arts Centre.
When Reverend Stythe died in 1713, Bryan Blundell took over as the treasurer and trustee. During this time, he noticed the poverty of the period, which was causing the children to neglect the school out of hours and so changed the School into a boarding school that provided food, drink and lodgings for the young generation. The school by then needed extending and enlarging, with changes costing between two to three thousand pounds. The finance for the School to be enlarged was once again provided thanks to Bryan Blundell; the work was finished in 1718. Bryan Blundell died in 1756 and was succeeded by his son, who only held office for 4 years. His younger brother Jonathan then took over and held office until the turn of the century. It was only during the last 10 years of the 18th century that a uniform was introduced.
- 1800 to 1906
By the end of the Victorian era, it had been realised that the school buildings were inadequate and in 1899 the trustees of the School took the decision to commission a new school building what was then the countryside of Wavertree – away from the smoke and industry of the overcrowded city. The project would cost over £80,000, an amount was raised with the financial help of W H Shirley. Following his death in 1901, he left, in his will, £38,000 towards the building of the school. Along with many other contributions the £80,000 was eventually raised and work began on the new School in 1903, which was completed in 1906. These are the buildings still occupied by the school – designed in the late English renaissance style – with later additions including the distinctive chapel dome and clock tower.
- 1906 to 2002
The Blue Coat retained its role as an orphanage until the late 1940s; boys and girls in old-fashioned dress having been a familiar site around Liverpool for many years. The School changed its status in 1948 and became a day and boarding school for boys only. The boarding school was eventually phased out until only a few remaining boarders lived in the School and the rest of the students were day pupils. The School stopped accepting boarders in 1990, the same year were girls were readmitted to the Sixth Form only.
In September 2002 – the first time in more than fifty years – girls were admitted into the school alongside boys following an entrance examination. Two splendid statuettes, different but complementary, standing to this day in the School’s Boardroom, clearly reveal the original inspiration of the Liverpool Blue Coat School: it was thoroughly co-educational before the word was coined.
- 2002 to date
The Foundation frontage works on Church Road commenced in August 2005 and was effectively completed by July 2006. The refurbishment to the Chapel and Boardroom was first class and the old music room (Blundell Suite) was converted into a comfortable meeting room. A Heritage Centre, which displays Blue Coat School records and memorabilia built up over the last 300 years was also completed. The four clock faces on the famous tower were repaired and now incorporate a system that illuminates all four faces of the clock in darkness.
Following the completed refurbishment, an evening celebration was held on 12th July 2006 when the Earl of Derby made the official opening. He told guests, who included the High Sheriff, Chief Constable, Trustees, Governors, Staff, Students and Old Boys, how delighted he was to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors as he unveiled the commemorative plaque in the main entrance under the famous clock tower.