Over two hundred Old Boys of the School assembled in the hall on Saturday 19 th April 1997 to celebrate, with dinner, speeches and reminiscences, the 400 th anniversary of the founding of Wigan Grammar School, even though its name had ceased to exist on 7 th July 1972. The Old Boys’ Association was formed in 1909 and, despite being interrupted by two world wars, had survived the passing of the years until the present day. Those Old Boys who met together in 1997 maintained with pride the traditions of the School, honoured its achievements and recalled their part in its indelible history. They still do.
Many of those who attended had been pupils long before the present School was built and many had come from overseas. Many re-unions were made and as many memories exchanged. At the age of eighty four, Arthur Atkinson was the oldest to attend.
The Master of Ceremonies, Jack Winstanley, welcomed everyone and paid special tribute to Alan Ruddick, Roy Knowles and Peter Liptrot for the enormous amount of work that they had done to make the dinner possible. He continued by inviting everyone to stand in honour of the memory of Old Boys who had given their lives in times of war or had passed away during the preceding year. He then introduced Ted Atherton who, in imitation of Irving (Teddy) Johnson, played the organ to accompany the School Song. Dinner was served and memories shared, in some cases with friends not seen for more than fifty years. The Guest of Honour was John Bradburn, introduced by Jack Winstanley as a man who had given much to the School and the people of Wigan, as pupil, master and Old Boy.
John spoke of his own time at the School remembering especially the broad band of pupils who, though perhaps not great achievers, had nevertheless been an influence for good on both the School and the town of Wigan. He spoke of the dedication of the masters who freely gave much of their time to help with extra-curricular activities and were concerned as much with the development of character and personality as they were with academic success. They had the welfare of every boy at heart. His own special interests, he said, had been rugby and cricket, two sports in which he played a major part during his time as master. In many ways, Wigan Grammar School had broken new ground, being one of the first to make a rugby tour of Germany after World War II and, in 1954, the School was one of the first to give a “Demonstration” of M.C.C. cricket coaching at old Trafford during a Test Match. In conclusion, John spoke of the many characters he had met and their contribution to the life of the town. Some had achieved success far beyond anything they had promised during their time at School, and there were still more for whom the School had been the beginning of a full and satisfying life serving the needs of others, not only in Wigan but throughout the world.
Our Wigan is a grand old town,
The Romans knew it well,
It always had a good King Cole
As long as folks can tell.
And so because its rule has been
From age to age so royal,
Its sons to-day their Town still call
“The Ancient and the Loyal.”
For the honour of our School
Let’s strive with all our might
For the very name of Wigan
We are told implies a fight.
Though not “Ancient” we are “Loyal”’
And we’ll fight a battle royal
For the good old school of Wigan
That we love so well
And in the days of Good Queen Bess,
With zeal our elders burning,
First Spain’s proud hosts they helped to crush
Next turned their thoughts to learning.
“Peace hath her claims”; men ne’er shall say,
“A Wigan boy’s a fool,”
And so they nobly gave their lands
To found a Grammar School.
And for three hundred years and more
Our School all storms has faced,
And now it stands on solid rock,
By Wigan Town embraced.
Our City Fathers with just pride
Have helped our Founders’ aims,
We boys will show we’ve grateful hearts
By work at School – and games
SCHOOL MAGAZINE 1959
H R Nutt refers to The Magazine, Summer Term 1909.
“In this Magazine the School Song by H. Brierley, Chairman of the Education Committee, first appeared. Nowadays two verses (1) and (3) are invariably thought sufficient, but here is printed an extra verse (2), certainly of no higher standard than the other two
An extra verse (4) was written by J Winstanley in 1987.