Page relevant: Redcliff Endowed Schools, Redcliffe Endowed Boys School history old pictures, St Mary Redcliffe Secondary School history,
St Mary Redcliff Secondary School, St Mary Redcliffe Boys' School, St Mary Redcliffe Secondary Boys' School, Redcliffe old school UK

Welcome to the St Mary Redcliffe Boys' School
Pre. 1970 History Project Website

Glory be to God on high

This page is divided into sections:

Short History | Setting the Scene | Key Resource | School Access
 School Motto | Pre war building additions & re-organisation
Bombed | School Playground | Teaching Staff | Sports
 The Vicarages | Redcliffe Rail Tunnel | Royal Visit | Old Pictures

Read more about Temple
Colston Girls' School

Read more about St Mary Redcliffe
& Temple School pre. 1970

To leave your comments / memories,
click to Memory Lane


- If you have any other pre. 1970 images, memories, stories or other historical information relating to St Mary Redcliffe Boys' School that could be displayed on this page (with a credit to you of course) please commit them to an email now and .
radical_solutions (at) hotmail (dot) com

Short History

Queen Elizabeth's Free Grammar and Writing School was first founded by Royal Charter in 1571. The first building measured approx 56' by 26' and was located in the Churchyard of St Mary Redcliffe, near the south porch. The school has moved to various sites throughout its long existence.

Redcliff Endowed Schools (girls and boys) were founded under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners in 1856. It was built on land owned by the Church previously used by the adjacent (first) Vicarage as an orchard. An upper department was added in 1877, The upper dept. provided "higher instruction" with a fee of 6d a week. The girls moved out & the school's name changed in 1879 to Redcliff Endowed Boys' School.

The school was located on the opposite side of Redcliffe Hill from the church, in an area bounded by Redcliffe Hill, Redcliffe Parade, Jubilee Street and Guinea Street. It utilised a mixture of several individual buildings of varying age and styles. Notable alterations and extensions were undertaken in 1887,1906 (the 50 Year Jubilee), 1928 & 1938.

In 1947? the boys' school changed its name to St Mary Redcliffe Secondary School. The School finally merged with Temple Colston Girls' School in 1967, creating the co-educational St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School as a comprehensive, voluntary aided school.

I contacted the school in March 2017 to seek assistance with this project but due to time and budget constraints they were unable to offer any help. Should anyone there have a change of heart, I am always interested in new information that could make this humble project more complete, if you have something / anything get in touch, I will be delighted to hear from you.

Setting the "Scene"

The school buildings shown below were demolished after pupils & staff moved to the new school site in Somerset Square. Photographs of the school are quite rare as it was completely hidden from view by surrounding buildings.

School frontage taken from a work room atop the Shot Tower

(pic. extracted from a video displayed further down this page)

View of boys' School and playground circa 1955
Taken from Church tower over the Lead Shot Tower roof

click image to enlarge

(anyone remember the "tickling bench" ? - it's just visible)

Key: A Parish Rooms | B Bristol General Hospital | C Tickling Bench | D Roof of Mervyn King
Hall / woodwork / art classrooms (b. 1939) |
E TA Drill Hall (dem 1988) | F Shot Tower
G Redcliffe Parade entrance | H Pre 1906 main school buildings | K 1906 school extension
M Roof of classroom block added in 1929 | N Smaller classroom extension added in 1929
P Roof of woodwork rooms added in 1939

School Tie year 1 & 2 | Senior Scarf | School Tie years 3+

Click each image to enlarge

The above are a little moth eaten and tired, just like their owner.
The year 1 & 2 scarf had a similar design to the tie shown,
mine probably ended up around "Frosty's" neck.

4 area map segments sourced from Know Your Place
Maps shown are circa's 1850 / 1930 / 1949 / 1980

Click to enlarge each

Aerial view around 1930 - Shot Tower top left. This was before
new school buildings & playground replaced the Vicarage, its gardens
and a whole row of terraced houses in 1938/9. Note the rail tunnel
exit to docks just visible in bottom right corner, the tunnel went
right under the playground and I never knew!

click image to enlarge

Aerial view 1947 - Playground now replacing Vicarage.
Parish Rooms buildings prominent top left, Shot Tower bottom left.

Click image to visit the Britain From Above web site

Note bomb damage still visible on roof of Mervyn King Hall

A view from Queen's Square over bascule bridge showing Church / Shot
Towers and frontage (part) of School on Redcliffe Parade extreme right.

Click image to enlarge

Aerial view 1950 Taken from over Bristol General Hospital
Shot Tower is top center, Parish Rooms lower right side

Click image to enlarge

Note the nice new roof on the Mervyn King Hall, looks like
building works were still in progress in playground

View from Church Tower in the early 1960's

Click image to enlarge

Note activity around the "tickling bench"?

The School made creative use of serveral off-site facilities to enhance the education of pupils, these included Broad Weir Swimming Baths, the TA Training Hall (PE) in Jubilee Place, the Day Industrial School (metalwork) in Temple Back and of course the Parish Rooms (French and other subjects), just across the playground.

Key Resource

Cover of rare 1956 Booklet, purchased in a bric-a-brac market for £2 by my
wife, it contains unique content, some of which, is shown on this page.

The Booklet also documents the Queen's visit in 1956,
conducted as part of the centenary celebrations.

2 example pages scanned from Booklet

Click image to enlarge

School Access

The main school entrances were from Redcliffe Parade through a fairly small, I always felt imposing, door then via a cloakroom area up some dark enclosed stairs directly into the main school building. The other via Jubilee Place adjacent to the TA Drill Hall (Jubilee Hall) directly into the playground.

Plaque that was above the school entrance in Redcliffe Parade

Just a theory - Arrangement of the wording into the 2 panels shown above is strange. There were 2 sets of cloakrooms inside the door, I suspect that the original plaque may have read "Redcliff Boys" on the left side, "Redcliffe Girls" on the right. The right side of the plaque would possibly have been changed some time after 1879 when the girls moved. (it took 90 years to get them back! - worth the wait? well I thought so.)

On leaving school heading down to Redcliffe Hill I could look
up to see the "twin towers", sadly only one now remains.

There was also small alleyway entrance between the shops on Redcliffe Hill but this was strictly for Masters, any boy caught using this entrance earned himself a detention. The Redcliffe Hill alleyway entrance to the playground seems odd but was built as a trade off when the first Vicarage (b 1701) with its wide entrance to Redcliffe Hill (see Vicarages section below) were lost when the rail tunnel was built in 1868.

School Motto

The Redcliffe Boys' School used the Motto "Punctuality,
Perseverance, Practice, Prayer", known as the 4 P's
Introduced by J T Francombe MA Headmaster 1872 - 1909.

Motto was displayed on the Mervyn King Gym Hall's wall but in a different order and less flowery typeface. Practice and Perseverance apply well to netball and most sports, the other two quite possibly. (pic taken just before Hall's demolition in 1971)

Other mottos used through the years include Gloria In Exelcis Deo (Glory be to God on High), Floreat Redcliffe (Let Redcliffe Flourish) and laterly Steadfast in Faith.

Pre war building additions and re-organisation

In 1928 the Vicar of SMR appealed for £7000 to build extension classrooms. Old boys, friends and scolars were quick to respond. Alderman Gilbert James erected a new wing in memory of his father, Sir E B James who had been a school manager for many years and a staunch Redcliffian. The final bill for the works was £8000.

Some pictures of plan from 1928 for the extension classrooms

Click image to view slideshow

A plaque was placed on the wall of the main extension which read..

This wing was erected by his family in memory of
Sir Edward Burnet James
A manager of this school and a friend of all Redcliffe boys

Click image to enlarge

In 1937 Redcliffe Schools were re-organised. The boys under 11 years were separated from the older boys and joined with the girls under 11 years in a mixed primary school located in Ship Lane. The senior girls were taken out of Ship Lane and absorbed into Temple Colston School.

This re-organisation meant that Redcliffe Schools were responsible for boys throughout their school life and girls (at Ship Lane only) from 5 - 11 years. (and I thought the move in 1967 was complicated!)

In 1938 members of the Colston (Parent) Society were concerned about the need for further extensions and improvements to school facilities. In particular, it was felt essential to provide a large playground, two large woodwork rooms and an assembly hall / modern gymnasium.

The Vicarage, its gardens and a row of terraced houses were leveled to make room for the new development.

Mr Foster G. Robinson was then President of the Society and, inspired by Mr. Mervyn King, undertook to be responsible to raise the £16,000 required to fund the new works.


During the 2nd World War Bristol was devastated by bombing. The worst raid to hit Redcliffe was the Good Friday Raid (11 April 1941) - 153 German planes dropped 193 tons of high explosives and 36,888 incendiaries; five bombers were shot down and 180 people killed.

One of the bombs from that raid fell in the playground, the photograph below shows interested parties standing about the bomb crater. The rear of the Mervyn King gym hall, woodwork and store room show the damage severity. When bombed, the gym had only just been completed and had still never been used.

Mr Fryer was the Headmaster (4th from right) Also in the photograph
is Mrs Florence Brown ?, a councillor who later became Lord Mayor.
The teacher (3rd from the right) was called Mr Reece.

A week or so after the bombing, when the building was being made safe, a school cap was found sitting on the top of a chimney completely undamaged. Was this divine intervention or more likely a dangerous schoolboy prank? The crater became a draw for the boys but they needed to be careful, you got the cane if you were caught climbing over the wooden picket fence that surrounded it to get your ball back. The crater was finally filled in when the hall was restored in 1951.

Bristol Guard Home D Company
(Taken late war? - well armed / dressed)

Click to enlarge

Photo taken in school playground in front of the 1926 main extension.
Note the Shot and Church towers to rear. Some bomb damaged
windows can be clearly seen on the enlargement.
(Cricket team photo further down this page was taken in similar position)

BBC article about the bombing

Aerial View of school taken from the south in 1946
(Redcliffe Parade runs along the very top)

Click image to enlarge

Note Bomb damage to Mervyn King Hall's roof, 1906 extension to
left of main building, 1929 extension built in front of main building

Redcliffe Primary School Ship Lane - Blitzed!

Compared to the primary school we got off lightly!

The Playground

On the east side the playground went almost to the back of the shops on Redcliffe Hill, the playground was enclosed there by an eight foot high brick wall. (this would have probably originally formed part of the old Vicarage's garden boundary)

Aerial View of school taken from the south east in 1946
(Redcliffe Hill traffic jams bottom left)

Click image to enlarge

Note Single storey shops on RH bottom left (entrance to playground just
left of the awning, better view of the Mervyn King Hall (with damage)

On the north side the playground backed up to the main school buildings, mainly the newer woodwork/art classrooms and Mervyn King Hall. To the west the playground backed mainly onto a small garage/repair shop in Jubilee Place.

Redcliffe Parish Rooms - Frontage on Guinea Street shown.

Rear of building backed on to school playground used by
school for dining facilities and additional classroom space
(I remember "learning" French there with Mrs Freeman)

To the south The Redcliffe Parish Rooms formed most of the boundary, they were directly accessible from the playground.

What is this?

Note netball ring just visible by school building

What was the low level rectangular structure (marked by arrow) sticking out into the playground? It appears on many pictures / maps of the area after circa 1850. Could it have been for ventilation / light to the rail tunnel which ran directly under?

Where would this structure have been today?

Answer = Yellow shaded area on above image.
(Position is estimated from an overlay of a 1947 OS map and a
fairly contemporary aerial photo of the hotel complex

The new hotel was built almost perfectly (90% avoidance) around it, virtually the complete structure footprint is within a tar-mac car park, nothing has been built on it.

Teaching Staff

J Woodcock Headmaster 1856 - 1870

T Randell M.A. D.D. Headmaster 1870 - 1872
(subsequently Vicar of Ryton-on-Tyne and Principal of the
College of the Venerable Bede, Dyrham

J T Francombe M.A. Headmaster 1872 - 1909

Mr Francombe lived at 22 Somerset Square and always came to school wearing a top hat, frock coat and kid gloves. A collection was made on his retirement in 1909, it totaled £1,000.

Click image to enlarge

JTF stood for Parliament in the General Election of 1910, he lost to Sir W H Davies by 138 votes, not dis-heartened he went on to become Lord Mayor and Chief Magistrate of Bristol.  Read more - click here

 J J Clibbens Headmaster 1909 - 1924

G Holgate M.A. B.Sc. Headmaster 1924 -1934
(subsequently Deputy Director of Education Blackburn
and Director of Education Bedford

R R Fryer F.R.G.S. Headmater 1934 - 1954

Stanley Lowes M.A. - Headmaster 1955 - 1967*
(* this school closed, Stan took over as Head at the new school)

For a complete list of School staff in 1956 - click here

Teacher name







Mr Davies

Dai Davies

6th Form Tutor?

1948 - ?

Mrs Fletcher


Dept. Head?

1968 - ?

Mr Wakeford



1948 - ?

Mr Turner



1948 - ?

Mr  H O Grant



1948 - ?

(Chatterton Housemaster - Green)

Mr Wyn Davies



1948 - ?

Mr L Davies



1956 - ?

(Colston Housemaster - Red)

Mr R Williams



1948 - ?

(Proctor Housemaster - Blue)

Peter Atmer



1965 - ?

Mrs Freeman




Mr Jeffries



1957 - 1970?

Neville Boundy (Curate)


1968 - ?

Mr Codrington




Mr Caswell



1965 - ?

Mr M Roe



1956 - ?

Rev Cyril Edwards



1965 - ?

Mr Grant



1957 - ?

Scrutch Schurch




(Taught briefly, then he left for a posting on Tristan da Cunha)

Mr Stevens




Mr Phillips



1965 - ?

Mr F N Vaughan



1948 - 1965

(Canynges Housemaster - Yellow)

Peter Fowler



1957 - 1970?

Mr Ferguson



1965 - ?

Mr Dando




Mr Dash



1957 - 1970?

Mr Jones



1968 - ?

Mr Wilcox



1957 - ?

Ms Gwyn Williams



1968 - ?

Mr Lawrence



1965 - ?

Burt John



1965 - ?

(Canynges Housemaster - Yellow)

Mr Jordon



1957 - ?

Mr Ball



1957 - 1970?

(Francombe Housemaster - Green)

Mr Morgan



1957 - 1970?

Dr Glasgow




Mrs Coulson



1965 - ?


The 4 school "house" names refer to notable civic dignitaries,
ecclesiastical benefactors and local educational pioneers.

CANYNGES (yellow)
William Canynges, (1399 -1474) local politician and benefactor of St Mary Redcliffe Church. 5 times Mayor of Bristol

Edward Colston, (1636 - 1721) slave trader, merchant and founder of Temple Colston School.

J.T. Francombe, a former headmaster of the school and Lord Mayor of Bristol.

Originally know as Chatterton
Thomas Chatterton was a locally born poet (1752 - 1770)

Possibly after Canon R F Cartwright?

Originally know as Proctor
Thomas Proctor (1846 - 1877) was a benefactor of SMR church in the mid 19th century. Also funded building The Mansion House in Clifton.

Rev. Cyril Edwards (I remember his saying "fail twit!" - I didn't)

Send me more teacher's names / details to add to the list or
additional info / corrections you may have.


Rugby - Cup Winners & Champions of "A" Division 1913-14

Click image to enlarge 

Headmaster J J Clibbens? far left

Cricket team 1914

Headmaster J J Clibbens? far left

Swimming Team 1946

center back row R R Fryer F.R.G.S. Headmaster

Ronnie Collins - Boxer 1955


Junior Rugby Team 1955 - 1956

back left - Stanley Lowes


Bristol School's Championship Cricket Team 1955

Photo taken in playground - (Stanley Lowes left / back)
Note the Church & Shot Towers visible in the background

Two St Mary Redcliffe Vicarages (important in School's History)

Map shows original Vicarage building (b 1701) in circa 1850 with wide
entrance on to RH for access. The address was No. 73 Redcliffe Hill.

Looking down the driveway from the Vicarage towards
Redcliffe Hill, pic shows "then and now" views

The original Vicarage was demolished in circa 1868 to make way for the new rail tunnel. The new Vicarage was built after the tunnel's completion. circa 1872 and its location moved north (much closer to the school) to avoid the tunnel. The driveway and large front garden of the new Vicarage now had the tunnel directly beneath.

Access to the new Vicarage was from Guinea Street (much further to walk to and from the Church) so a new alleyway was provided, retaining the original quicker route to the Church. See map, circa 1930 up this page, to see position of an alleyway leading to the re-built Vicarage and how it joined to other footpaths around the new grounds. The Vicarage was demolished in around 1939, only the alleyway remained for school use.

Aerial photo of school in 1946

Note "car" marks appox position of vehicle shown in picture below,
arrow indicates window in old school building that's partly visible

View of main school building down the side of the NEW Vicarage (built circa 1870).
Chimney shown is that above "H" on "keyed" view shown at the top of page.

Click image to view full Vicarage picture

A (fuzzy) aerial view around 1930 - Shot Tower top right this time.
Vicarage shown bottom left backing onto school, see better picture above.

click image to enlarge

Note rank of single storey shops with awnings on Redcliffe Hill.
The back wall of the school (left center of pic) appears blank?
Mysterious as there were windows? - (see previous pic above)

Impact of the Rail Tunnel started in 1868
(Opened in 1870, last train ran 1964)

Redcliffe Tunnel is 282 yards long and carried 2 tracks. It's construction involved the demolition of the original Vicarage and the removal and re-internment of Redcliffe Church's graveyard to a site, still used today, opposite Arnos Vale cemetery.

Two years later in 1872 the church tower, which had been struck by lightning in 1446, was finally repaired after 400+ years. One might speculate that money for the repair may have come from reparations paid by the builders of the tunnel. A case of something deep in the ground paying for something high in the air!

Three shops and a school access were built over the railway tunnel where it crossed Redcliffe Hill replacing existing the shops from no 71 to 76. (see map in Vicarage section of this page) The tunnel could not withstand the weight of a 2 storey building. (see map circa 1930 at top of this page for tunnel route)

Closer view of the "out of place" single storey shops on Redcliffe Hill

click image to enlarge

Note part of school roof / buildings in background,
School's third access point via single arch to left of rank

It is interesting that for the "landed gentry" homes (see below) rebuilt opposite the church (including Samuel Plimsol's birth place 1824), more money was found to make the foundations much stronger allowing second & third storeys, nothing really changes!

The broken facade of Colston Parade, trouble underground?

This picture, circa 1965, pinpoints each end of the rail tunnel / POI

Note kids in playground, I could have been one of those dots!
Protrusion into playground directly over tunnel route - purpose?
Victorian "Gap" in Georgian facade facing the Church and the
single storey shops on RH both marking where the tunnel runs.

Picture shows the Baltic Wharf end of tunnel circa 1960

Note Guinea Street houses just visible center right

Picture shows Church end of tunnel circa 1980

Note raised ground level only leaves approx. the top half
of tunnel entrance visible, Church in background,
ventilation fan in the bricked up entrance?

Read more about the rail line that included the tunnel here

Royal Visit in 1956

Queen's visit to site of original Grammer School

School's Royal Charter 1571 as inspected by the Queen

Old pictures of the Redcliffe Hill area

The Old Armchair (our "Tuck Shop") June 1939

Small shop and off licence at the junction of Jubilee Place and
Guinea Street. Still open in the mid 60s. Lots of unhealthy goodies
for just a few pennies  50 yds or so from playground's entrance, just
past the van (bottom right) and across the road, very convenient!

Was originally a Public House, between 1863 - 74, the landlord was
Samuel Webb who also made a crust as a chair maker.

More Pictures can be found on the Paul Townsend "Redcliffe" page

Around the Redcliffe Hill / Parade junction (then and now)

Mouseover to see how this part of Redcliffe Hill looks now.

To the south of Redcliffe Parade (top and bottom left pictures) the Mercure Hotel now occupies pretty much the whole of the old school site. On the south side of RP the interesting, historic Shot Tower and Ship Inn have been replaced by the box-like Colloseum public house (prev. The Merchant Venturer). Pic. 3 (new) shows the side of the Mercure in RP which now replaces the old school main entrance (see Jubilee Enlargement Brochure cover pic on this page)

Video has brief view of School taken from top of Shot Tower

A sad sight - the school building just before demolition in 1971

Inscription on closest / center wall reads "ENLARGED AD MDCCCCVI"
(1906), the one on the furthest wall "St Mary Redcliff Endowed Schools"

For a slideshow of more pictures from this sad time - click here


WANTED! - If you have any other pre. 1970 images, memories, stories or other historical information relating to St Mary Redcliffe Boys' School that could be displayed on this page (with a credit to you of course) please commit them to an email now and .
radical_solutions (at) hotmail (dot) com

Page posted by Dave Powell, Roll 393, attended between 1965 and 1970, Francombe House
Greetings to anyone who knew or taught me in those, now distant, days.

Thanks go to Geoff Duck (Roll 481), Martin Wallis and John Scully for info received

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