Centuries of Christian tradition underpin the education provided by Kirkham Grammar School, which was founded in 1549 as a charity school and celebrated its 450th Anniversary in 1999. Indeed its roots can be traced back to the chantry school attached to St. Michael’s Church, Kirkham, as long ago as the thirteenth century and it was here, in the Church grounds, that the school remained until it moved to occupy its present site on Ribby Road in 1911.
In 1585 the Thirty Men of Kirkham, a group which administered parish business, took control of the school. It appears that they did not always perform their duties particularly well, for, by the early part of the seventeenth century, the school had fallen into disrepair and had been without a master for seven years.
Isabell Birley, a humble alehouse keeper, came to the rescue in 1621, presenting the Thirty Men of Kirkham with £30 in her apron for the restoration of the school.
In 1655 Henry Colburn, an old boy of the school, left money and land to the school in his will, putting it in the trust of the Company of Drapers in London. Then began a long and cherished partnership between the Company and the School, which has continued to the present day, though the Drapers surrendered control of the school in 1944, having endowed it with large and impressive extensions in 1938.
Independent status ceased temporarily in 1944 when the school became a voluntary-aided boys’ grammar school. A further major extension, the Norwood Science Building was opened in 1965 and subsequently extended. In 1979 the Board of Governors took the bold decision to revert to independent status and Kirkham Grammar School became a co-educational school for the first time in its history.
The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed a remarkable growth in the school’s popularity and standing, exhibited by a rise in pupil numbers from 500 to 900 and a spectacular programme of continuous development.
The School Crest
The grant of armorial bearings was bestowed on Kirkham Grammar School in the late 1920’s in recognition of the honour due to one of Lancashire’s most historic foundations. The design of its coat of arms expresses the true meaning and purpose of the school.
On the shield are the doves of Kirkham township, together with the triple coronets of the Drapers’ Company; symbolic in turn of the ties which bind school and town together and of the benefactors who, from its early days, have watched over the interests of the school. The crest also contains a windmill resting on a book, an emblem of scholarship deriving its inspiration from the old industrious spirit of the Fylde. The School’s famous old motto “Ingredere Ut Proficias” literally translated means “Enter in order to profit”