c. 1950

Coopers’ Boys Gymnastics Display

Gymnastic displays such as this were an important part of school life, demonstrating the physical prowess of the boys to parents and invited guests.

c. 1950

Coborn Girls’ Science

Miss Philpot, Headmistress, retired in 1956.  Her 27 years of service to the school had seen vast changes.  Under her successor, Miss Edwin, the school continued to forge ahead.  The new Science wing was completed and with three splendid new laboratories the teaching of the sciences expanded throughout the school.

c. 1940

Display Team

The photo shows early collaboration between the boys’ and girls’ schools in a display of calisthenics.

c. 1920

Boys’ Sports Day

Prowess in Sport was encouraged and all boys took part in a range of activities. Sports Day was (and still is) an annual event where boys gain points for their House, and the Barrel is awarded to the winning House. This photo shows one of the stranger events: the Slow Bike Race. The winner was the person who took the longest time to travel 100 yards. Strict rules were enforced: participants had to stay in their lane and not put any part of their body on the ground. The school has recently re-introduced this race as part of Sports Day activities.

c. 1920

Coopers’ Boys in School Uniform

This photo shows the boys in the Tredegar Square playground in the school uniform of the time.

c. 1917

Coborn Girls in School Uniform

School uniform became compulsory with navy blue tunics, red blouses in winter and white ones in summer. A plain straw or navy velour hat was worn according to the season.  The photo shows a group of girls with the cherub relief, which can be found in the school archive room.

c. 1912

School Cadet Corps

The Coopers’ Cadet Corps was formed in Autumn 1911, and within one term numbers had already reached 130 cadets. The cadets met on Saturdays under the instruction of Sergeant-Major James, and Saturday morning parades took place at regular intervals. With the advent of the Great War the importance of the Cadet Corps was highlighted with the numbers of Coopers’ boys who took up arms. 379 old boys and one master of the school enlisted in all three services: 118 were killed or died of their wounds. Only 38 of these young men have a known grave, and the remaining 80 names are recorded on the memorials across Europe and beyond. Their average age was 20. There were two recipients of the Military Cross, and one recipient of the Military Medal. The roll of honour was moved from The Coopers’ Company’s School in Tredegar Square to the current building, where it enjoys pride of place. The school has a comprehensive book written on “Coopers’ Boys & Coborn Girls: Their part in the Great War” – copies are held in the school archives.

c. 1909

Coborn Girls in Lessons

In the 1900s the school was recognised by the Board of Education and the number of free scholars gradually increased.  Lesson provision included English and Maths, Humanities and Religious Education.  Science and Domestic Science lessons only became widespread once purpose-built facilities were developed. A purpose-built gymnasium was planned in 1913, but not built until 1930 due to the deprivations caused by the First World War. There were at this time senior and junior literary societies, a ramblers’ club, a new sketching club as well as a flourishing school magazine – copies of this are held in the school archives.

c. 1906

Coborn Girls Netball Team

In the early years girls would be involved in drill exercises, and eventually these became therapeutic exercises designed to improve posture and fitness.  Physical training took over with the introduction of gymnastics and dance, which were held in the school hall, and latterly team games.  Coborn Girls played netball but competitiveness was discouraged, as was getting ‘too hot and sweaty’!

c. 1906

Girls’ Drill

Originally the drill costumes, as described by one pupil, “were navy blue coats nearly down to our ankles with buttons all down the front and braid girdles: whatever we did we must not show our drill knickers, so the drill was mostly arm and trunk movements”. These old-fashioned tunics were later replaced by more modern garments called gymslips, and the girls climbed ropes and used vaulting horses and parallel bars. Gymslips eventually became de rigueur for all girls’ grammar school uniforms, often with a posture girdle worn around the waist in house colours.