The Girls’ High School Headteachers

1st August 202012:05 pm29th July 2020 10:59 amLeave a Comment

Next year Heritage Doncaster moves into a new gallery, library and museum building in the Waterdale area of Doncaster. The building includes the front section of the old Girls’ High School building, which has been such a familiar landmark to so many Doncaster people.

The new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in its final stage of construction, lit up at night

One of the displays in the new building will tell the story of the Girls’ High School and of girls’ education in Doncaster, right from the opening of the school in 1905, to 1973 when it became co-educational.

During that 70-year period there were only three head teachers: Frances Mary Noades, who was head between 1905 and 1925, Hilda Gertrude Brown, who was head between 1925 and 1949, and Helen Mellor who was head between 1949 and 1973.

During our research for the display we have found quite a lot of background information about the three women. We know where they were born and educated, where they lived in Doncaster, and what they did after they left the school.

Now we know the backgrounds to their lives we would love to hear some personal memories of the women, so that we can paint a fuller picture of them. So this is where we are asking for your help!

Perhaps you studied or worked at the school, if so, what were they like as teachers or colleagues? Maybe one of the women was a family friend, or someone has told you about them.

Anything you can tell us will help paint a better picture of three women who made such an enormous contribution to girls’ education in Doncaster.

Send your memories to: [email protected] or leave a comment on our blog, Twitter or Facebook page.

Written by admin - Modified by Vicky Siviter

12 thoughts on “The Girls’ High School Headteachers”

  1. Jennifer King, nee Staley says:

    I was at the school from 1957 to 1964. Miss Mellor was the headteacher. She was scary but her assemblies, I feel helped to shape me.

  2. Janice Lavigueur says:

    Miss Mellor was my head mistress while l was a pupil there from 1965. She was a terrifying figure, straight out of a girls’ school story. I had very little to do with her, but when l saw her many years later in Marks and Spencer she greeted me very pleasantly. She clearly remembered all her “gals”.

    1. Lynda van Veen (nee Ayscough) says:

      I went in to Miss Mellor’s study a few times. It was gloomy and quite scary. Looking back I don’t think we were meant to have personal memories of someone in her position. I suppose she was fair and strict but remote, kept herself too herself. I was so overawed I used to get tongue tied and couldn’t wait to end the conversation and escape. Very different from today’s relationships between pupils and teaching staff.

  3. Jacqueline Ross says:

    I attended the High School from 1963 until 1968, Miss Mellor was a no nonsense headmistress, she was strict but fair. She also had no time for the then fashion of mini skirts & regularly checked the length of our tunics for infringements!

    1. Sue Plaskitt says:

      Hi Jacqueline I was also a student during the same years as you. I was Susan Lancaster in those days – I wonder if you remember me? I started in class 1a with Miss Woodward as my form tutor and finished up in VArts but left the school in December 1968

  4. Heather Williams (nee Willis) says:

    I too was at the school (1967-74) when Miss Mellor was head – quite scary. We used to hide ice lollies behind our backs if we met her walking home to her home In Lawn Ave when we had been to the newsagents after sport on the Town Fields – it was frowned on to be seen eating in the street. Miss Mellor held assemblies every day at the start of the school day and we went in form crocodiles up the front or back stairs – no talking. She also smoked like a chimney but not in front of us – just her office which had a traffic light door entry in later years. I will always remember her. I was at the school when it merged with the boys school – our year was the last of the bottle green uniform, and she then retired at the end of 1973 – end of an era. Although I found it a bit traumatic after junior school, I loved it there and we were told constantly we were in the top 10% and could do anything we wanted through working hard, a great confidence boost.

    1. Linda Abercrombie says:

      I remember many the teachers telling us we were in the top 10% of the country. I didn’t believe them, and thought that I’d got a place at the High School under false pretences!! I was there from 1962 – 69

  5. Heather Williams says:

    Forgot to say in my earlier comment that my Mum was at school in the 1930s with Miss Brown as Headmistress. Not many photos were taken ad apparently she didn’t approve! We went to the centenary meeting (at the Boy’s school!) and met some very elderly ladies. Not sure there will be anyone left who knew the first 2 unless they were relatives/family friends. There is a book to celebrate the centenary and lots of school photos were up at the centenary.

    1. Deirdre Butterfield says:

      I started the school in 1948 , it was Miss Brown’s last year. All I remember was her grim face and her hair in buns. Miss Mellor followed, she was horrendous. I remember being called to her room and being threatened with expulsion for sneaking out during lunch break to buy a lollipop from a nearby shop. Nevertheless I enjoyed my school days there.

  6. Rosemary Potterill née Evans says:

    I attended Doncaster High School for Girls from 1965 to 1972 during Miss Mellor’s tenure as Headteacher. She was very strict but absolutely fair in her dealings with we ‘ gals. ‘
    I was summoned to her office once for reading a comic under the desk during a French lesson
    I had to apologise and received one Bad Conduct Mark for my House for which I was truly ashamed. Disorder marks were issued for lesser crimes.
    After the death of my father and brother in a car accident, she summoned me to her office, was very kind, offered condolences and support.
    I used to see her outside school often as I lived in Manor Drive and attended Christ Church Where I was a choir member for over 21 years, I had to pass her home if I walked across the Town Fields into town. She was quite different from in school, quite pleasant smiled and chatted, which never happened for us gals in school.
    In 1965 part of the school uniform was a bottle green beret, which I loved and wore religiously every day, despite being teased and bullied about it. The cloisters underneath the building was where our State funded one third of a pint of milk was stored. This was for consumption at morning break with a straw which were also provided. Many girls declined this so I happily drank as many as possible as I loved milk. It froze in winter so there was iced cream atop the milk, in summer if you weren’t quick, it went sour.There were strict rules about uniform; the Prefects during the ‘mini skirt’ era patrolled the corridors and if they thought your skirt too short, you had to kneel down for them to measure. If it was not long enough you were reprimanded, told to lengthen it or receive the dreaded disorder mark. The Houses were Stuart (Green) Tudor (Blue) Windsor (Red) and York (yellow) we were highly competitive and very proud of our houses so tried really hard to obtain Good Conduct Marks and not disappoint our House Captains.
    The staff were mainly maiden ladies as most had lost Fiancés in the First World War. We were always young ladies and gals.
    Miss Woodward was my class teacher when I first started there, almost the first thing we had to do was write down the maiden name of our mothers so they could check our pedigree. It was lucky for you if your mum had been a good student, luckily mine had. She had attended under the headship of Miss Brown of whom she spoke well, so I assume she too enjoyed her school days as she was an excellent scholar. They had worn felt hats and straw hats in summer during my mother’s years there.
    I was in 1B all the way up to fifth form as this was designated by birthdate. ‘A’ were birthdays September to December ; ‘B’ January to April; ‘C’ May to August. Miss Padgett taught us for Art; Miss Dawson, Geography; Miss Simpson, History; Miss Woodward, Maths;
    Mrs Remmington and Mrs Chesson taught sport; Mrs Kenyon and Miss Wood, English.
    Mrs Brown, Religious Education; Mr Godley, Physics and Mr Mason, Chemistry; Mrs Hardy, Domestic Science;
    Senior moment I can’t recall others at the moment but I respected all of them.
    I LOVED school, there was a massive library which I almost lived in! Free access to so much was glorious, I tried to hide in a corner to read at all possible opportunities especially in cold winters when it was warm inside, we were expected to be outside for breaks whatever the weather.
    I was 13, when Mr John Storey became the Music teacher and music totally exploded in school. He was a brilliant musician and massive inspiration.
    There was the Girls Choir; Mixed Choir with boys from the Grammar School; Madrigal Choir as well as the Orchestra. He took us to the annual Mrs Sunderland Music Competititions in Huddersfield, where we often swept the board coming first in all sections.
    I received a First Class Education at Doncaster High School, we also improved our manners and social skills and I will always be grateful for the teaching I received.
    I still have two very good friends that I met on the very first day so I am also delighted I met them.
    Realise this might not be what you want, have many more memories of a very special time in my life, school was a haven of learning for me.

  7. Rose Carter née Rosemary Gosney says:

    I am currently writing my “memoirs” basically for my descendants to chuckle over and I was just doing the “school” era when I came across this item. It was just what I needed to confirm that my memory isn’t entirely shot.
    I was at DHS from 1959-1966 when Miss Mellor was Head but my mother (Lucy Thornton) had been there in the ‘twenties and often spoke of Miss Brown though she may have been there when Miss Noades was still in post. (She was born in 1911 and died in 2015.) I think I am right in saying that the scheme of awarding Bad and Good Conduct Marks and Disorder Marks came from Miss Buss and Miss Beale, the famous educationalists of the North London Collegiate School at the turn of the century, whether Miss Noades or Miss Brown was a pupil there, I don’t know.
    Anyway, your correspondents have corroborated my memories so many thanks to them. I went on a school trip to Germany in 1965 with Miss Mellor as one of the “chaperones” and she was totally different out of school and on holiday.
    I went to the reunion held just before the school closed down for good 1994? but I now live in France.

  8. Isobel Sampson nee Drury. DMHS 1946-52 says:

    My late Sister Margaret Drury’s first term was disrupted in 1939 when the main Building was occupied by the Army. In 1946 she was greatly assisted by Miss Brown and Staff when she applied to Queen Mary College London University to study classics. She was very fortunate to be granted a place at a time when ex-service people were given preference over school leavers.
    About half way through my time at DMHS Miss Brown retired. To me she was an imposing and formidable lady who commanded instant respect. I don’t remember speaking to her personally .She had a set and solemn expression on her face .
    My experience of old age tells me that she was brave having been in extreme pain from the arthritis that limited her mobility. I was told she found cycling easier than walking. I think a prefect or senior pupil was designated to take her bike into storage and assist her into school via the Front entrance. I do not remember any ceremony taking place when she retired.
    Miss Mellor was a slim and very mobile person who seemed to appear suddenly from nowhere. I was frightened of her and kept out of her way. After I left school in 1952, on meeting her she spoke very kindly and pleasantly.

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