The History of the Squirrel

As the Squirrel enters the digital age, we take a trip through the archives of Blue Coat's beloved magazine.


As The Squirrel enters a new era and joins the digital age, we decided to look back through the archives to see just how much the magazine has changed over the years.

Under the leadership of Treasurer, Mr J Bingham, the first Squirrel was released in the summer of 1949 in order to show the “fruits of hard work” and community involvement of staff and students. The impact of two World Wars meant The Blue Coat School became an intrinsic part of the Wavertree and wider Liverpool community, and so the new Squirrel Magazine was a way to engage with the many members of society involved with the school, as well as documenting and celebrating noteworthy events and achievements.

Venturing through the Squirrel archives, some articles came as a surprise. For example, students in the 40s and 50s benefitted from a Cinema Room with a film projector where they could attend special screenings in their lunch breaks. Features ranged from classics like Hamlet to selected films from the British and Foreign Bible Society (lucky them…). 

“Senior boys and girls were taken to see Lawrence Olivier in Hamlet when the film came to Liverpool. We were looking forward to this very much indeed as we had all enjoyed his production of Henry V and were familiar enough with the play to know we should like it. It was very disappointing that, because of the noise in the cinema, we could hardly hear anything at all, but most of us felt it was a beautiful performance”- S. D’Eathe, 1949, who would surely be horrified now at people using phones at the cinema

Much to the modern editors’ envy, the highlight of the 1950s Blue Coat calendar was the Prefects’ Dance, which was held every year. Prefects would invite students from other schools, for what seems like the 50s’ equivalent of the parties well-known to the Sixth Formers of 2017 (although in the 50s these were supervised by teachers, of course) to celebrate their commitment to the school and achievements throughout the year. Whilst the music and formalities may have changed, it seems teenagers have always been the same…

“The dancing started at 8pm and with the help of ‘Snowball Waltz’, was soon underway. Two sessions of Rock ‘n’ Roll were very successful in building up the wonderful atmosphere so noticeable throughout the dance. “- M. Lyon 1958 

Entering the mid-50s, the Squirrel became a termly subscription, with a dedicated team of editors who sounded straight out of an Enid Blyton novel. The termly ‘De Praefectis’ updated students on the obviously hilarious hijinks that the Prefect team got up to back in the day. Please don’t expect this from the current editorial team; it would turn into The Life and Times of David Barnett. 

“Slats, disregarding Mr Davies’ persuasive arguments and pleas, has joined the glorious company of Artists. We would like to thank him for his support of the ‘Beat the Scientist’ Campaign… He was heard muttering latinisms and poetry the other day, “O, that this too solid flesh would melt”- RGA Moore, 1958 (only in Blue Coat, eh?)

 

“Can you recognise the uniform of any girls’ school in Liverpool? Our leader Ant has authority on this. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that Ant has now diverted his interests to the girls’ schools of Stoke-on-Trent” -M Lyon, 1958 

Whilst remaining well and truly Blue Coat, the school and Squirrel were not immune to the changing times. The 1970s brought about some bold hairstyles and some truly questionable basketball shorts. With girls now no longer attending, Blue Coat seems to have taken on a more… macho approach to extracurricular, with the Squirrel devoting a staggering 10 pages to sporting achievements (including surprisingly, the archery team). 

Journeying into the 80s and 90s, the Squirrel was rife with laddish banter and cultural references destined not to age well (not featured, the ‘Ode to Paul Gascoigne’ by a student in 9 Shirley). By 1996 the Squirrel wasn’t so different to the one we know and love today, although the Prefect Profiles is a feature we could benefit from, with some of the more appropriate highlights featured below! It appears the eloquence and enthusiasm of past decades was substituted for a much more tongue-in-cheek approach. Whether this is symptomatic of the broader zeitgeist of the 90s, or simply comes from a year when the Squirrel went rogue is unknown. 

Prefect File- 1996
K Bal - ‘He’s boringly popular or popularly boring’
P Lipton- ‘Makes a killer cup of tea’
J Parry- ‘One alleged sighting this year’
 F Burki- ‘Likes apples’ 
R Doran - ‘The one who looks like Jamie Redknapp’
G Hudson- ‘Who?’
M Khan- ‘He’s a really nice guy…really nice…hasn’t got a gun’
A Nzeakor- ‘We all send him a card on Mothers’ Day’

 

Enduring nearly seventy years as a Blue Coat institution, the Squirrel has survived rapidly changing times and experiences, not to mention an array of make overs. As the magazine enters a monumental year, it’s first online publication on the new Squirrel Blog, it could be safe to assume it has changed beyond recognition. However, throughout these seventy years, the publication remains a beloved feature of Blue Coat life, documenting life at Blue Coat, written for and by the students living it. There were even a few familiar faces spotted in certain issues! 

 

Mr Shipgood"Simon Shipgood joins the motley collection of mathematical maestri after a PGCE at at Sheffield Hallam... He took his Maths degree at the prestigious University of Durham and while there he played chess for the first team. His other main achievement during his years in the studious groves of academia was to complete the 'Lumley Run', which required him to run several miles after drinking copious amounts of beer."

 

Mr Phelan "Hailing from the grim Lancastrian fastness of Bolton, Peter Phelan is well-suited to the harshness of the PE Department... He has joined the other benighted sour, Mr Hicks, in the staff Manchester United fan club. Therefore despite his obvious intelligence and integrity in other areas, he will continue to insist that Cantona was harshly treated and that Alex Ferguson never whinges about referees: the rest of us know better."

Mr Lamb

"Mr Lamb arrived at Blue Coat in 1991, bedecked with jet black hair, an eyebrow hugging quiff and missionary zeal to convert every pupil into a geographer by exposure to his secret weapon, World Bingo… The nineties rolled on and Mr Lamb’s hair gave way to a deeper, yet somehow softer forehead but his enthusiasm never waned as he gained access to the female teachers’ circle, much to the jealousy of the SLT.” 

Mrs Coltart“Miss Rowe is the first product of Blue Coat’s recent and enlightened decision to admit girls to the Sixth Form, to return as a teacher…. Miss Rowe admits that, at first it felt strange to address previously venerable ‘Sirs’ and ‘Misses’ as ‘Tim’ and ‘Jeff or ‘Marian’”

 

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