Lancaster secondary school celebrates 150th birthday

The whole school assembles for the service.
The whole school assembles for the service.

Ripley St Thomas celebrated its 150th anniversary in style this last week, when the whole school community gathered together for an outdoor service led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, assisted by more than 30 local clergy and helpers.

The 1,750 students, 200 staff and a number of special guests and visitors listened to the history of the school and celebrated its story over the years.

Dr John Sentamu.

Dr John Sentamu.

Ripley, built for 150 boys and 150 girls through the gift of Thomas and Julia Ripley, is now the largest school in Lancashire.

The school has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted in its two most recent inspections and has recently been designated a National Teaching School.

Many former pupils and staff attended an open day on Saturday, where memorabilia from over the years was brought together and allowed visitors to get a real flavour of the school over the years.

A copy of the London Illustrated News in 1864 included a lengthy article about the opening of the Ripley Hospital and a large picture of the new buildings, which had cost £30,000 – somewhat less than the current insurance valuation!

A series of letters written by pupils to their families in the 1880s gave real insight into life in the boarding school, where children lived all year, even through the holidays.

The open day ended with a choral evensong in the chapel with guest choirs from the local area.

Much may have changed over 150 years, but the core values of the school remain as they were when Ripley was first conceived: a belief in God’s love and purpose for each individual and a commitment to a life of service to others.

After the service, Prof John Crewdson, chair of governors, said: “It is wonderful that we can all be together today to celebrate our great school. We look forward to building on all that has been achieved to make the next years even more successful.”