Mike Leader© 2019 All Rights Reserved

A history of the Greenwich Blue Coat Schools

1700 ~ 2014
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In July 1748 the lease on a house in Green Lane leading to the Lime Kilns (later known as Lime Kiln Lane and now South Street) was taken at the rent of 10 guineas per annum from Michaelmass 1748 . A new School House was built in 1753 at the cost of £512. The school flourished and in October 1748 the remaining four day girls were taken into the house and the school stopped taking in day girls.

The Ladies Committee met every week and regulated every detail of the daily lives of the girls.  Many local women petitioned to have their daughters admitted to the school.  Applicants were examined and then entry was by drawing lots.  Sometime between 1823 and 1825 the school secured a lease on a piece of ground and school house at the top of Royal Hill under “The Point”. Additional buildings were erected at a cost of £1132 and the school remained there until its amalgamation with Blackheath & Kidbrook School in 1959. At some point after 1841 the top part of Royal Hill was renamed Point Hill.

The school continued successfully during the 1800s but in 1866 there appears to have been a few financial problems.  In the school archives there are many letters written by Sir George Biddell Airy, who was the Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881 and a trustee of the school, to another trustee, Admiral W.A.B. Hamilton, who was also the treasurer. It seems that Airy was not very happy with the way the Hamilton kept the accounts.

In a letter to Hamilton dated 19 November 1866 and headed “Remarks on the Accounts of the Treasurer of the Blue Coat Girls’ School for the period extending from 1862 - April 22 to 1866 - October 23” , Airy makes four points.

1. All payments must be entered in the Treasurer’s Books.

2. Payments appeared to be entered 3 & 5 months later.

Print of the Blue Coat School circa 1825


Cambridge University Library  reference for RGO Collection hits >>>

3. There must be a periodic reconciliation with the Bank Account.

4. The balance of the Bankers Account and the Treasurer’s account do not agree. There was a discrepancy of £21.3s.1d.

There was an immediate reply from Vice-Admiral Hamilton asking Airy to find a replacement Treasurer. Airy replied on 29 November 1866 by offering to be a clerk working under Hamilton. It is not clear what happened but a black-edged letter was sent to Airy by Hamilton’s wife, Lady Hamilton, on 8 December 1866 informing him that Admiral Hamilton had gone to Bournemouth because his mother, Lady Charlotte Hamilton had died.

A new Treasurer, Francis Huskisson took over on 19 March 1866.

(NB: There is also an extensive archive of Sir George Airy’s papers relating to the Blue Coat Girls’ School in the RGO Collection which is housed in the Cambridge University Library Archives)