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North Devon in 100 Objects: 78. A Barnstaple Grammar School Cap

A Barnstaple Grammar School Cap from the 1920s. A brown velvet cap with gold band, a gold tassel affixed and ‘BGS’ monogram

This reminder of mid-20th Century school days in Barnstaple is a Barnstaple Grammar School cap worn by a boy who was at the Grammar School from 1922-26.

In 1910 the boys’ Grammar School moved from St Anne’s Chapel in Barnstaple parish churchyard to a new building in Newport. The new school was fee-paying and opened with 53 boys and 52 girls, of whom twelve boys and twelve girls were free scholars, having passed an entrance exam.  The school was the first secondary school built by Devon County Council and as a mixed school, a rarity.  Boys and girls still had separate entrances and playgrounds for many years to come.

As well as the brown velvet cap with gold band, a gold tassel affixed and ‘BGS’ monogram, boys wore a brown woollen blazer with vertical gold stripes and gold buttons. The breast pocket sported a badge depicting the borough arms. The junior boys wore short grey trousers until the age of fifteen. There were knee-length socks with two gold bands around the top, and a tie which had to be worn at all times. Apart from losing the tassel, the boys’ uniform stayed unchanged until 1960 when the blazer and cap went from brown to black. In 1964, sixth-formers were allowed to dispense with caps.

The school became a comprehensive in 1973 and is now the Park Community School.  Blazers have recently been reintroduced, will caps be next?

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