A brief History

A Brief History of
Aberdeen High School/ Harlaw Academy Former Pupils Club

This long-standing club is for former pupils of the Aberdeen High School for Girls and its successor Harlaw Academy so that links made at school may be sustained and new ones made across the years.

The school was started in Little Belmont Street and moved to the present site at 19 Albyn Place in 1893.   Just six years later the Former Pupils Club was founded and by the end of its first year already there were 160 members.   Right from start members were to be found not only in Aberdeen but scattered throughout Britain and with many abroad.  The traditions of the school were maintained enthusiastically and friendships continued even though the years and the miles brought separation.   It was that same year that the school and the club members together adopted the motto, By Learning and Courtesy, and the well-known badge was designed.

These days it may be difficult to understand how significant Aberdeen High School for Girls was in its early days.   At a point in history when women still did not have the vote the school aided the cause of education for women in the North-East of Scotland, affording its student an excellent education and giving many of the students of their day the opportunity to achieve University Education at a time when only a small number of women had the chance at all.  The High School’s former pupils were to take their learning and courtesy out into their own worlds, whether family and domestic or far reaching, and achieved  much that was worthwhile, often in the  professions of education, law and medicine.   Nor did these women forget the school that had afforded them their chance for education so that it was not surprising that they should wish to stay in touch with one another after their days at school were over.

The Club was popular from the start.  The first event, held in 1900, just a few weeks after the Club began, attracted 130 members.   Soon there were branches in a number of different places which acted as a focus for the membership in and near other cities.  Indeed there still are groups in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Manchester. Various Sections were established in which members could share their many enthusiasms and interests from sports and games to the arts.  Former Pupils have enjoyed Tennis, Golf, Badminton and Hockey.   A Bridge Section went on for many years. The orchestra the club established lasted only a short time.  In contrast the Drama group, known as “The Northespians”, went on for more than seventy years and achieved some productions of very high standard.  A splendid and eventually notable wardrobe of costumes was amassed and well preserved and maintained, becoming well-known as a collection in its own right.

Throughout the years club members have done much work for all sorts of charities and supporting many in the local community.   In particular there was important war work during both World Wars and long-standing support for the War Blinded afterwards.    The Club has supported the school in many ways, perhaps most notably playing a major part in raising funds for acquiring the Playing Field.  The tradition of helping the school continues to the present-day award of prizes and support of various school activities in a practical way.

These days the club continues to have a wide membership. It is well-known locally and has links with similar clubs and associations both at home and abroad. The FP Club was honoured by the Town at its centenary in 1999. People meet regularly, still enjoying activities and social occasions both formal and informal.    A magazine is published annually, as it has been for decades, and goes to all members.

Membership of the Former Pupils Club is extended to all ex-students of the Aberdeen High School for Girls and its successor, Harlaw Academy, which is both co-educational and comprehensive. Still the traditions and high standards of the school continue with friendships being sustained and new ones being made across the generations – the best kind of networking.

L.M.A.

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