King Edward VII and Queen Mary School was supported by the Lytham charities, whose origins lay in the relief fund established following The Lytham flood in 1719. As the charity flourished, it broadened its outlook and developed an educational strategy which involved supporting local schools in Lytham and St Annes. At a meeting in December 1901 the Trustees of the Lytham Charities passed the following resolution:
"It is desirable to erect within the Ancient Parish of Lytham a good Secondary School for Boys in which special attention is given to Modern Languages, Mathematics and Science, and that it be part of the Scheme to provide Lecture and Class Rooms for evening instruction including
King Edward VII school opened in 1908 with 78 boys and so it was still a young school at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 when the numbers of boys had increased to around 180. 37 KES Old Boys were killed in action before the Armistice in 1918, a high proportion from such a small school. In 1921 Headmaster Mr Bompas Smith reflected on those who had died in the Great War: "When the school was opened in 1908 we little thought that the value of life we then began would so soon be tested in the furnace of war. We did our work and played our games and were glad in each other’s friendship, and did not know that most of us would soon go to prove their pluck and their endurance in scenes of which we never dreamed. We did not know that only too many among those we honoured would go out never to return".
In 1922 and 1923 land in Blackpool owned by the charity was sold and its finances were in surplus. As a result, in 1924 it was decided that a Secondary School for Girls should be built. Eight of the 32 acres of the King Edward’s site were given over to Queen Mary’s with an
additional 7.5 acres purchased for the new school. Queen Mary School opened in September 1930 with 153 girls aged from 8 to 15. In those
days the trams still travelled along Clifton Drive and a new stop was created opposite the
QMS was officially opened in November 1930 by the Earl of Derby, who urged that the school lay great stress on the learning of languages and the forming of friendships with people of other countries In 1935. Queen Mary School was honoured to be asked to make the official Blue Ensign of the SS ‘Queen Mary’, then nearing completion in the Clyde shipbuilding basin. The flag measured 18 feet by 9 feet and was made in silk and wool. It was arranged that each girl in the school would put at least one stitch into the flag. On completion the Headmistress, three Mistresses and about 60 girls visited the ship in Southampton to present the flag.
In September 1938, as the Second World War loomed, dinner times at QMS were spent filling and sewing up sand-bags as the boys from KES dug trenches in the sand-hills. In September 1939 around 340 evacuees arrived at QMS from Levenshulme and Runcorn High Schools. The timetable was split half-time 9 am – 1 pm, and 1 pm – 5 pm the following week so that all the pupils could be taught. Nine air raid shelters, made of concrete and covered in sand, were created in the grounds each designed to hold 50 people. Air-raid practices were carried out and the after dark black-out meant no after school sessions were possible. Fortunately, there were no raids that month, so the Runcorn girls left in October. Those from Levenshulme stayed until March 1940. Two Jewish girls from Germany also joined the school. Also in September 1939, 300 evacuees from Runcorn and Chorlton High Schools arrived at KES, a school designed to accommodate 250 boys. This sudden influx meant that space had to be used creatively; Geometry lessons were held in the Projection Room, Field Science in the potting shed and Religious Instruction in St Paul’s Church. 1942 was notable for the increased co-operation between KES and QMS. The Sixth Form had shared lectures, debates and a dance. Joint Christmas parties had been held at either school alternately since 1930, but it was only in the late 1940s that 6 th formers were invited to join the staff at the parties. Former pupil Jenny Hall had become a teacher at the Holy Trinity Primary School in Freckleton, but she was killed in the 1944 air disaster there along with Pearl Whittle, a Queen Mary pupil, whose father owned the local garage. A memorial to them is sited next to the War Memorial in the main hall.
In September 1948 the foundation stone of the new joint dining hall for both schools was laid. The new building was to release space for more classrooms at both schools and would allow the King Edward’s dining hall to become the current library. The new building marked the loss of part of the huge sand-hill system, much loved by the boys. They had been used as grandstands to view the exciting finishes of the steeple chase races (or cross country runs, as we now call them), they had been used as the location for air raid shelters and had also provided cover for the ‘bun runs’ during morning break to the Boulevard, when hungry boys had taken cover through the hills to stuff their pockets at the nearby shop. All the sand-hills to the rear of Queen Mary’s were removed in the 1950s to produce the current playing fields. As Michael Boddy writes in his book, the Northern Women’s County Hockey Assocation held its annual tournament on these fields, deeming them to be the best in the North of England until the advent of the all-weather pitches.
In 1951 the Lytham Schools Foundation received a Grant of Arms from the College of Heralds. In the full arms of the Foundation the shield is ‘parti-per-pale’ (divided vertically down the centre) and shows the badge of KES on one side and a newly designed badge for QMS on the other side. Orange and brown are not normally used as heraldic colours, so the college designed a badge that combined the school’s orange with other heraldic colours and symbols descriptive of the school’s foundation and situation. The marigold is orange, the name ‘Mari – gold’ being a punning allusion (popular in heraldry) to Mary. The shell below suggests the coastal situation and the ermine border signifies the royal connection.
After a reduction in student numbers caused by the abolition of the Assisted Places Scheme in 1997, the two single-sex schools were merged. King Edward and Queen Mary School was housed in and around the old King Edward VII building and consisted of a Kindergarten, Infant, Junior and Senior School, plus a Sixth Form. The Queen Mary site was sold in order to raise money for the continuing development of the new school.
Following the sale of the Queen Mary site, a new block was been built in 2003 to house the junior school on the ground floor together with 11 new senior classrooms, science labs and language labs on the first floor.
The 1960’s block (housing music, food technology, maths and English) was also refurbished at the same time. In 2005 the library was relocated to its former location (in the original dining room) and this underwent extensive redevelopment. The summer of 2007 saw refurbishment of ground floor classrooms in the original 1908 building, and the replacement of many original wooden windows and in 2008 the science laboratories were upgraded and improved. During Autumn 2008, the Main School Hall was restored, with the original stage re-instated, as well as the addition of state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment to suit many hall configurations, including theatre 'in the round.’
A full history of KES is available in Michael Boddy’s book: "King Edward VII School, Lytham – The School by the Sea".