Photo: Maciej Kapsa 
The Old Almondburians' Society is a fellowship of past pupils and staff of King James's School in Almondbury, Huddersfield.  Membership is currently around 500 and the Society's affairs are administered by an Executive Committee which meets monthly at the School.

The Society has three principal objectives:
To uphold the honour and status of the School
to provide a means of contact between members, with one another and with the School, by holding events including an Annual Dinner and by producing magazines and other publications
to provide assistance to the School including, where appropriate, the use of Society Funds to support projects approved by the Committee.

Over the years, we have fulfilled the first objective in many different ways such as supporting the School against possible closure, building the cricket pavilion, floodlighting the school buildings, financing sound systems, providing sports kits for various teams and by using our membership network to place a massive range of skills at the School's disposal.

We achieve our second objective by publishing our magazine The Almondburian to our membership three times a year and through this comprehensive website. There is also our main social event of the year the Annual Dinner, usually attended by 100-200 guests from all over the world, which gives people a chance to reminisce amongst their contemporaries. We also organise a popular annual Quiz, and there are occasional outings to places of interest. Membership ranges from those who joined the School in 1920 to those who left last summer.

To join the Old Almondburians' Society online or by post, click here.

Click here to view the Old Almondburians' Society Rules.

Last updated: 6th June 2021.  Webmaster: Roger Dowling
© The Old Almondburians' Society 2021  
A short history of King James’s Grammar School and KingJames’s School

There has been a school in Almondbury since 1547, the date on which it is recorded in Mr John Kay ’s ‘Commonplace Book’ that the family ‘dyd translate [the former chapel] into the Schole howsse that now is . . . and dyd p ’cure one Mr Smyth a good scolar to com and teach Here.’ Subsequently, to safeguard its future, a party went off to London and, in 1608, obtained an official Charter from James I.

The charter actually disappeared for many years and was thought lost for ever. Only a chance school visit to an exhibition in Leeds in 1952 led to it being reunited with the school.

In the past 400 years, the school has suffered many vicissitudes and has nearly become extinct on many occasions. It has also featured in some unusual episodes. Rev Francis Marshall, who was headmaster from 1878-1895, was a fanatic rugby union fan who made such a nuisance of himself in opposing the professionalisation of the game that his frustrated opponents set up the 'new' game of Rugby League in the George Hotel in Huddersfield.

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A boading school until 1922, the school then passed into the stewardship of Huddersfield Corporation. Unfortunately, the Corporation failed to take proper charge of the many ancient financial endowments received by the school over the centuries, leading to a court case and an out-of-court settlement (recorded extensively by the press at the time) reached in the George Hotel (again!) of many hundreds of thousands of pounds. The school trust still owns extensive properties locally which provide the school was a handsome private annual income.

Margaret Thatcher became personally involved in the school as Secretary of State for Education when there were plans to convert it into a sixth form college in the 1970s. Harold Wilson always wanted to go to the school but didn't quite make the grade and ended up at Royds Hall Grammar School.

After a brief spell as a Sixth Form Collge, the school became became a co-educational comprehensive in 1976, initially for the age group 13-18. Today it is a coeducational 11-16 comprehensive with over 1,000 pupils. Its success is such that it is invariably the most over-subscribed school in Huddersfield.

Eminent names from the school's history include the four minute miler Derek Ibbotson, the footballer and singer Jeff Taylor, Gorden Kaye from 'Allo, 'Allo, Stephen Coward who was involved as QC in the Soham murder trial, and Ryan Sidebottom the England cricketer.

A Dinner is held each November to commemorate the granting of the charter, followed by an annual Founders ’ Day service at Almondbury Parish Church.

There are two school histories, both of which can be purchased online:

The Charter

'The original Letters Patent of King James do not exist,' reported a gloomy Taylor Dyson in his scholarly 1926 book Almondbury and its Ancient School. But he was wrong. In May 1952, thanks to a chance visit to an exhibition by a School party led by Fred Hudson, they were found to be in the safe keeping of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in Leeds. They were subsequently displayed, on loan from the Society, in a purpose-built cabinet in the School library.

The parchment measures some 91 cm by 76 cm (36" by 30") and carries, in the left hand corner, an illuminated letter 'J' framing a representation of James I bearing an orb and sceptre. Along the top margin and down the right are representations of the royal coat of arms, supported by lions, unicorns, the fleur de lys, roses of York and Lancaster, thistle, harp and standards of St George and St Andrew.

Down the left hand margin are the coats of arms of the School's six 'first governors': Robert Kay of Woodsome; William Ramsden of Longley; George Crosland, vicar of the parish church of Almondbury; Nicholas Fenay of Fenay; Richard Appleyard of Over Longley; and Robert Nettleton of Almondbury.

The Letters Patent are dated 'the 24th day of November in the 6th year of the reign of his then Majesty of England, France and Ireland and 42nd of Scotland.' James I of England came to the throne in March 1603, and a simple calculation confirms that he therefore started the sixth year of his reign in 1608. How Taylor Dyson, in common with generations of other historians, accepted the old erroneous date of 1609 has never been satisfactorily explained.
The six pupils who rediscovered the Charter in 1952 (left to right):
Michael Fawcett; David Anderson; Tommy Blackburn; John Earnshaw; Allan Dobson; Alan Sykes