​​​​​​​​Kathleen Chevassut | Edith Alice Cunliffe | Alice (Daisy) and Sarah Garstang | Marjorie Mayall Taylor 
Audrey Grey (Eyton)​ | Marlene Rishton (Devine) | Alice May Jennings

Kathleen Chevassut​

​Kathleen was born on the 17th May, 1897, in Langho, Billington where her father was the vicar of St. Leonards. By 1911, the family had moved to St. Thomas's in Blackburn where Kathleen attended the Girl's High School and her two older brothers were students - one being a medical student. 

Kathleen was obviously a clever girl who by 1921 had passed the second M.B. of London University and also obtained a degree - BSc with second class honours (Physiology) at London University. She was working towards the final M.B. and training at Westminster Hospital but did not qualify as a physician choosing instead to go into medical research. In 1927, she was awarded the Thomas Smyth Hughes prize and worked under the direction of Dr. Braxton Hicks in the John Burford Cahill pathological laboratory at Westminster Hospital. She published an article in a medical journal entitled "Glycolysis in cerebro spinal fluid and its clinical significance". 

In 1928, Kathleen was working for the Medical Research Council (Privy Council) at Westminster Hospital. She had discovered a new organism and worked for the MRC (Privy Council) on the causation and treatment of Diseminated Sclerosis having been awarded the John Burford Cahill Endowmnet Grant (1928) by Westminster Hospital and Medical School and the Thomas Smyth Medical Research Grant from London University. Then her research funder required her to be medically qualified but the Westminster Hospital Medical School had just barred women, yet again. (Women had first been admitted during the Great War due to the shortage of men.)

Kathleen was asked to develop a vaccine by her consultant supervisor who sold it to his private patients and, against her wishes, he published her research results. The research was subsequently roundly disproved and she was publicly discredited and desparaged as an "unqualified and feminine girl".  Her supervisor resigned and Kathleen disappeared from the medical world.

In 1946, Kathleen lived with her mother in Bedfordshire and her mother died the following year. Kathleen died in 1983 in Swale, Kent.

The above information has been compiled by Community History Volunter, Janet Burke, from Ancestry, the High School Old Girls Newsletters of 1921,1923,1927 and 1929 as well as from from the internet particularly www/cwplus.org.uk 

Edith Alice Cunliffe​

Edith was born on the 12th of March,1904 to Riley and Isabelle. At that time they lived at number 37, Eanam, Blackburn and Edith's father was described as a medical practitioner and surgeon. According to the 1881 census, at the age of fifteen, Riley was apprenticed to a William Derham, a general practitioner and member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of 241, Garstang Road, Preston. Edith followed in her father's footsteps and was accepted by Aberdeen University to study medicine - it is possible she chose Aberdeen because it ws the birthplace of her mother.

In 1928, Edith passed the "Materia Medica" and the second professional medical examination. She gained a MB Ch.B and returned to Blackburn where she joined her father in practising medicine at 265, Preston New Road, Edith was appointed as Divisional Surgeon to the Nursing Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade.

Edith never married and died at the age of fifty three whilst in Blackpool.

The above information is from Ancestry and the High School Old Girls newsletter of 1929 and was compiled by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer.

Two sisters of the eminent archaeologist John Garstang attended Blackburn High School and wrote several articles in the old newsletters.

Alice, known as Daisy, was born in 1872 and became a nurse. In 1906, she was working in Egypt as one of the nine or ten "sisters" appointed to the Native Government Hospital. This was a large institution of five hundred beds and the building had formerly been a palace which was adapted during the French occupation. Her brother John was also in Egypt at that time and Daisy writes about a visit she made to his excavations at Beni-Hasan. She travelled by donkey to the River Nile, then, with the donkeys, the following morning, sailed to a point where her brother's workers met her and guided her to the site. Daisy wrote about the experience of living in the desert in tombs. On leaving Egypt, in 1908, Daisy went to Cannes and Singapore before reaching Rangoon in Burma. The temperature in Burma ranged from 86 up to 100 degrees but she felt the humid heat suited her better than the dry heat of Egypt even though at the hottest time she sometimes had to change clothes four times in the day. At that time, Daisy had been the only girl from the High School to take up nursing as a profession but after the war she became Welfare Superintendent in an Army Pay office at the War Office, and, in 1921, took up an appointment with the Child Welfare Association in Serbia for one year.

Sarah Gamzu Garstang was six years younger than Daisy and first wrote about the Roman fort at Brough which her brother had excavated. She gained an exhibition for history at Somerville College Oxford. It is possible that Sarah's father, as a result of his learning Hebrew, gave Sarah the Hebrew name of Gamzu which she chose to use. She married in 1904, aged, twenty five and spent several years with her husband Robert Gurney travelling in Africa, Egypt and Europe. They lived in Norfolk and in 1918 she set up a small hospital at her home taking in forty wounded soldiers.

The above information has been taken from the High School Old Girls Newsletters dated January 1904, 1906, 1908, November 1908,1909, February 1918 and the year 1921.

Written and compiled by Community History Volunteer, Janet Burke, August 2021.

​Select the following link in order to read Janet's article on John Garstang​

Marjorie Mayall Taylor ​​

Marjorie was born on the 23rd. of May 1912 and after leaving school embarked on a stage career. In 1933 she played the juvenile lead in a play at the Shaftesbury Theatre and had several parts in dramas broadcast by the BBC. Marjorie played the female lead in several Tod Slaughter films of the 1930's filmed at Shepperton Studios - these included The Crimes of Stephen Hawke, The Ticket of Leave Man and Its never to late to mend. 

In 1939 she was living at Queensborough Terrace. Paddington, London and in September of that year she married John H. Stilwell and they had two sons born in 1943 and 1946.  Marjorie died on the 11th. of May 1974 aged sixty one and at probate the proceeds were £20,147 and her last address was The Manor, Appledram Lane Chichester.

The above information is from the Old Girls Newsletters of 1933, 39, 43 and 44, Ancestry and Wikepedia and was compiled by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer.​

Audrey Grey (Eyton)​

Audrey was the daughter of Evelyn and Melville who in 1939 lived at 44, Parsonage Road on the outskirts of Blackburn. She was born on the 11th. of January 1936 and in her early years developed a passion for animals. Audrey attended the High School and on leaving at the age of sixteen she became a junior reporter for the Accrington Observer earning £1.10s. a week. Three years later she joined the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and at the age of nineteen  moved to London to work for Woman Magazine rising to the position of Beauty Editor. In 1957 Audrey married Thomas R. Eyton in Darwen and together they co-founded Slimming Magazine in 1969  - this was the first magazine devoted to just slimming. Ragdale Hall a luxury health farm was also the brainchild of Audrey and Tom along with a chain of slimming clubs. They sold the business in 1980 and in 1982 Audrey wrote the famous F-Plan Diet which promoted a high fibre diet. This became a best seller and had sold over three million copies by 1985. It was widely promoted by the media and caused an increase in sales of bran based cereals, whole wheat bread and pasta and baked beans. The diet was low fat but not vegetarian and attracted criticism by medical experts both for and against. 

Audrey had two sons, one who died shortly after birth and Matthew who tragically committed suicide in 1991. Audrey set up the Matthew Eyton Animal Welfare Trust and raised over the years more than £250,000. She made a plea to end factory farm practices in her book "The Kind Food Guide" and presented a "Slim and Shine" slot on BBC Breakfast Time television. Audrey also took part in Animal Welfare Demonstrations and raised several rescue pigs at her home near Canterbury - she was a trustee of Compassion in World Farming. In 2006 Audrey published the F2 Diet which was a faster more effective version of the F-Plan.
Audrey later developed Parkinsons desease and died on the 30th. of January 2019 aged eighty two.

The above information is from Wikipedia, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph dated 2nd April 1982, Ancestry and the High School Old Girls Newsletter of 1957. and was compiled by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer.

Marlene Rishton (Devine)​

Marlene was born in 1935 when the family lived on Walter Street. They later moved to Livingstone Road and Marlene attended Wensley Fold Primary School where she was first introduced to netball and tennis. She appeared at Junior Wimbledon and represented Lancashire in competitions - she used to practice against the wall at age ten and eleven. Marlene then attended the High School and the courts and playing fields were somewhat spread around the town - Witton Park for athletics, Corporation Park for tennis and Blakey Moor for hockey. She played badminton at a hall in Ribchester and a church hall at Lower Darwen but competitive games were played at Canterbury Barracks where the ceiling was high enough. Marlene travelled to Lytham to practice for the county team. She became captain of Lancashire netball team and represented England for the four years between 1959 and 1963 before her son Mark was born. Marlene had married Stanley Devine in October 1957. The highlight for her was playing against Scotland at Wembley with 10,000 screaming school children watching. There were matches against Australia and South Africa but Marlene had to miss these as she couldn't afford to travel at that time. Marlene was chosen as Blackburn's first ever sports personality in 1969. Having developed tennis elbow Marlene took up bowls and then when the town, (one of the first), opened squash facilities she played until her late thirties even making the East Lancashire team at thirty eight. Marlene finally took up golf which she played several times a week.

Marlene's career had started at Moorlands School Clitheroe from where she was accepted for the full three year course at Liverpool Physical Training College. She then taught at Haslingden High School before going to St. Wilfrids, Blackburn where she stayed for twenty five years. The headmaster supported music and PE which put the school on the map and they won most sports competitions, had successful swimmers and in 1969 won the All England Netball Championships. Marlene turned eighty in 2015 and still lives on Assheton Road, Blackburn.

The above information is from the High School Old girls Newsletters of 1953 and 1960 and the articles in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph dated the 9th April and the 20th May 2015. Compiled by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer.

Alice May Jennings​

May was born on the 12th. of May 1909 to Robert, a photographer and Lavinia who in 1911 lived at 92, Whalley New Road together with her younger sister Irene Eleanor. In 1931 May's home address was 59, Penny Street and in 1934 228, Brownhill Drive.

In 1931 May graduated from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and gained a class II of the Final Honour School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Modern Greats), narrowly missing a first class. She went to London and took the Civil Service examination for the Inspector of Taxes and Third Class Officers in the Ministry of Labour. Out of five hundred candidates May was placed first on the list and became the first woman to win this position in a difficult examination. She chose to work in the Ministry of Labour, first in London then in Birmingham for initiation and instruction. May wrote of her first days at Whitehall where she met all the high officials of the Ministry of Labour and then at the divisional office in Birmingham learning about the variety of occupations, the working of Exchanges and becoming acquainted with Training Centres for both men and women. A further honour she gained was the Maude Royden Research Scholarship which was given to the student who offered the best plan for research into any particular set of industrial conditions abroad. May offered to try to estimate the effects of the German Ministry of Labour on the trade position and compare it with the British Ministry. Having succeeded in this comparison May was to visit Germany at Easter. In 1938 May was promoted to Principal Officer of the Unemployment Insurance Division of the Ministry of Labour. 

May married Arnold Reisner in February 1938, he was also an honours graduate, and had become a mechanical engineer. They lived at 47, Aberdare Gardens, Hampstead along with her parents. In 1949 May retired from the Ministry of Labour as she found it too difficult to travel daily from the farm where they now lived, to London and also to bring up her two children. However early in 1957 she was appointed in charge of the Employment Branch of the British Council for Aid to Refugees dealing at that time with finding jobs for Hungarian refugees and she also sat on various Civil Service Commission Boards to recruit civil servants at various levels. 

Arnold died on the 26th. of February 1991 aged ninety his address then being Highview House in Suffolk and at probate the proceeds were £360,076. May died on the 28th. of December 2007 aged ninety eight.

The above information is from the Old Girls Newsletters of 1931, 1937/8 and 1949 and Ancestry and was compiled by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer.