The origins of the Firs School go back to 1945. Mrs Florence Longman, a New Zealander, had been coaching children for entrance into local secondary schools – both independent and grammar and was persuaded to take on one child full time. At that point the school was a small room in 15 Abbey Street, opposite the cathedral.
Gradually the numbers grew to about ten children and the school moved around several locations in Chester. In 1950 Mrs Longman was renting disused Army Married Quarters on the Firs estate, off Wealstone Lane, and was in a position to take on additional staff.
The school continued to grow over the next twelve years eventually necessitating a move into larger premises directly adjacent to the present school. It continued to grow to about 80 children and during this period its reputation for providing a sound academic education was firmly established. Unfortunately the buildings were temporary and rapidly deteriorating while next door, the current site of the Firs School, there was a small secondary school which was about to close. The owner looked over the wall to a thriving school in less than adequate buildings and offered to sell his property to Mrs Longman. So in 1962, carrying with it the name of the Firs plus all the paraphernalia of a flourishing primary school, the Firs crossed the wall to its present site. Within a fortnight of the move the old school buildings had been burnt to the ground. It seemed as if the Firs had been miraculously preserved.
In its new surroundings the school was able to grow in numbers and reputation. Mrs Longman lived on the site and developed the facilities by adding two blocks of mobile classrooms. Her son, the Reverend Ted Longman, who had served in parishes in London and St Helens took over the running of the school in 1987 and in 1994 moved to Chester with his wife, Ruth and their family. Mrs Florence Longman died in 1996, the year following the Firs Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Today Ted and Ruth Longman are partners in the business and have continued to develop the school so as to maximise the use of the attractive site. Margaret Denton was appointed in 1998 and in 2000 successfully led the school into membership of the Independent Schools Association. She retired in the summer of 2014 and Mrs Lucy Davies has been appointed as her successor. In 2007 Ted and Ruth’s son Tim and his wife Joanna joined the school as Bursar and senior teacher representing the third generation. The Longmans, together with the Head and senior management team, form an effective partnership, planning for the continuing development of the Firs and seeking to provide every child with the best possible education. Currently there are twelve classes and 190 children in the school.
Ted has written a book about the history of the school, filled with pictures and interesting recollections of the various people and events that made the school what it is today. It is priced at £8 and all proceeds go to The Firs School Bursary Trust fund.
The video below shows Ted Longman explaining the story to new parents in 2007.
This video shows a longer version of the story given by Ted at the occasion of our 50 years at Newton lane celebrations in 2012.