QUEEN Elizabeth’s Grammar School is a very different place today to what was described by John Mead’s victims in court.

At the time corporal punishment was legal in schools and pupils across East Lancashire were regularly punished by teachers.

One of the men, speaking after the verdicts, told the Lancashire Telegraph discipline at the time was extremely strict and corporal punishment was frequent.

And failure to fit into one of the school’s cliques would mean a lonely time for many pupils.

He said: “The mechanics of the school were such that there was no way I could mention this abuse to any of my contemporaries.

“It was brutal. It was a regime.

“The teachers were old school. They used to deal out quite severe punishments, physical punishments.

“If you got into trouble, you had to go and see the discipline master. He had a little office and you would go in there and on the wall were straps and slippers and rulers. He would say ‘take your pick, which one do you want?’ “It was physically brutal.

“QEGS was cliquey. You either fitted in or you did not.”

At the time, the Blackburn school was an all boys private school, which had a junior and senior section.

It is believed to have been founded in 1509 next to Blackburn Parish Church. Former notable pupils include the inventor Brian Mercer and fashion designer Wayne Hemingway.

In 1976 girls were allowed to join the sixth form for the first time.

It is set to become a free school from September, with pupils no longer charged £10,000 per annum to attend.

A free school a is non-profit-making, independent, state-funded school which is subject to the same Ofsted inspections as all local authority schools.