The original school building dates from Victorian times (around 1850) and was one of several poor houses built around the rapidly developing port of Liverpool. At that time many of the city's residents lived in abject poverty, so these houses were seen as something of a refuge.
The building became a workhouse in the early part of the 20th Century before being developed into an orphanage and school some years later. Re-named St Catherine's – Leyfield School and run by the Sisters of Charity, the school offered domiciliary boarding to some of the poorer children.
In May 1941 Liverpool was subjected to aerial bombardment during World War Two. The city centre was the primary target, however, the suburbs were not immune and some of the enemy bombs landed in the school yard (close to where the Lifestyles Gym is now). Mercifully there were no injuries, however a corner of the building was badly damaged and had to be demolished and rebuilt at a later date.
For children who attended the school in the 1940s and 1950s, this part of the yard was known as the "Blitz Wall".
Leyfield House was the residence of the Headmistress, Sister Augustine, for a time and it was converted in the 1940s to an infirmary as part of the war effort.
In addition to the day and boarded children, the school hosted a number of Hungarian refugees who had fled the unrest in their homeland in the 1950s.
In 1958 the school was renamed Cardinal Allen and in 1983 became Cardinal Heenan, named after John Carmel Heenan (born 1905, died 1975). He was appointed Archbishop of Liverpool in 1957 and created Cardinal in 1965.
Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School was almost totally rebuilt in 2011 as part of the government's BSF programme, construction works completed in early 2013 marking the start of a new chapter in the school's long and rich history.
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