The Parish School

This originally stood in Alder Lane and was opened on June 27, 1887. The building was the gift of the Ainscough family though the ground on which it stood belonged to the Dicconsons of Wrightington, who stipulated that should the site ever cease to be occupied by a school then it must revert to the original holder.

Apart from the traditional schoolhouse it consisted of one large room for all children above the age of seven, and a smaller room adjacent for the infants. Over the years some attempt was made to ensure more distinction of classes by the use of various draperies. A report for 1951 states that the large room also contained dining tables, dining-benches and a hot plate. There were also two small cloakrooms each fitted with a cold water tap.

Miss Alice Urwin who remained until September 1888 was first Head Teacher. Miss Urwin was followed by several others whose stay was very brief. Miss Margaret McManus was appointed in 1891 and remained until retirement in 1920. Their jottings preserve much of the practical and social aspects of those years. “Some children have brought their pinafores and other garments that they may learn the important lesson of mending (1889). All are admitted free. The only books they are expected to buy are an exercise book and a catechism (1891). Some children taken to New Brighton (1892). As a reward for good attendance allowed to look at the Graphic and Illustrated London News (1895). The children asked for a holiday that they might go to see the steeplechase at Wrightington. It was not considered advisable to give it (1902). Slates will be used instead of exercise books when suitable (1903). Meeting in school for purpose of hearing Lord Balcarres explain his policy (1903). Special lecture to boys on evils of smoking (1909). Fr. Brown kindly allowed the use of his Zonophone to which the children listened (1910). Five Belgian refugees given a lesson by H.M. Inspector (1914). Clock left unchanged until school assembled. Every child was present to see 8.30 changed to 9.30 (1916) the first time BST came into operation.

Mrs. Mary Theresa Clarkson was Head Teacher 1920 to 1937 and was succeeded by Mrs. Winifred Tyrer who remained until Christmas 1962. The resources of the building must have been stretched beyond endurance by the arrival of 55 evacuees from Manchester and Salford in 1939.

Miss Monica Poulton arrived as Head Teacher in January 1963 and shortly afterwards it was announced that two acres of land had been purchased for a new school. About that time the Divisional Education Officer was reported as having said that the growing numbers in the parish did not, in his opinion, provide evidence of the need of a new school. A contemporary report by the religious examiner states that it was difficult to decide who were the more fortunate; the children to have such teachers or the teachers to have such children.

In May, 1966, the coping stones on the gable of the building appeared to be out of position and a series of visits by inspectors, architects and builders resulted in the closure of the school and its transfer to temporary premises in St. Joseph’s Hall, Wrightington. All concerned, teachers, pupils, welfare, clerical and meals assistants, cheerfully accepted the inconvenience involved in travel and such restricted working conditions, even remaining behind on Fridays to restore the hall to parochial use for the weekends. Meanwhile, peat was found in the foundations of the old building and after some debate its possibility as a site for a new school was abandoned and temporary classrooms erected. Plans for a new building to be situated on Brandreth Drive appeared in February 1967. This was not ready for occupation by the anticipated date (Summer 1968) and the Head Teacher was faced with the additional problem of finding storage for furniture, which was delivered to time. A room in Lancaster House was made available.

Amid all these privations exams were passed, nature rambles and geographical excursions proceeded, travelling theatricals were presented, films were shown, Harvest Festivals, first Communions and special processions were prepared for, while setbacks and disappointments were accepted with little fuss and much fortitude. Eventually the new school, designed by Weightman and Bullen of Liverpool and built by J. Jarvis & Sons Ltd. of Sale, Cheshire, was blessed by Fr. Perring and occupied on March 11th, 1969. The formal opening by the Abbot of Ampleforth, Right Reverend Dom Basil Hume OSB (who became the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster in 1976) took place after the May Procession on Sunday, May 4th, 1969. Phase two complete with kitchen block followed in 1976 and was blessed by the Right Reverend Ambrose Griffiths, O.S.B., Abbot of Ampleforth (appointed Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle February 1991.)

Miss Monica Poulton retired from being Headteacher in July 1987 after a term of office of twenty-four years. There then followed a succession of Teachers in the 1990s transiting through the School on their way to higher achievements. Miss Poulton was followed by Mr. Eric Fogg in September 1987, who remained with the School until December 1991. Mr. Simon Bramwell became Headteacher after an inter-regnum, in September 1992, leaving in May 1997. Miss Deborah Uriel arrived in May 1997 and left in July 2000. Mrs. Claire Cropper, a former Teacher at the School, assumed the position of Headteacher, after another inter-regnum, in April 2001. She was succeeded by Mrs Claire Griffin, the current Headteacher, in January 2008.

In 1887 the school contained 39 pupils with two teachers; in 1919 there were 57 pupils with two teachers. In 2013-2014 there are 94 pupils with five teachers.

School Web-site: