St Peter & Paul's Infant School, Rishton.

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The Beginning

School Street building date stone.

During 1881 a new committee was formed to raise funds for the church and a new infant school. The members of this committee were;

  • Rev A. S. Prior B. D. vicar

  • W. W. Jones (Curate)

  • Dr Barr

  • C. Parker

  • R. Grimshaw

  • J. Pickup

  • J. Slater

  • J. Heys (treasurer)

  • John Whittaker (Secretary)

  • Wm. E. Eccles

  • James Whitaker

  • James Hanson.

They were immediately successful, as in 1881 the infant section of the school left the premises of Harwood Road school. They had a brand new building on the corner of Commercial Street and School Street (were I attended). According to the school log files of the time the Infant school was opened in 1883, at a cost of £1,300. This was £300.00 less that it had cost to build the Junior school on Harwood Road some 20 years earlier!

The Corner stone was laid for Saint Peters & Saint Paul's school on 4th August, 1883, and opened 12 months later.

This building is still standing, although no longer used as a school. Saint Peters and Saint Paul’s Infant School was first located on Commercial Street, and ran down School Street.

The first headmistress to the school was Miss Tabitha Jane Thomas, who stayed in the position for 12 months when she was replaced by Miss Bessie Grimshaw (1884). Both of these ladies had been taught by Mr Holden at the Harwood Road school.

School Street building in 1990

Throughout the 1880’s epidemics reduced both pupils and teachers alike, one recorded outbreak in 1884 mentions an outbreak of English cholera, and scarlet fever often reared its ugly head.

1891 saw Miss Amelia Tasker take charge of the school on October 19th. She remained at the school for 12 years.

1893 saw the school close for the day on the 6th July. This was for the royal wedding of the time, some of the children were on even longer holidays as the workers went on strike for 15 weeks. The school fees couldn’t be paid and sickness was rife at this time.

The 1900’s

Foundation Stone in May 2001.

There was a good start to the 1900’s with the attendance in the Infant school as high as 200 in 1901, it may be worth noting here that Queen Victoria died on the 22nd January and a holiday was given at the school.

On the 1st October 1903 both schools passed to the control of the County Council, and 6 months later school fees were abolished.

In February 1903 Miss Caroline Hally took over the headmistress. She stayed with the school for 2 years before being replaced by Miss A. L. Gossling, who remained in control of the school until at least the end of the 1920’s.

Mrs. Sharp, pictured here, we believe, in the 1920's.

On October the 3rd 1910 Mrs. Sharp was appointed the head teacher of the infant school, a Rishton lady herself, who resided on Woodside Avenue (16), which is just opposite the Esplanade. Mrs. Sharp was head mistress for 19 years, until Miss Grimshaw took over the reigns. This was on the 12th August 1929, and again she was a local lady, who lived on George Street (10).

Miss Grimshaw was to rule the school for over the 40 years……. (more later). Another memorable mention should go to Mrs Horrocks, who was appointed Deputy head mistress on January 8th 1934.

The Play Ground entrance was situated on School Street, and was surrounded with a high wire fence to stop the balls from going over (It didn’t work!). This wire fence was first erected on the 1st November 1967. The main entrance to the school though was located on Commercial Street. This is a picture of the wall plate above the main entrance door.

Half a pint of milk in a proper half pint bottle was supplied to the children at break times, along with the customary straw! The milk was untreated, and fresh from the cow, something that is hard to buy now, but is still available from Holt Farm, home of the Threlfall's.

The school also had dental inspections at the start of every school year (usually August). The clinic dentist would attend the school and check all the children's teeth. As I recall, I don’t think a single child enjoyed this visit!

The school remained here until 1970, when the new school was built on Arundel Street. The new school incorporated both the infant school and the junior school in one building and is still in use today.


Here's a photo looking down School Street, across Commercial Street at the School Building.

You can just make out the wire fence behind the van in the photo.

The building is now used by Edgar Howarth’s Furniture shop, which is just round the corner on High Street.

On November the 19th 1947 a party was held in the infant school to celebrate the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten. The royal couple were married the next day….. Another unexpected holiday was granted the following year. George Thomlinson, a former Rishtoner himself, and then Minister of Education, granted all schools a national holiday on April the 26th for the silver Wedding Anniversary of King George VI. Unfortunately on the children’s return the school saw an outbreak of mumps which was to last for the next 2 months.

The following school year then followed this with an outbreak of the measles during November and the December of 1948. This saw attendances during the month fall first to 86 the first week, 63, then down to just 44 pupils. During this same month the infant school was given a days holiday for the birth of Princess Elizabeth’s 1st son, on the 25th, even though the child was born on the 14th. The child was later named Charles Philip Arthur George.

On the 1st September 1949 Miss Mary Burns started her teaching duties at the Infant school, she was originally in charge of class 3, which was the under 5 year olds.

At the same time Mrs Haworth was appointed as a temporary assistant to class 1 which had moved to the junior school on Harwood Road. There was a total of 132 children in the school at this time.

Mrs. E. E. Sharp, pictured here we believe in the 1920's.

During the start of the school term in August 1949, Billy Belisha was introduced to the children by the police as part of their annually visit to the school. On the 31st of the month, Mrs E. E. Sharp tendered her resignation from the school. She was just 2 months short of having been with the school for 39 years.

1950 saw Mrs Haworth gain a permanent position at the school, teaching class 1 pupils, meanwhile during March another outbreak of chicken pox and flu decimates the number of pupils attending class. Most children spend a very poorly Easter break recovering.

The new school term resumes during August with a total of 136 pupils present, but yet again this total is decimated during September when pupils to the school are off sick with flu due to the boiler being broken. December doesn’t get much better as whooping cough hits the entire village.

By the 19th of January 1951 only half the school is turning up. Out of a possible 136, 65 are in school, while the rest are off with influenza. February and March saw many of the teaching staff and Mr. Holden the caretaker, following the children with flu. By June it was all too much, and a new boiler was fitted in the school. The children also gained a bonus day off for the Festival of Britain on the 1st of June. 1951 was a busy year all round. During October the school was used for the first time on record as a voting station, and also during the August the Scholastic Society came into the school for the first time to take photos of the pupils.

Children at work in the old school building

1952 was totally different in contrast. February saw an outbreak of flu and chickenpox dropping attendance numbers from 136 to 110. This was also the month that King George VI was buried at Windsor. A 2 minute silence was observed throughout the school.

The new school year saw 137 children enrolled on the school register.  By the 19th of September this number was reduced to 109 as measles once again tore through the town.

During 1953 the Children were given a 3 day holiday, over the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of June. This was of course, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd.

February 1954 saw the number of children in school reduced to 77 out of the 137 registered, almost half the children missing due to yet another outbreak of Chicken Pox. At the start of the new school year in August school photos were taken of each pupil for the first time. Part of the school gets realtered over the September holidays, while during November things go from bad to worst as the number of children is reduced to 93 through flu.

1955 saw a little improvement as the children travelled to Blackburn on a “Special Ribble Coach” to see the Queen on April 14th. August saw a reshuffle of the classrooms, as class 4 is scrapped and class 1 returns from the junior school. The school ends up with a total of 109 after the January break. Also in January 1956 the children were supplied with dental cards after the school clinic visited. March saw the flu strike again reducing the school to just 77 pupils, and the year ended in December with Mrs Grimshaw breaking her leg in 3 places and being absent from school for 6 weeks.

Inside School Street building during 2000.

The September of 1957 saw the flu bug arrive early. The pupils dropped to just 63.

On January 4th 1960 when the school reopened after the winter break, 24 pupils were absent with mumps. Meanwhile in May (6th) the school is closed for the day while Princess Margaret marries Anthony Armstrong James. The start of the new term in August sees the absence of Mrs Ward. Her husband who was also a teacher had obtained a headship in Rutland, so the couple were leaving town. Mrs. J. Shackleton is employed as her replacement in class 3, and a total of only 80 children are on the school roll.

During February 1961 only 42 pupils turn up for school after Chicken Pox breaks out in the village.

School Class
Vivian Downings class in 1953, and is interesting because it shows the interior of the infant school. You can see the thick central heating pipes which we used to put the milk bottles on to thaw them out, and also the plasticene to try and soften it - it usually ended up stuck to the pipes. (Picture supplied by Vivian Downing (Nee Harrison)).

All is not lost though as on the 4th March 1961 the new junior schooll opens on Arundel Street. The current junior school on Harwood Road is to close on the 24th, which is the start of the Easter holidays. 11 infant school children are transferred to the new junior school after the break.

By January 1962 a total of 94 children are on the school roll. During February small pox vaccinations are carried out after outbreak in the village.

The new school term brought new hopes. November 9th  saw work start on renovations. New windows were fitted and new hot taps fitted in the teachers’ washroom. The walls too the rear of the school were cemented, and the front and side walls were repointed, but bronchitis and coughs keep many children away and the numbers are reduced to 67. The plague continued into December with measles taking over from the coughs.

15th January 1953 saw Mrs Eccles start work at the school. She was a former pupil at the school and was well known by Mrs Grimshaw the headmistress, who had also taught her two children. She started as being cover for one of the teachers off absent. The measles was still decimating numbers in the school.

1963 saw even more improvements in the school. A new telephone was fitted in class 1, and new cisterns are fitted in the toilets and 4 new doors fitted to the cubicles. A repaint is also carried out. April of this year saw a few new pupils arrive boosting numbers back over the hundred mark, 102 in total. Unfortunately Jaundice strikes the school and by June the numbers have dropped to 81. A survey at this time reveals that of the 102 children attending the infant school only 33 of these attend Sunday school. During the summer holidays the boys toilets get converted to flush type. The headmistress, Mrs. Grimshaw is quoted as saying she “is so happy about this change”. School numbers are down this term with only 87 children attending the school. October 30th saw Mrs. Lambert appointed as new assistant teacher to replace Mrs. Shackleton who was leaving at Christmas for maternity. Her baby was due in march.

Showing the old school cupboards

By the end of the school year in July 1964 an excellent attendance level was achieved, this was mainly due to no epidemics having broken out during the school year, and was also the year that I was born at 58 Hermitage Street.

On October 16th the school was closed for local elections. A strong labour majority was voted into government. On return to school a measles epidemic breaks out and the pupils are reduced to 68. On November 5th the children were treated to a bonfire party with fireworks and treacle toffee. On the next day class 3 is reduced to 7 pupils and the total number drops to 48 due to the continuing measles epidemic. This is the lowest number of pupils recorded in the school.

January 1965 saw 15 new pupils admitted to class 3 bringing the total number to 101. On the 15th bad weather reduces this number to 73 as people are snowed in to their homes.

On June 22nd the children get an extra day off as people celebrate the “Great Charter” as given by King John. The Magna Carta was 750 years old on this day.

During September 1965 in the new school year only 69 pupils attend due to outbreaks of Polio, Scarlet fever, and the Chicken Pox. This is followed up in November with the managers requesting that no pupils are admitted to the school, the school was bursting at the seams with children at the time.

January 1966 saw a couple of transfers to the juniors take place to allow for a couple of new pupils. On the 24th the boiler was starting to smell, so a new door, thermostat, and smoke pipe was fitted.

In March Mrs. Grimshaw tendered her resignation for the end of the school term. She had been headmistress at the infant school for over 30 years and had taught there for 38 years. She gives a small leaving party to her class on the 1st July. In the meantime Mumps reduces the pupils to only 73 during May. On June 24th Miss Burns is appointed new headmistress. Mrs Grimshaw said “Miss Burns will be successful, I know because the children love her very much.”

August saw the start of the new school year with 96 children being registered with the infant school. Mrs. Grimshaw has now resigned and Miss Burns taken her place. Miss Woodcock is appointed on the 17th to replace Miss Burns. At the end of the month the joiners come in from Birtwhistle's at Great Harwood to round off all the sharp corners on the teachers table.

A great Tragedy befell the Country on the 21st October. 116 children were killed out of 144 people in the Aberfan disaster. The children from the school collected money and sent a new toy to the new school on the 28th.

1967 saw the Centenary of Peters and Paul's Day Schools. A Church service was held to celebrate this. November 21st of this year saw a new kitchen fitted at the school. Stainless steel sinks and work surfaces were put in place.

December once again saw attendances drop to 59 due to colds and sickness. This was out of a total of 91 pupils that were registered at the school. The turn of the year was to prove very eventful. More children were admitted in January bringing the total to 106, and on the 22nd interschool relations were shown for the first time. The infants visited the Methodists school for a visit to the Tufty Club mobile vehicle, and at the end of the month 42 new chairs arrived for class 1. Then disaster! Cracks are found in the wall to the school, Mr Ford the building inspector is called in to investigate. On April 30th further investigations are carried out by Mr Mathews the diocesan architect and 2 area managers.

May 16th. Miss Burns writes ”This was a day for all to remember. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II drove through Rishton in the afternoon. The children had balloons and flags and lined the streets to welcome her”

Then to top this on May 31st the road safety mobile unit in connection with the Tufty club parked on roebuck car park. Children from school were invited. This was only a 2 second walk for the children as the car park was round the corner on High Street. The year just got better and better, on the 18th June 73 children went on a day trip to Blackpool circus, this was to become an annual event. The school was also supplied with a new Banda Duplicator at the end of June. This was described as being a really useful piece of machinery.

By the turn of 1969 there were a total of 105 children in school but disaster was waiting round the corner. On the 20th of January the cracks in the school building were inspected again, and a new crack was found. Meanwhile on the 5th February 18 new tables were delivered to the school, while the caretaker struggle to remove a large stone which was blocking the boys toilets. Because of this stone a new manhole cover was built on the 5th March. More children were admitted to the school after the Easter break taking the total to 112 and Miss Woodcock married to become Mrs Martell. On the 18th April chicken pox struck again reducing the pupils to a mere 84. At the end of the year the children were taken to Chester Zoo for a day out. October saw a new boiler fitted to the school, with a fuel tank. This would mean no more coke deliveries!!

On the 24th March Northcliffe specialist school was opened, and Miss Burns attended the ceremony. By the end of the school year a mumps epidemic had struck the town and only 74 attended classes.

At the end of 1970, some 2 years after cracks were first found in the school walls, a decision was made to put glass strips over them to enable further monitoring. Another 12 months go by to November 1971 and a decision is finally reached by the school managers to look for alternative premises. Mr Baker, architect for Bradlet, Cuthbert and Towell in attendance with Miss Burns.

During the following year (1972) a new gas meter is fitted in the school during June 16th onwards, in readiness for North Sea Gas arriving in the village. During October the old wall bar electric heaters are converted to work off this new North Sea Gas. November sees the school having an extra day off for the celebration of the Silver Wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on the 20th.

In 1973 a new extension was completed to the Arundel Street School, and the infant school joined the site on the 24th September. The new infant school was officially opened by the Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Reverend Robert A. S. Martineauth on the 28th. As mentioned earlier the old Infant school is still intact.

Also In 1973 the school entered a float in the carnival for the first time, the theme of the float was the pied pier, and won first prize for best dressed float. The school entered for a second time in the following year and won again! This time they dressed as Noah’s Ark.

The new school came with plenty of teething problems, by the 6th November the school had to close due to a faulty boiler, then an unexpected day off was granted for all when Princess Anne married Captain Mark Philips on November 14th. By December the 7th more minor repairs were needed and traces of mice had been found around the school. Cort's the builders were also called back to the school on 7th June 1974 after the roof started leaking and 2 of the windows on the west side of the building.

The School as it stands in 2001.

The tree to the right of the picture was planted on 22nd November 1973. The class that I attended at the time trundled outside with shovels and dug the hole, and planted the tree. I don’t recall any purpose to this exercise, except perhaps there was a shortage of trees, and we were helping the environment. Our form teacher at this time was Mr. Pickup, and the school head mistress was Miss Burns. I have since been told that every class every year has planted a tree somewhere in the school grounds. Perhaps I should feel honoured that our classes was on the front lawn!

During 1974 (1st May) the first ever joint staff meeting took place between the Junior and Infant school teachers. Much was discussed! Including the formation of the new Lancashire County Council which had placed the school in district 11 during its formation in April 1974.

School Sign

On May the 8th 1974 a concert was performed by the Infant school, such was the success of this concert that another date had to be added the following week on the 15th. All the proceeds from these concerts went to help pay the costs of the new school and raised the grand total of £80.00.

School Memories

(supplied by Jane Hogg via Email)

Outside loos frozen over in winter

Excellent sweets (midget gems) from Miss Grimshaw if you got your spellings right - I still call them that today.

Having a sleep after dinner in the baby class

Cocoa in winter

blowing your nose on a clean hanky after assembly - why I can't remember

The wooden slide with splinters in it

Learning to do joined up writing with pens and inkpots

Miss Burns bringing orphaned lambs into school

Everybody having to bring a firework to school for bonfire night

Wakes week = people selling newspapers by the toilets on the corner of Harwood road and no shops open,

School Memories 2

Supplied by Maggie Borg (via email)

Memories of the old St Peters and Paul's infant school.

I am grand daughter of one of the headmistresses, Mrs Lizzy Sharp.

I remember being caught in the toilet in the mid 60's (possibly 66 or 65), when there was an eclipse and we were plunged into total darkness.

I remember getting a sixpence in Miss Burns's class for being milk monitor and going to the Offy (Bloomers I think it was on the High Street where the library is now) for the excellent toffees that Jane refers to. No such things as cars to worry about then!!

I remember the pictures on the coat hooks as you went in, and mine was an aeroplane. How I remember hating it thinking it was a boys hook.

I remember the shelter in the play ground where we all used to take off our wellies etc in the morning. It snowed deep in those days, or was it because we were shorter?

I too remember the slide only because I have a strong memory at the age of 4 of climbing up to the top and breaking wind!!! Why do these things stick in ones mind? 

Whilst a lot of things have changed in Rishton, some for the better and some definitely not for the better, there are still a lot of "Rishtoners" out there who should all contribute their memories whilst they still have them!!!

Maggie Borg.

Class of 1900SS Peter and Paul 1900 class photo.
Class of 1935SS Peter and Paul 1935 class photo.
Class of 1951SS Peter and Paul 1951 class photo.
Class of 1952SS Peter and Paul 1952 class photo.
Snow WhiteSS Peter and Paul Snow White pantomine photo.


School Log Book

David Hill.

A Chronology of Accrington and Men of Mark, by R. S. Crossley, Published 1924.

Inside School Street photographs courtesy of Gordon Hartley