Saint Peter & Pauls Junior School, Rishton

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The Beginnings

To learn about the junior school, one must first be aware of two things, the first is that The Hermitage is acknowledged as being the oldest school in Rishton, and secondly you must be aware that this is a church school.

Why care about the Hermitage? Well a lot of the children that went to Saint Peters & Paul’s came from the Hermitage School, the original location is very similar to the location of the original as well. The original school also had a picture of the school master of the hermitage hung upon its walls.

The reason for being aware that it was a Church school is so you realise how the school was originally funded. The change in the construction of the County Councils and Urban District Councils reformations in 1974 altered this slightly, but anyway……….

It wasn’t until the 28th January 1867 that the day school was opened on Harwood Road.

The original school building on Harwood Road

Previous education had, as previously stated, been carried out at the hermitage, and also in Great Harwood, up the Butts.

Such was the thirst for knowledge of Rishton people at this time that the Rev. Wm Haslewood had been teaching the scriptures and other subjects, in local cottages, but such was the demand for “a school of our own” that the first educational committee was formed in 1861. Rishton was now growing at an alarming rate with the introduction of the railway, and canal, and the industrial revolution taking full force.

Members of the first committee were;

Rev W Haslewood (Secretary), Christopher parker (Treasurer), Edward Duckworth, John Anderson, James Howarth, Richard Grimshaw, John Duckworth, Thomas Edmondson, William Riley, Joseph Haydock, Laurence Noble, and Dr Pilkington.

Once they had obtained subscriptions, they then purchased land from Mr Petre for 1 1/2d per yard. While they were waiting for the new building to be built, the committee used an old calico warehouse which was once the domicile of Sir Robert Petre and the Sunday school was so successful it attracted 320 scholars with 20 teachers.

The building was built from local sandstone, dug from the quarries, and originally contained 2 rooms, with 2 classrooms, and a house built at either end of the school building, one for the Master, and one for the school Mistress. All this was to be built at a cost of £1,600.

The intended accommodation of the school was 350.

It was on Whit-Monday the 16th of May 1864 that the foundation stone was laid. A vast amount of people turned out to see this, and the population of Rishton at this time was around the 2,000 mark. Not only did the people of Rishton turn out but also many people from the surrounding townships. W. E. Taylor Esq., of Clayton Le Moors who had given much support and encouragement for the town to have a church school, laid the stone.

Mr Taylor was presented with a silver trowel and mallet to lay the stone with, and in his speech that day he voiced with sentiment “that which bringeth good and addeth no sorrow, providing for the rising generations and labouring poor a sound religious education”. Something the school still does this to this day, and it should be noted that schools such as Eton and Harrow were also built for this same reason. Another reason for Rishton to be proud of what it has achieved.

The ceremony was ended with 3 cheers for Mr Petre for letting the church buy the land so cheaply, when all around Rishton land was being sold at twice the price.

Let Education Commence!

The school was designed by Messrs Taylor and Foggett of Blackburn, and built by Messrs C Parker and C Boardman of Rishton, with much voluntary labour helping out. One wonders if it is the same C Parker who built the school, and also sat on the education committee as treasurer, and if it is, how could this be allowed? Was Mr Parker allowed to pay himself from the school funds? Or was a most generous person who carried out all the work for free?

As mentioned at the start the school was finally opened for business on 28th January 1867 with Mr R Ward as the headmaster, who was assisted by Mrs Ward. Full credit must be given to these people for the way the school grew over the next 2 years, as an inspectors report at the time praised it as being one of the best in the district.

1869 saw Mr. Needham assume responsibilities of the school, who stayed for just 11 months. Mr Blackledge took over responsibilities at this point and during 1870, his time at the school, a government report was issued about the addition of a new classroom. The report refers to the zeal of the Rishton people for their schools, and mentions the fact that even though there are no rich people in Rishton, the support given to the school was most generous. Mr Blackledge at this point relinquished his position and became a clergyman. He died in 1927.

The same Government reports have the number of pupils at the school at just 100, but this was to decline.

On the 3rd August 1874 Mr J Masheter was head teacher. He changed the start times at the school from 7am to 8am, and introduced the books known as “Royal Readers”, but he could do nothing about diminishing numbers attending the school.

By the time Mr Edgar Turner took over the headship on the 3rd January 1876 the total number of pupils in the school was only 21! Weather or not it was because of this that Mr Turner only lasted 2 months we may never know, but the school was closed for a lengthy break which lasted till July of that year, a total of 4 months! This was when Mr Butterworth took over.

1877 sees the first mention in the school records of a school board man, or the school attendance officer, to give him his proper title. The following year the school was split into 3, boys, girls, and infants. We may never know if this experiment was a success, as during the year Mr & Mrs Butterworth left. Most say that this was down to a mill strike which reduced the amount of school income, but to be far to Mr Butterworth, in his 2 years term he had managed to turn the attendance round from its measly 21 pupils to over 200.

The next headmaster also stayed less than 2 years. Mr Green reverted the school back to being mixed straight away, but strangely enough numbers reduced again.

When Mr Philip E Holden assumed control in June 1879 the children numbered less than 100 again.

Mr Holden did not believe in the punishment system. To the school he introduced reward cards, medals, and prizes for good work. Amazingly this worked. He brought the school to a high level of efficiency, with the mums coming into school to help with needlework, and the vicar also popping in to help out. From this time school number rose steadily.

In 1881 the vicar visited the school to inform pupils of class 3, 4, 5, and 6 that the weekly fees would be 4d.

The original school being demolished

From this time on 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 BD 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, and James Hanson.

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.

During 1886 30 children left the school when the new Roman Catholic School opened, the year after Mr Holden retired after 8 years service. In 1886 the church school lost another 30 pupils when a Roman Catholic school opened at the Hermitage.

Being Demolished
The school being demolished (Picture supplied by Vivian Downing via email January 2010).

The Next 30 Years

1887.Mr H. H. Cormack started. He was a well known science teacher in the district as he came from Saint James School in Accrington. Mr Cormack spent 32 years at the school, overseeing many changes in both the school and the education system. These are some of the highlights of those 30 odd years…..

1888 The school was bemoaning the half time system. This was when children attended school for half a day. Then 2 weeks holiday was given during July to tie in with Wakes Weeks from the mills. The school believed that people were “going soft”, although I am not to sure about that. Imagine the children playing football in the yard with no shin pads, but the children wearing irons on their clogs. Some children played in bare feet, much as they still do today in countries such as Brazil. Also during 1888 a holiday was given on the 9th may for the laying of the foundation stone at the technical college at Blackburn by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later to become Edward VII and Queen Alexandra).

1891. After a meeting between all the Rishton schools, school fees are reduced to 2d, with the fees scrapped for class 1 and the infants. During this year there were 242 pupils on the roll.

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 Lord Bishop of Manchester visited the school during this year, who spoke to the children about Ceylon and Australia.

The Boar War years saw the school with a quiet log record, but in 1896 a collection was raised for the Indian famine.

1901 saw the death of Queen Victoria on the 22nd January. The school roll rose to record numbers with 380 children in the juniors, but a big game of cricket at Rishton against Ramsbottom saw 30 boys absent for the day!

PictureDuring 1902 the Boers surrendered and King Edward VII’s Coronation was postponed. Meanwhile in school, numbers were down due to “low fever”.

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

From here we jump to 1908, when the education committee for the County finally got under way. Medical inspections started in the schools and the school clinic was built on High Street. This year saw another dispute in the cotton trade, and much distress was seen around the village, but not in the children.

In 1911 the school was closed for the day when King George was crowned. 2 years later in 1913, the children were invited to Eachill Farm by Mrs Haworth to watch the King and Queen travel pass on the railway. The children stood on the fence and waved flags.

Bypassing the Great War, Mr Cormack retired a few months after Armistice Day in 1919, and Mr George A. Knowlson took over the running of the school. The dates of the headmasters stop here for the time being. By 1921 the school had installed glazed partitions to make 8 separate classrooms, paid for by a bazaar held by the school this lasted until the new school was built on Arundel Street in 1961. The Church school was abandoned soon after and demolished in 1962.

Shortly after the headmasters’ arrival in 1919, games sessions were put in place. One of the first sports to take place was, of course, football. During the season 1921 â€" 2 a William Catlow was chosen to play for the Lancashire County Schoolboys twice in one season. Other schools in the district were approached with a view to forming a league, and in 1923 the first games were played. A trophy was put up for the winning team along with medals, donated by Mr Harry Boyle of Blackburn.

Cricket was not to miss out either! In 1922 a trophy was put up for competition by Rishton Cricket Club, the school won the trophy 4 times out of the first 5 years!!!

Unfortunately on the 22nd March 1922 an fire broke out in the school house which was still used as a home by Mr. G. Knowlson.

During November 1926 the school bought a set of scales for the children to be weighed every month. Full records were kept for the clinic. It appears that the school were pioneers for weighing.

1927 was the reunion year for the school.

1947. A letter was submitted from the County Architect asking the Rishton Council to reserve in their planning scheme the site of the existing recreation ground, off Harwood Road, for the purpose of erecting a new School in lieu of the existing School in Harwood Road on the 27th April.

The new school, on Arundel Street, was dedicated on March 4th 1961, and was officially opened on the 25th May that year.

Mr Speed was the headmaster when Helen Jackson first moved to Rishton in 1961 and her brother attended the school (so I'm pretty sure that means he was the first headmaster in the new school on Arundel St.) and he was still the headmaster when Helen graduated that school in June 1966.

It was possibly the year after that he was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave, but I'm not certain.

Mr. Speed is the teacher in the class photo of 1960 that is posted on the website. He was a wonderful teacher and an excellent headmaster, and I just wanted to make sure he received the recognition he deserves. (Thanks to Helen D. Jackson (nee Crossland))

Ian Pickup was appointed as a teacher at the school in 1969, and taught at the school until 1978. During his last twelve months at the school Ian was the headmaster there.

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.

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.

Steven Boswell tells me, As regards the tree planting in 1973, the reason was a national campaign to "Plant a tree in 73".  We were in class 3 but I can't remember our teacher's name, she would only have been relatively young herself as she got married while we were at school and then moved on. I seem to think we were in Mr. Pickups class, but I could be wrong!

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.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.

On Thursday 20 March 1997, the school was chosen to test easter eggs.

EASTER means EGGS. The shops are crammed with eggs of every size made from every type of chocolate - and at all prices. So what kind of eggs will East Lancashire youngsters be spending their hard-earned pocket money on? The only way to find out was to test them.

Lucky pupils from St Peter and St Paul CE Primary School, Rishton, were chosen to sample a selection. There are literally dozens and dozens of Easter egg varieties available, ranging from the simple plain chocolate to elaborately decorated eggs. The price difference is vast as well - you can pay as little as 99p or as much as £10 for an Easter egg. Choosing the perfect egg can be a tough task, especially for the younger end of market. Many companies now make "themed" Easter Eggs featuring popular children's characters such as  Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine, Postman Pat and Beatrix Potter characters. Then there are the traditional favourites, including Cadbury's Chocolate Buttons, Fudge, Milky Bar and many more.

Pupils from class two, all six and seven-year-olds, were given the tough job of testing the eggs and telling us what they thought. Faced with a table full of chocolate eggs, some of the children found it difficult to choose one. However, the result were overwhelming - BIG eggs were the clear winners, especially with the boys. The girls were a bit more choosy and many of them rushed to pick out the Barbie, Forever Friends and Beatrix Potter eggs. Six-year-old Sophie liked Kinnerton's large Barbie Egg because it included free stick-on jewellery. The smaller version has heart-shaped fizzy sweets.  And Paige preferred the Beatrix Potter because it had "pretty chocolate rabbits" as well as an egg. All the Thomas the Tank Engine Eggs were snapped up by girls as well as boys but Postman Pat eggs were less popular. Iceland's Buttons and Beanies eggs were a hit because they were big and had "lots and lots of chocolate to last all Easter." All the Cadbury's eggs were popular, especially Chocolate Buttons and Fudge. Only the Freddo the Frog egg was thought to be a bit on the small side. Smarties Eggs were a hit, as were the Milky Bar eggs. The new Smarties eggs that come complete with edible icing for children to decorate their own egg were popular but some children were disappointed the eggs weren't a little bit bigger. All the children said they preferred an egg with some kind of sweet inside.

So what was the verdict? There wasn't one overall favourite, as each of the youngsters had their own preference. But the message to parents and grandparents from these children is clear: "We want eggs with lots of chocolate!"

The school still stands now and is still going strong. Hello to anyone that attended it!

First published on Friday 24 December 1999: School report negative

AS chairman of the governing body at St Peter and St Paul's School, Rishton, I was saddened by the way in which you dealt with our recent Ofsted report (LET, December 20).

Our headteacher and staff have worked extremely hard to make improvements within the school and your article reflected this. However, the headline: 'School praised but told to try harder' and the posters on your billboards in Rishton which proclaimed: 'Mixed report for Rishton school,' are demoralising for teachers, governors and all involved in the school community.

The report was a good report, and the lack of sufficient computers and software, which was highlighted as a weakness, is, to a great extent, beyond the control of the school.

Our School Families Association has raised thousands of pounds to buy computers, but in a school which the Ofsted report states gives sound value for money and adds that "the income and expenditure per pupil are low," there will always be a problem.

Please be more encouraging and positive about our schools for everybody's sake.

THE REV PAUL A SMITH, Somerset Road, Rishton.

On Tuesday 24 October 2000, RISHTON'S annual bonfire was on again, with organisers promising it will be even bigger and better.

The bonfire was on Sunday November 5 on the playing fields at St Paul's and St Peter's Primary School, in Arundel Street .

There was a firework display and a variety of stalls and refreshments. Entry was £6 for a family ticket, £2 adults and £1 for children. Youngsters under school-age got in free.

All money went towards school funds.

This was one of the last Bonfires to be held by the school after a number of years. Insurances, new Government legislation, and health and safety concerns meant that the school could no longer afford to host this annual event, which had been attended by thousands of people over the years.

Current stats for the school provided by the Department of Education are below:

Rishton St Peter's and St Paul's Church of England Primary School (Voluntary Aided, 4-11 year olds)

Arundel Street, Rishton, Blackburn, BB1 4DT

Year                 2000      1999         1998

Total pupils      235         234           237

English              58%        89%          57%

Maths                55%        77%          57%

Science           64%        77%          43%


Mr. John Green Mr. J. Masheter
Mr. W. R. Ward, Headmaster from 1867 to 1887? Mr. Chas. Butterworth
Mr. George Needham Mr. George Green
Mr. R. T. Blackledge Mr. P. E. Holden
Mr. H. H. Cormack, Headmaster from 1887 to 1919  
 Mr. G. A. Knowlson, B. A., F. R. G. S. Headmaster from 1919 to 1947  
Mr Bentley, Headmaster from 1947 to ????  
Mr. Speed,  Headmaster from ???? certainly in 1961 to 1967 (thanks to Helen Jackson for this information)  
Mr. Hall Headmaster from ???? to 1977  
Ian Pickup Headmaster from 1977 to 1978  
Miss Burns Headmistress from 1978 to 1989  
Mr. G. Murray from 1989 to 2005

Class of 1926SS Peter and Paul 1926 class photo.
Class of 1934 Captains and Prefects.SS Peter and Paul 1934 class photo.
Class of 1948SS Peter and Paul 1948 class photo.
Class of 1955SS Peter and Paul 1955 class photo.
Class of 1960SS Peter and Paul 1960 class photo.
Class of 1967SS Peter and Paul 1967 class photo.
Class of 1972SS Peter and Paul 1972 class photo.
1972 Football TeamSS Peter and Paul 1972 class photo.
1974 Football TeamSS Peter and Paul 1974 class photo.
1961 Christmas PartySS Peter and Paul 1961 School party photo.
School Photo


The Original Handwritten School Log

Steven Boswell (via Email)

Ester Sharp

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Thursday 20th March 1997

Helen D. Jackson (nee Crossland) via email 18th January 2005