The Bewsian (Part 1 – History)

The Bewsian is a history of Secondary Education in Bewsey (1934-1993)

The information in this section is based on a booklet,
The Bewsian – A History of Secondary Education in Bewsey 1934-1984
I believe it was produced internally by teachers and pupils.
Every effort has been made to trace the copyright owner.

I attended Bewsey Secondary Modern between 1974 and 1979. Some of my memories are included in Part 2.

If you attended Bewsey Secondary Modern/Bewsey County High School, and wish to share your memories, do please use the Contact page. If you have relevant photos for which you own the copyright, attach them to the email address (max 15MB per email).

The Founding of the School

After 1830, the government saw the need to help with the provision of elementary education in England and Wales and grants were made to help local organizations to extend education for young children.

Throughout the 19th century moves were made to organize state involvement in secondary education. In 1868 the Taunton Report suggested a system based on three grades of school but this was never implemented.

The Bryce Report of 1895 put forward very similar suggestions for a state system of secondary schooling and this finally led to the 1902 Education Act, which made it a duty for all local authorities to provide secondary education.

From that year the Warrington Local Education Authority changed the role of some schools and took over some of the church schools which were running into financial difficulties.

The photo (above right) was taken in 1934 soon after the Bewsey council estate was built. In the foreground is the ‘straight’ section of the Cheshire Lines Railway which passed through the land once belonging to Clapgates Farm, after which Clapgates Road and Clapgates Crescent were named.

Warrington Technical Institute served as the Borough Treasurers building in later life. Photo taken 3 Feb 2005.

Warrington Education Committee began secondary education in 1903. Their first development was the Technical Institute in Palmyra SquareLike many other schools it was not free at this time, but it did provide the first opportunity for secondary education for many working class children in Warrington.

Council scholarships were soon made available and after the Education Act of 1921, Warrington became one of the first to provide 100% of such places in its schools. The impact of these developments was enormous and made valuable education provision for all children in the town up to the age of fourteen.

The next important piece of legislation to affect secondary schools was the 1944 Education Act, which made it compulsory for all children to receive a free secondary education up to the age of fifteen, and many schools including Bewsey were renamed Secondary Modern Schools.

Previously some working class children had received secondary-type education in the higher standards (classes) of elementary schools, but this was the first provision designed for this sector.

The only secondary facilities available previously were at Boteler Grammar School, the Clergyman’s Daughters’ School and the private schools which were all essentially middle-class at the time and were restricted in their intake.

In the 1930s pupils started school at 5 years old and left at 14. In my time it was 16, and I notice the government is considering raising it to 18 in the 21st century. Basic subjects were Maths, English, History, Geography, Geometry, Poetry and Drawing, with Religious Education too, as lots of schools were originally connected to the churches.

The first purpose-built secondary schools did not open until 1934, when Bewsey and Richard Fairclough schools were opened. The Secondary or ‘Senior’ departments as they were known were built near to council-provided elementary or ‘Junior’ departments.

In doing this, the Education Committee was following national trends, being influenced by the report, “Education of Adolescent of 1925” by the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education and by the Hadow Report of 1926. These reports wanted a definite break in education of children at about 11 years old, and grading of classes according to ability.

The origins of Bewsey go back to 1927 when, after the Education Act of 1921, an area of land measuring approximately 29 acres was handed over to the Local Education Authority.

The school’s deed map of 23 August 1927. Photo from The Bewsian.

The deed map, above right, shows the area bound by the Sankey Brook, Lodge Lane and the Cheshire Lines Railway. The area was originally acquired for use by the Ministry of Health, presumably for some medical institution. Together with this map was an official document with the then Minister of Health’s Official Seal, signing the land over to Warrington Borough Council.

Architects Wright and Hamlyn of Winmarleigh Street, Warrington, were then appointed to draw up plans for the building. In the late 1920s local contractors started work, which was completed in 1933 at a cost of £42,000.

At a meeting on 18 December, 1933, the opening date for the school was set. The Seniors school opened its doors for the first time on Monday 8 January, 1934. Present were the Mayor, Austin Matthew Crowe, and the Deputy Chairman of the Education Committee (Rev E. Downham), who performed the opening ceremony.

The opening of the two Senior Departments at Bewsey (boys and girls) was seen as an adventure in municipal enterprise by the Warrington Corporation. At that time boys were separate from girls and the school was designed to hold 480 of each.

The original architect’s drawing. Photo from The Bewsian.

In an essentially industrial area (see the emblem of the school at the top of the page), whilst the curriculum should have some relationship to the future vocation, it was also seen that it should have some relationship to the future leisure time of the pupils. This was met by an increased opportunity for practical as well as theoretical studies in the new school.

The Education System of the Borough was organised to provide opportunities for all capable children to proceed to the highest educational institutions after leaving school, passing through various stages of Elementary, Secondary Branch Technical, Technical and Commercial and Art Colleges, and from these on to University, Training College or other educational institution.

The Boys and Girls schools (Boys near the railway side, Girls near the playing fields), each had eight ordinary classrooms, an art room, two science rooms, a library, a head teacher’s room, staff rooms and a medical inspection room.

In the Boys’ department there were manual instruction rooms and there were domestic science rooms for the girls. If you look at the overhead photograph of 1934, below right, you will notice the original building was symmetrical.

The school catered largely for children of Bewsey and Whitecross and the feeder schools were Evelyn Street Council School, St Barnabas School and Arpley Street Council School. Headmaster for the Boys was Mr. N. H. Fackrell, whilst Miss Smith became head for the Girls. Each school also had 14 assistant teachers.

The school catered largely for children of Bewsey and Whitecross and the feeder schools were Evelyn Street Council School, St Barnabas School and Arpley Street Council School. Headmaster for the Boys was Mr. N. H. Fackrell, whilst Miss Smith became head for the Girls. Each school also had 14 assistant teachers.

BEWSEY is – what twelve months ago was a pile of buildings and a site is now a school. From the opening ceremony, on January 8th, when, in the presence of a number of distinguished visitors, His Worship the Mayor declared the school open, we have gone ahead. We have no traditions, but we are building them in work and in play; a glance round the school in the class rooms, the labs., the gardens, and the workshops, will show the work, our games and concerts show the play. The various school activities are dealt with fully elsewhere, only one point I should like to stress, already nearly 170 boys have left the school, and not more than a dozen are without work, while some with whom we are in contact are doing really well.

I feel we have done well, and that we shall continue to do better if the spirit which has animated the school so far lives on, a spirit of mutual respect and understanding, of co-operation and hard work. To those within our little world, children, parents and staff, who have striven hard and successfully, I give thanks and good wishes for the future.

N. H. FACKRELL,

Head Master.


Bewsey Boys’ School 1934-1946

The actual buildings in those early days were in many ways very different from those later years. The school had been built on the “Open Air Plan”, a style very much in fashion for school buildings all over the country at the time. Although it looked very attractive, it was hardly appropriate for our climate.

The corridors were open to the weather and the outside walls of the classrooms were actually made of glass (French window style), meaning a great loss of heat. The heating was provided by under-floor gas central heating, which was inadequate. It was given the title of the “Ice Palace” by some, due to the cold.

The prefabricated buildings around the perimeter were not there originally – they were erected during the war for the serving of school meals.

Ariel photograph 1934. Notice the symmetry. Photo from The Bewsian.

At first pupils (and staff) either went home for meals of brought sandwiches. On opening, pupils and staff were transferred from the Senior  Departments of old-established schools in the central, western and north-western areas of the town, including Arpley Street, Silver Street, St Anne’s Hamilton Street (my first school), St Barnabas and Heathside. These schools were often overcrowded and badly lit and ventilated. Often a coke fire stove stood in the centre of the classroom provided the heating. The colour scheme was a choice of two: all upper walls were painted calf and the lower half was painted either dark green or brown. Those schools remained as Junior schools.

The old Wycliffe School, which opened in 1868, had moved en masse to Bewsey Junior and Infants Schools when they opened in 1932. In the notes it says the pupils and teachers borrowed a handcart from the Education Office in Sankey Street to move all the text books and records, making several journeys to complete the transfer to the new Junior School.

One assumes they walked down Bewsey Road and over the railway bridge – that must have been hard pushing it one side and then trying to keep control on the other side going down! One pupil notes they settled in very quickly: How great it was to sit at a desk on a chair instead of the old bench-type desk. We also had the playing fields close by and at this time school milk was introduced at one old penny for one third of a pint of fresh milk.

The pupils on entry were divided into four streams, named A, B, C and D for convenience. The A and B were parallel academically, with the A being a commercial basis, and the B a Technical basis. Both took the basic subjects: English, Maths, Geography, History, etc. The A stream also took French, Bookkeeping, etc and the B stream took more practical Science, Technical Drawing, etc.

The C and D streams spent more time on basic Maths and English and Rural and Practical Science. Which stream would be best for you if you wanted to be a Book-keeper at a Science lab? Just a thought! Pupils were placed in their respective stream according to the result of an examination on entry (that was before the 11+ came in, by the way).

The old Wycliffe School on Bewsey Street, which was, until January 2007 a shirt factory. Photo taken 9 Nov 2006.

Bewsey Junior and Infants School on 2 Dec 2006.

Sport was also a big part of the school’s activities, especially football and cricket. An entry in the log book of 2 April, 1934, records that Bewsey won the P.W.V. Cup at the Peninsular Barracks. The winning team were treated to a hot pot supper at Atkins Café on Bridge Street.

Other external activities included the Bewsey Boys Club, the Bewsey Boys Concert Party, rugby teams, baseball and many school trips and outings, including an early trip to Edinburgh on 10 May, 1934. That’s some going for those days. No M6 motorway then!

Wherever possible, outside activities were linked to formal work. The Rural Science classes were involved in bee-keeping, poultry, pig farming and it also had fish pond.

An old car was purchased from school funds for car maintenance classes. Some boys produced their own magazine.

A Carol Service and parties were held every Christmas. One year the whole of the school went to the Ritz cinema for a specially arranged

show with one of the teachers playing the Wurlitzer organ.

The school adopted “For All The Saints” as its anthem. Discipline was strict and “four of the best” was often the punishment for small offences, but there were no complaints and staff were respected by most pupils.

There was little or no vandalism and the authorities were respected for what they had done to build such a fine school, and the pupils were proud of their school.

In the town there was no shortage of entertainment, with two theatres, nine cinemas, two roller skating rinks and a speedway track. We had the wireless as television was many years in the future.


Bewsey Girls’ School 1934 – 1946

In the Girls’ side subjects included Science, Geography, Needlework and Crafts. There were two cookery rooms, a grand assembly hall, where as well as allowing P.T. (Physical Training) to be enjoyed, some really useful plays were performed. There were new interests, gardening and bee-keeping (unheard of before) and the introduction of French. In those early days foreign languages were normally taught to the privileged few in the grammar schools, so to see it in Bewsey was something modern.

One teacher recalls that during the war the younger men were called up for active service and female teachers were asked to teach in the Boys School.

She has two memories – one was the singing of those boys, something quite awesome and really beautiful. The other was a staff versus pupils cricket match at the end of the summer term.

Back to the French lessons. Another teacher recalls how the pupils were very interested in the subject. She says she managed to persuade them that the main diet of the French was NOT frogs. Actually, I recently watched a classic episode of The Likely Lads from the 1960s when Terry’s sister, Audrey, when asked what do you give a French girl to eat, replied “frog butties!” This, of course, is outdated language from the time.

In 1974 the school came under the administration of Cheshire County Council

The teacher reports that some of the pupils were lucky enough to spend a week’s holiday in the country, with a stay at a very nice Paris hotel where they sampled the culinary delights the country had to offer. The pupils managed to make brief conversation with the lift boy, but she doesn’t say what was said.

During the war, pupils were escorted into the shelters when the air raid warnings sounded. These were built on the playing fields next to the girls’ playgrounds. Sometimes the children were sent home, whilst staff remained behind for the obligatory teaching of first aid. Some rooms were made like strongholds by the building of outside walls.

The windows were blackened out with curtains and blinds. Staff and pupils knitted comforts for the Forces, khaki wool being in endless supply. Just over the woods was Burtonwood Air Base, so the noise from the planes always interrupted the teaching. Some of the teachers helped out on night duty in the activity known as “fire-watching”.


Bewsey Boys’ School 1946-1972 

Like most of the country, the World Wars took their toll on the efforts of the schools. The priority now was to re-establish the school for the next generation. During the war years shortages of both staff and equipment had resulted in severe limitations  in the scope of the curriculum, e.g. practical rooms were closed and there was little of any organized P.E. and Games.

Between 1945 and 1947, eleven members of staff were appointed, some returning from the Services. The school was subjected to an H.M.I. inspection. At this time there were almost 400 boys as the school leaving age had been raised to 15. Extra classrooms were built alongside the railway for a projected life of just 10 years (they were still there when I left the school in 1979 and were only dismantled in recent years).

Rural Studies was still high on the agenda, with the keeping of hens, chickens, pigs and bee-keeping. There were also some well cultivated garden plots which occupied the land where the gymnasiums were built later on.

In 1951 the first headmaster, Mr. Fackrell, died. His place was taken by Mr. Thompson (who was my headmaster during the 1970s). During 1951 the Festival of Britain was held – a celebration designed to lift the spirits out of the post war rationing and shortages. This was jointly celebrated with the Girls’ School in the form of a mass P.E. display and Maypole dancing on the school field attended by a large gathering of parents and Governors.

In the 1950s the population grew and, of course, so did pupil numbers. At one point the Boys’ School had around 600 pupils in a building designed for 480. School assemblies saw pupils sat on the floor because there was no other space. The school teaching timetable had to adjusted to a six-day-week to spread out the skills of the specialist teaching. The second Monday in each term became day 6, etc.

There was another inspection in 1957. During the 1950s,  the school’s catchments area had been extended to include the whole of Longford beyond the Fiat Car plant (now Alban Retail Park) and eastwards as far as Orford Church and Hallfields Road.

A winter scene looking towards Lodge Lane with the Infant and Junior Schools on the left and caretaker’s house on the right in the 1980s. Photo © DJ Kenny.

It was clear that resources were overstretched and it was decided to build two new Secondary Schools on Long Lane to cope with demand. These schools were Orford Secondary (Boys and Girls), which opened in August 1958. Staffing and pupil levels dropped at the two schools in Bewsey, but in the long term it meant there was now space to cope with the inflated birth rate of the immediate post-war era.

Throughout the 1960s, Bewsey established its reputation in the forefront of local schools in both rugby and association football. 

Many boys achieved County Honours and school teams at Senior and Intermediate level were frequently successful in league and cup competitions.

In common with many Secondary schools, Bewsey Boys were encouraged to stay on for a fifth year in order to prepare for one of the external examinations which were the precursors of the C.S.E. (Certificate of Secondary Education).

Towards the end of the 1960s, the Local Education Authority made plans to rebuild both of the Bewsey Schools. Work eventually began in 1969 and was finished in 1971.

The building program involved driving a wide point of access at the eastern end of the quadrangle which deprived each school of its specialist Art rooms.

Health and Safety laws were not as strict as nowadays and access to and from classrooms was quite hazardous, particularly in bad weather. However, the final outcome was favourable as the school received two new gymnasiums, a library, excellent new practical rooms, new assembly halls and refurbished classrooms.

By 1972, the Local Education Authority had completed its preparations for co-educational Secondary Education and in July, 1972, the two schools at Bewsey plus the smaller Evelyn Street Secondary School were amalgamated into one school housed in the refurbished provision at Bewsey.


Bewsey Girls’ School 1946-1972

Miss Smith, the first Headmistress in 1934, retired and her place was taken by Miss Griffiths. Miss Griffiths was also a qualified social worker and was well respected by pupils. A tradition for sound teaching, high achievement and good behaviour had been established. The school was ready for some innovations, such as a less formal approach to teaching and a certain relaxation to discipline. New furniture, equipment and text books were needed. The school had 500 girls on its books and the building was overcrowded. The School Governors and Education Committee made a generous allowance in the early years for the purchase of furniture and equipment.

In 1956, they recognized the success of the specialist subject teachers by appointing two Heads of Department and six teachers in Grade Posts.

There was a need to learn what each girl could achieve and award recognition for this achievement. There were a number of intelligent girls who, had the educational opportunities been different, would have gained from a grammar or technical education. The less able were encouraged in the basic subjects. The staff recognized that all girls could be helped to achieve some success. Self-confidence, self-respect, self-esteem and self-discipline were encouraged.

The original Girls’ School occupied the
side closest to the playing fields. Photo
taken in the early 1990s after the school closed. Photo © DJ Kenny.

Social depravation and problems at home were major issues and so every effort was made to allow each girl to develop. The changes during adolescence were given consideration and the girls received excellent health and sex education from the Deputy Headmistress, who was also a specialist teacher of biology.

The building was cold, especially in the winter, with conditions that would not have been tolerated elsewhere. At times of frost and snow the outside toilets would freeze and the surface of the playground was dangerous because the authorities would not provide salt or sand. Some girls did not have proper footwear which often resulted in weekly attendances falling below 90%. An inside toilet block did not appear until 1970!

Improvements in specialist teaching gradually appeared and new technology was finding its way into the classrooms. There were film-strip projectors, a large sound/film projector, a Fordifax overhead projector and tape recorders. Also up-to-date office equipment made easier duplication of exam papers, questionnaires, excursion and holiday booklets and the annual School Magazine.


One of the most innovative ideas was when the school was divided into Houses. Each was named after a prominent Warringtonian and had its own motto and appropriate social concern. They were:

House NamePatronMottoSocial Work
Boulting HouseMr. William A. Boulting, J.P.“Actions speak”For the elderly
Downham HouseMrs. Mary Downham, J.P.“Honour Thy Father and Mother”For the elderly
Furness HouseMr. Rex Furness, M.B.E.“Happiness through helpfulness”For handicapped people,
especially the blind
Poole HouseAlderman Joseph Poole, J.P.“Together we build a new world”International friendship
Robertson HouseMrs. Margaret Robinson, O.B.E., J.P.“Serve others”For nursing and hospitals

Led by House Mistresses, House and Games captains, the girls competed in self-denial, work, games, sports and conduct.

The photo shows a nativity Scene 1950s.(Photo Copyright © D Hardman.)

The House Service became a feature of school life and prominent men and women concerned with social work came as guest speakers. These occasions lent themselves to useful classroom teaching in most subjects. Many striking illustrative projects were set up in the corridors. Through their thought and self-denial money, the girls strove to recognize and satisfy the needs of others. The donation of money was replaced by the giving of specific objects, wheelchairs, coal, outings/holidays for the elderly and furniture. Many will recall being their form’s House representative and following the House banner in the procession.

By the time I attended Bewsey School, Poole and Downham had been combined into Poole-Downham. Every Friday we would collect our self-denial money. It was a bit of a competition between different forms to get the most. My class always tried to collect more than we had the week before.

The photo shows a winning team, not yet unidentified. (Photo Copyright © D Hardman.)

The girls were helped to success in sport by the games mistresses, including athletics, netball, gymnastics and swimming. The school field, though, was not at its best during these early years and there were no changing or shower facilities. Despite this, inter-house sporting events were held and in the early years the school had success in inter-school athletics and netball.

Certain events, such as the Ascension Day outing, the Beauty of the Spoken English Competition, the P.E. Display and Drama and Dance were held annually. The Ascension Outing took place each year until 1967, travelling by train and coach to beauty spots in Wales, Derbyshire and the Lake District. Some of the girls spent holidays at Coleg Harlech or on Youth Hostelling weekends.

Visits were made to Warrington Reference Library and Museum, the town’s churches, Howarth and Bronte Country, Liverpool Museum, Ainsdale Nature Trail, water works and sewage plants, all departments of the Borough Hospital, Pilkington Glass Museum and the Wedgwood Pottery, to name just a few. At that time the Education Authority made small grants towards educational visits, with many parents giving money to their children’s trips so they didn’t miss out on the things they themselves missed out on.

Eight-eight girls were transferred to Orford Secondary Modern in the early 1970s. The overcrowding at Bewsey was relieved slightly but the building was still inadequate. The extension of the late 1960s were planned with the sole purpose of remedying the deficiencies of the Girls’ School.

The girls’ gymnasium is now owned by Warrington Islamic Association, purchased from the council in March 2010. Photo taken 2 Dec 2006.

They included indoor toilet blocks, an assembly hall, a gymnasium, a housecraft block with large utility D.I.Y. room for home-crafts, additional science, needlework, art and crafts and store rooms. As mentioned in the Boys’ School section, the results were well worth waiting for.

A number of trophies had been given as inter-House competition awards:- the Arthur Hill Cup for Work, the Alice Boulting Trophy for Conduct, the Joyce Potter Cup for the Beauty of Spoken English,

the Fearnley Cup for Athletics, the Hatch Cup for Netball and the Furness Trophy for Swimming.

These were awarded at the Annual Prize Distribution which became one of the social highlights of the school year.

The final Prize Giving was held in July, 1972, and it was appropriate  that the former Deputy Headmistress, Miss Hawthorn, who had served the girls so loyally from 1938 to 1971, should make the presentations.


Bewsey School 1972 – 1984

In September 1972, three small schools combined to form one large one, Bewsey Secondary Modern Mixed School, which combined the old Boys and Girls schools, plus Evelyn Street Secondary Modern School. It didn’t take long for both genders to mix and settle down to their new school life.

In 1981, a group of 5th Year pupils designed this sculpture which was on display in Sankey Valley Park, funded by the New Town Development Corporation. Photo taken 2 Dec 2006.

In 1973, with the Raising of the School Leaving Age, known as ROSLA, numbers of pupils expanded even further, as new first year pupils arrive but no fourth year ones left. In 1979, the year I left, a new Comprehensive education system was brought in and the name changed to Bewsey County High School, with many changes to the curriculum. With the introduction of foreign languages, a language laboratory was necessary. Typewriters (remember them?) were introduced for Office Studies and commercial subjects. A special room was set aside for Computer Studies (didn’t have them in my day). A former cloakroom was converted into a Fifth Form Common Room.

Apart from changes in day-to-day school work, social occasions were enhanced as a result of both sexes participating. A mixed-gender choir was formed for the Christmas Carol Service, creating a sound that neither boy, girl or teacher had experienced at the school before.

Dancing was also performed at the Christmas parties, such as the St Bernard’s Waltz and the Barn Dance. The various House groups were maintained in the new set up and donations continued for community projects. During this period some of the teachers who contributed many years to the school reached retirement age. These included Miss Griffiths, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Jones, Mr. Bayley and Mr. Mather.

I always remember Mr. Mather reading the short Paddington Bear stories from my Blue Peter annual. He was fascinated by the creative writing of Michael Bond and his enthusiasm was a joy to witness as his voice changed when the story became more dramatic. He was greatly missed and it was a sad day when I heard that he had died.

Between 1972 and 1984 the school experience two very long hot summers (the longest being 1976 during my time there). It benefited the Sports Days and Fetes, although late afternoon classes were quite unbearable. In contrast, the winters were harsh, resulting in pupils being sent home on many occasions before the school day had even started because the heating system had broken down. Joy for the pupils in one sense, but then, how did we fill the day at home? We, and our parents, were used to us being in school.

It would be chaotic in the modern world where often both parents were out at work. The winter weather also affected the Carol Service and Christmas parties in some years. I think the only way people of today experienced anything similar was during the first Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Ariel Photograph 1984. Photo from The Bewsian.


School Rules for 1983-4 Year

OFFICIAL ENTRANCES

i) By way of Lovely Lane and Clapgates Road.

ii) By Lodge Lane gate and access road by the tennis courts.

USE OF BICYCLES

Bicycles must be thoroughly roadworthy and must not be ridden on any part of the school premises.

SCHOOL HOURS    8.55 a.m. until 12 noon – 1.10 p.m. until 3.35 p.m.

No boy or girl is to leave school without permission during either the morning or afternoon sessions.

Permission will be granted to boys and girls to keep appointments at clinics and hospitals on production of an official appointment card. In all other cases application for permission to leave school must be supported by a parent’s note. 

All children seeking permission to leave school must report to the School Office before 8.50 a.m. each day. On returning to school such children must report to the office.

ABSENCE FROM SCHOOL

In all cases of absence from school a parent’s note or parent’s telephone message is required no later than the day of return from absence. (Dear teacher. Please excuse Little Johnny today as he is not well. Signed My Mother!)

PLAYGROUNDS

Ball games must be played on the tarmacadam surface by the side of the gymnasium. The railway embankment and canal bank are out of bounds.

MOVEMENT IN SCHOOL

Movement should be quiet and orderly. Keep to the left when moving along corridors. Running in school is forbidden.

SCHOOL MATERIALS AND PROPERTY

All cases of damage to be reported immediately to [nominated teacher].

VALUABLE ARTICLES

Valuable articles, e.g. jewellery, portable radios, cassette recorders, etc MUST NOT BE BROUGHT INTO SCHOOL.

SCHOOL MEALS

Pupils who have school meals should remain on the school site for the remainder of the lunch time session unless a note requesting otherwise has been received from your parents.

Taken from the 1983-4 Year Booklet (apart from Little Johnny’s sick note!)


But the best set of rules I ever heard were in the film version of the BBC TV sitcom Porridge:

There are only two rules in this prison – 

1 – You do not write on the walls

and

2 – You obey all the rules!


The Later Years

In 1984, the Headmaster, Mr. Goodier, set out his vision for the future.

Much has been written about the last 50 years at Bewsey. Very little of course can be written about the future. Perhaps this is as well because we all react to new situations in different ways and part of the challenge of a teacher’s job is continually to build on past experience.

What is certain is that we will endeavour to do our utmost to educate the pupils attending the school, within the guidelines of our stated aims and objectives.

Bewsey High School is situated in the centre of an established community and has the added advantage of having new development nearby.

In addition to our academic aims I feel we should play an important part in the community both old and new, as symbolized by our highly acclaimed Arrows sculpture in Sankey Valley Park. Many community links have been developed over the years and I trust these will be built on and added to in the future. One thing above all other has been apparent in all our conversations with former pupils concerning the Jubilee, and that has been the fond regard they have for the school and their former teachers.

I hope that those reviewing the school in 2034, after another fifty years will continue to feel the same affection for the school and the education they will have received. If that is so, we, or our successors, will feel very pleased.

This housing development was built on The Towers. Photo taken 2 Dec 2006.

Sadly, Mr. Goodier’s vision for 2034 would not be realized. Pupil numbers were dropping and the costs were rising, resulting in the announcement from Cheshire County Council that the school would have to close. This created fury in the community and a major campaign was started to keep the school open. After a hard-fought series of meetings, which involved coach-loads of pupils, parents and community users attending meetings at County Hall in Chester, the Council decided to back down on the condition that pupil numbers must rise. Feeling was so strong that when the Bewsey and Dallam Community Play was performed in the Parr Hall for 8 nights in 1991, the closure of the school featured in one very dramatic, heart-wrenching scene, and I believe the actors taking part in that scene were re-living their real expressions and emotions which helped them save the school in the mid 1980s.

However, the reprise was only temporary because the subject of pupil numbers and cutbacks in budgets came up again, but this time it was not good news for the campaigners. The school closed on 31 August 1993. The building still remain, but was converted into the head office for Warrington Borough Council’s Social Service Department, who had been there since the 1990s. The Department moved from Priestley House on Sankey Street when the lease for that building came up for renewal. They called it Bewsey Old School, after protests about the original choice of Lockton House, although the approach road is called Lockton Lane. The land which was the school playing fields, known as The Towers, was sold for redevelopment and is now a housing estate. There is a Towers Court residential area off Lodge Lane, which was built in the 1970s.

Within the grounds is St Rocco’s Hospice, which moved from Orford Avenue. The girls’ gymnasium was handed over to the Islamic Community Centre, whilst the Bewsey Lodge Primary School is still going strong on Lodge Lane. The caretaker’s house on Lodge Lane served as Bewsey Lodge Community House for some years, but has now relocated to Bewsey Park and the building has been sold.

The Caretaker’s Lodge. This became Bewsey Lodge Community Centre when the school closed. Photo taken 2 Dec 2006.

Bewsey Lodge Primary School

So far I have concentrated on the senior school. However, Bewsey County Primary School officially opened on 26 October 1932 and is still open, whereas the secondary school officially opened on 8 January 1934 and closed on 31 August 1993. So before you go to Part 2, have a look at some photos of the Bewsey Lodge Primary School, as it is known today.


That’s it for Part 1. In Part 2 read some of my memories
of life at the school, plus other memories and photos