St. Mary's C.E. Primary Academy

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23rd October 19
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School History

The foundation stone for St Mary's School was laid on 19th September 1874 and it opened almost two years later in 1876. There were initially 63 pupils with four classes receiving morning lessons in religious instruction, reading, writing, dictation, copy books, arithmetic and counting. Afternoon lessons included tables, mental arithmetic, notation and numeration, reading, writing, dictation, copy books, arithmetic and counting! As a special treat, on Friday afternoons, all four classes had a quarter of an hour's singing!

A report in 1879 from the Education Department said,

"It is fair to state that this school....has during the last two months been almost inaccessible from snow and bad weather. It is a matter for wonder how many children got there at all."

In 1890, the numbers on roll reacher 99.

In 1903 Mrs Wigglesworth, the caretaker, used to brew tea or cocoa for pupils who lived too far away from school to go home for dinner.

For this they paid 1d.

In 1910,  Mr Hodgkins, the Headmaster, introduced gardening into the school curriculum. A school garden was made and many prizes were won at local shows.


In 1923 the infant classroom was  enlarged.A time capsule containing old coins and newspapers were placed inside a cavity in the wall.

This was discovered in 1963 when workmen were enlarging the school.They also discovered a Foundation Commeroration Plaque, now displayed in the school entrance.

In 1930, older children attending the school, aged 11-14 years,were transferred to Barrowford Secondary School. According to records, parents disagreed vociferously!

Electric light was installed in the  school for the first time in 1936. That same year the school received an excellent report.

In 1938, King George VI and  Queen Elizabeth visited Nelson. A bus was  hired to take the children to see them.

 Evacuees from Bradford arrived in Newchurch and school numbers swelled.

In August 1945, the end of the war in Asia saw the children taken to Blackpool to celebrate. Some had never seen the sea before.


School dinners were now cooked  and served from the school kitchen.

Funds were raised to buy the school a radio.


In 1949, the first Rushbearing Queen was crowned.

 1954 saw the acquisition of a film projector and a record player in 1956.

1963 was the time of a severe winter across the country. In January of that year, roads around the school were blocked with snow for five days. The school water supply froze and emergency water supplies were brought in from a tap higher up the hill. However, in February the emergency water supply froze too! It was only in mid-March that the school had running water again! Unfortunately, workmen who were digging up the school driveway, accidentally dug up the water mains! Once again there was a very intermittent supply of water!


1966 saw an outbreak of mumps with attendance dropping to 13. It was nearly a month before all 34 children were back in school.


 In 1968 a television was installed in the school.


Acknowledgements to Edith Procter, former head teacher at St Mary's, who contributed so much to our school for many years.