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This page last updated Tuesday, 10 December 2013
The best days of your life...

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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"
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 at the end. If you attended Bewsey Secondary Modern/Bewsey County High School, and wish to share your memories, do please use the Feedback link. If you have relevant photos for which you own the copyright, attach them to the email address.

Featured on this page

The Founding of the School

Boys' School 1934-1946 Girls' School 1934-1946 Bewsey School 1972-1984 Reader's Memories
Boys' School 1946-1972 Girls' School 1946-1972 The Later Years My Memories of the School

Demolition of the School Buildings (2013)

Bewsey Lodge Primary School

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.

bewsey_school_1934.jpg (191748 bytes)

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. 

bewsian_16.jpg (96637 bytes)

Warrington Education Committee began secondary education in 1903. Their first development was the Technical Institute in Palmyra Square. Like 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.

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

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. 

bewsian_02.jpg (71894 bytes)

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.

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At that time boys were separate from girls and the school was designed to hold 480 of each. 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 original
architect's drawing
Photo from The Bewsian.

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 following is a copy of the greetings from the first Head Master, Mr Fackrell.

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.

bewsian_22.JPG (49514 bytes)  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.

bewsian_04.jpg (206641 bytes)
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.

bewsian_15.JPG (88924 bytes) 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 old Wycliffe School on
Bewsey Street, which was,
until January 2007
a shirt factory.
Photo taken 9 Nov 2006.

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).

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. bewsian_21.jpg (40729 bytes)
Bewsey Junior and Infants
School on 2 Dec 2006.

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.

bewsian_23.JPG (38634 bytes)  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!"

bewsey_school_cse_gigan_01.JPG (118864 bytes) 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 (not a frog butty in sight!). 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".

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

bewsian_22.JPG (49514 bytes)  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. 

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).

bewsian_13.jpg (47315 bytes)
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.

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.

bewsian_23.JPG (38634 bytes)  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.

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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.

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.

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 Name Patron Motto Social Work
Boulting House Mr. William A. Boulting, J.P. "Actions speak" For the elderly
Downham House Mrs. Mary Downham, J.P. "Honour Thy Father and Mother" For the elderly
Furness House Mr. Rex Furness, M.B.E. "Happiness through helpfulness" For handicapped people,
especially the blind
Poole House Alderman Joseph Poole, J.P. "Together we build a new world" International friendship
Robertson House Mrs. 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.

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

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. So that's where Bruce Forsyth got his "so much better than last week" catchphrase from!

bewsey-school_1954-8_dhardman_2.jpeg (217587 bytes) 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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

bewsian_30.JPG (50500 bytes)

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.

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

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.

bewsian_05.jpg (169237 bytes)

Ariel Photograph 1984.
Photo from The Bewsian.

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.

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.

bewsian_29.JPG (76215 bytes)

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 remains, but has now been converted into the head office for Warrington Borough Council's Social Service Department, who have 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 now call 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.

bewsian_20.JPG (91334 bytes)
The Caretaker's Lodge.
This became Bewsey
Lodge Community Centre
when the school closed.
Photo taken 2 Dec 2006.

My Memories of Life at the School   

bewsian_17.jpg (36157 bytes)

I attended Bewsey Secondary Modern between September 1974 and May 1979. I remember my first day with trepidation. I was used to having all my lessons taught by one teacher in primary school, so it came as a bit of a shock when I entered the library lesson on that first Monday afternoon. Everybody watched me walk in, having been escorted there by an older pupil.

I soon settle down to my new routine. In my first year I was in Class 1D. There were three bands of class, with two classes in each band. 

bewsey_high_school_demolition_130517_15.jpg (127070 bytes)
My first Bewsey
School Photo, 1974.
So Band 1 included 1A and 1B, my Band 2 was 1C and 1D, and Band 3 being 1E and 1F. I was a shy pupil, but I did enjoy my studying.  It has continued into my adult life, hence this website. I liked Maths, English, Geography and History. I hated P.E. and Games. Biology didn't interest me. And even though I like technology, I wasn't a great lover of doing science experiments.

In one lesson the teacher made up a concoction of chemicals and asked us to taste the result. Not as drastic as it sounds, but nobody would taste it. He didn't tell us what the components were, but the final result was sodium chloride, common table salt. It was only when the janitor brought in some equipment and he tasted it first that we trusted him. I do remember pupils playing tricks on one science teacher when they turned up the wattage on the electric dial and laughed when we saw smoke rising from the desk.

Sport

I was not a sporty person.

I'm not now, although I do watch rugby league. Regular readers of mywarrington will know the cross-country story from the Sankey Valley page, but I'll include it here too.

We had a shorter cross-country route around Bewsey Woods and this came to my advantage. It was a well-known fact at school that I was not a lover of sport (C- "far too timid, must try harder" was on one of my school reports!).

So Sir must have been very surprised to find me asking to go on the cross country run every lesson. What he didn't know was that I used to run out of school and off into the woods on the short route.

Except my short route was even shorter than the official short route! As soon as I got out of site of the playing fields I used to stop in the woods for an hour before going back to school. He never did find out!

Swimming finals were held at Legh Street baths, using the Gala pool. I DID have a go, but not being a strong swimmer I came last, but the teacher did compliment me on my efforts when I eventually got back after my second length.

And I did take part in indoor cricket in the summer using a soft ball. In my final year I played table tennis with my class mate. In baseball, the teacher used to select teams by writing 1 or 2 on your hand in pen so you knew where you were.

bewsian_14.jpg (59753 bytes)

As you entered Clapgates
Road entrance, these bike
sheds were round the
corner (The Cheshire
Lines Railway ran
behind the bike sheds).
The boys' toilet is the
block in front of the car.
Through the playground
is one of the
temporary classrooms
to cater for the
extra pupils. We waited
by the bike sheds
for the games master.
Photo © DJ Kenny.

bewsian_26.JPG (94288 bytes)

In one year my Timex wind-up watch was stolen whilst in games. The teacher kept everybody back and released them at five minute intervals to give them a chance to place it on the bonnet of a car outside. Nobody returned it and it was replaced with one similar from the Deputy Headmaster's collection of unclaimed ones. And we never did see anybody wearing my original in school after that.

The bike sheds view on 2 Dec, 2006.

Lessons

I worked hard in my classroom lessons, which paid off at the end of my second year. I came top of the class and moved up to 3B the following year. Mind you, my dad was disappointed at the end of the third year when my results showed me as 15th. Dad asked why I came top one year and dropped to 15th the next. In fact I had gone UP to 15th. Regard it as a First Division football club winning that league and playing in the Premiership the following season. Or put another way, if there were 31 pupils in each of the six classes, my position at the end of my Second Year would have been 94. At the end of my Third Year I was in overall position 46. But dad didn't see it that way at the time.

We didn't call it Year 1 from Infant School through to Year Whatever in Senior School as they do now (I first heard that in Neighbours). My Maths teacher did suggest I do the O-Level examination as I would have passed it easily. But you had to pay extra for the examination and I was a bit scared of asking dad for the money in fear of his reaction. So I never did the extra, but did get the Grade One C.S.E. pass in the subject.

bewsian_09.jpg (65163 bytes)

English literature was one of our subjects. One book I read in school was A Kestrel for a Knave, written by Barry Hines, another being Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It was made more interesting when the teacher invited each of us in turn to read out a section. 

The school playing field with the Cheshire Lines Railway in the Background. This is the point where the railway split for the "straight" and "loop" sections, the "straight" section (nearest to the camera) had already closed in 1968. Read more about the Cheshire Lines Railway in Making Tracks. Photo taken in 1978.

Even though the film version of Hines' book (called Kes) was made in 1969, I hadn't seen it, which I suppose is good in one sense because a film doesn't always portray the book in the style of the original author. Kes was about a young schoolboy who trains a kestrel in his spare time. Lord of the Flies was Golding's fierce morality tale about schoolboys marooned on a desert island and reverting to religious savagery. Another book we read was Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. This is the story of a boy who stumbles across a master criminal plan to rob Berlin's richest bank. I remember it being a small blue book. Thankfully, we never did any Shakespeare. Sorry, but the Bard didn't interest me then and doesn't interest me now. But it does remind me of the Family Fortunes answer given by a contestant who was asked to name a famous "Arthur" and he replied "Shakespeare!"

As mentioned earlier, the games master taught us the various dances for the Christmas party, which seemed to be stage-managed with a stopwatch! Now we have this dance, then we do this, now you can line up for your refreshments... It might not have actually been like that, but parties never really interested me at school anyway. I only remember attending one Christmas party. 

Teaching    

bewsian_12.JPG (87797 bytes) My History teacher had a strange way of teaching - or at least it felt strange to me! He was into summarizing every piece of text! He would read something out to us and before we wrote it down he then start asking us how we could write down what he had just said in a summary. He would go right round the class until he got it as he wanted.

It took longer to write out the edited versions than it would have done to write it down the original. I wonder if he was secretly in charge of the School Exercise Book Budget? I'm glad he's not editing my website. This would have been a one-page website!

Another of my teachers had a car which was - well - past it! In fact, he always said it was held together by faith and rust - in that order! He was our Religious Education teacher. One time somebody asked him how to spell Benjamin. He replied by saying its BEN with JAM IN! And the story of Noah and the Ark got his comical twist. He imagined the sceptics laughing at Noah by asking him how he was going to get the boat to the water. Noah's reply? I'm not. The water is coming to the boat!

The school tie has just reminded me of another story.

The Old
School Tie.

You didn't dare turn up to your Maths lesson without one. Why? Well, one particular teacher would make you one - out of paper! It would have a pretty coloured front AND he would make you wear it for the rest of the day in every other lesson. You came to school next day wearing your proper one! Most pupils called him Hitler because they assumed he was German. He was actually from Scotland. Two minutes before the end of every lesson he would always say "Collect up the books, put the cat out, feed the mice!" I also remember the time when I copied the wrong questions out for homework on the Friday and when we marked them on the Monday he announced to the class that I had made a "pig's ear" of the copying. He did let me have the marks though because I had got the answer right to the wrong questions, if you see what I mean. I also took in my copy of Guinness Book Of Records at one time and he went to the store room to get me some card to create an alternative cover to keep the original clean. Hitler? No chance. He was one of the best teachers in the school! And it was when he called into Lowes (Warrington) Ltd booksellers on Sankey Street (long gone) where I had my first job that he announced his disappointment at me not taking that O-Level Maths exam. 

And there was one teacher who NOBODY liked to have lessons from. His method was to colour-code everything. It would look good on the blackboard and must have took him all his lunch hour to write up there. But then WE had to write it in our exercise books using the same colour scheme! I'm not joking, but this sentence represents how he did it. Talk about paint the whole world with a rainbow! And if you were slower than others, hard luck, you had to catch up off your fellow pupils.

In the first couple of years we had to do drama. Acting just wasn't my scene. Having said that, I did get involved in the research for the previously mentioned Bewsey and Dallam Play (called The North Face of Longshaw Street, by the way). I didn't act in that, but did show up at rehearsals in the version 10 years later for the opening of the Pyramid Arts Centre in town centre. I was there to offer any input, but ended up in the play. Some would say I didn't act in that version either!

Anyway, back to drama classes. As I say, not my thing, but the teacher was involved in the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. It is also interesting that our lessons took place in our octagon-shaped hall on the old Girls' School side.

bewsian_19.jpg (49201 bytes)
During the Queen's Silver
Jubilee Year celebrations
in 1977, all schoolchildren
across Warrington were
presented with a commemorative coin.

School Assembly took place in the Octagonal Hall for 1st and 2nd years and in the big hall for 3rd, 4th and 5th years - with music played before assembly started (often a famous classical piece). Some pupils picked on the weakest by throwing their hymn books on his or her chair for him to hold until the end of assembly, leaving them holding a whole pile of hymn books for the rest of the session. I took part in many assemblies, with a reading or something.

djkenny_age13.jpg (30260 bytes)

We had a few school trips as part of our education, although sometimes they were just for pleasure - Blackpool Lights, for instance.

It was only day trips for me, such as North Wales and Delamere Forest, but some pupils were able to go abroad to France or Italy. The teacher involved in the foreign holidays used to make his own cini films of the holidays and it gave me my first insight into how they make cartoons. 

I watched him filming one open sequence with the letters running across the screen showing the destination. He would lay the letters out, photograph them, then move them across the page slightly, re-photograph them, and so on until his sequence was shot. He would return from the holiday and show the film. It was great to see, especially when he ran the film backwards to see one of the skiers pick themselves up from a fall!

This is DJKenny,
age 13, modelling
the school tie.

Photography

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My most enjoyable subjects in my final two years was photography. Of course, in my time it was all on film. Digital was only mentioned when you asked what the time was, if you happened to have a digital watch! I miss the procedures of the processing techniques as I never set up a darkroom when I had left school. The school had a well-equipped darkroom and studio facilities.

We used Praktica single lens reflex cameras and 35mm black and white film. We were charged a penny a shot for each picture taken and a small amount for the paper (Ilford brand in those days). We used Durst enlargers, but the teacher always preferred to use the older version they had. He once said you can use those flashy Dursts if you like but I can get a better print from the old one in the corner. I thoroughly enjoyed this subject and it even came in useful for another of my C.S.E. subjects as I took pictures in my local church to illustrate my Religious Education project.

We visited a film processing factory to see how the professionals process colour and black and white film.

When we had an exhibition in the school I told the story of that visit on a mounted board. And it's a good job my dad had his wits about him because I was describing how the film was stored on a roll and spelt it ROLE. Yoo wownt fynd enny spelllling mistakkes lyke thatt onn thiss websssite!

Praktica_MTL5B.jpg (193435 bytes)

The first photograph I
took at school in 1977.
The subject matter has
been the bane of my life
ever since! Everywhere
I go round the town
taking photos for the
website there is always
a lamp post trying to
get in the way.
Look out for a new
page called Lamp
Posts of Warrington!
Praktica
MTL5B.
The type we
used in our
photography
lessons

Photo copyright
Horst Günther Burkhardt III

Link to
Wikipedia
for licensing

One pupil asked how they managed to take a photo of the earth from space. The teacher replied: stand well back! As part of my compulsory English lessons you had to give a talk on a subject for about 15 minutes and then answer relevant questions from the other pupils in the class. I was brave to choose the procedure for processing a film, beginning with taking the film out of the cassette in a changing bag, spooling it onto a reel and placing it in the light-proof tank ready for the processing chemicals to be added. The bravery was actually doing it with real photos I had taken for the photography course. 

Durst_F60_Enlarger-a-RJP.jpg (125389 bytes) Something went horribly wrong and they didn't come out too well. The photography teacher offered a rescue plan by suggesting I used a process calling intensification.

This involved reprocessing the film in a different chemical to bring out the rather faded images. When that didn't work he said I won't charge you for the negatives. He then said what I should have done was use a dummy strip of film and add water to the tank in the English talk! Why didn't I think of that?

I bet you didn't know that my photography teacher invented the lottery? Well, he invented the optical scanning system they use. Okay, so it wasn't the system they use, but he did get there first in 1978. For the written exams he set the questions out as a multiple choice sheet where you blocked in a circle to indicate you answer.

His answer sheet contained holes in the position of the correct answer. He put his answer sheet on top of ours and if he saw a black circle coloured in through the hole you got a mark. 

He reckoned he could mark answer sheets much quicker that way. Of course, the national lottery uses computers to read marks on a page to indicate your choice of number. Whichever way was best, it got me a Grade One in my finals.

bewsian_07.jpg (49352 bytes)

A Durst F60
photographic
enlarger.
Made in
Italy. Copyright
Rickjpelleg

Link to
Wikipedia

for licensing

An early example
of still life in my first
few weeks in
Photography class.
You couldn't mistake
my pens - they've
got my name on.
Can't remember if
this was my original
watch or the school
replacement.

When we started the course in September, 1977, he
didn't give us that much confidence in the subject
because he told us that, with his qualifications, his
application to the top photography companies
in London would not get him any further than that
application form, and yet he was teaching us! It's a
good job we put that behind us right away.

bewsey_school_cse_gigan_22.JPG (89973 bytes)

Here is a Patterson developer, film spool and tank used to
process the film. There is a video on YouTube showing how
to develop a film using similar equipment. The video is
about 18 minutes in length and although some things were
slightly different to what I remember, it still brought back
happy memories for me after 36 years! And when you've
watch the video you'll be saying thank goodness for digital!
Great days though.

Prefect duties

bewsian_10.JPG (107599 bytes) In the fourth and fifth year I was selected to be a school prefect. One of my duties was to be posted at one of the doors at break times to ensure that pupils stayed out of the building, apart from using the toilets. It was quite an honour to be chosen because they only chose you if they felt you could be trusted. I didn't have any problems from other pupils because I had been chosen. I remember my final day at school as a prefect we were asked to stand by the fire alarms so nobody could set them off. Well it wasn't me that set them off! Actually, I don't think they did get set off. Not before I left the building anyway.

A view of the old Boys' School in modern times Photo taken 2 Dec 2006.

After School

When I had left school I became involved in working for the elderly in my local community. It led to me re-entering the school some years later when the school was happy to offer facilities for committee meetings and eventually for the Help The Needy & Over Sixties Club to meet there every Wednesday. When I was back at the school I met up with my old games master and asked if he was still teaching games. "Oh no he said. I'm too old for that now! I teach Maths these days." Help The Needy gave the school the chance to continue its community involvement because many pupils willing gave up their lunchtimes to assist with the serving of meals to the housebound members. The pupils, both girls and boys, really enjoyed their time there and I'm sure it inspired some of them to consider social and care work as a career when they left school. In fact, even when the over 60s club found permanent accommodation at Whitecross Community Centre, some of the children still came over from the school to help out at lunchtimes. Their effort was greatly appreciated and there were so many wishing to take part that they had to be put on a rota system.

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Two views of the school building when it was the head office for the
council's Social Services department, and known as Bewsey Old School, with a
modern lamp post.
The name Bewsey Old School was not the original name
for the Social Services building. They wanted to call it Locton House, but the local
residents complained that it wasn't in keeping with the memory of the school. Who
or what was Locton anyway? I still don't know. The authorities did use the the name
Locton in another way - Locton Lane is the road leading to the site from the north
end of Lodge Lane by the roundabout.
Photos taken 2 Dec 2006.
But what about the names of the roads for the houses built on the old
playing fields when Cheshire County Council sold them off in the 1990s?
Danby Close, Brompton Gardens, Salton Gardens, Levisham Gardens,
Helmsley Gardens, Normanby Close - sorry, I haven't a clue
what
connection they have to the school (they probably have no connection).

I had many happy years at Bewsey School, both as a pupil and later whilst working in the community.

Read more reader memories at the end of the page. Click here to go there now.

Here are some photos taken after the school closed in 1993. All six images copyright © D Hardman.

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Three views of one of the original Girls playgrounds. During my time at the school, the
photographic darkroom was in the block on the first photograph, the library was in the
upper floor of the second photograph, the photography classroom was on the ground
floor in the centre of the second photo and the main staff room was opposite the
orange door in the third photo. Also in the third photo on the first floor was the
science room where had the sodium chloride tasting lesson mentioned earlier.
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The first view shows two sections of the playgrounds of the old girls' school with the
tennis courts behind the fencing on the left with access to the school from Lodge Lane in
the distance along the road. The playing fields were to the left of the scene. The second
view shows one of the corridors in the old boys section. The main office was through the
doors in the distance and to the left. The third view shows one of the washrooms, but it 
s hard to tell whether it was one of the boys or the girls, or where it was in the building.

Bewsey High School Demolition (May 2013)   

bewsey_high_school_demolition_130515_01.JPG (107355 bytes) The building stood empty until 13 May 2013 when Excavation & Contracting UK Ltd assisted by BT Skip Hire moved in to demolish the buildings.

One thing I was asked and still don't know the answer to is this: where was the time capsule buried when the school closed in 1993?

bewsey_high_school_demolition_130515_05.JPG (159268 bytes)
bewsey_high_school_demolition_130515_04.jpg (130272 bytes)
bewsey_high_school_demolition_130516_01.JPG (122633 bytes) One suggestion has been outside the entrance in the area shown in these two photographs. Although I didn't witness it, my friend DJKenny had asked the demolition crew to remove one of the flag stones to investigate (it was the area I was going to suggest they looked at as one flag stone is larger than the others). Were you part of the team who buried the time capsule and can you pinpoint the location for us? Had it already been removed? I arrived on 16 May 2013 to take these two photographs and was told that no trace of the capsule had been found. So the mystery goes on. bewsey_high_school_demolition_130516_02.JPG (160293 bytes)

Before we continue with the demolition story, you will have noticed the old photo from 1934 near the top of the page.
I'll include it again here to expand on the story about the land close to Clapgates Road and Clapgates Crescent.
Oh, two street signs show the name differently: Clap Gates Road on one and Clapgates Road
on the other (also Clapgates Crescent). The current A-Z map has 'Clapgates'.

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The 1934 photo of the
school showing the
railway line and remains
of Clapgates Farm in the
bottom right corner.
Bewsey Park and the
hosing estate can be
seen in the top half.
The houses through the
gates are close to the
site of the Clapgates
Farm buildings. The road
to the right is called
Highgates Close, with
Highgates Lodge
further along.
The old fence
separating the
school from
the railway
embankment.
This is the spot where
the boys waited for the
games teacher to
take us across to the gym.
There was a bike shed
here in my school days.
The houses seen here
(and in the previous
photo) are built on the
site of the railway
embankment. That
is Highgates Close.

Here is a view of the Bewsey Old School building as it looked 0n 2 December 2006.

bewsey_old_school_061202.jpg (178741 bytes)

Both of the junior and senior schools had a
weather vane on top. I hope the weather vane
on the senior was kept for future use somewhere.
However, the one on the junior school on Lodge
Lane is still in place (seen here on the left on
18 May 2013). That school is having some
alterations done to bring it into the 21st century,
but so far they haven't touched the part where
the weather vane is - hopefully it stays. The
weather vanes were identical and are
seen together in the second photo.

bewsey_high_school_demolition_130518_01.JPG (72286 bytes) bewsey_schools_weather_vanes-2006-12.jpg (46067 bytes)

And a bit more about life at the school in my days there...

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This photo was taken on
17 May 2013. It looks
peaceful in this scene.
That's because the
demolition work is going
at the back of the
building. In fact, I did not
visit the site until the
third day of
demolition.
During my life at the
school I walked down
these steps many times.
They led into the
playground of the
original Girls' school in the
days when pupils were
separated. The kitchens
occupied the area in the
building seen here.
This was my form room
in my third year. It was
added to the school in the
later years and was one
of the science classrooms.
It was where I took my
C.S.E. Biology exam - not
my favourite subject.
This shows the original
main entrance into the
reception (bricked up in
later years when disabled
access was added to the
building on the opposite
side after the school 
building was handed over
to Social Services). The
window is that of the 
secretary's office where
pupils reported to on
return from hospital
appointments.
The school canteens
were alongside the
gymnasiums.
I always went home
for lunch (or as we called
it - 'dinner') so I never
knew whether the old
thing about awful school
dinners was true.
Maybe somebody can
tell me what they were
like. The canteens were
demolished after
the school closed
in 1993.
bewsey_high_school_demolition_130517_10.JPG (236887 bytes)

You would have read earlier that the first photo I took on my C.S.E. Photography course was of a lamp post. If I
was the first one in the group to use the camera it would have been a photo of a bike - the best thing to
photograph at the time. However the teacher encouraged us to try different photographic subjects to
'personalise' our work. So here is a modern-day photo of a bike outside the demolition site in 'time machine'
mode according to the photo editor. I suppose that is appropriate for the type of photo. The bike is, by chance,
in exactly the same position against the wall as the original bike from 1977.

On with the demolition.

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A worm's-eye view of the
main reception with the
ramp that was added 
in later years.
The first floor room was
one of the two art rooms.
I remember it had an
electric pencil sharpener.
I never saw any electric
pencils, though.
It looks like somebody
is an Everton fan.
This loft space was
above the science
classroom where we
did the salt-tasting
experiment.
Today's meeting
is cancelled.
One thing that annoys me
when a company vacates
a building is when they
leave a perfectly good
table and other furniture
behind - a local charity
could have made
good use of it.

These next photos were taken from the small embankment next to the site of the school canteens  - a vantage point that DJKenny didn't
spot until I sent him a photo (he arrived at the site before me on the first day we visited). 

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The sequence show progress on the 16th, 17th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd of May 2013 respectively. The second photo shows the whole site from
further away. The gymnasiums are on the right (saved for the community) and the grassed area on the left is where the canteens once stood.
In the days when the school occupied the buildings the area where tarmac is in the third photo was covered with grass (more on that later).
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These two decorative pieces graced the top of the main entrance to the school. They were saved and will be put to another use.
The one in the first photo had already been removed by the time I arrived at the site. I was able to witness the second one being
removed with great care by the demolition workers. One of them needed to climb on the roof to attach the rope. I don't know where
they were taken to, but hopefully they will be displayed in the town somewhere - I forgot to ask somebody on the day (18 May 2013).

 The building has now been demolished.

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Three views of the site taken  from (left to right) the north-east corner, south-east corner and north-west corner.
I was invited onto the site for a supervised photo opportunity. Thanks to the guys for looking after my health and
safety. The fourth photo was taken from over the fence separating the school site from St Rocco's Hospice, which
was built on the former tennis courts and adjacent playing field. The photos were taken on 23 May 2013.

Here is an interesting observation for lovers of history.

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Among the scrap metal I found this piece with the destination for the construction of the school
buildings painted onto it. You might be aware that in 1974 the government changed many of the
administration boundaries across the country, with the creation of Merseyside, Greater Manchester
and Cumbria in this region, but the original county boundaries did not change. Warrington's
administration came under Cheshire County Council from 1974 until 1998 (when it became a unitary
authority), but the section of the town north of the River Mersey was (and still is) within the county
boundary of Lancashire - it didn't move out of Lancashire (neither did Liverpool or Manchester).
Therefore the statement 'Bewsey, Lancs' is as true today as it was in 1934 when the school opened.

For more on this subject, see these two websites:
Friends of Real Lancashire
www.forl.org and The Association of British Counties www.abcounties.co.uk.

Almost there for demolition and recycling.

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Two final scenes of the demolition site. Once the
rubble, metal and wood above ground level had
been cleared and recycled, the crew had the task of
removing the foundations and levelling the ground.
The second photo is a view of the former gymnasiums
never before possible while the school existed.
The Islamic community now own the former girls' gym
on the right, having purchased it from Warrington
Borough Council. I'm not sure who owns the other gym.
Two scenes showing the area between the two school
sites. On the left we look towards the senior school
through the fence which separates the school from
St Rocco's Hospice. The view on the right looks towards
Lodge Lane, one of the three former entrances to the
senior school. Part of the senior school occupied the
grassed area. My first year classroom was located
in roughly the centre of the first photo.
Photos taken 3 June 2013 Photos taken 18 May 2013 (left) and 3 June 2013

I would like to give a big thank you to Excavation & Contracting UK Ltd, BT Skip Hire and to St Rocco's Hospice for allowing me vantage points to take some of these photographs. Sadly, the time capsule wasn't found. If anybody knows of its whereabouts, get in touch so I can pass on the information to all the people who have asked me about it. Also, thanks to DJKenny for his photograph showing the eastern side of the school building (below, centre).

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After Demolition

I revisited the site on 14 August 2013 to see what had happened to the area. When I last spoke to the demolition company in June they said the land had not been sold at that point. Now it seems it will be some time yet as there is a new fence surrounding the site. I assume the demolition company took back their own fencing and the authorities put up the one here now. I also assume that houses will be built on the land, as a local housing trust was named in a conversation with me as the future occupiers of the site. However, so far I have not had confirmation for or against that company's involvement, so I will not reveal who it is. Notice in the second photo that nature has already reclaimed the land.

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The view from the
south-west corner.
The kitchens were in
the foreground with
the exit to Clapgates
Road at the top right.
The view from the
south-east (Clapgates
Road entrance).
The new fence - this
is where the main
entrance to the
school reception was.
Photos taken 14 August 2013

If they do sell the land for houses, I hope they are a bit more respectful for the memory of the school by giving the roads meaningful names. They could, for instance use the house names (Boulting, Downham, Furness, Poole or Robertson - of course some already exist as street names in the town, but they could be adapted: Poole Close/View/Gardens etc). Or maybe name them after former teachers - Griffiths after Marjorie Griffiths. Miss Griffiths was a charity fundraiser, magistrate and head teacher at Bewsey School. She worked tirelessly for disabled people until her death in 1994. In fact, Warrington Disability Partnership (WDP) has already named part of the their headquarters at Beaufort Street in Sankey Bridges the Marjorie Griffiths Learning Centre in her memory. And there is a another connection here too: the WDP is based in part of the Evelyn Street School, which merged with Bewsey School in 1972. Yes, there is already Griffiths Avenue in Risley and Griffiths Street in Westy, but you could use something like Griffiths Close. I wonder if anybody in authority will take me up on it? Time will tell (this written 18.8.13).

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The gymnasiums in their modern setting. The boys' changing rooms can be seen
in the first photo (still in use as a part of a gymnasium), with the girls' changing
room in the second photo, now used by the Islamic community as part of their
community centre. Building work  on the extension nears completion (third photo).
Photos taken 20 May 2013 (first and second) and 26 Nov 2013
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The photo above was taken on 2 Dec 2012

And There's More

We're not finished yet. The school might have gone now, but I won't let it disappear just yet. The following six photos were provided by Conrad Williams. Link to his website www.conradwilliams.net. Many thanks Conrad for allowing the use of your photos.

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The boys' school. My
maths teacher used the
classroom to the left of
silver car.
The same playground from
the opposite side. When I
worked for Help The Needy
Over Sixties Club we had
committee meetings in the
classroom in the corner by
the black car.
The school library was
on the first floor of the
building in the centre
of the photo.
A science classroom
was upstairs on the
left as we look.
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The main reception. This scene shows the
octagonal hall, and the
school canteens in
the distance to the right 
The playground of the
original girls' school. The
weather vane can be
seen on top of the library.

Another observation.

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Once Social Services
moved into the building
after the school closed a
decision was made to
demolish surplus parts
of the school. The main
hall occupied the land on
the left of the photo.
A bit of creative art
which was featured
in the brickwork below
the weather vane in the
third photo above. There
isn't much of this in
modern buildings - it
probably costs too much.

This next set of photos formed part of my C.S.E. Photography course in the my fourth and fifth years between 1977 and 1979. The quality of the negatives has deteriorated over the years, but I have cleaned them up a bit for the digital age.

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One of the
buildings
used
on the
south side
of the
school. I
think this
one was
used by
the
junior
school - it
might even
be a
canteen.
This scene shows one 
of the corridors. I know
I took the photo and 
as far as I can remember
most of the corridors
were normally free from
clutter (long before
they came up with 'health
and safety'), but 
clearly my memory is 
clouded as I have
no recollection of the
items by the windows.
They didn't call it health
and safety in those days.
I think it was called
'common sense'.
The bike sheds on the
north (former girls) side
of the school. The tennis
and netball courts are in
the top left. This area is
now occupied by St
Rocco's Hospice who have
a car park at the top end
and a garden to the left
of the bike shed area.
The road was reused and
leads to the car park. My
first year classroom
was the second one
along through the door
where the two children
are stood to the left of
the telegraph pole. (Why
do we still call them
telegraph poles?)
The netball courts. The
photo formed part of
my photography course
featuring people. In this
day and age you would
be frowned upon for
taking photos of people so
I haven't got a clue how
you would include them
in a photography course
today without having lots
of forms to fill in. That's
why you don't see many
people on my website:
it's too much hard work!
At least most of 
the children here have
their backs to me so I
can illustrate the
sporting activities.
The road
separating 
junior and
senior
schools.
This was
the way
I came into
school.
It was also
the road
used for
deliveries
to the
school.

More photos from my photography course.

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This is a view of the walkway at the back of
the junior school, but the design is exactly
the same as the senior school. The French
windows were welcome in the summer
because it got quite hot in those classrooms.
It was freezing in the winter of course
and there were many times when pupils
were sent home due to the cold. I sat in my
parka on a few occasions during lessons.
In this view
we looks
towards
the other
entrance 
on Lodge
Lane. The
caretaker's
house is on
the top right.
A nursing
home
occupies
land on the
right today.
A view of
the octagonal 
hall, canteens
and bike shed
(the school
had two bike
sheds - one
on each side
of the site).
The wall
separating
the gyms
from the
grassed
area in
front of
the school
building I
mentioned
earlier (now
a car park).
Recycling?
I don't think
the school
promoted it
in those days.
So everything
was thrown
on landfill
(unless you
followed Blue
Peter's
advice
in the 1970s). 
bewsey_old_school_061202_3.JPG (194038 bytes) The photo, left, is today's view of the fifth image above, which now
shows new houses built on High Gates Close, the site of the former
railway embankment. The houses on the top left of the photo are
on Farmside Close, acknowledging Clap Gates Farm. The photo,
right, looks in the opposite direction towards the site of the
school canteens which stood on the site of the embankment in the
photo. The only thing that has changed since I took the photos
on 2 Dec 2012 is the extension to the former girls'
changing rooms in 2013 in the left of the photo.
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Photography course assignments - a couple of examples.

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One of our photography assignments was to tell a story in three photographs.
Mine was simple - a walk into the school building, getting closer to the door
each time. They say a picture is worth a thousand words - I would struggle to
stretch this story to three times that. I can't remember how many marks I
scored for this assignment. I remember the teacher saying on the first
day that we weren't here to take 'holiday snaps' - he wanted to see
good, professional-looking photos. I completed the course with a Grade 1 pass
so maybe this simple idea for my three pictures story wasn't that bad after all.
This is the school yard on the playing fields side (the former girls' school from
the old days). I was taught English in the classroom to the left of the door.
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The teacher showed us how to create a negative print from a negative. Easy today
in the digital age, but in those days it was more tricky. We started off with a
standard negative image which, if I remember correctly, we lined up with a strip
of lithographic film in the dark and exposed the image onto it. This then created
a positive image on the lithographic film which was then printed onto the
photographic paper in the normal way. The first photo here is the print from the
normal negative. The second photo is the negative print. I can't remember how I
achieved the result in the third photo - it was a one-off project.

A bit of then and now.

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There was an entrance to the school through the arch of the railway bridge
of The Cheshire Lines Railway, which marks the boundary between Bewsey
and Whitecross. Black and white photos taken between 1977 and 1979.
Colour photo taken 15 May 2013.
Two views of the railway bridge over Lovely
Lane near Clapgates Road in the late 1970s
and 11 Nov 2006. The only differences are
the addition of the safety notices.

Bewsey Lodge Primary School

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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 read some memories of the senior school sent in by former
pupils, have a look at some photos of the Bewsey Lodge Primary School, as it is known today.

Bewsey Lodge Primary School photographed on 2 Dec 2006.

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The original front entrance to the school, and still here. The second photo gives the year it opened, 1932. If you are into architecture
you might appreciate the skills of the stonemason. How does it compare to the new building completed in 2013 (fifth photo)?
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Demolition of the north
side (20 May 2013)
Part of the original road to
the senior school was
sold off to the neighbours
(right of the high fence)
to extend their garden
The view from half-way
along the other Lodge
Lane entrance with
Bewsey Old School
in the distance
The Bewsey Lodge
Gates (2 Dec 2006)
Building Bright Futures
(20 May 2013)

Visit the Bewsey Lodge Primary School website

Reader's Memories                     

Teachers who were at Bewsey between 1954 and 1958 were:

MISS ELLIS ...... if she found you had headlice, she would send you home
with a letter and a dark brown bottleful of 'lotion'
MISS SWAN (later became MRS HAIGH) ...... taught Art
MRS JONES ...... the Drama teacher MRS HICKS ..... Music teacher
MISS LOUDON ..... my favourite teacher to whom I gave a bunch of flowers from our garden, every Monday morning which were always put in a vase on her desk. MISS HATCH ......Physical Education teacher
MISS BOWE ...... one of two Needlework teachers MISS HAWTHORNE ..... Science teacher
MRS MATHER ...... the History teacher MISS McGINN ..... Needlework teacher.
MISS STONE ..... Religious Instruction teacher MISS HARRIS, MRS JOLLEY and MISS ENTWISTLE ...... Domestic Science (cookery) teachers.

I remember my first day at Bewsey because I was SO proud to be wearing my new uniform... something I'd never had to wear at Primary school. I remember my belted 'burberry' (or gaberdine) but mostly I can remember my navy beret complete with green pom pom... yes honestly, it had a green pom pom on top. I was a little girl who'd always worn a hair ribbon bow on the top of my head, so I was quite thrilled with my new 'headgear'... until I got to the bus stop and while waiting for the school bus, I was teased and had the beret pulled off and passed around. Worse still when I got to my new school and saw only one other. I was tormented and bullied unmercifully. At hometime I took my beret home minus pom pom, and needless to say I never, ever wore it again.

I remember in one cookery lesson with Miss Entwistle, I sat at a table at the front of the class and someone left the classroom door open, asked to please shut it, I got up... so did the girl next to me, we both dashed to do teacher's bidding and I caught my leg on something very sharp, sticking out of an old tin larder/cupboard. I screamed in pain as my knee was ripped open and was carried over to the Headmistress's office where she wanted me taken to hospital to be stitched up. I was SO terrified at the thought of being 'sewn up' and refused to go, so I was bandaged up and sent home. I still have the scar today, 47 years on.

In my final year in needlework class, I made a petticoat with matching knickers. Miss McGinn insisted that as I was such 'a little thing' with absolutely no shape, my petticoat would be a straight one with no cups and instead of lace edged panties, mine would be 'granny type bloomers' with legs reaching almost to my knees. I used to try and fake 'sickness' every week on sewing day, but as Mum had paid out good money for material etc, I HAD to go to school and get the hated garment finished. I never did wear it... can you blame me??

On a much happier note, were the school dinners... ooooh, I can smell them even now. Proper mashed potatoes (not your dried packet stuff), cabbage, homemade pie, lovely gravy etc, then there was lovely thick rice pudding or my absolute favourite, semolina with either a blob of jam or a big thick ginger biscuit which we called NIG NOGS. Also chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce, gorgeous custard, blancmange etc. Only thing I didn't like was 'frogspawn'... tapioca. Yep, school dinners were excellent, not like the quick and convenient stuff they dish up nowadays (and I should know, I spent 12 yrs in a school kitchen in the 80's).

I was in FURNESS HOUSE throughout my time at Bewsey and at the last House Festival before I left the school, I presented Mrs Furness with a lovely bouquet of flowers. I remember my little speech: "As I leave school this Christmas, this is the last House Festival I shall ever attend. Please accept these flowers on behalf of all the pupils here at Bewsey"

Seeing again the pic of the Caretaker's house, reminded me of the AVIARY that was in the playground alongside the toilets and each holiday, I used to volunteer to come in  and feed and water the many budgies and canaries that were there. My brother and I used to walk from home at Orford, call at the caretaker's house each morning for the key then clean up the aviary, giving the birds fresh seed and water. I don't ever remember it raining on these occasions so we would spend ages just enjoying them. That was a lovely job which we looked forward to every holiday.

They do say schooldays are the best days of your life and for me they certainly were.

Ex-pupil Kathleen Barker nee Spero.

Life at Bewsey Girls School

I attended Bewsey Girl's Secondary Modern between 1954 and 1958. I was a very forward and pushy child and had to be at the front of the queue for everything. I loved sports especially running and would enter as many races as possible. 

I think the first 3 winners in each race went on to represent the school at the Town Sports which were held in Victoria Park. I never managed to get there until one year, someone fell ill and so I took her place. I failed though, I came LAST!

Because music was a favourite lesson of mine, I joined the choir. All went well until one day the teacher had all of us (about 40) up on the stage. Me being tiny, was stood on the front row. She walked slowly along the line listening carefully to each one of us, but me being very nervous of her, clammed up and just 'mimed'. I was thrown out of the choir there and then.

Then there was the Drama group, how I loved that. One year I got the part of the Angel Gabriel in the Christmas Nativity. I was on stage throughout the whole performance being the narrator. Another year I played the part of Beelzebub. I remember having to drag off the stage, a girl on my back who was much bigger than me and had her hands around my neck Then there was the time I made Chelsea buns in the cookery class and put SALT in them instead of SUGAR. Mum made me eat every one (she was SO annoyed with me). I cried the day I left when I was 15. I had enjoyed every moment of my time there. (ANON)

Don't forget to send in your own memories of life at Bewsey School. It would great to hear from you, especially if you were in my class.
Surnames I remember for people in my 5th year class were Algie, Anderson, Brown, Burrell, Chilvers, Dobson and Heaton.
These were just the boys - in fact, one of the teachers called all the boys by their surnames, and the girls by their first names.
Thanks to DJKenny for the year and to Philippe for the exact date of the closure of the school - 31 August 1993.

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