Whalley C.E. School


The Church School or National School (as it was called then), was erected in 1844 at a cost of £700.00, including the master's house. Its first master and mistress were James Read and Hannah (Anna) Hindson.

Until 1883, the national school was run in three separate departments called The Boys' School, The Girls' School and the Infants. In 1882 there were 74 boys under the master, Mr Herbert Barker, 193 girls under a Miss Sarah Russell and 86 infants who were looked after by an assistant mistress, Miss Annie Mathewson.

In 1882 church records regretted that the proposed new school had not been commenced but hoped that it would not long be delayed. The new school was needed as the two classrooms were greatly over crowded. A 'Whalley New National School Building Fund' was set up.

In 1883 the foundation stone was laid for the new school by Mr. H.W. Worsley-Taylor of Moreton Hall.

In 1884 the boys moved into the new building (the present west end of the school). It consisted of a large room to accommodate about 160 pupils, with an east wing and a classroom for a further 60 pupils. The project cost £800.00. The girls remained in the Old National School building and the infants became a separate department in the former boys' schoolroom.

The departments ran in this way until 1894 when the headmaster, Mr. J.M. Rawcliffe, decided that the boys and girls should be taught in the new school and the old building was to be used solely for the infants. The total number of staff in 1894 was 8, with an attendance of 130 boys and 145 girls making a total of 275.

Since the building of the Boys school there have been further modifications and improvements. The first major development came in 1913 when the Boysí school was modified and extended to provide two new classrooms. The other major work was the building of the Assembly Hall, the remodelling of the classrooms and the provision of a new kitchen in 1969 and 1970. Improvements to the playground, toilets and the provision of the sports field have been achieved over the years.


The lessons in school were concerned mainly with basic instruction in the 3 'Rs' (Reading, Writing & Arithmetic). Much time was spent in Reading, either silently or to the class. The stories and poems often had a moral or religious message. The Bible was read regularly. One of Whalley's reading books at the time was Southey's 'Life of Nelson'. Learning poems and passages from books by heart was an important school activity and former pupils remember 'Young Lochinvar' as a popular choice.

Writing was another essential subject. Infants often began with sand trays in which they wrote with their fingers. Older children were initially taught to write on slates with a slate pencil.

Once basic skills where required they were set endless copying tasks often writing the same phrases or sentences ten or twelve times in their copying books.

Arithmetic was usually confined to the basic rules of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. The pupils were often given long and tedious problems to solve, so that they were kept occupied while the teachers dealt with other pupils in the class.

Other subjects such as history, geography, grammar and crafts where also taught. In the 1880's the Girls' Department of Whalley School got consistently high praise for there needlework. The pupils made plain useful items such as pinafores, baby clothes, petticoats, socks and vests. The boys were largely taught drawing.

Geography and history were taught in an uninspiring way. Geography was largely concerned with maps and learning lists of rivers, mountains, towns and various statistics. History involved further lists of Kings, dates of battles and stories e.g., King Alfred and the cakes, King Canute commanding the waves.

Instead of P.E. Lessons, the children were given drill exercises to do. The children did not change their clothes or shoes and the exercises where sometimes carried out standing at their desks or in the spaces between the desks. In good weather, the children did drill in the playground.

Discipline was usually strict and teachers were expected to rule with a firm hand. Corporal punishment was often used for minor offences, e.g., two strokes for whistling in class.


Below is information from the school log book and diaries of events which took place in its history.

February 18th 1884 - work commenced in the new school

October 21st 1904 - today the 99th anniversary of Trafalgar, special lessons were given on Nelson's work and character. School dismissed 15 minutes earlier in the afternoon.

May 1935 - Silver Jubilee Celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary when Jubilee Mugs and Handkerchiefs were distributed to the children by Miss Dorothy Taylor.

June 1953 - Coronation of H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II - presentation and extended Whitsuntide holidays.


The First World War broke out in August 1914 during the school holidays. It receives little mention in the log book. The headmaster Mr. J.W. Shaw joined the forced in May 1917 for one year and nine months and Mr. W.S.G. Proctor was acting head during his absence. News of the Armistice (November 11th 1918), meant half a day holiday and there were some extra holidays for local peace celebrations.

During the Second World War, the school was used as an Evacuation Centre by St. Bede's College, Manchester and later, in 1941, by St. Augustine's another Manchester school which had been bombed.

Whalley School supported Clitheroe District Warship Week (March 1942) and visiting officers and men from the adopted ship H.M.S. Castleton gave talks and demonstrations to the school children.

The school played a great part in supporting the war effort and carried out fuel economy measures, by collecting salvage and raised over £700.00 for War Savings Certificates.

At the end of the war there were the 'Victory over Europe' celebrations and later the 'Victory over Japan' celebrations which gave the pupils extra holidays.


For many years, an important curricular activity was the school garden which features a great deal in the log book. Although gardening was mentioned as early as 1907, it seems to have been started properly after 1910 when the headmaster Mr. J. Chew obtained permission for gardening to become an official part of the curriculum. Thus, in 1911, a strip of land beside the playing field became the official school garden. Later plots were obtained in the area now known as 'The Grove'.

Once the garden was ready, gardening lessons were a regular feature of the boys' school timetable. In 1922, the garden was described as having vegetable plots, flower borders, a fruit plot and an experimental area. Pupils kept records of crop yields and carried out propagation and crop experiments. In 1943, poultry and rabbits were introduced and gardening continued to be taught for almost another 20 years.


In 1925, a Domestic Centre was set up at the Whalley Grammar School and some the older girls went there for Cookery lessons. Here the girls also learned about Home Management e.g., bed making, setting tables and mending clothes. The following year the boys went to the Grammar School for Handwork lessons. This continued for many years.


Outings and trips away from the classroom have also been a feature of school life. Quite often in the early days, outings consisted of walks and rambles in the local countryside. References are made to Clerk Hill Deer Park, Ribchester via Hacking Boat, to Clitheroe Castle, Pendle Hill and Whalley Nab.

Occasionally, more adventurous journeys were undertaken e.g., to Preston for a Nature Study Display (1910), to Wembley for the British Empire Exhibition (1924).

In the 1960's, 70's & 80's educational trips ventured further afield. School parties have been taken to Chester, Haworth and the Bronte country, York, Manchester and London to name but a few examples. These trips enabled the pupils to experience zoos, museums, castles, historic houses and canal and railway trips.


There were also times when the pupils went to the Assembly Rooms (Rendezvous as its now called) or to the Co-operative Hall (now Maureen Cookson's) for lectures, lantern slides and film shows. These were usually instructional rather than for entertainment e.g., in 1937 'The Romance of a piece of Coal' was a film featured.

By the 1950's, educational film shows were quite often given in school with such titles as 'Cocoa from Nigeria' and 'The Story of a Cup of Tea'.

Keeping pace with modern trends, the school obtained its first television in 1970, and made use of school broadcasts in the curriculum.


Attendance was very important. Whalley School was proud of its record and quite often won the highest attendance in the local area, which allowed the children to go home earlier on a Friday afternoon.

However, there were times when attendance was low. There were epidemics of chicken pox, measles, whooping cough and diptheria. On several occasions when the epidemics where severe, the school was closed for three or four weeks by the local medical officer. It is also interesting to note that there were numerous absences at hay making time.


The unpredictability of the British climate has provided Whalley School with many problems over the years.

Winters in the past seemed to have been more severe than in recent years and where often marked by heavy snow falls. The log book recalls the particular severe winter weather of 1947.

26th February, 1947 : Owing to heavy fall of snow during the night only 44 children attended this morning (roll 145).

The winter cold spells often caused trouble with frozen pipes and iced up toilets. In January 1962, the headmaster (Mr. Shaw) reports that he spent three hours with a blow lamp thawing out the lavatory pipes. The caretaker and the head spent one Saturday pouring boiling water on the toilets to make them serviceable. Conditions were like a skating rink!!!! In January, 1963 frozen mains meant that the school was without running water for three weeks.

Heavy rain often caused flooding, especially in the former basement dining room and blocked drains caused great problems.

However, milder weather enabled the children to enjoy maypole dancing outside, or singing from the Church tower on May Day, the summer sports, and on occasions of extreme heat, lessons in the yard and playing field.


In the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, evening classes were held in Whalley School and seemed to be very popular as they were attended by 165 students. Courses included Needlework, Sick Nursing, Physiography, English Drawing, Arithmetic and Vocal Music.


The children used to amuse themselves in the school yard by playing Battledore and Shuttlecock. This was played around Pancake Tuesday. Skipping was a favourite with the girls and whips and tops for the boys. They also played Rounders, Hopscotch, Marbles, Bobbers and Checks as well as playing with steel hoops guided by steel hooks.


One of the oldest objects to be found in the village school is the wooden maypole which stands at the front of the school hall. The age of the maypole remains a mystery although older residents of the village danced around it in the early 1920's.

The earliest record of maypole dancing in Whalley School can be found in the school log book, dated 16th May 1953 where it noted 'A team of boys and girls went to dance the maypole at Read Hall'. A further record in 1960 tells of class Standard III performing maypole dancing at the school's Open Day. By the early 70's maypole dancing had become an annual event accompanied by singing from the Church tower on May Day.

In the 70's, Mrs. Dinah Winterbottom would hone the maypole team to displays of pure perfection. Forty minutes of non-stop dancing would see such marvelous patterns woven by the coloured ribbons down the pole. Barber's Pole, The Umbrella Dance, Spider's Web and Single Plait, to name just some of the dances, were practised into a well drilled routine which left parents spellbound.

On one occasion, the maypole team put on a display at Calderstones Hospital in such atrocious, windy conditions that the maypole was actually blown over. No children were dancing at the time.

During the 80's and early 90's, maypole and country dancing displays became features of the may fayres organised by the Parent-Teacher Association and later, the Friends of Whalley School. Both infant and junior classes during this time performed on the school playground in front of their parents.

In the Spring of 1994, the fate of the maypole became increasingly unsure. There was talk of it being dismantled. To those people who had witnessed so many wonderful performances it was an impending tragedy. Drastic measures were called for!!! The maypole was secretly spirited out of school and carried round to the safe haven of the Abbey, at that time managed by Mrs. Hadleigh (formerly Winterbottom). The maypole's whereabouts remained a guarded secret for several years.

Changes in personnel at the school with a more sympathetic approach allowed the maypole to 'come back home'. With official blessing, a group of year 6 boys transported the maypole back to school and although no public performance has yet taken place, the maypole is brought out each year in the Spring term and new groups of children have the enjoyment of dancing round the pole once again.


During the 70's, 80's and 90's only minor alterations were made to the actual exterior of the buildings. The basement, which in 1971 was the dining room and craft room, was refurbished to create a computer suite and a base for the 'out of school' club. The old schoolmaster's house was gutted to create an open space for infants and the stone stairs were replaced by a wooden staircase which led to a storeroom and new caretaker's office. A new school office was attached to the front of the school.

The new millenium heralded the beginning of much greater change. In 2001, the roof of the infant department was found to be pushing out the exterior walls of the building. The building was declared unsafe and evenutally razed to the ground to make way for a new set of infant classes, plus a new library area. Mr. Derek Pickup, the longest serving teacher since 1971 laid the date stone for this new building.

The advent of Calderstones Park and other new building developments around the village created much pressure on the school and, as pupil numbers began to rise, so plans were made to extend the school by adding on two extra classrooms. This work began in January 2004 and completed by September of the same year.

Countless minor alterations have been made to the interior of the building to bring the school into the 21st Century. Blackboards have been replaced by whiteboards, computers have become standard pieces of classroom equipment, tilting, wooden-lid desks have been replaced by tables and plastic trays, carpets now muffle the sound of scraping chair legs and text books are almost a thing of the past.


This was the headline in the Daily Mirror, June 4th 1980. There were eleven sets of twins at the school. They were collectively photographed and subsequently the picture appeared in the newspaper


This was introduced in 1980. Though not compulsory until the past few years. The uniform at that time consisted of royal blue jumpers/cardigans, pale blue blouses, red ties and grey skirts/trousers.


On Victorian Day all the children at school wore Victorian dress. A handbell was rung at the start of the day and we all had to line up in there classes on the school yard. They were then drilled up and down and most of them soon became exhausted. After drill we were marched in single file into the classrooms. In the afternoon we had a sing-song which was held in the hall followed by a party. From what I can remember it was a very good day (MAGS)