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St Catharine's, Wigan


St Catharine's School
St Catharine's School
Photo: Bill Bithell
Views: 7,189
Item #: 15861
This photograph is of St. Catharine’s Day School which was sited in Scholefield Lane and was taken in the 1960s. Originally this building was erected in 1834 and provided accommodation for 900 pupils in two large classrooms. However the pupils rarely attended, playing truant and being sent to work by their parents. It is interesting to see the milk crates stacked against the outside wall ready for the milkman to pick up the empties and replace them with full bottles on the following morning. This was at the time when children were provided with a one third pint bottle of milk every day.

Comment by: JohnB on 28th September 2010 at 19:04

Absolutely brilliant. I've waited years to see such a photo of my old school which I left in 1953, it has happy memories for me. Thank you again Bill.

Comment by: Jean J on 28th September 2010 at 23:04

I'd always hoped a photo of this school would turn up on here one day. I left in 1968. My mum was lollypop lady here for about 14 years.

Comment by: roy thompson on 1st October 2010 at 23:49

i remember when lollypop ladies first came on the scene we where taken down to st pats to watch a film on how to cross roads with the lollypop ladies but i was grown up then at least ten years old i didnt need anybody to see me across the road

Comment by: Ann Roberts ne Lowton on 2nd October 2010 at 11:29

How wonderful to see my old school again,I was close to tears at the memories!

Comment by: jim holding on 6th October 2010 at 21:13

Thanks bill,,,,like others on this page I have waited for one to turn up..have tried to describe how it looked ,,could always see it in my mind,,,this brilliant,,I left summer of 57,,,,any one else about,,,,thanks again bill

Comment by: carole shambley ne smith on 7th October 2010 at 15:55

how good it was to see my old primary what memories

Comment by: dot hesketh nee Ince on 15th October 2010 at 15:58

What an absolute joy to see the front of the school which I attended. I remember the milk and it was lovely to drink, if it hadn't been stored near to the radiator. The photo holds so many happy times. Glad to see the front, as against the school yard and groups of class children having a photo taken. Pity we haven't more like this great one priceless gem. Thanks for this Dot

Comment by: roy thompson on 1st November 2010 at 02:43

can anyone help to jog my memory on how many classes there where and how they where named i remember starting in the infants about 1949 and then onto juniors and i think standards and possibly seniors but the school seems to be a lot bigger than that i remember my last teacher was miss wilcox and the headmaster was mr sherington and also mr rudd who was the sports teacher and the pupils favourite

Comment by: roy thompson on 4th November 2010 at 15:43

i think that i,ve got the headmasters name wrong i think it was Shenton not sherington

Comment by: jim holding on 4th November 2010 at 20:00

hello Roy,,,,Yes you correct it was Mr Shenton as was,,,Frank,,,,,he was a real gentleman,,,,he left St Catherines and went to Beech Hill School in the early 60,s,,he used to live on Poolstock Lane at the Marus Bridge end,,,used to see him from time to time,,like you we where re-housed but t[o Worsley Mesnes in the mid 50,s,,and He wou[ld still be pedalling along the rode on his green raleigh bike,,,

Comment by: jim holding on 4th November 2010 at 20:10

Roy as I remember,,,,,,,,
1st in fants class,,,Mrs Watson,
2nd infants class,,Mrs Boyer,
3rd infants class,,Mrs Fletcher
Stanard 1 Miss Houghton,,,,spinster of this parish

all these class where downstairs,,,,,
standard 2 upstairs,,Mrs Atherton,,,bit of a dragon
standard 3 Mr Rudd,(Eddie)upstairs
Standard 4 over boiler house,,,Miss Wilcox

and inbetween Standard 3 and Standard 2,,,Mr Shenton taught what was known as transitional class for the kids who needed that extra teaching,who wernt quite as fast as others,,,,Like I said he was a true gent as was Eddie Rudd,
Eddie Rudd was quite the sportsman,,he used to play for Horwich RMI in the lancs combinnation,,when Wigan Athletic were top dogs at the time

Comment by: roy thompson on 6th November 2010 at 03:02

thanks for the information jim has you have regenerated the memory banks and i am back in the big hall upstairs and mr rudd trying to teach us how to dance with the girls [yuk] he said all footballers where good dancers [i didnt believe him] although i would love to have danced with phillis heaton or anne lowton but i was chicken has my friend colin blackledge said

Comment by: ann roberts on 11th November 2010 at 11:09

so Roy,you wished that you had asked me to dance,I am somewhat older now ,but I am still game,love to you.Ann Lowton

Comment by: Keith Bowen on 11th November 2010 at 22:00

Good to know you're still around Roy, it's been along time since we were in the same class (1952/53) and playing in the same football team, best wishes to you.Keith

Comment by: JosephT on 11th November 2010 at 22:07

If my memory serves me right the entrance to the left was usually for the Infants, over the years it must have seen thousands upon thousands of young children. It was always a hive of activity at certain times. While I'm at it I suppose this lovely building was replaced because it was "inefficient" or some such as excuse to replace it with a much more "efficient" one. After all it doesn't look as if it's ready to fall down and it was built in the 1830's with "proper" walls etc., the replacement is an architectural "disarster" dharling!!

Comment by: roy thompson on 13th November 2010 at 01:58

hi anne nice to here from you and im glad to know your still game [lol] i never did get to dance with any of you girls infact i never met any of you again when i left school. then i married young and emigrated so i missed out on seeing all you young girls blossom into beautiful women but when i log onto these pages im back to 10 years old running and laughing with not a care in the world

Comment by: roy thompson on 13th November 2010 at 02:21

hello Kieth its nice to know someone actually remembers me it was brilliant playing football for saint cats down at the rek which was a full sized pitch with a gradiant of 1 in 4 and every time it rained there was a lake as big as the clarry in the bottom corner and trying to kick a leather ball through that was impossible but glorious i cant remember if we won many games but i know i enjoyed them

Comment by: Ann Roberts on 13th November 2010 at 11:32

Isn't it woderful that wiganworld allows us to keep in touch with our roots from all over the world.What strikes me is how happy we all were as children,and how our memories make us children again if only in our minds.Ileft Wigan in the 1960's but love the webpage and seeing names from the past LUV TO ALL Ann Lowton.

Comment by: roy thompson on 17th November 2010 at 14:06

Hi again Anne just read your notes and i agree that when you look through the windows of your mind you can relive any age that you,ve been, and visit any place that you,ve lived. but it strikes me that it is nearly always this place and this era and i thank wigan world and everybody who contributes into it to rekindle the golden memories of our time

Comment by: Keith Bowen on 21st November 2010 at 21:19

Hi Roy, just read your comment, you've summed up the experience from the old days excellently. You're right we probably lost more than we won but always went on the pitch believing we could be victorious and what memories it left us.

Comment by: JohnB on 11th December 2010 at 11:02

In August 1833, Parliament voted sums of money each year for the construction of schools for poor children, the first time the state had become involved with education in England and Wales. St Catharines was built the year after in 1834 but education wasn't "free" and although it cost a relatively small amount (perhaps a penny a week) you have to remember the poverty that was around at the time and that children as young as 8 were used down the mines, little wonder attendance was poor.

Comment by: Donald Underwood on 13th January 2011 at 19:13

I owe everything to the wonderful teachers at St Catharine's
I entered Miss Shacklady's class in 1937,then Miss Bowyer's,Miss Gaskell's,two years with Miss Horton and then the formidable Miss Bentham who ran the Scholarship class,I left for WGS 1943.The other teachers in my time were Mr Steele the Head,Miss Walmesley,Miss Pye (Mrs Fletcher) Miss Bunnell & Mr & Mrs Webster. & clarice Wilcock & the terrifying Miss MacAllan.Among my fellows were Tom Purdham,Alan Prescott.Gordon Enion,Jack Hilton,Derek Hill and the lovely girls Audrey yates,Doreen Lowe,Margaret Melling,Evelyn Wignall,Brenda Prescott.Marian Alsop,Jean Henry

Comment by: june causey on 7th February 2011 at 00:05

what a lovely photograph. makes me cry but what an absolute joy to see. i can remember every classroom and can almost see george rudd taking the milk crates into school. it brings back so many memories. i remember miss atherton well and once a week she would read us a story about wurzel gummidge. how i loved that old scarecrow. i lived in prescott`s yard. it was the street across from the schools entrance. many thanks to bill bithell for the photograph.

Comment by: june causey (culshaw) on 7th February 2011 at 00:35

hello j brown. are you john brown who sat next to me in miss wilcox`s class.

Comment by: Ashley on 14th February 2011 at 00:23

Hi Donald, really enjoyed your comments about the school. I started in Standard 1, and it was the 5th school for me in 2 years! fortunately I stayed here until I left for the WGS and it may, by todays standards, have been in a "deprived" area but there was nothing deprived about the education and that, as you say, was totally down to the commitment of the wonderful staff. Although I was there probably 10 years after you I recall some of the teachers names you mention and certainly one of the earliest memories was when some staff returned in the afternoon having attended Mr Steele's funeral, I often wondered what he might have been like. I don't suppose the Jack Hilton you mention went on to play for Wigan RL?

Comment by: Ivor Williams on 26th March 2011 at 10:35

I discovered my Great Grandfather was the Headmaster of thsi school from about 1867 to 7th May 1875 when he retired. The School Logs are fascinating and it's been a privalege to communicate with Bill on this subject. My Grandfather moved to Brighton, Sussex in about 1890 so I do not know this area but I am 'related' to it. I will visit in 2011.

Comment by: Margaret Kenyon on 1st April 2011 at 11:15

Loved reading the loving comments on my first school. My family had to leave Birkett Bank when I was 9 and reading Wigan World has brought so many memories back of the area. I still remember the school, partitioned class rooms and a lot of the children. How nice to see the banter between Roy (where did you emigrate to?) and Ann. I have even found myself on an old photograph. I remember the school was strict but everyone seems to have been happy there. It is nice to see that Ivor Williams whose grandfather was head at the school hopes to visit the area in 2011 - it is much changed since his relatives time.

Comment by: roy thompson on 4th April 2011 at 02:45

hi margaret just read your comments and sorry you had to leave st cats when you where 9 you missed some golden years you could have moved on with the brainers and gone to the girls high school or you could have enjoyed life to the full and gone to whelley. i emigrated to south africa to make my fortune in gold or diamonds in 1971 that didnt happen as i am working class and thats all i ever want to be i log on to wigan world every week in the hope someone has added a new photo or comment that gets the memory jangling and transports me back again to the 50s and 60s

Comment by: Donald Underwood on 4th April 2011 at 16:25

Hello Ashley.Mr Steele seemed ancient to me-about 10 years younger than I am now!He commanded the school from a chair at Morning Assembly.Not one stirred during "hands together,eyes closed" with Miss Bowyer ramrod like at the piano for The King of love My Shepherd Is.Miss Bentham to his far right ready to usher in the trembling late ones & superintend the inspection for clean clogs.I could go on for hours.I don't know the answer to your Hilton question

Comment by: Margaret Kenyon on 6th April 2011 at 19:35

Hello Roy, I did eventually on to Wigan Girls High School when I was 14 and met up with my old St Cat's (not heard that for a long time) friend Christine Hawthorne. Christine lived at the top of the steps in Birkett Bank and she came for lunch yesterday then we parked in Hardybutts and had a walk round the old place. Do you remember the Clary (Clarington Brooke)at the side of the Rec. The Rec is now two football pitches and we only just managed to find the overgrown Clary. The big sand hole is still there but grassed over. A very large 3 story detached house has been build where my house was. I have also visited your adopted country on holiday. Big country but had some great experiences there. It would amaze our ancestors to know where we had traveled to. Where abouts do you live.

Comment by: gary leonard on 6th May 2011 at 15:24

seemed a lot bigger when i was a child back in 1963 its haunting to look at it now

Comment by: GeorgeB on 27th September 2011 at 22:15

Hi Gary, I too have over the last few years re-visited my old haunt of the early 1950's. As you say it's hard to imagine just how it was now that so much has gone. What strikes me is just how many people were crammed into such a small space. I look at what was once Birkett Bank where I lived and find it extremely hard to see how so many houses could have occupied what now looks like a minute area. Today planners often talk about housing "density" - it does make me wonder what they would have made of the "housing density" when we were growing up here.

Comment by: Jean J on 11th October 2011 at 15:45

Its been great reading all these postings about St. Cat's. I remember, Christmas Parties and making your own party hat, parents bringing triangle butties in and jellies in paper cases and cup cakes as they're called now. Making chains of paper rings for the decorations and paper lanterns. I remember 'the nit nurse' and her finding them on many of our heads and how she looked at your nails too. The dreaded innoculations, (jabs), I was scared stiff waiting outside of the headmasters room in a line, for my turn, and the smell. Weird tasting 'sugar lumps' too. I remember being picked out to ring the bell at dinner once. I remember being late, standing on the landing at the top of the stairs as assembly took place and joining the line of kids coming out like I wasn't late at all. The outside toilet block, girls on left, boys on right, freezing in winter. Miss Collins who sadly passed away on the last day of the summer holidays on the bus going home. The prickly coconut mats at P E, and the fold up plastic ones we lied on to do exercises. The shells used as counters and for weighing and the letters we brought home, the blue ink off the printer (not sure what it was called then),having a distinctive smell. I really could go on and on.

Comment by: roy sturgeon on 11th October 2011 at 19:19

i left in 1954 mr shenton was headmaster and i remember a mr thorpe coming in to teach music

Comment by: GeorgeB on 12th October 2011 at 21:11

Now that's a name from the past, Clarence Thorpe, probably a gifted musician but that certainly didn't apply to his teaching - although I must admit not easy "teaching" music to the likes of us. It was considered that the "hair" on his head was a wig and this caused much mirth from unforgiving youngsters. I'm sure he did his best in a difficult situation but I doubt if he would be regarded as a "competent" teacher these days.

Comment by: JohnAlan on 29th May 2012 at 15:51

Loved my time at St Cats, and remember the teachers mentioned. I started in the infants in 1954 and left to go to All Saint's (then to Wigan Grammar School 13 plus). Remeber Miss Watson and Mrs Atherton (she had eyes in the back of her head) and was able to direct a stick of chalk over her shoulder to me on a few occasions whilst still facing the board. Played football for the school many times on the rec and also managed to play for the town a few times. Miss Wilcox was a terror too and had her favourites one of which I definitely wasn't. I remember a young female teacher that was very attractive and I had a crush on her! Can't think of her name though maybe she wasn't there for long. Anyone know who I mean? Also remember getting wooden splintes in my bum through having to sit on the floor as a punishment in Miss Wilcox's class. I remember class trips to Ambleside/Windermere and to Speak Hall. There was an excahnge teacher at the school for a while from Burma I think he was. Can anyone remember him? Great days and great memories. Kids don't know what they are missing these days.

Comment by: Mark Higham on 30th August 2013 at 12:55

TO DONALD UNDERWOOD : Hi Donald, I realise that it is over 2 years since you left your comments and fond memories of St Catharine's but I have only just seen them and was staggered at everything I recognised in what you had said – especially given the 27 year age gap between us !
How can I be so precise ? I am the son of Audrey Higham (nee Yates) who you clearly remember very fondly. Mum was born on 28-Nov-1932 and you going to St Catharine's, entering Miss Shacklady's class in 1937 (Aged 5 ? ) and the going to WGS (as did I) in 1943 (Aged 11 ?) would put your Date of Birth also in 1932 so I’m pretty sure about this. Mum was proud to have gone to St Catharine's (notice I get my spelling right too ! ) and I well remember the school at the top of Lorne Street. At that time, Mum lived at 2, Florrie Street only about 200 yards away – is that the Audrey you mean ?

Comment by: Donald Underwood on 13th May 2015 at 19:08

To Mark Higham.Sorry I haven't viewed this since I first commented.Yes she was the lovely Audrey Yates. Miss Horton had me act the part of th British hero Caradoc .I had to choose a wife to take to the Roman Emperor(Albert Woodcock)I
chose Audrey of course.She always had a beautiful ribbon in her hair.I remember her parents well.I used to work with them at Election time for St Catharine's ward Tories.Happy

Comment by: Bill. Jolley on 26th April 2016 at 20:20

We lived at number 1 catherine terrace,, REMEMBER THE JOLLEY.S ??

Comment by: Ivor Williams on 11th August 2018 at 13:32

My G.Grandfather was the Headmaster here from 1867 to 1874.
I love the photo. I have some of ht e'daily diaries' of the time too. Very interesting.

Comment by: Mr X on 17th November 2018 at 20:52

The parked car is a Mk2 Ford Cortina, I can't make out the number, possible Wigan registration DJPxxxE.

Comment by: John on 11th May 2020 at 21:28

My beloved old school - thank you so much for posting. For decades I've often wondered what the date of build had been, try as I might I could not remember it. Thank you so much for enlightening me to the year 1834. I knew that it was customary for the established church to build a school first and later the church. This pattern it seems has been followed here the church being built around 1842 or so.

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