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Heywood, Lancashire
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A Brief History by John Morley

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Heywood Secondary School as shown in the programme for the opening ceremony in 1912. The newly-extended building showing the Hind Hill Street and Pine Street elevations. Market stalls can be seen on the site of what would become the War Memorial Gardens.


The Technical School

Heywood Technical School was opened on 1st December 1894, on a site bordered by Hind Hill Street, Pine Street, and what was then known as the Market Ground. The building, which also contained an Art School, was only half the size of that which eighteen years later would be opened as the new Heywood Day Secondary School, to be re-named twelve years after that as Heywood Grammar School.

Not only the size of the School would change. Few of its present neighbours were to be seen. The Free Library would not open until 1906, New Church Sunday School 1914, the Memorial Gardens 1926, the Police Station 1936, and the Civic Hall not until 1966.

The opening took place amid much ceremony. A large party of dignitaries gathered in the Council Chamber, those present including Mr Thomas Snape M.P., the Mayor, Councillor G. N. Hodgkinson in robe and chain, and Alderman William Healey, chairman of the Technical School Committee. Led by a detachment of police, under Superintendent Noblett, they proceeded through the town centre to the School’s main entrance in Hind Hill Street. Contemporary reports describe "a numerous assembly of spectators outside the School", which had been open for public inspection during the previous week, attracting a large number of visitors.

Alderman Healey presented Mr Snape with a commemorative key, and the M.P. unlocked the door and declared the School open. There followed a seemingly interminable number of speeches, but eventually the party embarked on a tour of inspection, and Heywood officially had a Technical School.

This book is not concerned with the workings of the Technical School. It provided mainly evening classes in "Science, Technology, Commercial and Domestic subjects", with the Art School operating separately. It is worthwhile, however, to consider the building itself, as it formed the basis of that which would eventually house the Secondary School, and its design and detail dictated the way in which it was subsequently extended.

The Architects, who both designed the School and supervised its construction, were Woodhouse and Willoughby of King Street, Manchester, and the Clerk of Works was Mr Robert Hardman of Heywood.

The site was chosen for its central location, and because there was land available in Pine Street for any extension which might be necessary. This foresight was to be rewarded in later years, as it was possible to expand the old building, rather than acquire a new site and build afresh.

After demolition of the "old and dilapidated" houses which occupied the site, borings were made by the Borough Engineer, Mr Diggle, and the ground was found to be unstable, necessitating extra depth for the foundations. The Architects overcame this apparent drawback by building the bottom floor as a basement, but only partly below street level, with light assured by keeping the ground floor above street level, and by leaving open areas round three sides of the building.

For those familiar with the much larger building of later years, the Technical School building extended only from the Hind Hill Street elevation to a point just beyond the Pine Street entrance and the internal staircase.

From the Hind Hill Street entrance, reached by way of a short flight of steps, a corridor led to the various classrooms, used for the teaching of cookery, commercial subjects and science, and a large Lecture Room measuring 60ft x 30ft. Just inside the entrance, on the left, was a room used for secretarial work, and down a short passage a handsomely appointed Committee Room.

At the end of the corridor, the stone staircase with oak newel and handrails led down to the basement and up to the first floor. A number of mullioned and transomed windows illuminated the staircase.

Leading down, past the students’ entrance from Pine Street, the stairs reached the basement, which accommodated the workshops for plumbing, carpentry, spinning and weaving, and also housed the heating and ventilation systems.

Leading up, they arrived at the very impressive first floor, used for chemistry and art. The Chemistry Lecture Theatre had a raised gallery to seat ninety students, and a laboratory was entered through double doors to prevent leakage of fumes. On the other side of the corridor were two rooms excellently suited to the teaching of art. The antique room measured 30ft x 30 ft, and the elementary room 49ft x 30ft. The rooms were connected, and could be used as one for exhibitions, and tall angled windows provided natural light.

The building’s three principal elevations were in red stock brick, with steps and landings in Whitworth stone, and enriched work including the plaque above the main entrance in Ruabon terrecotta. Sea-green slate from Tilberthwaite quarry in the Lake District was used for the roof.

The cost of the building was just over £9000. One year after the opening the architects asked permission to loan the original pen and ink sketches of the School for exhibition at the Royal Academy, as they considered it one of the handsomest that they had ever erected.

The Fight for Progress

At the turn of the century there was no provision for day secondary education in Heywood. It was only thirty years earlier that elementary education had become compulsory.

The Education Act of 1902 placed responsibility for education on newly-formed Local Education Authorities(LEA). In the case of Heywood, the town council was the LEA for Elementary Education, but Lancashire County Council was appointed as the LEA responsible for Secondary Education in the town.

It was an unsatisfactory arrangement. The Lancashire Education Committee(LEC) assumed responsibility for all matters pertaining to Secondary Education in the town, but were remote from it, and were themselves constrained by the regulations of the Board of Education in London. Meanwhile the local council was responsible for the welfare of children in the borough, which would be generally assumed to include their education. A local Education Sub-Committee was set up to liaise with the LEC on matters pertaining to Secondary Education.

This state of affairs explains in part why it took until 1912 to bring day secondary education to the town, despite its proposal by the local council as early as October 1903. Progress over the next nine years was painfully slow, and the following is only a brief summary of events.

In 1904, in spite of H.M.Inspectors of Education having stated that they did not think the time was right for a Secondary School in Heywood, the LEC sided with the town and proposed to make application to the Board of Education "to recognise the Technical School at Heywood as a building suitable for a Day Secondary School(DSS)". It was further proposed that the DSS should be opened in September of that year, but it was to be November 1906 before the application, together with plans drawn up by the County Architect Mr H Littler for additions and alterations to the School, was forwarded to the Board for approval. The Board’s representatives visited the town and the school to acquaint themselves with the town’s educational needs. While waiting for a response the Council circulated information to all ratepayers and parents of all children in Elementary Schools in the town, and held a series of public meetings.

They were able to claim popular support, but in March 1907 the Board wrote that it was unable to accept the need for such a school, as the number of children likely to benefit was small, and efficient schools existed in Bury and Rochdale.

The LEC at first accepted the situation, and suggested that Heywood satisfy itself with a Higher Elementary School rather than a Secondary School, but the local council was defiant. Claiming that at least 100 pupils aged from 12 to 16 would attend a Secondary School, they canvassed support wherever they could.

Through the offices of the local M.P. Mr E H Holden, they succeeded in arranging a meeting with the Board in Whitehall, circumventing the LEC. Mr Holden supported their cause vigorously, and three months later the Board relented, and wrote to the LEC agreeing to the proposal, but perversely demanding that the premises be considerably extended even beyond the plans submitted. Had there not been room for expansion on the existing site, it is doubtful if the School would have been sanctioned, as the cost of acquiring new land and of building afresh would have been prohibitive. In the event new plans were submitted to the Board, which finally approved them in March 1908.

Further delays occurred over the application to the Local Government Board by the LEC to grant borrowing powers to fund the building work, but at last, in May 1909, the borrowing application was approved. Even so it was January 1910 before sanction to borrow was received. Three months later the tender of Samuel Barker of Heywood for the building of the extension was accepted. Mr W D Spedding was appointed Clerk of Works with effect from 4th July and the work could begin.

The vision and persistence of the local councillors, occasionally supported by the County Council, are to be admired. There were to be times in future years when their judgement would be questioned, but their reputations were to emerge not just intact, but enhanced. Many people deserve a share of the credit, but perhaps the main driving force was Alderman William Healey J.P, C.C, Chairman of Heywood Education Committee, a member of a prominent local family. It was fitting, therefore, that, at the opening ceremony on 2nd March 1912, he was invited to declare Heywood Day Secondary School open.

The Day Secondary School

The Opening Ceremony was in every way the equal of that of 1894, with speeches by various assembled dignitaries, including the Mayor, Councillor A Barrett J.P., the new local M.P. Mr H T Cawley, and Alderman Healey. A lavishly produced Souvenir Programme had been distributed, containing excellent photographs of the interior and exterior of the School. After a tour of inspection, the guests adjourned to the Municipal Buildings for tea, and during the evening members of the public were invited to make their own tour of the premises.

The tour must have taken much longer than that of 1894. Along Pine Street the School had doubled in length. In the basement of the new portion of the building was the Machinery Room measuring 70ft X 30ft, equipped with weaving and spinning machines ( the School continued to be used as a Technical School in the evenings). On the ground floor extension were two rooms, one for the teaching of Cookery and Laundry, and the other for Dressmaking, Millinery and Needlework, and on the first floor the new Physics Laboratory.

In addition, a new three-storey extension was built on to the rear of the building, accessible from the school corridors. This block was added to contain the generous bequest to the town by Mr Thomas Kay J.P. of an Art Gallery and Museum, which were to be open to the public. These were not officially opened until 27th July 1912, with an ostentation which shamed the previous openings. There was a much larger number of distinguished guests, a musical recital, and a very sumptuous meal in the Council Chamber.

The cost of the extension, including necessary alterations to the existing building, but excluding the cost of the Art Gallery and Museum, was £8700.

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Rear of the school in1912 (1K)
Back of School

Workshop (1K)

Art Room(1K)
Art Rooms

Laboraory (1K)

Textile Room (2K)

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