THOSE who remember potato or pea picking camps are invited to relive more memories at a reunion of Bolton County Grammar School.

The 11th bi-annual reunion for former pupils at the school, which initially opened to educate all children — not just those who could afford it — will take place in May.

Pauline Doyle, a member of Bolton County Grammar School Old Students Association, said: “I attended the school from 1947 to 1954 and have many happy memories of the school.

“We had teachers who were real characters, who you would not forget.”

The school also boasts famous former pupils in Hilary Devey of Dragons’ Den fame and TV presenter Johnny Ball.

Mrs Doyle, aged 77, who still lives in Bolton, added: “We usually have about 100 to 150 people attend the reunions and younger members are attending.”

It was through a reunion Mrs Doyle met up with four friends who she had lost touch with.

“We now meet four times a year for lunch,” she said. “It is informal , with no speeches, just lots of chatting about old times and catching up on what everyone is doing now.

“People come from all over the country and even from the USA old school photographs and magazines are on display.” The reunion will take place at Horwich RMI Social Club in Chorley New Road on Friday, May 9, at 7pm. Tickets are £12 and include a hot and cold buffet.

For details call Pauline Doyle on 01204 304798 or


  • Bolton County Grammar School opened in 1881 as Bolton Higher Grade School in Albert Place, School Hill, with 50 scholarship pupils.
  • For the first time in history parents were afforded the opportunity to improve things for their children.
  • It was led by John Thornton who served from 1882 to his retirement in 1917.
  • A new and improved building, Clarence Street Higher Grade School, was built on the site of All Saints School in Bolton.
  • Then, in 1897 it moved to a new site in Great Moor Street.
  • In 1884/85 the Bryce Commission discovered that the success of the Higher Grade School system was causing a great deal of resentment among the Grammar Schools and in 1899 Higher Grade Schools were declared illegal.
  • In 1902 the school was declared borderline between an elementary school and a secondary school and in 1906 the school was renamed the Municipal Secondary School.
  • There was also a move to discourage working class parents from sending their children to the school by increasing school fees to three pounds per year.
  • Oppostion led to an agreement in 1907 that 25 per cent of the places at the school would be free and awarded on merit.
  • When war was declared in 1939 the possibility of the railway adjacent to the school being a target for bombing raids meant the school was to four locations around the town.
  • In 1947 it became Bolton County Grammar School and in 1966 the school was moved to Breightmet, maintaining its status as a grammar school.
  • It became a comprehensive school in 1982 and changed its name once again becoming Withins School.
  • Withins closed in 2009 and new school Bolton St Catherine’s Academy opened on the same site its place.