St Stephen and All Martyrs in Darcy Lever to hold school reunion
ONE of Bolton’s oldest schools is staging a special reunion this weekend for former pupils and staff — thanks to its 89-year-old former headteacher.
St Stephen and All Martyrs Primary School, in Darcy Lever, is expecting dozens of its ex-students to attend the gathering, held as part of a Heritage Open Day.
Norman Johnson, head teacher from 1955 to 1987, taught Bolton’s Mayor Cllr Colin Shaw in the 1940s and is the driving force behind this weekend’s special reunion.
The 205-year-old school is also welcoming former congregation members of the church next door, also called St Stephen and All Martyrs.
Mr Johnson’s son Lee, aged 63, from Heaton, was a pupil at St Stephen until 1961 before becoming a teacher himself and said: “My dad and I have been rooting out all the old pictures we can find and we have had really strong interest from people.
“My dad has a lot of contacts connected with the school and the mayor will be there on Saturday morning and we hope everyone has a great day.”
The school opened in 1808 with the church next door built in 1844.
Originally the school, vicarage and church stood alongside each other, but now only the church, which is still operational, remains.
The school was rebuilt on the site of the old playground in 1964, with the building that Mr Johnson first worked in as head dating back to 1852.
“We call it the new school still, but we will be holding a 50th birthday celebration for that next year,” said Lee.
Mr Johnson taught Cllr Shaw at St Michael’s school in Manchester Road when the mayor was just eight in 1946, although the school has since been knocked down to make way for St Peter’s Way, which runs straight through where it once stood. “I taught the mayor and steeplejack Fred Dibnah, while there are people attending the church, in their 70s, who I remember teaching, which certainly makes you feel your age.” said Mr Johnson.
“I have always lived in Bolton, apart from a small stint in the RAF.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend, it will be great to reminisce with people.”
St Stephen was unusual as it was made of terracotta and not stone, with the clay used to build it mined from the Ladyshore pit in Little Lever, and transported to the school’s site in Radcliffe Road using canals.
Photographs will be exhibited in the school’s main hall, with doors open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and noon to 4pm on Sunday.
For more information on the reunion, you can contact Lee on 01204 840468.
l AS part of National Heritage Weekend, Horwich Heritage is holding a Family History Open Day at the Horwich Heritage Centre from 10am until 1pm on Saturday when anyone can go along for assistance with their family history enquiries. There will also be an exhibition at Horwich Parish Church from 10 to 4pm and visitors can have a look around the church. Admission to both events is free. Everyone is welcome.
l FOR a full round-up of this weekend’s open days see tomorrow’s The Bolton News.
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