WE have featured much about Folds Road School gates in recent editions of Looking Back.

What always puzzled us were the gates bearing symbols of sport.

Most people assumed this was because the school boasted great sporting prowess.

But John Connolly, who lives in Bromley Cross, believes the gate posts refer to something very different indeed.

He believes they actually pre-date the school.

He tells us that Folds Road school yard fronted Folds Road but was on two levels, connected by a flight of steps directly opposite the main gates.

The gates and Bolton school yard can be clearly seen on an 1882 map but the school has not yet been built, he explains.

“The site in 1882 is known as Thomasson’s Gymnasium and the gates and steps and bottom yard are clearly shown on the map.

“On the top yard is a collection of smaller buildings which are, perhaps, joined together.

“They could be a club room, badminton or table tennis maybe for the gymnasium.

“The Thomassons were a family who owned the nearby Mill Hill Spinning Company employing 600 to 700 people.

“I believe they built the gymnasium and erected the gates for their workers.”

On the 1847 map the Bolton playground is actually a reservoir and the top yard is known as Garden Bank and appears to be a graveyard, he goes on to say.

John is pretty sure the gates pre-dated the school.

Therefore, the explanation of the sporting success of the school cannot be correct.

“If the gates were built for the school, how did the builders know the teams from the school would be so good at various sports?” asks John.

This does seem a valid point from John and one that our readers may wish to consider. Perhaps there is someone else in Bolton who can help determine if John’s suggestion is more likely to be correct than that of the numerous former pupils who thought that the school’s success in sport prompted someone to build gates with sporting paraphernalia on them.

It has been some time since the school was used as such and today the gates form a rather splendid entrance to one of Bolton’s top car dealerships.

They are an important part of Bolton’s history and it would be wonderful if we could find the definitive answer to our question about them.

It would seem that John’s suggestion makes perfect sense.

Because, when the school was being built it could not have been anticipated just how successful its sporting teams would be.

However, if the gates were erected at a later date that could possibly explain the carvings which are beautifully preserved on each side.

To us the most obvious answer does seem to be that offered by John. It is rather lovely to think that a sporting venue for workers at a mill remains in our thoughts for posterity.