IT was the end of an era when the gates at George Tomlinson School shut for the final time.

The school is now closed and an independent academy will instead open on the site in September.

A huge party was thrown at the school in Kearsley to celebrate the life of local politician George Tomlinson. Pupils dressed in fancy costume and took part in fun activities.

Headteacher Rachel Glazebrook said: “It is an end of an era. The party was emotional and nostalgic for the staff. We are confident that the school is closing having achieved its best-ever results.”

The founders of the school would be proud of what George Tomlinson had achieved in its 58-year history, she added.

The school was named after the former Mayor of Bolton who went from working in a cotton mill at 13 to becoming a Labour politician and Minister of Education from 1947 until 1951.

Mr Tomlinson died in 1952, shortly before he was due to open the secondary school that was named after him to commemorate his service to education.

His agent, Richard Matthews, whose name was given to the school hall, also died before the school was opened.

The two men’s ethos of working hard to achieve is said to be at the heart of the school — something staff say will remain when it becomes Kearsley Academy.

Over the summer the school, which will be sponsored by Northern Education, Bolton Council and The University of Bolton, will undergo £250,000-worth of improvements.

Despite the academy being a publicly-funded independent school, Ms Glazebrook said the school would remain at the heart of the community and continue to work with other schools.

“We will be back in September with more resources to build on George Tomlinson School’s achievements,” said Ms Glazebrook.