St Alban's RC Primary School

LEA No.      899      
School No.  3999

Trinity Street, BLACKBURN, Lancashire, BB1 5BN
T: 01254 57582
F: 01254 679 102
Website:

E:
stalbans@blackburn.gov.uk

from the BBC News website including; directions, statistics, OFSTED and local education authority report.

The History behind the establishment of St. Alban's Schools

Following the reign of Elizabeth the First, Catholics were deprived of education. Catholic gentry sent their children (boys) to be educated abroad despite penalties being levied against them.

 There is no evidence of a Catholic School in Blackburn until after the establishment of the Catholic Chapel in the 1770's. Then it was recorded that many young people travelling long distances to attend Sunday Mass, would bring food and remain for the rest of the day learning to read and write in sand.

 The first real recorded mention of a Catholic school seems to be in 'The Blackburn Mail' of September 1st 1819, in a death notice of a Jane Walmsley, mother of John Walmsley ' a teacher at the CatholicSchool'

From then on the school and its pupils would occasionally be mentioned in the press of the time.

 In 1824 a Miss Horton advertised the opening of a Catholic school for young ladies, boarders £30.00 per annum, day boarders £10.00 per annum. This would have been impossible for most Catholic families. Their children would have attended at the cost of a few pence per week, the Parish School that was housed in a wing of the new Larkhill Chapel after 1826.

 In March 1832 the local press referred to the opening of the new Catholic Day and Sunday School. This seems to have been in St. Alban's Place which was at the side of the Church grounds the opening for this almost facing Brookhouse Lane; another entrance to the school was probably in Birley Street. An account of the town procession to mark the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 gives the first indication of the size of the school when it mentions that 768 children of the Catholic School were fed in the Church yard after the procession with "ham, beef, pies, ALE and oranges" This number included Sunday School pupils and irregular attenders who were probably drawn in by the food!

 Education continued to develop over the next decade and in 1848, a Boy's department had been established in the Birley Street site with a Girl's department in the room above. By 1858 it was reported that the School buildings were ' a disgrace' and it was decided that a new school should be built.  Money was raised in all sorts of ways (nothing changes!) by the many guilds and societies that flourished in the parish and in 1862 the Foundation stone was laid. However work was halted by the cotton famine but the new school was erected by March 1866. The boys moved in followed by the Girls the following year. Although staffing was a problem and pupil teachers were employed, by 1884 the school was rated one of the best in the district.

This building is now St. Alban's Social Centre.

 Parents who could afford the few pence a week sent their children to the school. Others who could not afford even a few coppers had no education or were educated at factory schools as 'part timers'. By 1891 free schooling was available in the Infant department and the fees reduced in the two elementary departments. It was 1904 before the fees were abolished entirely in these departments, the Higher Grade School, which provided a more varied curriculum for older boys had to wait until 1918.

 In 1889 the Girl's department moved to an entirely new building behind the smaller school and the following year the Infant department also moved in and the Higher Grade School shared a wing of the new building. The Boy's department then moved from the Birley Street site into the building vacated by the Infants and Girls.

 The Schools continued in these premises until March 1973 when the Infant department moved into a brand new school on the corner of Birley Street and Trinity Street. A short time later the Boys and Girls departments moved into a new school too, combining into a 'mixed' junior school. Then in September 1981, after the Junior School was demolished and the Infant School building extended, the Schools combined and became St. Alban's Primary School and continues as such today, a happy and successful school following proudly in the footsteps of generations of St. Alban's Children.