Rivington and Blackrod High School

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Rivington and Blackrod High School
Rivington & Blackrod High School.jpeg
Established 1566
Type Voluntary controlled comprehensive
Religion Church of England
Headteacher Mr Tony Purcell
Founder James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham
Location Upper school:
Rivington Lane

Lower school:
Albert Street

Greater Manchester
England Coordinates: 53°36′37″N 2°32′57″W / 53.610329°N 2.549176°W / 53.610329; -2.549176
Local authority Bolton
DfE URN 105261 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Staff over 300 staff and governors
Students 2020 pupils
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Website www.rbhs.co.uk

Rivington and Blackrod High School is a Church of England, voluntary controlled comprehensive and sixth form school in the North West region of England. The school is located at two sites, with the upper school situated on Rivington Lane in Rivington, Lancashire (SD637127), and the lower school situated on Albert Street in Horwich, Greater Manchester (SD638118).[1]

Present day[edit]

The school is a specialistes in Technology, which focuses on design and technology, mathematics and science. It has been awarded the status of a Training school to train the next generation of teachers. Year Seven students (the lower school), occupy the former Horwich County Secondary School site. The upper school(high school,) eight to eleven and Sixth form college students occupy the Rivington site as well as staff as headteacher Mr.Purcell..[1][2]

In 2008 Rivington & Blackrod High School was one of 11 schools across the country to receive a Specialist Schools and Academies Trust’s (SSAT) 2008 Futures Vision Tour Award[3] and gave impressive A level results at 98%.[4] The School ranked 7th in 2009 of 19 schools in the Bolton LEA with scores for GCSE % 50 Level 2 CVA 994.9 A/AS average points 611.1 and Level 3 CVA 990.7 in 2009.[5]


Rivington Grammar School[edit]

Rivington Grammar School was founded by James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham in 1566 when he obtained a charter from Queen Elizabeth I, although arrangements were not completed for the endowment until 1574.[6] It was founded for the children of ordinary locals.[7] The original building at Rivington was rebuilt in 1714. The original school is sited on land endowed on a thousand year lease granted from 21 March 1581 by George Pilkington, the Bishop's brother.

Most of the property owned by the school was in the diocese of Durham provided by the bishop. The properties were in Lindake, Wolsingham, Wickham, Heighington, Stanhope, Stockton, Auckland, Silksworth, and Hetton-Le-Hole and brought an income of £30 per year from rents. By an Act of Parliament the land in Durham was exchanged for Higher Knowles, Lower Knowles and Grut Farms in Rivington, and a house known as Jolly's in Heath Charnock which brought in annual rents. Further lands were also donated to or bought by the school. The first schoolmaster was appointed on 10 July 1572. The first governors, including George Pilkington, one of the first appointed, appear to have begun their duties in August 1574. A month later Bishop James Pilkington confirmed the endowments to them and their successors. The list of first scholars, a total of 114 pupils is dated 1575. The school commenced teaching nine years after the founding charter. The old Rivington Grammar School building is now occupied by Rivington Primary School.[8]

Blackrod Grammar School[edit]

Blackrod Grammar School was founded by John Holmes, a London weaver, in whose will of 1568 money was left to pay a schoolmaster in Blackrod. It is not known where the school originally started, possibly within St Katharines Church but premises were later provided near the church.[9]

Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School[edit]

Rivington and Blackrod Grammar Schools were amalgamated in 1875[9] Its charter was approved by Queen Victoria[10] A new building for Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School was constructed seven years later on Rivington Lane, Horwich on land connected to Rivington Grammar school's endowment.[11] Rivington and Blackrod High School was built on the current site in 1882 with provision for about fifty boarders and perhaps an equal number of day boys.


The school chapel was built in 1892 with a donation from Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Marshall, in memory of their son Frederick. The chapel was designed by Mr. R. K Freeman. It is panelled in Dantzic oak and has 100 sittings. The Anglican chapel had regular morning worship.

A stained glass east window was installed in 1912 commemorating James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham and donors to the chapel. The side lights illustrate events in the career of the Bishop, his Mastership of St John's College, Cambridge, fleeing to Europe, teaching children in Zurick, and revising the Book of Common Prayer with Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The west window is a memorial to those killed in the First World War, unveilled on 8 March 1922 by R. T. Johnson, headmaster between 1894 and 1904 and dedicated by Dr. Henn, Bishop of Burnley. The window's three lights show, a laurel crowned figure representing victory, a knight in full armour, depicting faith, and three Marys kneeling before the angel at the tomb of the risen Christ.

In the 18th century Richard Pilkington, a leading figure in Horwich and Rivington was for many years a school governor,[9] his sons formed the Pilkington Glass Company.[12] William Hesketh Lever, founder of Lever Brothers was a school governor between 1901 and 1905 and made a contribution to the chapel windows installed in 1912.

The inscription in Latin translates to 'They Sought Glory of Liberty; they see the Glory of God'. The names of School's 24 war dead are also inscribed. (Over 150 fought in WW1)

  • W. Leonard Billington
  • Geoffrey R. Johnson
  • Harold Briggs
  • Henry Norman Johnson[13]
  • Frederick H. Brown
  • Richard Miller
  • Joseph O. Carter
  • Norman Myers[13]
  • Ernest Cotton
  • Richard Nelson
  • Arthur Chippendale
  • Harvey St George James Pulford[13]
  • John Entwistle
  • J. Alec Ross
  • Leonard W. Gastall
  • Frank Savage
  • John S. Griffiths
  • Richard D.Scholfield
  • Charles Grundy
  • Harry Tatlow[13]
  • John Harvey[13]
  • Denham Walker
  • Ralph Hough
  • Percy Wilkinson

The east and west windows were produced by John. Hardman and Company. Two windows were installed in the chapel in 2004, one in memory of a former head master, Mr. Jenner and the second to celebrate the centenary of the Association of Old Rivingtonians in 2004 They were designed and installed by Andrew Seddon who restored and cleaned the other windows[14]

Roll of Honour[edit]

After the end of the Second World War, old pupils placed a memorial book in the chapel bearing the names of those who lost their lives, this reads as follows:

Roll of Honour to those who laid down their lives in the war, 1939-1945[15]

  • Richard Cecil Butterworth
  • Frederick Arthur Easthope
  • John Lawrence Ellison
  • Ted Atherton
  • Tony Atherton
  • Derek Booth
  • John P. Dickinson
  • Maurice Donkersley
  • Eric Harper
  • Fred James
  • Ian Lamb
  • Arthur Lee
  • Norman Owen
  • Edward Rawlinson
  • Arthur Settle
  • Fred Taylor
  • Owen Worrall
  • William Wallace Ryder
  • Charles Philip Singleton

Mixed Grammar School[edit]

After a decline in the numbers of scholars between 1904 and 1905, a meeting handed control of the school to the Local Authority under the powers of the Education Act 1902 giving it responsibility for secondary education. Under Sir Henry Flemming Hibbert, Chairman of the Lancashire Education Authority, the school became a day school. The new school was formally inaugurated by Lord Stanley and the new building opened by Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby. The assembly hall was inaugurated by Lord Stanley, in 1905, the year girls were first admitted. There were 200 places for equal numbers of boys and girls. Around this time the curriculum added modern studies.[16]


The level pitch in front of the school was created between 1883 and 1884, at a cost of £210, the funds raised by a bazaar. The cricket pitch was laid and drained in 1907, by a bequest of £100 in memory of T. Heaton made by his grandson, William of Lostock. Rev. W. Ritson, Vicar of Rivington met much of the additional cost. Traditionally the school bell was not rung whilst a good game of cricket was being played. The grounds were in the past maintained by the scholars.

Coat of Arms[edit]

The Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School badge featured the Pilkington Coat of Arms. The badge is a Pilkington cross with a crescent. The design of the coat of arms was introduced in 1907 by Rev. W. Ritson, Vicar of Rivington. It is based on an altar piece at Rivington Church, the Pilkington picture. To the left of the Pilkington arms are the arms of the see of Durham. To its right are the arms of James Pilkington, bishop and founder. The crescent denotes a second son, at the top is a man and scythe, crest of the Pilkington family.[17]


In 1924 a school inspection showed a need to expand the building. Work started in April 1929 the extension foundation stone was laid 10 July 1929 by Alderman Ernest Ashton, Mayor of Chorley, who had been governor for many years. The extension was to accommodate 300 pupils and required a long corridor to be built between the buildings. The extension added new science rooms, general classrooms. A visitor in 1931 was the Earl of Derby, Edward George Villiers Stanley (1865–1948).[16] More extensions were needed and in 1958 the headmaster's house was converted into classrooms.[8]

Rivington and Blackrod High School[edit]

In 1973, Rivington and Blackrod High School was established by an amalgamation of Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School and Horwich County Secondary School. In 2004, the Brook Learning Partnership was formed - a collaborative partnership with Ladybridge High School, Bolton.[8]


The school was criticised in 2008 after amassing a £480,000 debt[18] but had improved its financial position by July 2009 to show a surplus.[19]



  1. ^ a b Welcome to Rivington & Blackrod High School, Rivington and Blackrod High School, archived from the original on 7 April 2008, retrieved 24 April 2008 
  2. ^ Rivington & Blackrod H.S. Training School, Rivington & Blackrod High School, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  3. ^ "2008 award". The Bolton News. [dead link]
  4. ^ A level results 98 per cent pass rate, The Bolton News [dead link]
  5. ^ 2009 LEA Table, BBC News, 15 January 2009, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  6. ^ Smith 1989, p. 62
  7. ^ Loewenstein & Mueller 2002, p. 46
  8. ^ a b c Rivington & Blackrod High School's history, Rivington & Blackrod High School, archived from the original on 8 April 2008, retrieved 24 April 2008 
  9. ^ a b c Kay 1966, p. 116
  10. ^ Rivington School Papers, Durham University Library, 18 November 2008, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  11. ^ Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School Records, National Archives, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  12. ^ Williams-Ellis 1998, p. ?
  13. ^ a b c d e Mary, James. "Roll of Honour". Rivington History. Paul Lacey. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Classical Glass Schools Projects
  15. ^ Kay 1966, p. 154b
  16. ^ a b Lacey, Paul. "Rivington, Lancashire, England". Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Howe 2004, p. ?
  18. ^ School Debt 2007, The Bolton News [dead link]
  19. ^ Rivington and Blackrod climbs out of £1m debt in three years, The Bolton News, 20 July 2009, retrieved 2 January 2010 


External links[edit]