Fairfield High School (Widnes)

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Fairfield High School
FairfieldHighSchoolDemolition.jpg
The school's demolition in September 2013
Mottoes Animo Et Fide
Established 1507
Closed 2010
Type Comprehensive
Head of School Mr Nick Mcgee
Founders Bishop William Smyth
Location Peelhouse Lane
Widnes
Cheshire
WA8 6TE
England
Capacity 1200
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–16
Houses Bancroft, Hurst, Lovell, Radcliffe
Colours Blue, Yellow, Purple, Green

Fairfield High School (1967 - 2010) was a co-educational secondary school in Widnes, Cheshire.

Origins[edit]

The school was originally founded as Farnworth Grammar School in 1507 by Bishop William Smyth and a school remained on the site until 2013. The historic school bell which was kept in the school hall dates from 1507. It is now in the custody of Wade Deacon High School

Founding Bell From 1507, Now In Wade Deacon High School January 2014

The original buildings were demolished and replaced over time and by the early 20th century the Victorian school building stood in view of Peelhouse Lane. This was demolished in 1995 after new buildings were constructed in 1941, 1954 and 1994 respectively.[1]

Uniform[edit]

Traditionally the school's uniform was, for boys, black trousers, white shirt, grey jumper, maroon and white stripe tie with a black blazer. The girls had the same uniform, although in the 6os and 70s wore a maroon skirt, and a maroon or grey jumper or cardigan; up until the mid 1990s they were required to wear a skirt instead of trousers.

Modern history[edit]

The expansion and renaming of Farnworth Grammar School as Fairfield County Secondary Modern School For Girls and Fairfield County Secondary Modern School For Boys was originally to be split into two buildings, one for the boys and another for the girls. The Second World War made the buildings difficult to complete and only the lower school girl's building was opened in 1941 admitting both boys and girls. The upper school buildings which were extensively larger than the lower school were finally opened in the early 1950s and the school became a split sex school.

In 1967 the school was renamed Fairfield High School and became a fully integrated mixed sex comprehensive in 1962. The school motto was Animo Et Fide which translates to Courage and Faith.

An extensive rebuild was carried out in 1993 and the upper school was vastly extended under headmaster David Blacow, the new build was opened in September 1994 with a further 4 classroom building opened in the lower school grounds in 1997.

Many pupils attending Fairfield High School had moved up in succession from Fairfield Infant and Fairfield Junior Schools which are both located on the same road. In 2014 the infant and junior schools which are on the same site but in separate buildings amalgamated to create Fairfield Primary School.

Mr David Blacow left the school in 1998 to be replaced by Mr Keith Bates who would go on to introduce a house system which would radically change the way the school operated. The four new houses were Radcliffe (Blue), Hurst (Yellow), Bancroft (Green) and Lovell (Purple). Each house was named after a local person of historical interest and importance to the town. Keith Bates would stay with the school until 2003 and was replaced by his deputy head Mr Jeff Hughes.

From 2004 Fairfield was designated as a specialist college in the performing arts and received extra funding including a complete refurbishment of the lower school building into a self-contained performing arts suite. It was also widely recognised for its sporting achievements, most notably when in 1999 Michael Owen, Kevin Keegan and Ant & Dec visited the school as part of a football programme.

Decline and closure[edit]

By 2006 the school was receiving below average exam results, though in 2008 it came out above the national average. By 2008 Jeff Hughes had left the school to join Penketh High School in Warrington and Mr Nick Mcgee took over as Head of School. Jeff Hughes would later go on to be an internet sensation when he recorded a video of him performing Gangnam Style.[2]

In 2009 it was announced by Halton Borough Council that as part of the Building Schools for the Future scheme ran by government, Fairfield High School would close due to declining pupil numbers and falling exam results. The school was built for a capacity of 1,200 but by 2009 had under 900 pupils. At the time of closure in July 2010 with some pupils already transferred to Wade Deacon High School, pupil numbers were well under 600.

Fairfield High School entered into a federation with Wade Deacon High School in 2010, this was to enable both pupils and staff to have an easy and stress free transition to Wade Deacon.

As part of the Building Schools for the Future scheme, Wade Deacon High School was all but demolished, only retaining the 1931 facade.[3] During the building work the school was ran from both the Wade Deacon and Fairfield sites until rebuilding work on Wade Deacon was completed. Wade Deacon paid tribute to Fairfield High School on page 7 of their Summer 2010 edition of their school newsletter.[4]

The new Wade Deacon High School was opened in April 2013. This led to the Fairfield site being closed as a school for the final time in March 2013. Following the closure the Wade Deacon signage which had replaced the Fairfield signs was removed and the original Fairfield signs re-instated before demolition work began.

Demolition[edit]

Demolition of Fairfield High School began in late August 2013, beginning with the mathematics block and the upper school gym, art and language classrooms. The demolition gradually moved forwards towards the front facade of the buildings meaning that on the outside at street level, not much could be seen until the front was finally demolished in order to reduce the impact on local residents. The lower school buildings were left until November before the roof was lifted from the main building and demolition began. The home economics classrooms which were left unused by Wade Deacon were partly demolished in November before being cleared in January 2014. The final building to be demolished was the newest building, which had only stood since 1997. The total cost of the demolition was around £430,000.


No buildings remain on the site and the only structures left are the school walls and electricity points, along with the school field and astro turf pitch. The majority of the school field is to be converted into a cemetery with the site of the buildings to be used for new housing. This is expected to be completed by 2016.[5]

Former headmasters[edit]

  • Mr R Roberts (- 1962)
  • Mr H Gibson (1962–67)
  • Mr R Walker (1967 –79)
  • Mr D Blacow (1979 - 1997)
  • Mr K Bates (1997 - 2003)
  • Mr J Hughes (2003 - 2008)
  • Mr N McGee (2008 - 2010)

Former Deputy Headteachers

  • Mr K Hughes (1950s-61)
  • Mr E Hesketh (1962 - ?)
  • Mr Farrell
  • Mr J Hughes (1997 - 2003)
  • Mr N McGee (2003 - 2008)

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable ex pupils include:

Trivia[edit]

In the 1960s, an explosion occurred in the Chemistry lab which resulted in several boys being badly burned and admitted to Whiston Hospital, where they remained for several weeks while undergoing treatment.

Former pupil and ex Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm broke both the boys and girls record for the high jump whilst at the school in the early 1990s. At the time of closure the record still stood.

References[edit]