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The main building dates from 1865. It was originally opened as Foxley Bank Hydro, later to become a luxurious hotel in the Edwardian era.
In the 1920s it became an orphanage under the direction of Sister Ella Curnock. One of the school Societies has adopted her name. Later, it was developed into a wartime home for refugee children from Europe under the auspices of the National Children´s Home organisation. In 1989 the refugees had a 50th anniversary reunion at the school and a film, “They came to Riversmead”, was produced for television to commemorate the event. To this day Bowland still receives visitors who were refugees.
It was in 1949 that the building was opened as a secondary school and in that year Bowland High was born. It is now a very successful 11-16 mixed high school. History and tradition have always been important at Riversmead and will continue to be so.
In 2005, the school was awarded specialist status in Performing Arts.
London 2012 Olympic Silver Medallist Samantha Murray attended the school from 2001- 2006.
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