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 Tony Purcell
Founder James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham
Location Upper school:
Rivington Lane

Lower school:
Albert Street

Greater Manchester
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
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 specialises in 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 students occupy the Rivington site.[1][2]

In 2008 the school was one of 11 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]

The old Rivington Grammar School

A free grammar school in Rivington was founded by James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham in 1566 when a charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth I.[6] Arrangements to endow the school with an income were not completed until 1574.[7] In 1714 the grammar school was rebuilt on its original site, leased for a thousand years from the bishop's brother in March 1581.[8] The school was founded for the children of all social classes. Its old premises in the village are occupied by Rivington Primary School.

The first schoolmaster was appointed on 10 July 1572. The school governors included George Pilkington who donated its site. They appear to have begun their duties in August 1574. A month later Bishop Pilkington confirmed the endowments. A list of its scholars, comprising 114 pupils, is dated 1575.

A governor of the school during the Commonwealth and after the Restoration from 1650 until 1691 was Thomas Willoughby, gentleman of Horwich. When the school lacked income between 1650 and 1660 he travelled to London, York and Durham to secure its rental income.[9] He was chairman of governors in 1651, 1653–54, 1653, 1670, 1676 and 1683.[10] In the 18th century Richard Pilkington, whose sons founded Pilkington Glass, was a school governor for many years.[11][12]

Most of the school's endowments were provided by the bishop in the diocese of Durham in Lindake, Wolsingham, Wickham, Heighington, Stanhope, Stockton, Auckland, Silksworth, and Hetton-le-Hole and brought an income of £30 per year from rents. The governors obtained letters patent from George IV to exchange the land in Durham for land closer to the school in 1823.[13] The Durham land 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.

Blackrod Grammar School[edit]

Blackrod Grammar School was founded by John Holmes, a London weaver, in whose will of 1568 rental income from property in London was left to trustees to pay a schoolmaster in Blackrod, and a further legacy of rental income paid for a scholar to attend Pembroke College, Cambridge. Henry Norris's legacy in 1639 was left in trust to pay a schoolmaster. It is not known where the school started, possibly in St Katharine's Church but premises were later provided near the church.[14] In 1627 Elizabeth Tyldesley left rental income from land and property at Graveoak in Bedford to provide a free school in the county of Lancashire. Her trustees decided to benefit Blackrod in 1631. Income from the trust paid the schoolmaster from 1640. No scholars went to Pembroke College for many years before 1766 or up to 1790 and funds built up with interest. In 1790 agreements with Lord Lindsay of Haigh Hall brought in further income. By 1807 the trustees had accrued a significant sum to which in 1812 John Ainscough left a legacy including the income from mortgages on a toll road between Wigan to Preston. The old school, converted into a house was rented to Richard Bury after a new school was built in 1798. Accounts provided for the charity commissioners show the school was well funded in 1828.[15]

Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School[edit]

Rivington and Blackrod Grammar Schools were amalgamated in 1875[16] Its charter was approved by Queen Victoria[17] A new building for Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School was constructed on the current site in 1882 as a boarding school with provision for about fifty boarders and perhaps an equal number of day boys on land of the three Rivington farms connected to Rivington Grammar School's endowment.[18] Its founding charter is displayed in the school.[19]


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 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, the 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, a memorial to those killed in the First World War, was unveiled on 8 March 1922 by R. T. Johnson, headmaster between 1894 and 1904 and dedicated by Henry Henn, the 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.

William 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[20]
  • Frederick H. Brown
  • Richard Miller
  • Joseph O. Carter
  • Norman Myers[20]
  • Ernest Cotton
  • Richard Nelson
  • Arthur Chippendale
  • Harvey St George James Pulford[20]
  • John Entwistle
  • J. Alec Ross
  • Leonard W. Gastall
  • Frank Savage
  • John S. Griffiths
  • Richard D.Scholfield
  • Charles Grundy
  • Harry Tatlow[20]
  • John Harvey[20]
  • 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.[21]

Roll of Honour[edit]

After the end of the Second World War, 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[22]

  • 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.[23]


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.[24]


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).[23] 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[25] but had improved its financial position by July 2009 to show a surplus.[26]



  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. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. 
  4. ^ A level results 98 per cent pass rate, The Bolton News, archived from the original on 2 April 2012 
  5. ^ 2009 LEA Table, BBC News, 15 January 2009, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  6. ^ Kay 1966, p. 156
  7. ^ Smith 1989, p. 62
  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. ^ Kay 1966, p. 77
  10. ^ Kay 1966, pp. 191–192
  11. ^ Kay 1966, p. ?
  12. ^ Williams-Ellis, Elizabeth (1997), The Pilkington Story 
  13. ^ Commissioners, Charity (1828). Report of the Commissioners, Charities, Volume 3. Bodleian Library, Oxford: Charity Commission. pp. 201–205. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Kay 1966, p. 116
  15. ^ Commissioners, Charity (1828). Report of the Commissioners, Charities, Volume 3. Bodleian Library, Oxford: Charity Commission. pp. 184–191. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Kay 1966, pp. 63-64
  17. ^ Rivington School Papers, Durham University Library, 18 November 2008, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  18. ^ Rivington and Blackrod Grammar School Records, National Archives, retrieved 2 January 2010 
  19. ^ Kay 1966, p. XV
  20. ^ a b c d e Mary, James. "Roll of Honour". Rivington History. Paul Lacey. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  21. ^ Classical Glass Schools Projects
  22. ^ Kay 1966, p. 154b
  23. ^ a b Lacey, Paul. "Rivington, Lancashire, England". Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  24. ^ Howe 2004, p. ?
  25. ^ School Debt 2007, The Bolton News, archived from the original on 26 November 2010 
  26. ^ Rivington and Blackrod climbs out of £1m debt in three years, The Bolton News, 20 July 2009, retrieved 2 January 2010 


External links[edit]