Holy Trinity School - The Playground in the Sky | Poulton-le-Fylde College | Convent or Notre Dame Grammar School​ | Griffin C.E. School

 Holy Trinity School - The Playground in the Sky

The new Holy Trinity Church School was opened on Saturday December 9th 1911 by the Bishop of Manchester, Dr. Knox, who praised the enterprise and determination of the members of the church for raising the funds and seeing the work through.  The school had a feature unique in Blackburn and possibly unique in the country. Because space was at a premium a roof-top playground was provided for the boys.  A seven foot railing was installed to curb any adventurous spirits and staff were always on hand to supervise.
The picture of the boys at play accompanied an article in the Blackburn Times of October 13th 1961, the occasion of the school's golden jubilee. The other photos are courtesy of the dare-devil wizardry of Cottontown contributor Jim Halsall, who, like a World War One ace, has been zooming in on aerial views of the town.
The school closed in July 1972.


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 Poulton-le-Fylde Co​llege

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It was Blackburn weaver Joseph Cross who, as Secretary of the Amalgamated Weavers' Association, paved the way for the establishment of a convalescent home for textile employees.  Poulton was the chosen site and Darwen architect J B Thornley drew up the plans. Known as the Joseph Cross Convalescent home, it provided a haven, a respite for cotton workers.
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It was in 1963 that the home changed function and became a college for teacher training.  Minister of Education Sir Edward Boyle performed the opening ceremony on April 24th 1964.  It was Anne's job to build and administer a library to serve the students who arrived from all corners of the globe. In her engaging, self-deprecating style and with a touch of humour Anne describes how she achieved this.


​​​Convent or Notre Dame Grammar School

This video was produced by Eileen Tomlinson in 2010 as a personal memoir, history and tribute to Blackburn's Notre Dame Convent school.  The Sisters of Notre Dame moved across town to the Brookhouse site in 1859.  Work on the new school was completed in 1862.  Later, more land was purchased and the school was extended.   For a number of years the Convent was a Boarding school as well as a Day school, later becoming a Grammar school and, in September 1978,  a mixed Comprehensive.  July 1987 marked the end of Notre Dame education in the town, one hundred and thirty seven years to the day of the arrival of the Sisters in Blackburn.  The school later amalgamated with John Rigby High School to create Our Lady and St. John High School.  An advertisement offering the site for sale appeared on the 27th July 1989, and demolition commenced early the following year.


Eileen started at Notre Dame at the age of four, remaining at the school until she left at eighteen. Following a period at college, Eileen returned to the Convent to teach in 1960, joining the Notre Dame Old Girls Association, and became Secretary for a number of years.  The Association met once a month in the Convent for a social gathering, which was well attended by former pupils and some of the Sisters.  Eileen later continued her studies at university, gaining a Doctorate, became a psychologist and, subsequently, a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester for several years; carrying out post-doctoral research in mental handicap for the Department of Health. Later, Dr. Tomlinson worked for the Lancashire Education Authority as an Educational Psychologist.

DW 2018


48 mins 7 secs


This film appears on Cotton Town by kind permission of Eileen Tomlinson.

This production is protected by copyright, and may be used for private viewing only. It may neither be broadcast in any way, including the internet, nor be copied or reproduced either by film or electronic means, without written permission from the copyright holder.   ​

Further information about Notre Dame Grammar School can be found on Blackburn Past ​

Supplementary information about the wider Notre Dame Order can be found on the following link: http://bfnda.org/​

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 ​​​Griffin C.E. S​chool​

1871 - 1971


On Saturday last, a new school, the gift of the Dugdale family of Griffin Lodge, Witton, built in the centre of the Griffin estate was opened.  It is built by Mr. Richard Hacking from the design of Mr. James Birtwistle, Architect.  No reasonable expense has been spared, and the entire cost has been defrayed by the Dugdale family.

The opening was celebrated by a public tea party, at which about 600 people were present.  After tea a meeting was held, and on or near the platform there were Mrs. Rodgett, Miss Dugdale, Mrs. Carr, Mrs. Woodhouse, Thomas Dugdale, Esq, Adam Dugdale, Esq, Alderman Lewis, H. Harrison, Esq, Isaac Ward, Esq, the Rev. G.H Ashe, Rev. C.W Woodhouse, Rev. A. Gallagher, Rev. W.T Vale, Rev. W. King, Rev. G. Parker, Rev. G. Burwell, Rev. R.J Langford and Rev. J. Noble.  The Rev. G.H Ashe was called to the Chair by acclamation.

He said:
Ladies and Gentlemen – It affords me unmixed pleasure to meet my Christian friends in this crowded building tonight.  I beg to congratulate my friend, Mr. Dugdale, on this noble building.  When it was begun I wished him God speed.  No one has given Mr. Dugdale any assistance or support: The whole honour is due to Mr. Dugdale and his family.  (Loud cheers).

I must say that I never saw any work carried out more unostentatiously or more e​fficiently according to the scriptural injunction “whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”.  The result is this noble, this magnificent building, and I earnestly pray that God’s blessing may rest upon it; that the young men who may be educated here may be good men; that the girls, through the inoculation of sound Gospel truths may become good women; that all the young persons taught in this school may become good Christians, and that Mr. Dugdale may long live to see the good effects of his benevolence.  (Loud cheers).
The Rev. C.W Woodhouse moved the following resolution – 
“That the best thanks of this meeting, and the inhabitants of the Griffin Estate, and especially the members of the Church of England, are due to Thomas Dugdale, Esq., J.P., Mrs. Rodgett, and other members of the Dugdale family, for their munificence in erecting this spacious and handsome building, and freely dedicating the same to Church and School purposes”.  (Applause).

Henry Harrison, Esq., seconded the resolution which was then put and carried amidst rounds of applause.

Thomas Dugdale, Esq., on rising to respond, was received with a hearty outburst of cheers.  He said:- 
“Ladies and Gentleman – I have, in the first place, to thank you for the address that has been given by your Vicar, because it will very much shorten my speech.  The Vicar has said what I intended or ought to have said.  (Applause)  I will simply state that it is rather more than 34 years since I purchased the Griffin Estate.  I have lived upon it upwards of 13 years.  During that period both myself and members of my family have received due respect from the majority of the inhabitants of Witton.  (Applause)  With respect to the education of this district, I can state at once that long before the Education Act was talked about, myself and family had determined to build a school.  (Hear, Hear and Applause) I can assure you that 34 years ago there were only ten houses upon the Griffin Estate, and for a long time the number of inhabitants in the township of Witton was almost stationary, but during the last 20 years the population has increased to such an extent that the Church and School at Witton did not possess the requisite accommodation.

I have great pleasure in aiding your worthy Vicar in supplying the wants of this vastly increasing district, by dedicating on this occasion the building in which we stand to be used as a Sunday School and Day School for the education of children of all denominations.  (Applause).
I can assure this assembly that it is the wish of myself and family that the children educated herein may be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – that they may learn as much religion as will fit them for a future blessedness – that they may learn to revere the Sabbath and keep it holy – that they may be subject to and obedient to their parents – that on all occasions they may be sober, honest and respectable members of society, and afterwards become good husbands and good wives, and an honour to the district in which they live.  (Applause).

I cannot do more than return best thanks for the resolution which has been passed, and I hope that the morality of Witton and district may be improved hereby”.  (Loud Cheers).

A concert followed and the meeting was brought to a close by the singing of the National Anthem.


The Sunday School commenced on 19th February, 1871 and its first Superintendent was Mr. Henry Hargreaves (clerk at Griffin Mill).  Mr. Hargreaves was succeeded by Mr. J. Kenyon, Mr. Pinder, Mr. P. Thompson, Mr. B. Aspinall, Mr. W. Newton and Mr. T. Hodgkinson.

The Sunday School possesses two large banners.  Both of these were bought from Messrs. Brown of Manchester and both are hand embroidered.  The older of the two, portrays St. Philip, and was bought about 1887, and cost about £50.  This amount was subscribed in the Parish.  The reverse side of this banner portrays Christ blessing little children.  The newer banner was bought in 1909 and also cost £50, again subscribed in the Parish.  One side of this portrays the Good Shepherd and the reverse side St. Philip’s Church.

The two banners mentioned above replace the two original banners, which were painted on silk by W.H Cunliffe, decorator, Blackburn.  The first of the original banners was bought in July 1871, and had a painting of the school on one side.  The second was bought in about 1881 and had St. Philip’s Church painted on one side.

For many years Mr.  & Mrs. A Dugdale and Mrs. R.B. Rodgett gave Christmas books to the children of the Sunday School, and Miss E.M.D Dugdale gave a yearly tea.  Miss. E. Dugdale paid the School Subscriptions to the Sunday School Association annually, whilst Miss. B. Dugdale provided all new Banner Ribbons and also the yearly Picture Cards and albums for the Infants.


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Griffin School

A century ago in 1870 School boards were established and empowered to draw up byelaws regarding compulsory attendance of children at school, but long before the Education Act was talked about, Mr. Thomas Dugdale, Senior, of Griffin Lodge, had decided to build a Day and Sunday School for the “Half-Time” children employed at Griffin Mills.

The School was built by Mr. Richard Hacking from the design of Mr. James Birtwistle, Architect, and the entire cost was met by the Dugdale family.  The original building consisted of a Boys’ Schoolroom; Girls’ Schoolroom, two small Girls’ class rooms (one above the other); a store room; two sets of offices and two playgrounds.  The cost of the original building was £11, 302, of which Mrs. R. B Rodgett gave £1,000 and the rest was defrayed by Mr. Thomas Dugdale (Senior).
The Sunday School was opened on the 19th February 1871, the first Superintendent being Mr. Henry Hargreaves, clerk at Griffin Mill.  The Day School commenced on Monday 27th February 1871, having Boys’ and Girls’ departments, the Infants being under the care of the Girls’ Head Mistress.  The first Head Master was Mr. Loynd, and the first Head Mistress, Miss Lund.

The School was also used for Divine Service on Sundays, Morning and Evening and was licensed for Baptisms and Holy Communion, this continued until St. Philip’s Church was consecrated.  The Revd. G. A. H Ashe arranged for one of his Curates, (whose stipend was defrayed chiefly by the Dugdale family) to take charge of the Griffin District.  The Curates were successively, Rev. W. Perfect Bell, Rev. James Place and the Rev. John. O. Pinck.
In 1873 the Infant School room was built by Mr. T. Dugdale (Senior) at the cost of £560-10- 0d.  Mr. T. Dugdale Snr. Died on 17th March 1875, and the school became the property of his son, Mr. Adam Dugdale.  In 1877, Mr. Adam Dugdale built three class rooms and a store room, for the Boys’ Department, that is, two small classrooms downstairs and a large classroom above, with storage adjoining.  The cost was £532-16-3d.  A few years later by advice of H.M. Inspector of Schools the middle wall separating the two downstairs classrooms was taken away, leaving one classroom the same size as the upper room.

In 1879 the Infants’ School became a separate School under the Head Mistress, Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Woodcock, who took up her duties on 6th January 1879.  During this same year Mr. Adam Dugdale built a class room, half way up the Girls’ staircase, it was built as a thank offering for the birth of Mr. A. Norman Dugdale and the cost altogether amounted to £269-1-10d.   It was used for many years for Mothers’ Class Meetings.

In 1888 Mr. Adam Dugdale built the classroom which communicates with the Infant School Room at a further cost of £182-3-4d.  In 1899 Mr. Adam Dugdale built the top Class Room over the Infants’ School to be used on week days by the older girls.  This involved a total alteration of the Infant School roof, alterations and lengthening of a staircase and abolishing of a store room.  The new room became known as the Diamond Jubilee Class Room.  The cost was £990.  At the same time the two Girls’ Class Rooms were enlarged, both were made about twice their original length.  During these alterations some of the pupils were taught in the Wesleyan School, the rooms were rented for several months.

In 1900 the Girls’ Cloakroom was built by Mrs. Adam Dugdale.  The cost was £152-17-4d.  Previously girls and infants had only two fixed wash hand basins in the girls’ passage.  Also in 1900 the Boys’ and Girls’ School rooms were re-floored with wooden blocks by Mr. Roger Lowe of Bolton who had previously done the flooring of the Infants’ Class room.  It is recorded that men from Griffin Mill worked for about three weeks, moving soil etc. when these floors were fitted.

The Education Act of 1902 placed Griffin Day School under the Blackburn Education Authority.  The appointed day when the Act began to take effect in Blackburn, was 1st April 1903.  In order to safeguard Griffin School as a Church of England School, under the new conditions, Mr. Adam Dugdale put the School in Union with the National Society.  The Memorandum of Agreement was executed on 6th March 1903 and provided that the Vicar for the time being of St. Philip’s Church, Griffin, shall be ex-officio, Chairman of the Managers, and that the other Foundation Managers must be bona fide members of the Church of England.

Electric light to replace gas, throughout the school was installed in 1913 by Mr. Adam Dugdale.  On 20th January, 1917 Mr. Adam Dugdale died and the school became the property of his son Mr. A. Norman Dugdale.
Although the numbers attending the Day School steadily increased until about 1888, (at one time there were about 800 scholars on the Registers on the last day of the school year) they then steadily declined.  A careful investigation proved that this was chiefly due to a declining birth rate and to a decrease in the number of Church of England families living in the vicinity of Griffin School.  By 1921 the consequences of the war and setting up of Central Schools were further causes of this decline.
In 1926 the Head Teacher of the Girls’ Day School resigned, and after consultation with the Local Education Authority and with H.M.I. Mr. Richardson, the Managers decided to work the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools as a mixed school under the Headship of Mr. Gorse.  The reasons for this were the decrease in the number of scholars on roll owing to decrease in birth rate, and the need for economy in working owing to depression in trade etc.

This change took place at the beginning of the School year, 1st April 1926.  At the same time the Board of Education put the School under the new accommodation rules, there being a decrease in the number of scholars allowed.   The Board also asked for certain alterations to the school premises, which were all carried out and other improvements also made.

On 23rd April 1929, Mr. Gorse resigned the Headship of the Mixed Day School and the Managers appointed Mr. P. Thompson to succeed him from 1st July 1929.  Mr. Thompson died in February 1932 and on 1st June 1932 Mr. Albert Dixon, who was at that time Head Teacher of Cherry Tree National School succeeded Mr. Thompson.  In September 1946 Mr. J. S. Wilkinson was appointed as Headmaster and served in that capacity until the end of the summer term 1970.  Mr. Wilkinson left Griffin to become Headmaster of St. John’s C.E Junior School and Mr. Henry Baldwin now holds the position of Acting Head Teacher in the Junior School.

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Classroom at Griffin School​


On the 6th January 1879 The Infants’ School at Griffin became a separate school under the Headship of Miss Elizabeth Ann Woodcock.  It is recorded that at that time there were 91 children present and that Miss Woodcock found the children very troublesome.   It would appear that Miss Woodcock was in sole charge of the ninety one children, the only other assistant being a monitor.  A list of articles were ordered for school use which consisted of two dozen slates, 2 boxes of pencils, one box of chalk, a set of pointers and two alphabet sheets.  It is interesting to compare Miss Woodcock’s requisition with a typical requisition list of today.

From time to time the Head teacher had great difficulty in obtaining the “School Pence” from the children and it is recorded that this was often because of strikes in the mills, or through poverty.  In March 1881 the fees were raised for children in Standard I from 2d. to 3d. per week.  By September of 1891 school fees for children in the Infants’ School were abolished.

During the late 19th century and the early 20th century old records show that many children who attended this school died from measles, scarlet fever, typhoid and croup.  The school was closed on several occasions because of low attendance and epidemics of the above mentioned diseases prevailing in this area.

In October 1879 there appears in the Log Book an entry which states that the children were given a holiday owing to a Sale of Work (on behalf of the new church) being held in the School.  The new church being the Parish Church of St. Philip.  Another entry for the 17th December 1880 states that the children were allowed out of school early in order that the room might be prepared for the consecration tea party which took place on Saturday 18th December 1880.

By January 1882 the number of children on roll of the Infants’ School was approximately 200.

In 1884 Miss Woodcock retired to be succeeded by Miss Sarah Pickering who was the Mistress in the Infant School for 37 years.  Miss Pickering introduced Drill into the time table and dumb-bells were provided as school equipment.  It is noted that the children enjoyed their drill and it was soon performed to music.
Many important people have passed through the school doors, including Bishops, Lords, Ladies, Lieutenants and Clergy etc., and the school children have benefited on many occasions from the generosity of Mrs. Dugdale and the Dugdale family.

The School has received many gifts, and successive Head Teachers have noted these and expressed their thanks in the School Log Book.  It is recorded that a stuffed ostrich was received for school purposes, whether the mistress considered herself fortunate or not in this case she does not record.  It would appear that with 230 children on the roll at that particular time she would be pleased to find that it was a dead specimen, whether she had room to display it to its best advantage is very doubtful.

In 1921, Miss Gibbons succeeded Miss S. Pickering and served for 15 years as Head Teacher.  During the Headship of Miss Gibbons it was agreed that the accommodation of the Infants’ School was fixed at 185.  In 1926 major improvements and additions were made to the building.  The total expenditure is recorded as being £412-13-5d. after deducting 5s received for the sale of an old meter.

When Miss Gibbons terminated her duties on the 15th July, 1936, Miss Emma Walsh became temporary Head Teacher until the appointment of Miss Eastwood on 1st March 1939.

Miss Eastwood, later Mrs. Pearce, served the school as Head during the last war and several references appear in the log Book regarding events of the war years.   It is noted that the children brought their gas masks to school, that gifts were sent to Calderstones Hospital for wounded soldiers, contributions were sent to the Spitfire Fund, War Weapons Week, Wings for Victory Week, Merchant Navy Week, War Ships Week, Add to China Week, that the children collected salvage, and that school hours were altered because of the “Blackout”.

On August 17th 1942 School dinners were served to the children for the first time, and on August 26th 1946 milk in schools became free.

Mrs Pearce terminated her duties on 31st December 1955 after 17 years service in this school, then Miss Wood who later became Mrs West commenced duties on 1st January 1956.

As Mrs. West left in December 1968, to take up her present appointment at The Cedars, the new Bank Top- Griffin School was already planned, and the site in Griffin Park had been chosen, it was therefore, decided to appoint a Temporary Acting Head, and Mrs. Vause took up this appointment on 1st January, 1969.

The school at present consists of only 50 children with 2 classes and vertical grouping, modern methods are in use so that the children will be ready to move into a new building.

As we look back on the past, we also look forward to the future.  We hope that the new school in a beautiful setting will equip the children with the knowledge, skills, and the social and spiritual background which they will require to be useful members of the community in the world outside.

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​Part of the grounds of Griffin Lodge which the
children of Griffiin school were
occasionally allowed to use.


Boys’ Department Girls’ Department
Mr. Loynd Miss Lund
Mr. Bulcock Miss Coulthard
Mr. Woodcock Miss Scott
Mr. Gorse Miss Gorse
        Miss Fulford (later Mrs. Knowles)
        Miss Haworth
        Miss Shuttleworth
        Miss Noble
        Mrs. Sagar
        Mrs. Holden (Nee Shuttleworth)

The two departments joined and became

The Mixed School

Mr. Gorse
Mr. Thompson
Mr. Dixon
Mr. Wilkinson
Mr. Baldwin (Acting Head)

The Infants’ School

Mrs. Woodcock
Miss Pickering
Miss Gibbons
Miss Walsh (Acting Head)
Miss Eastwood (Mrs. Pearce)
Miss Wood (Mrs. West)
Mrs. Vause (Acting Head)


Rev. G. A. Ashe             Mr. A. Marsden
Rev. J. O. Pinck             Rev. W. A. Swift
Mrs. A. Dugdale (40 years)     Rev. J. Collier
Rev. W. E. Cunliffe             Rev. L. J. Hakes
Rev. H. Broadbelt


Thomas Dugdale, Esq., of Griffin Lodge, Witton was the youngest son of Mr. Nathaniel Dugdale; he was born in 1797, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Thomas Walmsley, of Blackburn in 1824.  He had three sons and three daughters.  Thomas, Junior, was born in 1831 and married Ellen, daughter of Joshua Appleyard, Esq., he died in 1874.  His second son Adam of Griffin Lodge inherited the estate on the death of his father on 17th March 1875.  James Boardman Dugdale was the third son of Thomas Dugdale.  The three daughters were Mary, wife of Mr. Miles Rodgett, of Wareham, Elizabeth, wife of Mr. R. B. Rodgett, of Walton-le-Dale; and Anne who married the Rev. W. T. Vale, Vicar of All Saints Church, Blackburn.  

Thomas Dugdale, Esq., was Chairman of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co., of the Manchester and County Bank, and of the Blackburn Waterworks Company.  He was Mayor of Blackburn in 1853-1854 and 54-55.  It was during his mayoralty that the lodge and gates of Corporation Park were erected.  He was first elected to serve on the Town Council in 1851.  The first election held for Blackburn County Borough.  He represented Park Ward.  He was the third Mayor of Blackburn, the first mayor of course was Henry Hornby.  It is interesting that the same builder who built our school, Richard Hacking, also built the Blackburn Town Hall.

Information recorded in 1877 Regarding the Township of Witton 
Witton Township adjoins that of Blackburn on the west, and occupies the north and south slopes of Billinge Hill, which rises 807 feet above sea-level.  The Darwen river is the boundary on the south.  More than half the land of Witton was enclosed about 80 years ago, (1800), as a park to Witton House, the seat of the Feildens.  The lower part on the south side, between the Darwen and the Blakewater rivers, has recently become a populous suburb of Blackburn, (1877) and has been embraced in the Parliamentary and Municipal Borough.  The area of Witton is 650 statute acres.  The population, since the invasion of the cotton manufacture has much increased.  In 1801 it was 461, 1811 it was 819, 1821, 1067, 1831, 1047, 1841, 1073, 1851, 1367, 1861 showed a great increase 3293, 1871, 3803.  Witton stocks was the situation of the old public town stocks, which were standing until about 1870.

Places of Worship in the Witton Area 1877

St. Mark’s Church
The church of Witton, dedicated to St. Mark stands on the hill side just outside of the eastern wall of Witton Park.  It was erected at a cost of £700 including a gift of £200 and the site from Joseph Feilden, who laid the corner stone, October 6th 1836.  The church was consecrated June 10th, 1837.  The church contains 560 sittings.  The Vicar of Blackburn was patron.  The Rev. G. H. Ashe, B.A was Vicar from 1839.  It was the Rev. Ashe who gave his support to the formation of the Parish of St. Philip and to the building of the Church in this Parish.

School Church, Griffin
On the Griffin estate the late Thomas Dugdale, Esq., built in 1870 a large school, which was also used for worship on the Sunday.  Sittings 594.  In 1877 it was recorded that a new church was projected.

See Mike Suners article "Witton Eyes Days Gone Bye​"
Thanks to Mr. A. Gaffney for supplying the following sources:

'St Philip's Parish and Griffin C.E. School, Blackburn Centenary, 1871-1971', (Unknown Author).  

The Parish of St. Philip Griffin - Blackburn'

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