Pikes Lane School

The new Pikes Lane School today

The History of Pikes Lane School

The original Pikes Lane School

Why was Pikes Lane School Built?

The 1870 Education Act set up ‘school boards’ which were responsible for the building and running of schools in their own area.  In 1872 a bill was passed which stated that children must have received education until they were at least 12 years old.  The schools boards appointed attendance officers to make sure children went to school.  Before this Act only children from wealthy families received education; they either had governesses or went to fee-paying schools.  however, the majority of children from working class families received little education before the 1870’s.  They went out to work when they were only 7 or 8 years old as not only could their families ill afford to pay for education, they needed the money that the children could earn.  However, children were always very poorly paid and the jobs they did were often highly dangerous, such as climbing and cleaning chimneys, working in the mines, or cleaning floors underneath machines in the mills.  The Education Acts of the 1870’s were far more effective in stopping this exploitation than the Factory Acts had been.   

Pikes Lane Board School

Pikes Lane Board School was the first purpose built board school in Bolton.  It opened in June 1875, although the stone above the main entrance is dated 1874.  To commemorate the opening of the school the street running parallel to the front yard of the school was named “Board Street”.   

In the late 1800’s when Pikes Lane was built, the whole school was probably taught in one big room.  When it opened there were over 900 pupils attending the school.  What does this tell you about the difference in class sizes?

Figures showing the number of pupils at Pikes Lane School

















There would have been little equipment and few books in the classroom.  Much of the teaching was done by repetition and while this reduced the need for books it did not encourage pupils to ask questions or think for themselves.  They used slates to write on rather paper, as it was more economical and could be wiped clean and used again and again.  However, the slates were fragile and cracked if dropped.  Children were severely scolded for breaking their slates.

In addition to the teachers, there would have been older girls called pupil-teachers who were not much older than the children they taught, and this was the first part of their training to become teachers – one of the few careers open to women in the 1870’s  and 80’s.  Some of the children were ‘half-timers’ who went to work in the mornings and then went to school in the afternoons.

Pikes Lane School in 1955

The school originally served heavily populated areas of terraced houses to the south and west of the school, but many of these old streets have been demolished.  New houses and flats with gardens have replaced many of the old terraces.  The streets the east of the school were built towards the end of the 1890’s to house the families who moved into the area to work in the mills, factories and shops of the town. 

Pikes Lane Junior School

There are three departments at Pikes Lane School; the nursery, infant and junior.  The shape of the school buildings has changed several times since it opened. 

Empire Day (now called Commonwealth Day)

The following extracts from the records of Pikes Lane School describe the festivities which took place each year on Empire Day.  This day has been officially recognised since 1902 when the Earl of Meath inaugurated the festival as a means of training school-children in good citizenship.  May 24th was Queen Victoria’s birthday and used to be observed as a school holiday in the British Empire.  It was also a memorial to the assistance given by the colonies to the mother country in the South African War of 1899-1902.  It is known as ‘Empire Day’ until 1958 when its name was changed to ‘Commonwealth Day’ .  it is not celebrated in schools these days.

Children boarded the charabancs to take them on a school trip to Higher Hodder on Empire Day, in the 1930’s.  The Hodder is a river between Blackburn and Preston.  A charabanc was a long vehicle like a coach.

Extracts from Pikes Lane School records:

On 21st May 1920 the children sang Empire songs and danced in the playground and went home at 3.20 pm.

On 24th May 1923 the children were lined up in the playground and sang patriotic songs for Empire Day.  Most children carried flags and many parents were present.  The National Anthem was sung and cheers brought the proceedings to a close.

Asian Migration

The most noticeable changes in the population of the Pikes Lane area came in the 1950’s and ‘60’s when Asians arrived in this country.  The exodus from their countries of origin resulted as political situations there deteriorated.   Today the residents in the neighbourhood comprise of three major groups of people; Hindus, Muslins and English.

The majority of Hindus came from either Uganda or Kenya.  With the eruptions of hostilities in Uganda any Indians living there had to move quickly, leaving all their possessions.  A great number of families also came from Kenya as the political situation there led the Asian middle-class families to sell almost everything they had and leave the country.  Fortunately they were given a certain period of time in which to either register as Kenyan Citizens, or leave their belongings and take up UK Citizenship.  They were thus able to sell their belongings and bring their money with them to set up businesses or buy their own houses when they arrived.

Most Asians who came from Kenya were either white-collar workers or businessmen and the society in Pikes Lane catchment area mainly consists of bank clerks, businessmen, technicians, and ex-teachers from East Africa or India.  Many of the Asians from Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, Madagascar, Zambia and Burma enjoyed a very high standard of living; they lived in beautiful spacious houses or bungalows in comparison to the crowded conditions of living in a terraced house.  On moving to Britain the majority of them were unable to secure the same type of employment as they had in their own countries of origin and are at present engaged in inferior manual occupations.  This is due largely to a problem of language.  They are very anxious for their children to be well educated, in the hope that they will not have to undergo similar difficulties in finding suitable employment.

The Muslim community who live around Pikes Lane can be distinguished as two separate groups; the Surti Muslims from Pakistan, and the Baruchi Muslims from a little state called Baruch, in India.  The majority of Muslims at Pikes Lane School have roots in Baruch as their parents were born in Baruch.  Asians from some parts of Baruch and Kuch in India lived in inferior conditions there as the villages lack modern amenities.  They came here hoping that there would be more opportunities and a better way of life.  Some have become disillusioned, while others have found themselves both economically and socially better off in Britain and enjoy a better standard of living.  Most families still make provision for their elderly parents aboard by sending money each month.  This money is usually sufficient to provide food and clothing as well as someone to work for them.