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St. Thomas C.E. Primary School

A Family of Fellowship and Forgiveness.
‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34)

Astley Street, Leigh WN7 2AS

01942 672730



Butts C.E. School

In 1811 John Battersby opened a school in Chapel Lane (now Chapel Street) for the people of Bedford. The schoolmaster had to be a Protestant and was provided with a house and garden for his own use. The school, which was called Battersby’s School, had a somewhat mixed history with part of it, at one stage, being used as a showroom for a local iron founder.

Sometimes the township held meetings in the school and poor low relief was regularly given out from if. Because of this the school became known locally as the “Towns School”. In 1847 it was the only building standing on the north side of Souther Butts and Mill Lane. In 1864 the Vicar of Bedford, the Reverend Moorhouse James, approached the trustees of the school and offered to rent it from them. So, in 1864, the “Town’s School “ or “Battersby’s School” on Chapel Lane became a Church School.

At this time the school managers were responsible for all the finances of the school. Their money came from three sources. They would first collect ‘pence money” from the children who came to the school. School pence, which in the early days was one penny, eventually rose to four pence each week. They were not abolished in Leigh Schools until 1904. The managers also received grants, based upon the results of tests given to the pupils by the Government Inspector. Four shillings per pupil was paid for those who had attended at least 200 sessions during the year. The remaining eight shillings of grant was based upon the Inspector’s Examination. Children were entered for a maximum of three grades or standards and two shillings and eight pence was paid for a pass in each. Money was also raised by the annual School Sermons. From the money the managers received from all three sources, they had to pay for the repairs to the school and provide the wages for the teachers.

In 1890 it was decided to sell Battersby’s building and land for £250. A site of half an acre was purchased from Mary Ann Farnworth, at a cost of £350. On the newly purchased site, the Jones family, who owned cotton mills in the town, offered to pay for the building of our present school. It was to be known as Butts School. The foundation stone was laid by the two sons and wife of W.C. Jones, the cotton millionaire, on the 2nd August 1890. The building was completed in May 1891. On the 9th July 1891, Mr. & Mrs. Jones visited the new school. The bricks used in building the school were made from clay dug out of the brick fields between Chapel Street and the Canal. They were baked in the brickworks on Holden Road. The lime for the mortar came from the lime pits in Lime Pit Lane, near to the present Wash Lane.

The first Headmaster of Butts Church of England School was Thomas Mercer. In 1924 Bill Shepherd became Headmaster. He left in 1932 to be the first Headteacher of the newly built Manchester Road County Secondary Boys School. The School was used as a Church for many years, before All Saints Church was built in 1937. It was called Butts Mission Church and services were held every Sunday. The land upon which the new Infant building is built was purchased in 1939. It was immediately commandeered by the Government for use as allotments to grow food during the Second World War.

In 1982 the Governors decided to amalgamate Butts C.E. School with Bedford C.E. School. The school at Bedford was to be demolished. The new name chosen for the joint school was Leigh St. Thomas Church of England Primary School. In June 1983, work on modernising the original Butts School was completed. Early in 1985 the building of a new Infants School and Hall was finished. In June 1990, a week of celebrations was held in School to mark the Centenary of the laying of the Foundation stone in 1890.  

For a more in-depth history of Bedford Church Primary School follow this link and download 'The End of an Era'  (This is a word 97 Document approx 442KB in size)