September 25, 2017

History of the Church

ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH AND SCHOOL 1887-1997 A BRIEF HISTORY

The area centred on Four Lane Ends and comprising the districts of Over Hulton and Middle Hulton does not appear to have had any great history, although traces of a Roman Road running parallel to the present A6 were found over a century ago.  The Civil War came no nearer than the White Horse where there was a minor skirmish and in the centre of Bolton where The Royalists brutally sacked the Old Town.  Not until the end of the 18th Century was the scattered farming community disturbed by the building of the two Turnpike Roads which crossed at Four Lane Ends and the digging of the numerous coal pits in the Edge Fold, St. Helens Road and Manchester Road areas.  These latter undoubtedly brought in a new population, but this influx and its descendants did not have any local educational facilities until the middle of the 19th Century when schools at three locations were in use.

  1. Hulton School, Manchester Road built in 1835 and still standing. 
  2. St. Andrew Watergate, Lane, Edge Fold built in the 1850s, and still partially standing.
  3. Rosemary Lane, Middle Hulton.

In all three schools education was not very efficient as they catered for all ages with very few teachers.  This inefficiency was recognised by Mr W.W.B Hulton who approached the other two landowners in the area, The Earl of Ellesmere, and Mr. W.W. Bagot and won their co-operation.  A scheme was submitted to the Board of Education on the 30th of June 1886 for a school to take 250 pupils and duly approved by them.  By January 1887 the building was finalised at a cost of 600 pounds, on the plot of land now occupied by the present Church. 

The first activity to take place in the building was a Tea Party held on the 8th of January 1887, followed by a service on the following day, the school opened on the 10th of January.  The first headmaster was a Mr, Sylvester Buckley who after retirement became a school manager until 1938.  He was also Organist and Choirmaster for over 50 years.  From the opening the children had to pay for their education – Infants: 2 pennies per week Standards 1-5:  3 old pennies, Standards 6 and 7: 4 old pennies; by 1891 only Standards 4 and above had to pay 1 penny per week and in 1893 schooling finally became free. 

The building underwent several alterations during its life.  In 1889 a classroom was converted into a chancel, and a new classroom built on to the side of the building.  Cloakroom and other facilities were updated periodically, and the partitioning was increased to suit changing needs. 

Services were held on a regular basis from the opening of the building, initially with a Sunday afternoon Service including a monthly Holy Communion and a midweek service on a Thursday. 

The number of services gradually increased over the years.  From 1894 to 1913 Hulton and Chequerbent were united as a conventional District, similar to Lostock today with a Curate in charge, but from then up to the arrival of the Rev. David Williams in 1971 St. Andrews was served by the Clergy from Deane with considerable help from Lay Readers living in the area.

For many years it was hoped to build a new Church on the land now occupied by the School, and money was collected for that purpose, but with the building boom in the 1950s the need for a new, bigger School became important, and a new building arose on the present site gradually being extended until it was possible to vacate the old building.  The decision was then made by the Diocese to build a Church and Vicarage on that site, and the final services were held in October 1976 immediately followed by the demolition of the building.  The Foundation Stone of the New Church was laid by Sir Geoffrey Hulton on February 26th 1977 and services were held in the building from July onwards although the formal dedication by The Bishop of Manchester was not until September the 21st. 1977.

Little remains of the old building and its contents.  Most prominent is the memorial to those who died in the 1914-1918 War this is on the wall of the vestibule and on a table on the opposite side a cross which used to stand on the old Altar.  In the Church itself the Bishop’s Chair is still used on visits of The Diocesan or Area Bishop.  Perhaps the most unusual relic is the Ship’s bell which was given at the opening of the old building by Captain E.G.Hulton who was then serving in H.M.S. Hercules, a second class Battleship from which the Bell is reputed to have come.  Latterly the Bell sounded most unhealthy but when it was taken down before demolition and a thick layer of paint removed, it was found to be sound.  The decision was taken to retain it in some form and it has been made into a very attractive Font.

St. Andrews Church has a large and flourishing congregation, and plays its part as a member of The Deane Team Ministry, in the activities of The Church Of England in the Bolton area.  For this let us for ever remember with gratitude the faith of those who built the original Church and School, together with those who worshipped there over the years.