History of the School
St Joseph’s School is a Voluntary Aided Catholic Primary School which is situated in the Catholic Parish of St Joseph, Halliwell and serves the Churches of St Joseph and St James the Great.
The original school was situated in a small house known as the Temperance Hall on Halliwell Road from 1879. This building was used to celebrate Mass and as a small school. In 1880 the parish priest, Fr Brewer, secured a plot of land on which to build a school and chapel. That building is now the lower hall behind the present St Joseph’s church. The school opened on 22nd August 1880 in the new school and chapel, this was the day after the chapel opened. This new school faced many problems. The Education Board said it did not qualify for grants. For two years the school was maintained by Fr Brewer, his parishioners and some loyal teachers. Parents who could afford to were asked to make a contribution towards costs and these nearly paid the teachers salaries! Much fund raising had to be organised to help pay for the school as well as other building costs.
By 1886 the school and chapel were not big enough. It was decided to build a new school and the foundation stone was laid on 12th March 1886. The new school was opened on 24th July 1886 with a ‘Grand Tea Party.’ Over the following years many improvements were made to the school, these included: a new entrance, a new drainage and sewerage system (!), new wall and perimeter railings.
By the 1960s it was clear that the school building erected in the 1880’s was lacking some of the modern facilities needed in education. A larger plot of land was purchased on Shepherd Cross Street. The Infant department in Shepherd Cross Street was opened on 9th December 1968. The Junior department started to be built in May 1971 and opened in March 1972. A fire in the 1980’s meant that the Key Stage 2 part of school had to be demolished totally rebuilt. This was opened in March 1990.
The schools ethos of caring, offering kindness and helping others can be seen in the commitment of those first parishioners who wanted to provide a school for the children in this community. That same ethos and commitment is still very much part of the life and purpose of St Joseph’s School: the original community served by the first school has changed massively, but we still see ourselves as serving children and their families in this community whatever their background or needs are. Today, you and your child(ren) will still experience that same caring, kind and helpful atmosphere which is central to all that we do and all that we are here at St Joseph’s.