The History of St. Mary's

The Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ)

The Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) is a Catholic religious order for women which was founded in England in 1846 by Cornelia Connelly. It follows the rules of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit order for men) and believed that students “would always succeed the better for being happy”.  In 1856, Alexander Goss, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Liverpool (in which Diocese Blackpool then was) invited the sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus to send out a branch from their house in Liverpool to teach in Father Bampton's Poor School on Talbot Road, Blackpool. They arrived with 12 girl boarders. With accommodation in Queen's Square acquired for themselves and for the girls, the school flourished. It was run by a man.

Layton Hill Convent pre 1890
Layton Hill Convent 1915

After four years of such success, Bishop Goss agreed that the sisters could be rather more adventurous than their original mandate. So, in 1860, the original St. Mary's was founded as a school for girls. This original school was located in a building called Raikes Hall in Raikes Parade, Blackpool. It is now a pub called the Raikes Hotel. Success was marked by rapid growth and in 1870 St Mary's moved to the site which the sisters already owned at Layton Hill where were located the original premises, much of which are still extant and form part of the modern school.

St Joseph's

The school admitted boys by 1880 but in 1900 they were separated out and St. Joseph's College, Blackpool was founded for them in Park Road where they were taught by lay teachers. There were several moves between Park Road and Whitegate Lane (now Whitegate Drive) and back until St. Joseph's finally moved to Layton Mount on Newton Drive in 1918. Layton Mount had been built as a residence for Yorkshire mill owner William Lumb in 1895.

In 1923 Archbishop Frederick Keating (Liverpool had become an Archdiocese in 1911) invited the Irish Christian Brothers in Liverpool to take over the running of St. Joseph's and they did so. In November 1924, Blackpool was transferred into the new Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster. The brothers remained in charge at St. Joseph's until their enforced departure in 1975 when a new Lancaster Diocesan rule required all Catholic schools to become co-educational. As the constitution of the order of the Christian Brothers forbade them to teach girls, they were unable to stay. In that year St. Joseph's re-merged with Layton Hill Convent to form St. Mary's Catholic College. Meanwhile, Layton Hill Convent had been flourishing as the principal Catholic girls' grammar school in the Fylde and it was its Head Teacher since 1966, Sister Maureen Grimley (SHCJ) (1932–2007), who became the first Head Teacher of the re-combined school.

Layton Hill Convent 1915

St Mary's Catholic College

In 1977 the administration of the school was taken over by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster although Sister Maureen remained as Head Teacher until 1984 and sisters of the order still taught there. Initially the reunited school operated on two campuses, but the St. Joseph's campus was shut down in the early 1980s and sold for housing development. Further expansion occurred in 1982 when the school was merged with two Catholic former secondary modern schools, St. Thomas of Canterbury's and St. Catherine's, which themselves had merged to form All Saints RC High School. The school merged all onto one site in 1995 with the construction of the St. Joseph's building, located behind the convent, on the Layton Hill site. 

Building Schools for the Future

The school was involved with the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme and, despite the scheme being cancelled, it was announced in 2010 that for this school it would go ahead.  The building work saw many changes to the Layton Hill site, which would also include the construction of an adjoining new primary school and church.  The St. Josephs building, science block extensions, dining hall and the 1930's extension were all demolished to make way for more modern teaching and office facilities.  Ground was broken in a ceremony on the 8th February 2011 by the Bishop of Lancaster, the Rt Rev Michael Campbell and construction was completed in 2014.  Christ The King primary school and Christ The King Church, both which had been located on the Grange Park estate behind St. Mary's, moved into the newly built primary school and church respectively.

In May of 2014 it was announced that the school would achieve academy status in September of the same year and would become part of the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust. St. Mary’s, along with Christ the King and another local primary school, St. Cuthbert's, were the first three member schools of the Trust. The Trust was named after the locally born Catholic Martyr, Edward Bamber. 

St Mary's Completed BSF Buildings 2014

Photos of St Mary's since 1870

Layton Hill Convent pre 1890

Layton Hill Convent pre 1890

Layton Hill Convent

Layton Hill Convent

Original Chapel

Original Chapel

Layton Hill Convent between 1890 and 1900

Layton Hill Convent between 1890 and 1900

View of Layton Hill from Blackpool Tower 1910

View of Layton Hill from Blackpool Tower 1910

Layton Hill Convent 1910

Layton Hill Convent 1910

School Hall 1910 (now music rooms)

School Hall 1910 (now music rooms)

Hockey Team 1910

Hockey Team 1910

Lower Sixth Form Girls 1911

Lower Sixth Form Girls 1911

St Walburga's Road 1914

St Walburga's Road 1914

Hockey Team 1914

Hockey Team 1914

Sixth Form Girls 1915

Sixth Form Girls 1915

Sixth Form Girls 1915

Sixth Form Girls 1915

Layton Hill Convent Girls 1917

Layton Hill Convent Girls 1917

Whit Sunday 1917

Whit Sunday 1917

Layton Hill Convent 1918

Layton Hill Convent 1918

Layton Hill Convent 1919

Layton Hill Convent 1919

Layton Hill Convent circa 1927

Layton Hill Convent circa 1927

Layton Hill Convent circa 1927

Layton Hill Convent circa 1927

Layton Hill Convent circa 1927

Layton Hill Convent circa 1927

Air Raid Shelters 1939

Air Raid Shelters 1939

Mr Whittocks the Convent Gardener

Mr Whittocks the Convent Gardener

School Library 1940

School Library 1940

Blessed Sacrament Dorm Room 1946

Blessed Sacrament Dorm Room 1946

Art Room 1950

Art Room 1950

PE Class 1950

PE Class 1950

PE Class 1950

PE Class 1950

School Percussion Band 1950

School Percussion Band 1950

School Library 1955

School Library 1955

Mass in the main hall 1956

Mass in the main hall 1956

Girl Borders in 1965

Girl Borders in 1965

Mother Margaret Mary 1960-1966

Mother Margaret Mary 1960-1966

School Staff 1965

School Staff 1965

Miss Hermes Silver Jubilee 1965

Miss Hermes Silver Jubilee 1965

St Joseph's Building, 1998

St Joseph's Building, 1998

Convent, 2003

Convent, 2003

Construction of the Multi Use Game Areas, Nov 2004

Construction of the Multi Use Game Areas, Nov 2004

Learning Resource Centre, 2005

Learning Resource Centre, 2005

Convent & St Joseph's Buildings in the snow 2010

Convent & St Joseph's Buildings in the snow 2010

Canteen Building in the snow 2010

Canteen Building in the snow 2010

Temporary Science Block during BSF, 2011

Temporary Science Block during BSF, 2011

'The Street' Corridor after the BSF build 2012

'The Street' Corridor after the BSF build 2012

St Mary's Academy completed BSF build 2015

St Mary's Catholic Academy

St. Walburga's Road
Blackpool, FY3 7EQ

01253 396286

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust

St. Walburga's Road
Blackpool, FY3 7EQ

01253 396286

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.bebcmat.co.uk