Secondary school’s £3.4m. new building officially opens

Mrs Alice Pickard and Mr Donald Nelson who offically opened the new Riversmead building at Bowland High School with head teacher John Tarbox, chair of govenors John Robinson and current head girl Alice Schofield and head boy Matt Walthaus.
Mrs Alice Pickard and Mr Donald Nelson who offically opened the new Riversmead building at Bowland High School with head teacher John Tarbox, chair of govenors John Robinson and current head girl Alice Schofield and head boy Matt Walthaus.

Old and new generations at Bowland High came together when the school’s new £3.4m. Riversmead building was officially opened.

Current pupils welcomed guests and served soft drinks and canapes, and the commemorative plaque was unveiled by the school’s first-ever head girl in 1949, Mrs Alice Pickard (nee Crossley), and the second head boy from 1950, Mr Donald Nelson.

It’s a pleasure to see Bowland now looking like the fine school it has always been

Retired deputy head Mr Peter Hodbod

It was a big day for the school, an Academy since 2011, which had to cope with nearly two years of disruption while the old main building was demolished and the new one built in its place.

The project was a major undertaking, involving temporary prefab classrooms being brought on 35 articulated lorries from Glasgow, and hit snags such as unexpected rock layers on the site and asbestos which had to be removed by specialists.

Now the new building forms an integral part of the school, enjoying spectacular views across Sawley and the Ribble towards Pendle Hill.

Guests at the opening included Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, Ribble Valley Mayor Coun. Bridget Hilton and Clitheroe Mayor Coun. Sue Knox.

Retired deputy head Mr Peter Hodbod recounted how he first came to Bowland in 1975 for his job interview, and spoke about the history of what used to be known as “the farmers’ school”. Originally a Victorian hydro hotel called Foxley Bank, it became a National Children’s Home in the 1920s and at one time housed German and Austrian children escaping Nazi persecution.

In 1947 the old West Riding County Council began negotiations to buy the building and convert it to a school. The expected cost was £1,650 and the building itself cost just £5,500.

Mr Hodbod explained how the school had to make do with scant resources over the years, squeezing new facilities into an outdated building.

He added: “It’s a pleasure to see Bowland now looking like the fine school it has always been.”

Bowland head Mr John Tarbox thanked everyone involved in the project, especially his predecessor Stephen Cox, saying: “It is a legacy to his drive and determination,” and he also praised former governors’ chairman Mr Peter Grange for his intensive voluntary work on the project.

He added that the architects, Sunderland Peacock, had done a superb job, creating a building that was sympathetic to the environment yet served the purposes of a modern school, and he thanksed the Parents and Friends Association for raising money for extras.

In a musical interlude, Year 11 pupils Neve Robinson and Freya Humberstone charmed the audience with their duet “Panis Angelicus”, and current head boy and girl Matt Walthaus and Alice Schofield closed the ceremony before guests were invited to tour the new building.