Wardle & Smallbridge
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St. John’s School
Early 20th Century
Heybrook to Smallbridge
Paul Stott writes from British Columbia, Canada:
Dear WASHG; As a former resident of your study area I am fascinated by your website and the materials assembled by the Group. The late Rex Moore’s slide show is a treasure, raising many memories. I attended Halifax Road School (1947-1954  –  together with your Mrs Dean), and attended church at St John’s where I was baptized and sang in the choir as a boy soprano during the 1950s under the incumbencies of Messrs Walker and Corser. I vividly recall to this day the Sunday school under Mr Belfield’s baleful eye and the wonderful dances and fêtes held at St John’s school before the TV era. I made countless journeys along Halifax Rd including many visits to Dr Don’s and subsequently to Slattery’s Chemist for the inevitable ‘brown bottle’ or ‘white bottle’, as well as to the dentist, Mr Coates and Jolley’s bicycle shop, not to mention all the Whit Walks.

I’m attaching a couple of images of old photos that might be of interest to WASHG. The photos were collected by my late mother Mrs Annie Stott (née Buckley) formerly of Halifax Rd, Greengate and latterly of Dover St. One image is of her primary school class at St John’s in about 1905 and the other is of a pantomime cast in about 1910. I performed in several pantomime choruses there myself in later years – great fun. Her brother Jimmy, a casualty of WWI, is also in the latter photo (his name is on the war memorial in St John’s graveyard). The interior view of St John’s is dated 1917. I’m also attaching a picture of a former incumbent at St John’s, Mr Peters, a much loved source of consolation in the years following WWI. My mother was a loyal member of the Mother’s Union at St John’s – a regular weekly meeting. Attached is a photo of the St John’s Mother’s Union contingent during what I judge to be a post-WWII procession – in Rochdale or Littleborough perhaps (maybe someone can identify the background architecture and the setts). *

Sad to relate now, I contributed to the disappearance of Smallbridge. I worked for the Rochdale Borough Surveyor’s Office in the 60’s and was responsible in part for the site works for the Smallbridge housing project built by Simms, Sons and Cooke. Some of Rex’s pictures are of the associated demolition I believe, Low Farm for example. The estate construction damage paled in comparison with that caused by the improvement to Halifax Road however – that I’m glad to say was a project I had nothing to do with. It was all considered progress back then but seems questionable now in light of the social disruption it caused. Thankfully Rex’s image collection and the excellent book on Smallbridge by Alan Holt are available together with the WASHG efforts to keep the memories alive.

Congratulations on your achievements and the best of success to you in helping rebuild the Smallbridge society of the future.

Regards, Paul Stott

* Note:  James Lord recognised the location as School Lane. He has sent a new photo taken from the same viewpoint.