We begin by going back to 1840 when the Weaver Navigation Act introduced firstly the provision of churches for the men employed on the River Weaver in Winsford, but a year or so later the trustees of the Navigation Company also agreed to build a school.

A school was built between 1843 and 1845 and was located on Weaver Street, known as the Weaver Navigation National School, and also locally as Mr Dunn’s School.

The school suffered financially and with subsidence caused by the salt mining in the area.

By 1906 the trustees had extricated themselves from the responsibility of the school and several people had formed a group of ‘Foundation Managers’ to ensure the continuance of a Church of England school in the area.

The Foundation Managers discussed options to improve conditions with the Education Authority and eventually it was agreed that a new school should be constructed.

The land chosen was on Gladstone Street, which at the time was not a built-up area, it had open spaces as the Dene Estate had not yet been built and the upper half of the street had only a few houses.

In June, 1907 permission was granted to build the new school and by 1908 progress was being made.

An official ceremony to lay a foundation stone took place on February 13, 1909, and the occasion began with a service at St Chad’s church, with which the school would be affiliated, and eventually would take its name.

A procession followed the service around the local streets before ending up at the school.

The inscription on the stone read: “This Church of England Day and Sunday School was re-built on this site by local subscription and the Chester Diocesan Church Schools Association. The foundation stone was laid by W. H. Verdin Esq., D.L., J.P., February 13th, 1909.”

The first headmaster was Fred Johnson who had been with the Weaver Navigation School and moved to the new school. The school capacity was 270 pupils, split between 190 mixed students and 80 infants.

The number of pupils declined until the Second World War when Winsford was sufficiently rural to be a temporary home to many child evacuees.

When the Dene Estate was built the school numbers rose quite dramatically to almost 350.

In order to manage the excess students, the school had to adopt a ‘shift pattern’ where pupils attended either extended mornings or afternoons to be able to accommodate them all.

There were air raid shelters in the school grounds which remained for 20 or so years after the war before being removed to give a flatter and more usable school playing field.

Following Mr Bracken’s resignation, a new headteacher was required, and Mr G Stockton was successful in his application.

He saw many changes in staff over the period he was ‘in charge’, a fluctuation in the number of pupils, and a change of name from Gladstone Street Primary School to St Chad’s in 1981.

He retired in 1989 after 22 years’ service and Mr I Griffiths took over. The school holds a lot of happy memories for ex-pupils (mine too!) and hopefully this article has helped to revive those for others also.

Post-war and up to the 1960s the headmaster was Kenneth Bracken. At this time the school was still providing education for pupils up to the age of 14.

Prior to taking on the role in Winsford he had been the headmaster of Sandbach Church of England Boys School for 11 years.

The Gladstone Street building was deteriorating and lacked space, and Mr Bracken requested renovations to take place. Although these were approved, Mr Bracken had left the role by the time the new buildings were erected.

During the completion of the building work some pupils had to be ‘farmed’ out to Willow Wood school in Wharton daily and also to ‘the huts’ (the Parish Rooms) further up Gladstone Street.