In early 2024 Byley Primary School will celebrate its 150th anniversary, and so we will look back this week to some of the events in its past and changes that have taken place over the years.

Byley is a small pretty village just a couple of miles north of Middlewich, originally called Byley-cum-Yatehouse and Byley-cum-Leese, both areas were close by, and boundaries hundreds of years ago were fluid depending on landowners and governance.

A school was present on the site in Moss Lane, Byley, since the early 1800s, although not in its current form.

As early as 1838, a building existed on the corner of a five-acre plot known as Further Moorsbarrow, its ownership under Laurence Armistead, its resident Aaron Rhodes, and its area location shown as Leese in the parish of Sandbach.

Although the new Victorian school had been erected in 1874, very little can be found regarding its construction or opening.

In 1876, a vestry parish meeting for Byley was reportedly held in the Leese school rooms.

Northwich Guardian: St John the Evangelist's Church in ByleySt John the Evangelist's Church in Byley (Image: Rose Hurley)

Thomas Shalcross Hulme of Leese and Thomas Astbury of Shurlach were re-elected as churchwardens for the following year.

Perhaps the school was retaining its previous identity for some years after it had opened.

It was also acknowledged in the report that the churchyard needed draining, and wall repairs were required.

The church referenced was St John the Evangelist, nearer to Byley Lane junction but also on Moss Lane, as was the school.

The church, built in 1847 for £1,000, has always been closely affiliated with the school.

Moving forward to 1899, a parochial summer fete was held in Byley, as was the annual custom.

Northwich Guardian: Byley School in the 1900sByley School in the 1900s (Image: Rose Hurley)

A sports event was held as part of the celebrations in a nearby field in Earnshaw Hall Gardens.

It was noted that the 120-yard handicap race was held only for the scholars of Byley School, the total value of prizes for the race was 17 shillings and 6 pence (today’s value £92.50), and first place was taken by B Robinson.

Up to the 1940s, the school mainly catered for the education of local farm children.

During World War II, the school saw many extra pupils, not only due to evacuees from cities but also due to the local airbase, which was heavily used during this time.

Therefore the airmen’s children and base staff children will also have attended.

The school has been modernised several times over the years; a notable one was in 1961 when a new flush toilet block was added, a new kitchen, a hard surface play area, and an assembly hall planned that would serve as a classroom and dining room.

According to the Congleton Council, the total cost would be £14,500, and the Ministry of Education approved the scheme.

The school had 36 pupils at this time, and the head teacher was Miss Newman, who was also an infant teacher there.

The school is very much a part of the local community, with its logo of a tree and motto 'Growing Together and Branching Out', referring to the old oak tree thought to have been planted when the new school was built, so it would also be 150 years old next year.

Many celebrations are planned for next year, the school will have an Open Day on January 26, 2024, where admission registers and logbooks will be displayed.

The current head teacher, Elizabeth Whittingham, hopes ex-pupils and ex-staff and their families will visit.

Open days for prospective parents are taking place on October 11 and October 16, times to be confirmed.