We hope that if you are reading this then you are visiting our website because you have fond memories of your old school, an interest in how it is doing now and a desire to catch up with old friends. We are delighted to have you with us!
We will always be very glad to hear from you so do get in touch, share your memories with us and help us to keep the history of Highfield alive for future generations.
Malcolm Cronshaw recently contacted the school to share his memories with us. Mr Cronshaw’s late father started the Highfield Priory School name in January 1966 and he has a fascinating history to share with us.
By Malcolm Cronshaw
In November 1960 Alan Cronshaw bought Highfield School from his predecessor, Mrs. Davies, who at the time (in conjunction with her husband) was also running a similar school in the Blackpool area, and therefore wished to offload. He had just left the Army after thirty years’ service, having enlisted for the War and stayed on when the conflict ended. Born 1911 in Burnley, Lancashire, where he attended the local grammar school, he then became a qualified teacher in 1933 after a full course at Goldsmiths College, London. Thereafter he taught in London until war broke out and he joined the Royal Army Education Corps. After marrying Pearl (November 1939 in Ilford, Essex ) he was subsequently posted out to India where he spent most of the rest of the war. On return, he remained with the corps which resulted in several three-year postings which included Colchester, Alexandria in Egypt, Perth in Scotland, Fulwood Barracks and Aldershot. Son Malcolm was born January 1947 in Ilford, Essex and his brother, David arrived in September 1951 in Tel-el-Kabir, Egypt. Both were to attend Rossall School, Fleetwood as boarders each for a 10 year period, in order to provide some educational stability while their parents rarely stayed more than eighteen months in any one house. Having risen to the rank of acting Colonel but with no further prospects on the horizon, Alan decided that the time was right to return to civvy street and so purchased Highfield School. It was then situated at 316 Blackpool Road, Preston, right beside a very busy main highway, with Emmanuel Vicarage (Rev. Jim Fordham was then resident) and Tyresoles, a tyre and repair retail centre, as neighbours. Right from the outset, there was an obvious need for more suitable premises, especially as it also doubled as a family home. This, however, did not happen until November 1965 when The Priory on Lower Bank Road in Fulwood was acquired, having been the private residence of Norman Taylor, manager of Foley and Balmers, a Preston wholesale grocery firm. The timing was perfect, as Malcolm was spending the year as a student teacher on the Highfield staff and so was able to assist his parents with the move and conversion into an educational establishment. It was a very good transfer and the school went from strength to strength with numbers increasing in conjunction with a far more suitable environment. It was now renamed Highfield Priory School (Easter Term 1966). Games were still a problem and it was a case of a crocodile walk for most of the children to nearby Moor Park, as it had been when at Blackpool Road, where both boys and girls enjoyed a limited period of organised football, rounders, cricket, athletics etc. once a week. However, this was much improved when Alan duly negotiated a deal with nearby Greenbank Celtic Football Club in the Sharoe Green Lane area to use their facilities. Malcolm disappeared to St Lukes College, Exeter for 3 years and returned as a qualified teacher on the staff of Moorland School, Clitheroe. He was to return each Thursday afternoon to coach games and in fact set up the first ever football match in 1971 when Highfield Priory played Moorland in Clitheroe (with the coach of both teams and the referee being one and the same person !) and the game finished a 3 – 3 draw – but he didn’t write the script!!
One of Highfield’s greatest strengths at this time was the dedication and loyalty of the teaching staff. Mrs Hilda Slater was an outstanding number two, and the likes of Mrs Bridger and Mrs Shuttleworth gave the new headmaster great support. In the years to come Mrs Hilda Crammond, Mrs Megan Lewis, Mrs Agnes Rawcliffe, Mrs Judy Horrex, Mrs Jane Britton, Miss Rosemary Harris, Mrs Fraser, Mrs Langley and Miss Wilford were all instrumental in furthering the school’s growing academic reputation, with the headmaster also having a full teaching timetable. The Headmaster’s wife was responsible for the day-to-day running of the domestic side, centring very much on the daily cooked lunches which she and Mrs. Emily Stockton produced almost throughout their eleven years there. There was also an extensive cleaning programme and here Mrs Hilda Burton was a stalwart. Pearl, an accomplished pianist, also doubled up as accompanist for the dancing lessons and occasionally for assembly hymns.
The pressures of running a flourishing school were beginning to take their toll and Pearl in 1968 and Alan a year later each had major surgery, which slightly slowed down progress. Alan eventually found a buyer in January 1972 and they both retreated to nearby Lightfoot Lane in March of the same year. After 5 years teaching at Rossall School he finally retired, moved down to West Sussex, successfully completed an Open University BA in General Arts ( then profitably encouraged Malcolm to do the same ) and died in Bognor Regis January 1999. Pearl passed away 10 days after her 95th birthday in January 2006.
Edward Daniel took over the school in March 1972, and hired two long-standing friends, a Mr and Mrs Paterson to act as his resident advisors in the running of the school. In 1974 Mr. Daniel married Rosemary Harris who was a nursery teacher at the school.
I am absolutely thrilled to see the School is flourishing today – a case of from little acorns... and I am quite sure my late father would be highly delighted and proud with developments.