Guestbook and Shared Memories

If you wish to publish a school memory or be added to the Visitors' List or Web Album- send me an email and I will incorporate your text/photo/details onto the relevant page as soon as possible.

Here's remembering the 1980 5th year Netball Team coached by Carole Donnelly. This picture was taken to commemorate winning the Lancashire Schools' Trophy in 1980. Left to Right, Diane Foster, Ruth Bradley, Roslyn Alam, Valda Waring, Caroline Houghton (Captain), Carole Etherington, Deborah Miller-Crook, Ann-Marie Brindle

Carol Dewhurst née Dickinson (left Notre Dame 1979).
held a reunion for all those who left the 5th year of Notre Dame Grammar School in the summer of 1979. It was also intended for 1981 leavers of Upper Sixth, St Mary's College, and old pupils of Heathfield Preparatory School, Meins Rd, Blackburn 1974 leavers. The reunion was held in the Centenary Suite of Blackburn Rovers Football Club on 1st March 2003 and was a great success. Contact

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1962Margaret Gregson née
1965Anne O'
1979Carol Dewhurst née
1982Catherine Button née


16/02/03 - Rita Houldsworth, Washington DC (left 1940)

The Convent of Notre Dame had started out in a large house but by the time I attended in 1927, classrooms, assembly hall and chapel had been added. The grounds were fairly extensive for a city school and we enjoyed a large "blacktop" marked out into three netball courts in winter and tennis courts in summer. We also had a clay tennis court just inside the tradesmen's entrance and a quite extensive garden area on the house side of the school where we had processions on Church holidays such as Corpus Christi ad the Immaculate Conception.

The River Blakewater ran through the school grounds, separating the playground from the buildings. It was often steaming as we crossed the bridge for Games and the water was a smoky green or blue from the dyes emptied into it by Roe Lee Mill. It smelled of the chemicals they discharged into it, too. No one thought of ecology then. It was more important to have the mills running so that people had jobs.

The main gate on Whalley New Road was guarded by a gate house inhabited by one of the gardeners I think. I know that the Domestic Science students went there to learn how to clean a house and for cookery classes. A long driveway called Ivy Lane ran just inside the high stone wall parallel to the road and was bordered and secluded by rhodedendronbushes and Solomon Seal. It was always dismal and rainy there except when the bushes bore their huge flowers in May. On the day of the Immaculate Conception, the older girls went early to strip off every blossom and laid them on the ground as borders for the paths of the procession. 250 girls wearing white veils walked along those paths singing Stabat Mater and other songs of praise to the Virgin and following her statue, along with the nuns of course, and led by theConvent priest. No one but ourselves witnessed the procession. It was sufficient unto itself.

At the age of three, I started in the "Babies' Class" which was divided from the Kindergarten or Montessori Class by floor-to-ceiling glass-panelled doors which could be moved back but never were. The rooms were spacious and one entire wall of the Kindergarten (in which we spent three years) was composed of a mural done in coloured chalks showing aromantic woodand glen with toadstools, fairies, elves and frogs. It was magical and I spent a good deal of time gazing at it.

We used to have exercise classes in the Babies' room next door but I don't remember what happened to the tiny ones in those periods. Sister Agnita, round and kind, reigned in Kindergarten and taught all subjects. She is the only sister I remember who encouraged us to have vocations. As I was a non-catholic, she kindly told me that I couldbecome an anglo-catholic nun so that i wouldn't be left out.

Clad in bottle green coats, the winter uniform hat which looked rather like an army forage cap turned sideways with the school badge dead center, brown wool stockings held up by suspenders attached to our woolen "Liberty bodices" and well-polished brown shoes, we were the Convent Girls representing our school wherever we went. Even the hair ribbons holding our plaits or bunches had to be brown. Let no one think of throwing a snowball, eating sweets or going without brown gloves (summer and winter) in the street.

At the northern end of the grounds was another gate labelled "Tradesmen's Entrance". We used that too. Like the main gate, it opened directly onto the street without any sidewalk on the school side. I policeman would be there to see us across at dinner time. During WWII the school handyman called Tom acted as crossing guard. He was a funny-looking tiny man (old, we thought), with extremely baggy clothes, a warm smile and a salute to his shabby workingman's cap for every child, and enormous feet in clumsy boots. We loved him. Unless I was meeting a friend at the main gate, I used this entrance, getting off the double-decker tram at Bastwell and skirting the school wall as the traffic roared by a foot away.

I spent more than 12 years at The Convent and enjoyed them all. An air of calm and purpose created a good atmosphere for learning. Boys were only allowed up the the age of seven so there was no distraction of oppositesexes in the classroom. As teenagers, our time to talk with boys was pretty much limited to the tram stop in the morning -- sometimes letting more than one tram go by. Once on the tram, we did not mix.

The nuns and lay mistresses were all well-qualified. The lay mistresses always taught in their academic gowns, which gave them a certain cachetand we loved to see them on Speech Day when they wore the hoods of their universities and faculties too. Our regular (non-liturgical) music teacher was the only one who wore only a dress. She was formal, polite and always serious and I don't remember her ever reprimanding anyone. As the only non-catholic member of the staff, she would assemble us forchoral singing, walk to the front of the class, join her hands at the waist and bow her head. We would say the Hail Mary then she would raise her head and start the lesson. Music lessons were held in the Salle, which was on top of the original house and may have been a ballroom at one time.

The entire school assembled in the Hall before morning and afternoon classes. Sister Josephine, the Headmistress, would read out any notices, often admonish us in one way or another , then we would say a prayer and sing one of those delightful Catholic hymns so infinitely superior tothe dirges which passed for hymns in the Protestant churches. There was a holy water font at the entrance to every classroom and we dipped and crossed ourselves coming and going. We went to our desks and, when the teacher entered, we all immediately stood, bowed, and said, "Good morning Miss ----" She answered "Good morning, girls". We then said a quick Hail Mary and the 40-minute period began. The first class of the day was always Religious Instruction and was always taught by a nun.

Miss Haworth was Games Mistress in my day and she used to make us skip twice around the whole playground to warm up. We went out there in just about any weather short of HEAVY rain, no sweaters allowed -- just a gym slip over a thin silk shantung blouse!. My first gym teacher was Miss Andrews, who got married and left town. Then came Miss Binks who became very close to Miss Haworth and they later opened a small private school together in Blackpool.

There were quite a few boarders in my day, as well as a couple of weekly boarders who went home Friday afternoon to Monday morning. There were two sisters, Sibyl and Barbara Yates, who came from the Isle of Man and only went home once a year, poor things. When Barbara left school and went into nursing, she trained at Blackburn Infirmary in order to stay close to her little sister. The dorms were in the house part and no day girl was ever allowed to visit them. I had a boarder friend, Jean Coker, who sometimes was allowed to come to tea at my house on Saturdays. There was quite a rigamarole to go through. My mother had to write a letter to Sister Superior (like God, she had no personal name), then I had to be sent to her office (in the labyrinth) and questioned in detail about how we would spend the time and assure her that I would personally escort Jean back into the Convent after tea.

We called Prize Giving "Speech Day" and it was held in the Hall. No parents came. We all had to wear white dresses and we filled the Hall. The lay teachers in their full academic gowns and hoods sat on the platform (at the other end of the Hall from the stage proper), along with the Mayor and a Monsignor or two. It went on for hours, then we donned white veils and went to chapel in the dark and it was beautiful and we frooze.

Remember being invited to Stonyhurst College (catholic boarding school for boys in Hurst Green near Clitheroe) in our 5th year - a disco if I recall. I know we were very excited about going to such a posh school - those boys were very rich and we were being ferried in - probably to help them develop social skills with the opposite sex!!
24/07/2002 Christine Wilkinson, Sheffield (5Y -1980).

Do you remember matron who used to run the 'tuck shop' in the little cupboard near the entrance to the chapel?.....happy days.
24/07/2002 David Proctor, Blackburn (1987).

Up-dated 6 November 2008