When the FCJ Sisters moved to Upton Hall, they opened a 'poor' school for the children of Upton and beyond. The school first used a room of the Priest's House. When the new Mission Chapel was built in 1871, it was used as the school room.

In 1878 the primary school had 25 girls and 12 infants on its roll. At this time, teachers were paid £40 per year, Assistants £20 and Monitors £6. The FCJ Head's salary was returned to the school as a donation.


St Joseph's School Building in the 1960s

The only teacher in the school from 1877 to 1884 was 'Miss Ryan' (Mother Mary), she was later joined by 'Miss Kennedy' (Mother Winifred Kennedy).

It was obvious by 1890 that the building of St Joseph's school was falling below standard, although the results of the government examination was 'excellent' and they got the highest grant for every subject. In 1894 the problems came to a head, despite the excellent report for the education being given, the building was condemned.

In 1896 the building was extended by the addition of a porch and a cloakroom - but it was not enough.

Ground Floor of St Joseph's School in the 1960s

In 1895 the number of children on roll was 60, by 1898 this had risen to 80.

Father Dallow, and the sisters, had to find the money to further extend the building. It was decided to hold a garden party in the Convent grounds to help raise the money. Despite the worry of the impending war, it was a great success, the people streamed in by their thousands.

Further garden parties, whist drives, concerts and other socials were held to raise the money needed

First Floor of St Joseph's School in the 1960s

It was not until 1914 that the original building was really developed. The back wall of the mission Chapel was broken through and a partition put in, stairs were added and three rooms constructed on the top floor. There was a cloakroom on each floor, and a separate staff cloakroom. The lighting was also converted from oil to electricity at this time.

The New St Joseph's School  Under Construction in 1965

In the summer of 1947, St Joseph's became a Junior School, no longer an all-age mixed, and places were found for the children over 11 years of age in neighbouring Catholic Secondary Schools. In 1950 the school was granted Aided Status.

At the full inspection in 1952 the overcrowding was so bad that the Inspector suggested that all non-Upton children should be refused admission, but the Managers rejected this as there was no Catholic School at Greasby or Heswall.

One of Father McGonagle's main concerns on arriving in Upton was the overcrowding in the primary school, numbers had continued to rise, reaching 203 in 1960.

St Joseph's owned a plot of land and the white cottage (old toll house) next to the church building, but this was too small and was outside the new building line dictated by the town planners.

In 1959 a search started for a location for the new school, and various places were suggested - behind the Victory Hall, in part of the grounds at Upton Manor, or even within the grounds of Upton Hall. Eventually, in 1960, Mr Chapman, who owned the rest of the land between the church and the village, agreed to sell the land.

The New St Joseph's School in 1980

The new school was approved by the LEA and the Town Planning Committee and work started in February 1965. The building of the school was completed in 9½ months and opened on January 10th 1966.

The Architects for the new school were Reynolds and Scott, and the total cost of the project was £69,000.

The old school closed on December 31st 1965, which ended the one hundred and two year association of the Sisters FCJ with the school. The last FCJ headmistress was Sister Christine Hayes, also on the staff at this time was Sister Mary Joseph Pemberton, who had been appointed in 1943.

The building stands on an outcrop of rock, a panel of this rock has been incorporated in the front elevation, adjacent to the main entrance.

Bishop Grasar carried out the official opening and blessing of the School on May 3rd 1966.

Can You Help?

Do you have any pictures of Upton, or of events in and around Upton either old or not so old?

Do you have any documents, newspaper cuttings or other information relating to Upton or the surrounding area?

Do you have any stories about Upton or the surrounding area?

If you do, please contact me by e-mail at frank@upton.cx