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Our History

History of the School

West Hill was, for almost one hundred years, the home of the Harrison Family who were pioneers of the Cotton Industry in Stalybridge. 

The Harrisons amassed enormous wealth and prestige over a period of some one hundred and thirty years through their ownership of the Chapel Street Cotton Mills. 

The mansion that we know as West Hill was built in 1822 for William Harrison and his future wife, Amy Cheetham, as a wedding gift from his brothers.

West Hill passed into the ownership of successive members of the Harrison family until Mary Harrison, a spinster, was the one remaining member of the Harrison family.  The house was purchased by Stalybridge Education Committee for £13,000 for “the elder boys of the borough”.

At first, the school was to be designed for both boys and girls, but the decision was made for a boys-only school. The Board of Education suggested making it into “one of the best schools in the country and not a school that would be obsolete in a few years’ time”. Consequently, instead of making 12 classrooms for 500 children, it was decided to make 10 classrooms for 400 children.

West Hill School was declared open on the 24th March 1927 in the presence of Alderman Cooke, who worked tirelessly to realise the birth of the school. 

The school was open for public inspection during Easter and on Monday 25th April 1927, the first students took up their places; 278 boys and 3 girls. 196 students came from Elementary Schools whilst 85 were transferred from Waterloo Road Central School.

  • 1927-1928
  • 1928-1947
  • 1947-1952
  • 1952-1973
  • 1973-1977
  • 1977-1986
  • 1986-1994
  • 1994-2015
  • 2015-2019
  • 2019-2023
  • 2023-present
  • Mr D. McClaren

    1927-1928

    • West Hill School was officially opened on Thursday 24th March 1927
    • The Board of Education suggested making West Hill School into "one of the best schools in the country and not a school that would be obsolete in a few years’ time"
    • The housing system of Chaucer, Milton, Scott and Spenser was introduced
    • The headmaster’s school log book was created to record significant school happenings

  • Mr G.S. Fletcher

    1928-1947

    • The arches around the infamous ‘Quad’ were constructed and opened
    • West Hill School closed due to the outbreak of the war
    • Once re-opened, it was opened on a part-time basis
    • Boys and staff had to abandon classes and head to air raid shelters on many occasions
    • Music teacher, Mr Sam Goodwin, was killed in action during the war

  • Mr C. Rigby

    1947-1952

    • West Hill’s standards of good behaviour, effective prefecting, and attaining well in sports were already being set
    • An inspection of the school noted that “It promises to be a very good Secondary Modern School”
    • The School Song was performed at the first West Hill Annual Speech Day in Stalybridge Town Hall
    • An Influenza epidemic affected school attendance

  • Mr Q. Mackenzie

    1952-1973

    • 1953 - The school moto ‘Aim High’, and school badge was introduced
    • 1958 - West Hill’s Brass Band was formed. A tradition that still continues today
    • The West Hill Magazine was in production
    • 1963 - A terrible blizzard and avalanche in the area affected attendance at school

  • Mr C.S. Falconer

    1973-1977

    • The school celebrated its 50-year anniversary
    • The school leaving age was raised and caused accommodation issues at the school.
    • West Hill’s uniform was introduced – black blazer with badge, black trousers, shirt and the West Hill tie
    • Corporal punishment was abolished to all but a few senior members of staff
    • 1976 - The House System that we have re-introduced today, was abandoned.

  • Mr K.P. Parker

    1977-1986

    • Mr Parker appointed Acting Headmaster following the death of Mr Falconer
    • Fuel Crisis caused by strikes leads to partial delivery of lessons to the lower part of the school. Boys were put on a rota for when they should attend school
    • New timings of the school day were introduced – the day now ends 10 minutes earlier at 3:50pm
    • 1981 – female staff could now officially wear trousers, as announced at a staff meeting.
    • Due to accommodation shortages, and a yearly intake of 180 boys, temporary demountable buildings were added to the school site.

  • Mr L.W. Hill

    1986-1994

    • The school celebrates its Diamond Jubilee.
    • The formal address of Ma’am for all female staff was introduced by Mr Hill
    • West Hill becomes a Grant Maintained School
    • 1984 - The Art Block was created and built on the back field over the summer
    • “My respect and love for this splendid school remains undiminished…”

  • Mr R.J. Hewitt

    1994-2015

    • 1994 – Mr Hewitt assumed his role as Headteacher
    • The Duke of Edinburgh Scheme was launched at school
    • 46 students travelled to Kenya on the trip of a lifetime after a valiant fundraising effort
    • West Hill School converted to Academy Status
    • New classrooms, dining facilities a sports hall and the Hewitt Building were added to the school site during Mr Hewitt’s reign.

  • Mr A.F. Harrison

    2015-2019

  • Mr A. Owens

    2019-2023

  • Ms C. Cronin

    2023-present