Greenhill Grammar School Oldham - Building

The Greengate St Building

The Photographic Time-line


In 1842 a factory inspector, Leonard Horner, reported that in an area of 32 square miles of the densely populated new industrial districts of Oldham and Ashton, with a population of 105,000, there was not a single public day school for the education of poor children. Source: The Uncertain Trumpet: a History of Church of England School Education to AD 2001 by Norman Dennis


The text says: The area at the bottom left of the photograph is the site of Greenhill School.

1899  Planning commenced

1900 December Design Approved

1901 Aug Foundation Stone laid.

Feb 28 1903 Building opened as Waterloo Board School.


In 1903 the building was known as the Waterloo (Board) School and it is the earliest known photograph of the building unless it can be proven that the 1911 stamped postcard is in fact older.

Postcard is located at the Oldham Local Studies & Archives.


 This is the OS map of 1909 and the school can be clearly seen under the R in PETERS.


This a postally used postcard of 1911 and was also named The Waterloo Junior Council School. This dates the postcard as pre 1909 and possibly as early as 1903-1905 during which time that name was in use.. It will be noted that the trees outside the lower hall are undeveloped in this photograph compared with the 1907 postcard however a seasonal change could be the reason.



This would have been Oldham (Municipal) High School.


This is part of the Greenhill Grammar School Official Photo set of 1954. Clearly a winter photograph.



An Aerial Photograph of c 1965


This is a photograph taken in 1980 by Roger Worthington. The school was in disrepair and was being used as  a Community Centre


This is the Upper Assembly Hall again from 1981. Taken by Roger Worthington.



A photograph taken in the summer of 1999 by Roger Worthington



Jeremy MT Sutcliffe took this photograph and says:

These may well be the last photographs taken of the school on Greengate St. One time Oldham High School, West Oldham High School, Greenhill Grammar School, Greenhill School (feeder to Hathershaw School) and finally Green Hill Community School. Vacated on the opening of the new Greenhill Community School in January 2001, it had been the target of vandalism and some arson and contractors were brought in to hasten demolition in May 2001. A moment of regret for old Greenhillians perhaps? It shouldn't be. It was inadequate for its purposes when we were there at it as Greenhill Grammar School. No sixth form study facilities, (Free periods in the hall or an empty classroom) a pathetic little library, poor science labs, a lengthy walk to playing fields. JMTS

A satellite image by published by Google Earth which must have been taken before June 2001.....


Because the building was demolished on or about 24/06/2001. Photograph by Paul Adshead who says:

I popped around to the old place this morning 7a.m BST 24/06/2001, and took probably the last pix of the school before the rubble was taken away..........I have also saved you a good brick from the old place depending on what it costs to send, you may end up with a very heavy package one day that won't fit in your mailbox!  I took 26 pix and some on film which aren't developed yet, but I picked the two out of the dig. ones that give the best impression.........the place looks so small as a pile of use to feel huge.

Hope you can get these pix on the site soon.The pile of rubble pic. is taken just inside the "BOYS" entrance looking towards Harmony St ( now there's an ironic name!).  I also took a pic. of the main entrance which looks through the original gate ( I think) to a roller shutter covering the main door! ( No twee wooden,windowed doors for these " modern "times!)

Regards, Paul Adshead


This is Paul's second photograph.


The Greengate St Building

Associated Oldham Schools

It's impossible to trace the history of a school which continually changes it's name and location so we must content ourselves with the history of the use of the Greengate St School buildings.

 School Name  Years  Location  Notes 
 Construction Commenced  1899  Greengate St  
 The Waterloo (Board) School**  1903- 1909  Greengate St  

 The Greengate Elementary School &
 Pupil Teachers Centre

 1909  Hardy St
 Greengate St


 Oldham Municipal Secondary School,
 (also known as East Oldham High School)

 Greengate St



 Playing Fields and sports pavilion opened.
 Donated by Sarah Anne Lees*
 1911  near junction of Kings Rd
 & Honeywell Lane


 Oldham Municipal High School  192?-1946  Greengate St


 West Oldham High School
 Greenhill Grammar School


 Ward St
 Greengate St


 East Oldham High School
 Counthill Grammar School

 Greengate St


 Hathershaw Annex
 (feeder to Hathershaw School)
 1966-1970  Greengate St  
 The Greenhill School  1970-78  Greengate St  
 Kaskenmoor Comprehensive School  1966-present  Kaskenmoor  
 The Counthill School  1966-present   Counthill  
 Multi-Cultural Centre for the LEA,  1978-1999  Greengate St  
 Greenhill Community School  1999-2000  Greengate St  
 Building Demolished  June 2001    
** This name explains the apparent misnaming of the two postacrds which we estimate as 1907 and 1911
#  Schools of specific interest to members of this site.
Sarah Lees (1843-1935) was "one of the first prominent women to take part in public life," and was the first woman to sit on Oldham Town Council. She was elected from the Hollinwood Ward after the passing of the Qualification of Women Act 1907. She was also the first woman councillor to be elected in Lancashire. She was subsequently Alderman and Mayor, president of Oldham Royal Infirmary, member of the Court of Manchester University, chairman of the Oldham Branch of the League of Nations. Became first freeman of the borough of Oldham in November 1909, and became mayor November 9 1910, the second lady mayor to be installed in the country. Awarded an honorary degree by Manchester University in July 1914 (LLD). Became a Dame August 25 1917 in recognition of service during the war. "She was imbued with a sense of civic patriotism, believing that women whould have equal citizenship with men."


In 1842 a factory inspector, Leonard Horner, reported that in an area of 32 square miles of the densely populated new industrial districts of Oldham and Ashton, with a population of 105,000, there was not a single public day school for the education of poor children. Source: The Uncertain Trumpet: a History of Church of England School Education to AD 2001 by Norman Dennis

Turn of the Century:
(This information is found in that little known mine of information the "County Borough of Oldham Education committee Handbook 1939")

The building in Greengate St. that most of us knew as Greenhill Grammar School was opened  in  February 1903 with accommodation for 464 children. The site had cost the Council £661/11/9 and the cost of building and furnishing it was  £16,774/17/3. The caretakers house was completed in December of the same year for £419/2/10.

The Municipal High School however had started life earlier, in 1892, as an organised Science School located at Hardy St., presumably the building we knew as Waterloo Secondary Modern. It was recognised as a Secondary School in 1902 and moved into the Greengate St. building in September 1909

The following quote from Law's "Oldham Brave Oldham" gives us the legislative background. Law has missed the fact that Secondary School created as a result of the 1902 act did not move to the Greengate St building until 1909. He has also missed that the school created in 1902 had evolved from an existing establishment pre dating the act by ten years*.

"...the new Education Committee apppointed by the council after the 1902 Act, had a duty "to make provision" for secondary education. It did so to a limited extent by converting an existing school at Greengate St into the Oldham Municipal Secondary School. 15% of places had to be free; the rest paid 3 pounds 3 shillings yearly."

The laboratory block, clearly a purpose built facility for the new location, was completed in October 1909 at a cost of £3976/1/8.

The playing fields were created on a plot of land, presented “free from ground rent” by the then Mayor, Sarah Ann Lees, as a recreation ground “for the exclusive use of the teachers and scholars at the Municipal High School”. The site was fenced round with what is described as “a substantial hoarding” and opened on August 3rd 1911 after the ground had been drained, levelled and a new pavilion built at a cost of  £2556/4/1.


(*Nice to expose a professional historian's inadequacies. I hope George Wright and Derek Bickerstaffe are proud of me. JMTS)

"...the new Education Committee appointed by the council after the 1902 Act, had a duty "to make provision" for secondary education. It did so to a limited extent by converting an existing school at Greengate St into the Oldham Municipal Secondary School. 15% of places had to be free; the rest paid 3 pounds 3 shillings yearly."
The Education Act of 1902 afforded an opportunity to develop secondary education in the town on fresh lines. The Education Committee which now replaced the School Board made prompt application to the Board of Education for Authority to establish a Municipal Secondary School. Provisional Sanction was given and a secondary school found a temporary home at the Waterloo Higher Grade School....... Permanent recognition and sanction was given in 1906 to amalgamate the Secondary School with the Pupil Teacher's Centre. The Elementary School Building in Greengate St was reconditioned to satisfy the requirements of the Board and in 1909 the School was opened with Mr G.M.Handley, BA as headmaster.
It is now called (1947) East Oldham High School and defined as  a Secondary Grammar School. The High School and the Hulme Grammar Schools have throughout the century achieved a standard of secondary grammar school education unsurpassed in any other County Borough.

This extract from Hartley Bateson's "A History of Oldham". First Edition 1949. My version 1985.

The Municipal High School also known as the East Oldham High School was opened in 1909 as a mixed, fee-paying, grammar school. It became a free school in 1924.

From 1917 Higher Standard Centres, later re-named ‘Central Schools’, were established, designed for those children who failed to obtain a scholarship to grammar school.

Contnued here

The Greengate St Building

Between the wars:

"In Oldham provision for secondary education remained inadequate, taking less than 5% of the age group. The Municipal High School on Greengate St did not have enough places; selection was by entrance examination and in the 1930s fees were charged except for the poorest children; uniforms, the cost of getting there, were other deterrents. Compared with nearly 13,000 in the elementary schools, below 450 were going to the High School."
After WW2:
"In the immediate post war period the old Greenhill (Oldham Municipal) High School became a (Greenhill) Grammar School in 1951.......
The comprehensive system was adopted in 1966."
extracted from: Oldham Brave Oldham by Brian R Law
Where did the West Oldham High School fit into this story?
The West Oldham High School,  started in the Robin Hill Secondary Modern School in Ward Street in 1947.  Then in 1951 when the new school had been built at Counthill, the East Oldham High School pupils moved out of the Greengate Street building to occupy the new school and become Counthill GS and we moved across into the Greengate St building and became Greenhill Grammar School.

Frank McCandlish

The down pipes on the Greengate St building had the date 1912 cast into the header boxes. I vividly recall this as I spent hours gazing at them during French lessons.

David Barrott Vb East Oldham High, 1950-51.

Post 1966

It closed as a grammar school in July 1966, I was in the last upper sixth. The pupils as you say moved down to Kaskenmoor to join pupils from Hollinwood Secondary which was closed and subsequently knocked down. It may have been empty for a short time, I'm not sure.
However, in September 1972 when I went to work there it was indeed an 11-13 school along with Fitton Hill feeding into Hathershaw and had been for a few years. This came to an end in 1978 when Hathershaw and Fitton Hill became 11-18 and 11-16 schools respectively and the Greenhill building was closed.
We were told that it was full of dry rot and fully expected it to be knocked down. However the number of primary school children in the area was so great and the existing schools unable to accommodate them that it was re-opened as a primary school and remained so until the Greenhill replacement primary school was built across the road.
I also have a vague memory that at one period it served as a multi-cultural centre for the LEA, but can't remember when that was.
To sum up then, it ceased to be a secondary school in 1966, so really that's going to be the limit of our members.

The Official 1978 School History

They're closing the Old School Down (small text version 119 KB)

They're closing the Old School Down (large image version 4.8 MB)



An essay by Deputy Headmaster, Rod Ashworth, which commemorates  the closure of the school in 1978.  (see 1978 photograph)

The document is owned and was scanned by Jeremy Sutcliffe. It was found among his mother's possessions, Ida Sutcliffe, nee Tweedale, also an ex-pupil.


1903 Mr. Fairnie (Elementary)

Miss Stevenson (infants)

1909 Mr.Handley

1933 Mr.Butler

1937 Mr.Joslin

1939 Mr.Ashworth

1951 Mr.Higson

1963 Mr.Grey

1966-1970 Hathershaw Annex

Mr. Vaughan i/c

1970 Mr. Jones

1973 Mr. Stanley




1903 Waterloo Board School

1909 Municipal Secondary School

& P.T. Centre.

1919 Municipal Secondary School

1930 Municipal High School

1947 East Oldham High School

1951 Greenhill Grammar School

1966-1970 Hathershaw Annex

1970 Greenhill Comprehensive School

1978 Closure.




Waterloo School (Hardy St)

The school on Hardy St, just up Waterloo St from Greengate St, also had many names and at times was intimately connected with the Greengate St School.

Here it is c 1910.




Inside GGS

I would be really nice to find some photos of the classrooms.

Chemistry Lab

Gymnasium (1)

Gymnasium (2)


Upper Hall (1)


Upper Hall (2)


Lower Hall


Some GGS Pages from "Please Miss May I leave the room?"

Education in Oldham from 1870's - 1970's by Freda Millett

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

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4/24/2014 1:58:37 PM