IN last week’s Looking Back we looked at the opening of White Bank School in 1922. The grand old house which housed the school had been donated by well-known cotton industrialists, the Haslam family.

Today, we hear from Fred Tyldesley, who began teaching at the school in 1964 and remained there, through its relocation and name changes until 2013.

“I went to agricultural college and teacher training college and phoned Bolton Council to see if there were any teaching jobs suitable,” he said.

“By chance, that same day the rural studies teacher at White Bank announced he was retiring after 30 years, so it was the perfect job for someone of my background.”

Prior to his arrival at the school, the emphasis of rural studies was on agriculture. But under Mr Tyldesley the boys were able to learn about and explore the world of agriculture too.

“We had a greenhouse and six vegetable plots and the boys really enjoyed growing their own vegetables,” said Mr Tyldesley, who lives in Hawkshaw.

In time, he began bringing in a variety of animals he found to further expand the boys’ understanding of nature.

“We had things like rabbits and chicks - in fact we got an incubator for the classroom and were able to hatch our own chicks.”

His parents were both butchers and Mr Tyldesley raised eyebrows amongst some of the staff when he took in a chicken carcass and gave the boys a lesson in plucking and preparing chickens.

“Another time, we went on a field trip and put the fungi we collected in a sort of natural history museum we’d created in the school loft. However, several weeks later someone from the council visited and hit the roof when he saw it. He said it could have resulted in an infestation of dry rot!”

In December 1969, White Bank closed and reopened the following January as Deane High School on a new site.

“As we were packing up a vintage, chauffeur driven Rolls Royce pulled up and a very old man got out.

“It turned out he was a member of the Haslam family wanting a look round. My classroom had been his childhood bedroom. I hadn’t the heart to tell him the building was going to be demolished.”