A lesson in the history of Alston College

ALSTON College was built by the Reverend Thomas Abbott Peters MA in 1854. However, almost 40 years later the college buildings were demolished to make way for Alston No. 2 Reservoir.

The construction of the reservoir was delayed by droughts in 1887 and 1888 and was finally completed in 1899.

All that remains now of the original college buildings is college villas opposite the Old Oak Inn.

Many people, of course, know that the clock from Alston College was gifted and reinstalled in St Lawrence's Church, as you can see in the photograph from the mid 1890s.

What is not so quite commonly known is that the bell that summoned students to their lessons was also transferred to St Lawrence's Church.

The Rev Peters established his new college in the Hermitage in Grimsargh - our picture shows the Hermitage in the early 1900s.

The name was changed to St John's College, which is thought to have coincided with the building of the College Chapel in 1882.

For a period of eight years Rev Peters owned both sites until the Alston site was conveyed to the Borough of Preston for the sum of 2,250 in 1881.

In his History of Longridge, 1888, Tom Smith describes St John's College as "being fitted up with the most modern improvements, including airy and pleasant classrooms, a large swimming bath and gymnasium, besides cricket and football fields of nine acres in extent".

Tom Smith suggested that there was probably no betterequipped school in England. It was certainly well appointed and was one of the first buildings in the country to have gas lighting which was installed in February 1879.

Rumour has it that the school went into decline as a result of a tragic swimming accident on the River Ribble. The school finally closed following the death of Rev Peters in 1909.

He was buried in St Michaels Churchyard, Grimsargh. For many years the building was run as a restaurant under its former name of The Hermitage, although sadly the chapel was demolished.

In 1993 the building was renovated and became a private dwelling.

Unfortunately there are no pictures of Longridge's famed college so we have a contemporary drawing of Alston College that was used as an advertisement.

?? My thanks to Derek Hicks of Longridge Local History Society for providing me with the information for today's Memory Lane feature.

?? The next meeting of the society is on March 5, at the Centenary Room, St Paul's Church, Longridge, starting at 7.30pm. The speakers are Jill and Steve Cookson and their topic is The Lancaster canal and the Leeds - Liverpool canal link. For further details contact Val Martin-Warren on 01772 786315.