A History of St. Gerard's School - 1911 - 1950's

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St. Gerard's School was built in 1928, but the history of the parish goes back further than that.

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The first St. Gerard's church was built in 1911

In the late 19th and early 20th century, many people moved to Thrybergh. They were attracted by the opening of Silverwood colliery and the abundance of jobs available in the coal industry


A significant number of these were Irish and Catholic and therefore there was an increased demand for Mass and the sacraments in the area.




Bishop Cowgill decided that it would be necessary to set up a Catholic parish in Thrybergh.


The first priest of the parish was Father Ward. He lived in one of the houses on Doncaster Road with his pet dog. Father Ward was often seen going round the houses every Saturday to take the outdoor collection.


Soon a simple wooden church was soon built. It wasn’t very large, and could probably only seat around a hundred people. Inside it was quite bare to begin with, but friends of Father Ward donated statues including “The Mother of Holy Hope” that can still be seen in church today.


Father Ward had the vital task of making sure children were given religious instruction on Sunday afternoon… He even taught the older children himself.




The first baptism recorded in the register is that of Nora Regan, who was born on 23rd April 1912 and baptised nearly 4 weeks later. In the early years, the number of baptisms was about 27 per year.



Father Ward left the parish.




Father McAdam took up duties in the parish and immediately called a meeting of parishioners on 18th September, where he revealed his intention to carry on the work to build a Catholic school. A committee was set up to raise funds.


Every working adult in the parish was asked to pay one shilling a week, while younger workers were asked for sixpence. Father McAdam even asked for donations from non-Catholics in the local pubs Saturdays (the day that miners were paid)


The first specific fund raising event for the school that is detailed in the records was a Whist Drive and Dance on 15th October, 1927. This was followed by a Carnival Ball on December 26th.




Events outside the Catholic community also raised money for the school, including a concert in Feburary 1928 at Dalton Miners’ Welfare Hall. At the event, Father McAdam  showed his appreciation that non-Catholics in the district were willing to help.


At the stone laying ceremony (attended by many priests, including both Father Ward and Father McAdam), it was said that setting up the new school would cost £8,500 and that it needed a man “with a very stout heart, who could count upon the constant support of his little flock, to carry on a work of that character.”


At this time, Catholics were often asked why they wanted to build schools when other religious groups didn’t. They were asked  why they thought it necessary to build a school, when they had only a little wooden church that really wasn’t a worthy place to worship God.


At the ceremony, Dean Schreiber said that a school could be used to worship in if it was needed. In a school they could say Mass, receive sacraments and have children baptised. He pointed out that they couldn’t use a church as a school – instead they looked upon the school as a spiritual building, as training grounds and “nurseries” for the Catholic Church.

St. Gerard’s school opened to children on 5th November 1928


The official opening ceremony took place in January 1929. Bishop Cowgill congratulated Father McAdam and the people of Thrybergh as a whole for the way they had supported the scheme.

Our dear friend, Agnes was at St. Gerard's on the first day. In 2018 (for our 90th anniversary) we asked her about her memories of starting at St. Gerard's.

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The School Log Book from 1928, which is held in our archive, gives details about the first few weeks of St. Gerard's School.

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Class 1 - 1930

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Class 2 - 1930

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Class 3 - 1930

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Class 4 - 1930

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Class 5- 1930

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Class 6 - 1930

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The final of the Brookes Cup  1935 - St. Gerard's v. Thurcroft. Photograph features future Rotherham, United player, Danny Williams.

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St. Gerard's celebrating all of their sporting wins from 1935

The 1940's

Once the school was opened, it was used to celebrate mass. In fact, it was the responsibility of the caretaker to set up the school hall for social gatherings on an evening, for dances, for mass, and to transform it back into a place of learning during the day! 

On the right you can see a wedding photograph belonging to one of our parishioners. It shows the happy couple standing outside the main entrance to the school in 1945. The heavy wooden doors are where the school office is now. The window has been bricked up, but the outline is still visible in the cupboard.

Our logbook contains the dates and details of the wartime air-raid drills that the children had to carry out. The school had two air-raid shelters within its grounds. 

In the 1930's and 1940's the original wooden church was used as a Catholic Social Club, but was sadly destroyed by a fire in 1947. 


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Class Group - 1951

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Class Group 1955-1956

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School Staff - 1955

The 1950's

After the war, plans were made for the construction of a new church.

The new St. Gerard's Roman Catholic Church was  opened on the 4th of October 1950. It  was to serve  the people of Thrybergh, Dalton, Ravenfield, Hooton Roberts, Bramley and Wickersley. 

The priest from Thrybergh, Father O'Hallaran would also travel to Wickersley and conduct a service there.

Father Mullane took over from Father O'Halaran in 1955 and the sight of Father John Mullane riding his moped became common!

Sadly Father Mullane was not to live to see the consecration of the Church, as he retired in 1979 to Ravenfield, where he was cared for by his housekeeper until his death in 1982.

With the forming of the new diocese of Hallam in 1980, the Church was finally consecrated by Bishop Moverly on the feast day of St. Gerard - 15th of October 1983.

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Photograph from 1951 - Courtesy John Burke- Middle Row,Centre.

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Photograph archive - Class 3

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Photograph archive - Class 5

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Photograph archive

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Photograph archive

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Photograph archive - Class 4

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Peel Cup - 1955

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Football 1956-1957

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Football 1957-1958

TO VISIT PAGE 2 - THE 1960's and 1970'S

Headteacher: Mrs. B. Baxter

Deputy: Mrs. D. Hudson 


St. Gerard's Catholic Primary School, Park Nook, Doncaster Road, Thrybergh, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S65 4AE

Telephone: 01709 850568

Fax: 01709 855948

Email: office@stgerardsprimary.org

Twitter: @StGerards1928

 © St. Gerard's Primary MMXXII