Beal Vale Primary School in Shaw have published an excellent local history booklet. The pupils have been researching the history surrounding their school, under the guidance of their teacher David Morris, the school’s  history  co-ordinator. At the footpath entrance to the building, they have erected a large notice board that gives details and photographs of their findings. Anyone standing on Glebe Street can read the board and see the pictures. Together with local historian Frances Stott, they have produced a history trail guide to the streets that surround their school. To download this walking guide see the link at the end of this article in the Access section below.

Beal Vale Primary School History Trail

The Layout of the Streets

The land the school sits on was originally part of Bardsley Farm, the earliest record of which is 1695. The land was bought for the Littleborough Church in 1774, and fittingly the history information board stands on Glebe Street (glebe land is land owned by a church). It was the vicar of Littleborough, Reverend Alfred Salts, appointed in 1872, who was to oversee the transformation of the area into the street plan we see today. He was in charge of building houses on the farmland and many of the streets are named after members of his family. A look at the local plan will reveal Salts Street (the road that the car park entrance to Beal Vale school is on), as well as streets named Alfred, Christine, Charlotte, Avis and Blakelock (his wife’s maiden name).

The Local Mills

The history walk marks the sites of four local mills that have been demolished. Four are mentioned: Lyon Mill, Sandy Lane Mill, Shaw Spinning Factory and Fern Mill.

Lyon Mill had two major fires, one in 1911 and the second in 1929. This latter one was so damaging that the mill could not be repaired, and two hundred people lost their jobs.  Sandy Lane Mill was founded in 1861 by Joseph Clegg of High Crompton. It ran until 1935, when it was knocked down and the Ideal bakery constructed on its site, which later became Warburtons. This was converted to small business units in 2012.

The Shaw Spinning Company factory was on Salts Street and ceased production in 1929. It was demolished in 1972 for housing.  Fern Mill lasted until 1981 and this was also knocked down to clear land for homes. Fortunately, its engine survives and is in place at the Ellenroad Engine House and Steam Museum at nearby Milnrow. See our page on the history of Ellenroad Engine House here.

Beal Vale School

The school that Beal Vale originally derived from is the Victorian St Paul’s Methodist school, on Rochdale Road. Beal Vale moved to its current site in 1975. While the site was being excavated, workmen discovered the remains of Second World War air raid shelters.  In 2016, school children planted 40 trees to mark the school’s anniversary. An orchard and forest area at the front of the school was named Fern Croft after the local mill.

Site visited by A. Bowden 2022


The information board stands just within the fence of Beal Vale Primary School, at the pedestrian entrance on Glebe Street. It describes some of the local history, shows photographs and the historical sites.

Download the history trail guide here


Ellenroad Engine House and Steam Museum

Piethorne Valley Reservoirs


On site interpretation board, Beal Vale Primary School

Beal Vale Local History Trail, David Morris and Francis Stott (2019). Pdf available online (see above link).