History of the Old Grammar School and Arts Centre
In the early 1700s, the people of Garstang were pressing for a school. Ironically, it was a Winmarleigh man who bequeathed £150 to endow a school in Garstang. The then owner and Lord of the Manor of Garstang (The Right Honourable Edward Walpole) provided a site on ‘Croston’s Waste’ which he leased to the Corporation for 200 years; they bought the freehold in 1919.
The school opened as ‘The Boys Grammar school’ in 1760. The education was ‘elementary’ and, in the main, fees had to be paid to assist with the Master’s salary of £3 15s per year. The Corporation made a grant of £6 15s a year. It is said, and some internal physical features suggest, that at some stage the building was made two storey, with girls being accommodated on the upper floor. However, concrete evidence is lacking.
In 1928, the school was closed by the County Education Committee which had become increasingly involved as the public system of education developed. Local needs were now able to be met by the new denominational schools in Garstang and Bonds. However, the old school was used until 1965 by the Education Committee as a Special Subjects Centre – cookery for girls and woodwork for boys.
In 1969, the building became the Arts Centre with the declared object of “promoting an interest in the Arts throughout the district”. The initiative was taken by Stella Platt and the late Frank Walmsley, the project being well supported by the Town trust. Much work had to be done – money, time and energy spent – to make the ‘down at heel’ building suitable for its intended use. Art and other activity quickly developed and flourished within the limitations of the centre.
The next major change was the building of the extension and the welding of it to a completely refurbished schoolroom – a 1980s project undertaken and financed by the Town Trust who are the landlords of ‘The Garstang and District Arts Society’ (a registered charity) who took on the management and running of the new Arts Centre.