Our School History

In 1949 the secondary school that is now Bowland High opened. The school was based in a building dating from 1865, which had originally formed Foxley Bank Hydro. This has recently been demolished to make way for the new main building at the centre of our current site.

Foxley Bank Hydro became a luxurious hotel in the Edwardian era. The intention was that people would come to sample the spa water and enjoy the country air, creating a rural Harrogate. But this idea never really caught on and by the 1920’s the hotel ran into financial problems.

The hotel closed and was converted into an orphanage, under the direction of Sister Ella Curnock. One of the school Societies has adopted her name. Later, it was developed into a wartime home for refugee children from Europe under the auspices of the National Children´s Home organisation.

The ‘Kindertransport’ was an organised rescue effort that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.  Clitheroe was one of the destinations for many of these children and a school was set up at Riversmead for boys who arrived there from Berlin and Vienna.  By September 1939 there were sixty-five boys on the roll.

In 1989 the refugees had a 50th anniversary reunion at the school and a film, “They came to Riversmead”, was produced for television to commemorate the event. We still occasionally receive visitors who were refugees.

‘Bowland County Secondary School’, also known as ‘Riversmead’ remained a very small rural school from 1949 until into the 1990s. Thereafter the number of pupils on roll grew significantly and more purpose-built facilities followed. Physically, Bowland High bears little resemblance to the school that opened here 70 years ago.

In 2015 we were delighted to welcome back the School’s first Head Girl, Mrs Alice Pickard, and the Head Boy from 1950, Mr Donald Nelson, for the official opening of the new Riversmead Building.

““Pupils are polite, well-mannered and respectful.”


“Teachers and pupils show mutual respect for each other.”


"Safeguarding policies and practice are highly effective."


"Pupils’ outcomes are outstanding. All groups make strong progress."