Stories from the past

Locals Dot Hawkes, from the Lathom History Society and Margaret Fairclough, a local ex-Bickerstaffe CE School teacher, visited the children of Bickerstaffe CE School to share their knowledge of local history relating to World War One.  

Margaret, formerly Miss Alcock, who taught in school from 1960-1972, is a relative of fallen soldier Private William Pye.

She mesmerised the children when she spoke about his journey from being a pupil at the Bickerstaffe CE School until the end of his life, when he served as a soldier in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Private Pye, who rests in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Bickerstaffe, died in battle in Basra on 9 March 1917.  He was just 21-years-old.  

Horses play a significant part in the local community, so Dot went on to speak about the role of horses in the war. She shared lots of very interesting facts about this and showed photographs of many different types of horses, which were remounted at Lathom Park, in order to prepare them for war.  

As part of their learning, the school held an armistice competition and the winners received a book token and a signed copy of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse.    

Maggie Teachen, headteacher at Bickerstaffe CE School said: “The pupils and staff have thoroughly enjoyed the local focus on World War One learning this year.

“They were very keen to learn about William and his journey, especially as he was a former pupil of our school, which makes their learning more meaningful.

“They were intrigued to learn about the horses and the significant role that they played in the war effort.

“I’m sure that we will have many children trying to check horse hooves for numbers, to see if the horse descends from a war horse!

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