Researcher seeks people from Bristol's Catholic Schools

Issue date: 19 January 2006

Stained glass cross Did you attend a Catholic primary school in the diocese of Clifton during the 1930,s 1940's, 1950,s and 1960's? What do you remember about the experience? How big were the classes, did you learn with children of all ages, how do you think the schools helped strengthen the communities, are you part of a family that has attended the same school over a generation or two?

These are just some of the questions that John Lee, an education researcher from the University of the West of England would like to find answers for.

John Lee is embarking on a project to trace the history of the development of Catholic Elementary Education in England and he is focusing his research on two Dioceses; Clifton in Bristol and Salford. Mr. Lee said, “I'm very interested in gathering anecdotal information to support what I can glean from local and national archives.”

“I chose Salford because there is a relatively high proportion of Catholic Schools stemming from a historic migration of many Irish people particularly during and after the famine from the 1840's. Later immigrants came from Italy and in the immediate post war period from Eastern Europe. Bristol has a much smaller Catholic population and will provide a useful comparison.

“I have already accessed archives in Bristol for St Nicholas of Tolentine in Old Market, St Mary on the Quay, St Josephs and Holy Cross. I am concentrating efforts on Bristol's oldest dioceses and have had enormous support from Clifton archivist the Reverend Dr A.J. Harding. There is however the need for quite a lot of investigation as records are dispersed amongst schools, churches and public record offices.

“I am interested in constructing a history of how the Catholic School evolved and particularly how the schools served the local communities and to what degree they were key in creating and sustaining these communities. I was educated in a Catholic elementary school in Rochdale and a secondary school in Salford so I have some memories of my own but I need a much wider perspective.”

If you can help with this project please contact Mr. John Lee on 0117 32 84239 or e-mail


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