Alexandra Nursery in Martha Street has been open since 1973 and generations of the town’s pre-school children have enjoyed their first learning experiences there.
However, the process to close the nursery is set for a final decision next week with Bolton Council and school staff saying the pre-school is unsustainable after numbers of children attending dropped from 171 in 2017/2018 to 75 in 2021/2022.
During celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the nursery in 2013, the then head of the nursery, Barbara Kenny, spoke about its links to two of Bolton’s most famous celebrity sons.
She said: “When Peter was presented the Royal Variety Show a few years ago he introduced Paddy McGuinness and said that they became friends when they first met at Alexandra Nursery.
Last year Peter was back at the nursery taking pictures and I ran out to talk to him and had my picture taken with him.
“Children who come here go on to do great things.”
The comedy pair have maintained their links since then with McGuinness being handed his big break in comedy in the Kay created Phoenix Nights, shot largely in Farnworth.
Their fondly remembered club bouncer characters then continued as they starred in Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere in 2004. A report recommending the closure of the maintained nursery has been published prior to a decision being made on its future by the cabinet member for children’s services, Coun Anne Galloway.
It said: “Since 2015 Alexandra has undertaken three staffing restructures to lessen the burden on the budget. The school has relinquished the second site within the Start Well centre to reduce costs and stopped providing daycare and provision for under twos.
“In the last 10 years, there has been a steady increase in childcare provision in the immediate area. This includes an outstanding faith-based early years provision, nearby maintained primary schools registered for funded two-year-olds and an opening nursery provision.
“This increase has had a detrimental impact on the number of children attending Alexandra and their share of the childcare market has significantly decreased and they have not met capacity in some time.”
The report added that the fiscal deficit for Alexandra was £126,090 in March 2022, and due to a reduced number of children on the roll, by March 2023 the deficit is projected to increase to £256,034.
There are 14 staff at the school and if the nursery is closed they will be given assistance if required in finding alternative roles in the area. During a recent four-week period of consultation on the intention to close, no responses were submitted.
If the decision is made to close the nursery current plans are for it to shut its doors for the final time at the end of August 2023