PUPILS at a Wigan school were forced to go home after a massive power cut which affected more than 2,000 people hit south of the borough.
An underground cable fault sparked the drama at around 9.50pm on Thursday in the Ashton, Haydock and Golborne areas. Engineers from Electricity North West worked through the night and managed to restore power to most properties by 9am on Friday.
But after the generator failed to gain light and heat, at The Byrchall High School, staff had no option but to alert parents to collect their children,
Paula Bailey, head of business and finance at the school, said: “Our caretaker discovered there was no power at 6.30am and we contacted Electricity North West who said it would remain off until 8am.
“We gathered the pupils into areas where there was light because we had a generator but there was no heat.
“But we were then told there would be no power until 3pm and as we could not provide hot meals or drinks, or warmth, we made the decision to close.
“No child was let off the site until we had parents’ permission and the last child left at 10.30am.
“If there were any problems, we made sure the pupils were okay and even lent them money to get home.
“It was a massive inconvenience and I can completely understand how difficult is for parents, but we had no option. We had remained open when it snowed, but we had no heat or light.”
As some pupils had an exam, they were escorted to neighbouring school St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School, which was unaffected. It was thought that many shops and businesses were also affected, including Haydock Racecourse, which remained without power as it could not be restored via a generator.
Electricity was restored to all but three properties by 2pm on Friday.
A spokesman for Electricity North West said: “The problems were caused by an underground cable fault and affected Haydock, Ashton and Golborne. Engineers worked through the night and restored most of the power. We apologise for any inconvenience and worked as quickly as possible to get the power back on.”