This year being the jubilee of our Day and Sunday Schools I will try and give a short history of the old Schools and school life from my boyhood's day up to the time when the present schools were opened.
The first thing of note that I remember was the marriage of the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, to the Princess Alexandra of Denmark, which took place on the 10th March, 1863. To celebrate the event a tea was provided in the schools, to which all scholars attending the Day and Sunday Schools were invited. After tea each scholar was presented with a medal, specially struck for the occasion, also with an orange. I was a scholar in the Infant School at the time, Miss Caddy being the School Mistress.
After serving my apprenticeship in the Infant School I was promoted, when seven years old, to the Top School, Mr Hopwood being the Headmaster at that time. He was a cripple but of sturdy build, and always carried a crutch for the lame side and a good stout oak stick with a crook at the end, to help him along on the other side. We had a very good reason for emembering that stick. When any boy got a bit obstreperous during lessons, out flashed the stick and the crook was around his neck in the twinkling of an eye, and he was dragged over the top of the desks into the middle of the school, there to receive his just punishment.
Still, he was a good master. The school under his rule became very popular, and a good number of boys and girls attended from places outside the village, particularly from Rodley and Greengates.
I often come across some of his old scholars even at the present day, and we have a bit of a chat about the days when we attended "Hopwood's School" as it was then called. Mr Hopwood resigned in 1866, and afterwards kept a private school in Capel Street. It was the custom at that day for the Schoolmaster to act as Superintendent in the Sunday School, and also to accompany the scholars to Church. There was no running away from the Church at that time; our parents saw to it that we attended School, and the Schoolmaster and Teachers that we went to Church.
In the Old Church before the restoration, there was a gallery at the west end adjoining the tower, containing the organ and seats for the choir and the bulk of the scholars. It was the custom for the girls, who were accompanied by the Mistress of the Infant School, to sit on the left hand side of the gallery, and the boys on the right hand side accompanied by the Schoolmaster to keep them in order. It was not possible for all the scholars to find sitting accommodation in the gallery, or loft, as we then termed it; so the elder scholars were admitted first, and when it was full the rest had to sit in seats specially reserved for them in the front aisle. The steps leading up into the gallery were just within the Church, on the left side as you entered at the top door. And what a lot of pushing and struggling there was, especially with the boys, as to who should get first so as to sit in the gallery. Perhaps one would have thought that they would have preferred sitting down below so as to escape the ever watchful eye of the schoolmaster; but not so. There was a man in the body of the Church they dreaded more, and he was the worthy "dog whipper", John Craven. When John was dressed in his official uniform he was a most imposing figure. His dress was a blue suit trimmed with red braid and decorated with brass buttons. He did not carry a whip (that had become obsolete), but a long staff, and his duties were to keep order in the Church. Now when any of us boys misbehaved we promptly received a smart tap on the head from John's staff; if we were very bad we were forthwith dragged from our seats and thrust into a dark room under the gallery.
This room was used as storeroom for coals, firewood, brushes, etc. I am sorry to say that I have been an inmate myself and have had at times as many as a dozen companions. The name we had for the place was the "Black Hoil". When the service ended we were liberated, and when we came out we were generally in a sad state for it was a very dirty place, and be sure we had not kept still all the time. We often thought and I dare say we were right, that John sometimes put us there without sufficient cause, just to show that he was a man in authority. Those of us who were unfortunately imprisoned on the Sunday, generally received a visit during the following week from our worthy Vicar, the Revd. Alfred Brown.
To return to the day school, after Mr. Hopwood resigned, Mr. Holgate was appointed in his place; but he did not stay very long. The next appointment was a Mr. Pullan, he was a very good master but he only stayed a few years with us. The next was Mr. Pierce Rosewarne; he was a brilliant scholar but a poor teacher; a very quiet man but no disciplinarian. The school during his stay deteriorated very much indeed. The next master to come, in 1872, was Mr. John Chester, who at the time was quite a young man; but we soon found out that we had got the right man for the place, and under his sway both the Day and Sunday School started on a long period of prosperity that lasted as long as he was spared to be our Headmaster and that was for thirty-one years.
He was a man who was loved by the children, and respected and honoured by the elder scholars and parents.The old proverb, "familiarity breeds contempt", certainly did not apply in his case; for he could be both familiar and sociable with both young and old without ever losing his dignity, and never once during his long career did I hear or see any one of his scholars, either young or old, overstep the mark and venture to treat or speak to him but with the greatest respect.
Although Mr. Chester was only engaged to be the Headmaster of the Day School, there was a great work waiting for him to do, and that was in the night schools.But before I enter on that phase of his work I would like to give an idea of the conditions under which we lived in the village at that time, and then I think you will be more able to see and understand the need for an efficient night school.
The staple trade of Calverley was at this time, "and had been ever since the industry began in England", that of handloom weaving.
Nearly every house in the village had its chambers full of handlooms. I might say that my father had at one time as many as six looms and a Spinning Jenny in his chambers, quite a small factory.
There would be at this time, 1868, as many as 400 handlooms in the village. When a young man and woman decided to get married and set up housekeeping, their first ambition was to be the proud possessors of a couple of hand looms. They did not spend much money on furniture - just a few chairs, a table, a few pots and pans, and other small utensils, and of course a bed for sleep; the rest of the furnishing had to be done later when circumstances mended.
Now having got the looms, the husband had to go to the cloth manufacturers, of whom there were several in the village, and apply for work, and a young industrious couple had not much difficulty in obtaining it. And now we have a man and wife each at work at their looms, earning a good living, and if they are a wise couple, putting a little money aside each week so as to be ready to meet the time when the first child was born. When that did occur the mother had to rest for a few weeks and when strong again, resume her work at the loom.
But what about the child? Well, the little one was taken up into the loom chamber, put in its cradle, and it was quite happy and content; in fact the click-clack of the looms seemed to have a very soothing effect on the infant. A curious thing that I have often noticed was that when the looms stopped the child was at once awakened, a case where silence had a disturbing effect.
Now as the family increased, and as often was the case, the mother could not afford to give up working, a girl was engaged to act as nurse and to do little jobs about the house; there were a lot of girls employed at this kind of work in the village. I have often heard my wife say that she started work as a nurse girl when eight years old.
The hours of work among the handloom weavers was from 7 o'clock in the morning till 7 at night, and till 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
The mother ceased work at noon on a Saturday so as to do her weekly cleaning. Now, as to the boys, I for one, left school when I was just turned eight years old (not an exceptional case; the majority of the boys had to do the same), and started to work in the weaving chamber as a tier-in; that is, after the weaver had got to the end of a warp, the tier-in had to tie the threads of the fresh warp one by one to the old warp. We got to be very expert at this kind of work, and could tie on an average 1,600 threads per hour.
When we got to be 12 years old we were put onto a loom as a weaver. Besides those working in the weaving chamber, a lot of boys and girls went to work in the mills as half-timers, that is, a half day at work and a half day at school. Of course, I am writing now of the days when we were not compelled to attend school. The Compulsory Education Act was not passed until 1870.
Now you will be able to grasp from the foregoing remarks, that as regards education we were sadly neglected, and if it had not been for the instruction that we received in the Sunday school we should have been in a sad state of ignorance. It was there that we learnt to read properly, for the teachers at that time took every scholar in their class one by one, and made them read or spell out every word that they could not pronounce, until they could read them correctly.
And now to come back to the night schools, which Mr. Chester had taken in hand. There had been night classes held before under previous masters, but they had been carried on in a half-hearted fashion.
The Vicar, the school managers, and the council of the Church Institute, all supported and encouraged the good work that was being taken in hand. In fact the Church Institute was really the pioneer of the night classes held at that time, that is, those held in connection with the Church.
When Mr. Chester opened his first night school there was a good turn up of scholars, and you can imagine the raw material he had to contend with, when most of us could not have passed the first standard of today. However, he was quite willing to persevere with us, and were equally willing to receive his instruction. The classes increased in numbers, and I think in his second year there would be at least 70 scholars attending his school.
As the number of scholars had got so large, it was found to be an almost impossible task for one man to undertake; so, at this junction, 1874, the late Mr. Alfred Walton kindly volunteered to help Mr. Chester. Mr. Walton had gained a schoolmaster's certificate whilst at College, so this help proved very valuable.
It was planned that Mr. Walton should take a class in arithmetic and business methods, and that Mr. Chester should take the classes in the other subjects, and it proved a very successful arrangement.
I may mention that the late Mr. William Clapham offered his services as a teacher, which was gladly accepted.
Mr. Walton proved to be an ideal teacher, and there would be about 40 scholars in his class, whose ages ranged from 15 to 30 and in two or three years, under his tuition, we could do almost any sum in arithmetic.
Besides teaching us the subjects required for the Government Examinations, both Mr. Chester and Mr. Walton instilled into us the duties of citizenship, and above all to be self-reliant, and not to be always looking for others to do for us the things that we ought to do for ourselves, and I can truthfully say that whatever success we attained in later life we must give the most credit to the teaching and training that we received from Mr. Chester and Mr. Walton. Before I leave this subject I should like to state that Miss Barrett, the Infant School Mistress was carrying on the good work in her school with classes for the young women and girls. And there would be above 100 scholars attending the night classes in connection with the Church at this time.
I should like to say a few words about the Festivities that were carried on in connection with the church and schools at this period. The great day of the year was White-Monday. And I will try and give you some idea how this festival was celebrated in the good old days.
As far back as I can remember, we used to meet in the playground about 9 a.m. as most of us were too excited to eat any breakfast before we left home, there was generally a good sized barrel of beer and a good supply of buns provided in the top classroom, so that we could regale and equip ourselves for the long walk that lay before us. One of the things that we looked forward to before we started was to be the proud possessor of a spice watch.
A man from Rodley named Johnny Gall used to come for several years every White-Monday morning, with a great basketful of these luscious dainties. When we were all supplied, and Johnny had received his pennies, we were ready to start.
The route taken was generally by way of Calverley Bridge calling to sing at a few places on the way. After singing at Calverley Bridge we next wended our way through the fields by the riverside on to Apperley Bridge, after singing at one or two places there we came back either up the Cutting or by way of the drive, and then onto the schools for tea.
All the scholars at that time under 10 had tea in the Infants' School; all those above 10 in the top schools. I was one of the infants. There were no tables provided for us juniors so we had to sit up on the gallery steps, the boys on one side and the girls on the other side. After we had got seated we were each given a mug or pot as we called them. (Hence the word "potation" which was the name given at that time to the Whitsuntide Festival.) After we were all supplied with pots the ladies came round with big jugs full of hot tea and others followed on with buns (no bread and butter).
There was one lady, Mrs. Meredith, who came from Leeds (she was a sister of Mrs. Brown, the wife of our Vicar) every White-Monday especially to look after and keep us boys in order. She used to walk to and fro at the foot of the gallery and shout out, "Now boys there is only one piece of spice cake". For we were strictly forbidden to have another piece, and also, to have another bun after we had eaten the cake, so we took good care to fill up with buns before the cake was distributed. We often asked for more, but never received. You never heard the cry, "Now girls there is only one piece of spice cake" - I suppose their inborn sense of modesty and grace forbade them to ask for more.
Sometimes a boy with an extra share of impudence would get up from his seat and walk along the gallery steps, and with mock dignity repeat the saying of the good lady, for which misdemeanour he was soundly boxed on the ears and instantly dismissed. Whether we got slightly inebriated with the large quantity of tea that we drank I cannot say, but towards the close we generally got very unruly and it was a common occurrence to see some of the pots go rattling down the gallery steps. The crockery bill at that time must have been rather heavy.
After tea we went round the village to sing at various places, and often it was 9 o'clock before we finished, so you can judge we should all be tired at the close of such a strenuous day.
I think the system adopted later of curtailing the route, and after tea devoting the evening to games was a great improvement.
Another great function was the Annual Church Institute Soiree, which took place just after Christmas. It was really a parochial gathering, and was largely attended. It began with tea in the Infants' School, and after tea there was a concert, interspersed with speeches, which was held in the top school. We did not go in for many entertainments in those days. Besides the two I have mentioned we had an occasional lecture, and the Sunday school teachers had a social evening at the beginning of the New Year.
I will now give a description of the old school, and what it was like; it first stood nearly at the bottom of the Churchyard. When it had been up about a year, the Lord of the Manor, when on a visit to Calverley, expressed his disapproval of the position, and ordered it to be pulled down. Whether he had the power to do so, I cannot say. I should think the good man paid for the removal. It was next erected at the top of the Churchyard, just outside the burial ground, on what we term now "Church Hill". As was to be expected, it did not suit the good Churchmen in that position so it was decided to pull it down again, and in 1840, it was erected in the school playground and there it stood at the time of which I am writing. The site chosen as its last resting place was on the south side of the playground, under the shadow of the old church tower. The entrance, facing north, was at the top of a small flight of steps. On entering the school you would find one long but rather narrow room, which was the main schoolroom. At the west end of this room was a classroom, about half the size of the classrooms in the present school. This room was used for various purposes, as a classroom for the weekday scholars, for the first class of young men (Mr. Margerison's class), on the Sunday; and it had a fireplace and a set-pan, for tea making for the Whitsuntide and other festivals. At the east end of the school was another classroom, which was used not only for ordinary schoolwork, but also as a Church Institute. This room was heated, as was also the big room, with a stove.
The Church Institute was founded in 1865, and at once became very popular, and in 1875, having a membership of over 100, it was decided to seek more commodious premises, and a house was rented in Thornhill Street for the purpose.
I think from the description that I have given of the old school; it is evidence that a new and larger one was badly needed.
It had always been the ambition of our Vicar, Mr. Brown, to carry out two great and much needed schemes whilst he was with us. One was to restore the Church and the other was to build new schools. The first he accomplished. The Church was practically rebuilt, except the tower, in 1869-70, at a cost of over £4,000, and was re-opened on Calverley Feast Wednesday, in the latter year. The second scheme he never lived to accomplish; it was not to be. To the great sorrow of the entire village he was taken from us on December 26th, 1876, at the age of 61. He had been Vicar for 31 years. To show how he had seen the necessity for a new school, it was found after his death that he left £300 towards that worthy object.
The next Vicar to be appointed was the Rev. J.W. Hatton, who, before he came to Calverley, was the Vicar designate of the Church of Saint Augustine, Bradford. He was inducted to the living of Calverley in March, 1877.
Mr. Hatton was a man of commanding presence, full of energy and push, and if anyone could wheedle a subscription out of a person for a worthy object, he was the man to do it. As soon as he got settled amongst us, he called a meeting of church people to be held in the old school. The object of the meeting was to discuss the building of a new school, and to open a subscription list for this purpose. The meeting was well attended and the scheme was taken up with enthusiasm. I was present at the meeting, and well remember Mr. T. H. Gray trying to get Mr. Milne to start the list with a good figure, as he was considered to be the principal resident at that time. But try as he would, he could not get more than £50 out of him. Mr. Gray then put himself down for £50 and Mrs. Gray for £23. I forget the other subscribers but I think there was about £1,000 promised before the meeting closed.
Having got the site selected, and the plans drawn and approved, the building was pushed forward as rapidly as possible and when Whitsuntide came round in 1878, the schools were finished and ready for the opening ceremony. The cost of the schools was £1,600 and they were erected as a memorial to our late Vicar, Mr. Brown.
The new schools were opened on White Monday, June 10th, 1878. The teachers and scholars assembled in the old school at 10.30 a.m. The girls were all dressed in white and wore various coloured sashes, the boys looked very smart, most of them had on their new suits, specially got for the occasion.
At 11 o'clock were marched in procession to Church for service. It was a beautiful day, and as we went on our way, one could not help but admire the beauties of nature around us.
The lilacs, the laburnums, and the hawthorns, both red and white, were in full flower, and the trees decked in their fresh green foliage, were a pretty sight. And looking along Town Gate, "a stretch of road, which for its beauty and perfect setting is not surpassed in Yorkshire", you saw a bit of Calverley at its very best.
After the service in the Church we marched to the new School to take part in the opening ceremony. The school was well filled; besides teachers and scholars a good many old scholars and members of the congregation were present.
A platform had been erected at the east end of the school and the lower classes of boys and girls were placed there.
The ceremony opened with the singing of the hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers". My father was the conductor, being choirmaster at that time. Mr. Hatton then made a few remarks suitable for the occasion. Then was sung the hymn, "Who shall sing if not the children?" The first verse was sung by all, the second verse only by the children on the platform, and the third verse by all. Mr. Hatton then said that the children by the singing of the second verse, were to be considered the real openers of the school. The ceremony, which was of a simple character, then terminated with the singing of the National Anthem.
Before I close this paper, I should like to state that three great works were done in connection with the Church about this time and all within a period of twenty years. The first was the restoration of the Church in 1869-70, the second, the building of the new school in 1877-8, and the third, the building of the new vicarage in 1887. Surely this was a record to be proud of and one that it would be difficult to beat, certainly by any village of the same size as Calverley.
May 16th, 1864 - Whit Monday
Beautiful morning. The hour fixed for meeting was half past 10 a.m., and to start punctually at half past 11, but could not get off before a quarter to 12. After singing at the Vicarage we started on our long walk calling at Mr. J.C. Yewdall's, Mr Thomas Greenwood's, Calverley Bridge. Here the thunder detained us for most of an hour, and some returned home again. However, much rain did not fall, and the great majority continued the walk by the riverside to Apperley Bridge calling by the way at Mr. C. Horsfall's, Mr. W. Cheetham's, Mr. C. G. Cheetham's, Mr. Robert Parkin's, Mr. Piggill's, and Mr. Tee's, Ferncliffe, and so home by carriage road to tea, being late, after five o'clock.
All children under ten took tea in the infant school, which was considered an admirable plan. All above ten took tea with the teachers in the old school room. After tea the singing was continued in the village until a late hour, so that lights were obliged to be had at David Davison's, not able to call at Mr. Isaac Hollings' and Mr. Coates'. It was thought desirable to shorten the walk considerably another year so as to avoid the late singing, and to allow more time for recreation and enjoyment.
Mr. Brown intended to have given the Bibles and Prayer Books away this evening to those who had said the Psalms and Catechism, but was prevented by the lateness of the hour at which we returned to the school. The following sums were collected towards the defraying the cost of the tea, etc. : -