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Church Street School - a Brief History - by Wallace Mason


This history of Church Street School, and the associated history of Beeston Fields School, were written by Wallace Mason in 2007 and 2006 respectively.
They were published originally on the BBC h2g2 site but, as they are no longer available from that source, he has kindly made the accounts available here. The research and text are entirely his.

This Guide Entry deals with the construction, financing, operation and administration of the Church Street Schools in Beeston, Nottinghamshire from 1880 to 2007.

A companion Guide Entry provides a list of teachers, clerical and other staff from 1883 to 1957 together with dates and other information where available. To access this, click on Staff List.

NOTE TO THE READER - If you loved your old school (or even if you didn’t) and have memories to share or if you have anything to say about this Guide Entry, get in touch with David Hallam via his Exploring Beeston’s History. Keep the memory alive.

The Beeston School Board

In 1808, the British and Foreign School Society provided non-denominational education in what were called British Schools. In 1811, the Church of England founded the National Society which provided for the building of National Schools.

In 1858 a Royal Commission investigated the rising level of public expenditure on education. Their report, published in 1861, recommended that public money for education be continued, but suggested that such support should be dependent upon a system of payment by results. As a result of this, in 1862 schools were able to claim 4s 1 a year for each pupil with a satisfactory attendance record. An additional 8s was paid if the pupil passed examinations in reading, writing and arithmetic. In 1867 this was extended to include Geography, History and English.

Under the 1870 Education Act, School Boards were given the power to examine the provision of elementary education in their district. Acts of 1876 and 1880 made state education compulsory for all children up to the age of 10. If there were not enough school places or the provisions were deemed inadequate, the School Boards were empowered to build and maintain schools out of the rates. The Board Schools could charge fees but they were also eligible for government grants and could also be paid for out of local government rates. Board Schools provided education for children aged five to ten.

The Beeston School Board was formed in 1880 and held its first meeting on Thursday, 6th January 1881. At this time, education was provided for children at the mill premises of Messrs John Watson and Son (½ time girls in their employ) 2, the Wesleyan Chapel on Chapel Street 3 (boys and girls) and the National School (boys and girls) on Brown Lane, now Station Road 4, built in 1834.

The Beeston School Board comprised Mr BB Venn (chair), F Bradley (vice chair), Dr Orton (Medical Officer for Health), W Roberts and WA Wade. Mr Edwin Brown of Pelham Street, Nottingham was appointed Clerk to the Board at £25 pa and Mr Thomas Beckett Peddle (Labour Master for the Nottm Union), Attendance Officer.

One of the first acts of the new Board was to appoint qualified teachers for the boys’ and girls’ schools and to secure proper accommodation for the infants. On 12th January 1881, it was ‘proposed, seconded and carried that advertisements be placed in The Schoolmaster and The School Board for a head master and mistress…applications to be addressed to the Chairman before 1st February’ and on 1st March, hire of a school room belonging to the Trustees of the Ebeneezer Chapel at £3 10s per quarter was approved for use as an infants’ school.

On 1st March 1881, a census of the parish was ordered, to be carried out by a Mr JB Collington, temporary master of the boys’ school, ‘for a sum not exceeding £5’. The results of the census were presented to the Board in May together with an invoice for £4 4s 0d. The detailed findings of the census are not minuted but a letter from the Education Department in May 1881 states that ‘…the Old National School (ONS) Buildings provide accommodation for 250 … the increment in population since 1871 5 ...suggests the ONS 250 plus new Board School of 400 would be no doubt ample’. This indicates that the census identified some 650 children aged 5 to 10 years in the parish.

The new Board School

The question of a site for a new Board School was discussed and an interview was proposed with a Mr Styring of Sheffield re purchase of the piece of land owned by him opposite the parish church. Mr Styring refused to sell his land under 8s per [square?] yard or part only of said land and while negotiations proceeded other sites in the village were looked at.

In a letter dated 28th May 1881, Mr Styring expressed a willingness to ‘sell the land required by the Board for 10 shillings and 6 pence (52½ pence) per [square?] yard – the Board to pay half the cost of forming and maintaining the new street including services’. The Board’s difficulty at this stage was that the land owned by Mr Styring was more than was required. The plan was to buy the entire holding and sell the excess if Mr Styring would not sell the amount required. In June 1881, Mr Styring reluctantly accepted the Board’s offer to purchase 3500 yards at 11/6 per yard 6.

On 2nd September 1881, it was decided that ‘the new Board schools about to be erected should provide accommodation for 500 children on the basis of 10 square feet per child, comprising 150 boys, 100 girls (later increased to 125) and 250 infants and that application be made to the Education Department for approval to build accordingly on the site already selected by the Board’. Approval was granted in September 1881.

Mr AN Bromley of 3½ Weekday Cross, Nottingham, was appointed architect to the Board and in October he presented designs for the new Board School and tenders were duly invited. The design selected comprised a two story building on Church Street for mixed infants and junior girls and a single-story building for the junior boys on Church Lane. A caretaker’s house was included and each building was to have its own playground bounded by walls and railings. The junior boys’ school consisted of six rooms, the largest being 30 ft x 29 ft (accommodation 66). Of the others, the largest was 28 ft x 22 ft (accommodation 60), there was one 25 ft x 22 ft (accommodation 54) and three at 22 ft x 22 ft (accommodation 46, 46 and 48) 7. There was no hall for assemblies and no office specifically for the headmaster. There were no corridors and if movement was necessary boys had to be marched through classrooms with lessons in progress.

In December, notice was given to the Public Works Loans Commissioners that ‘the Board proposed borrowing during the ensuing year £8000 this being the approximate amount required’. The Board informed the Education Department that they desired to spread the repayments over 50 years.

The tender of Messrs Fisher, Hutchinson and Ashling for £5241 6s 8d was accepted on 20th March and in April a contract was signed with Fisher, Hutchinson and Ashling by Mr Hutchinson, who committed to completing the works by 1st October 1882. The highest bid was that of Messrs Bell and Son for £6423.

All was not plain sailing however. In May, the Education Department notified the Board that it had received a letter from a Mr Samuel Watson and five other ratepayers (jointly owning property in the parish of rateable value £2709 4s 0d out of a total of £19040) objecting to the amount requested.

To: The Right Honourable the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education.

My Lords,

We, the undersigned ratepayers of Beeston, Notts, beg to call your attention to the expenditure proposed by the New School Board and to protest against the same. We understand the Board has purchased land to the amount of £2000 and proposes to erect buildings at a further cost of not less than £5000. We consider £7000 for school buildings to accommodate 580 children in a country district like this much too costly and we are confident the outlay is at least £2000 more than necessary. We humbly submit that under the circumstances you will order an enquiry to be made before you decide to allow the grant.

We are your obedient servants, (signed):

Samuel Watson.
J Butler Medical Officer of Health.
N Kirkland(?) 8
Robert Foster
Henry J Pearson
Frank Wilkinson.

In their reply, their Lordships acknowledged receipt of the letter but stated that…‘My Lords have already approved the plans and estimates and recommend a loan for the above school. But they will send a copy of your letter to the School Board’.

Samuel Watson’s arguments were put to the Board in a letter dated 7 th April 1882:

My Dear Sir,

At a meeting of the ratepayers, hurriedly called together on Wednesday night, which though small in number (38) represented a large proportion of the property of the parish, the proposed lavish expenditure upon the new schools was strongly condemned.

Consider for a moment the position into which the parish is slowly drifting. £8000 for schools, £13000 for drainage, £5000 for a (?), say, rounding, £25000 to be raised on loans and meaning a 1/8 rate for repayment.

Yours etc.
These arguments carried no weight however, and a Deed of Mortgage was duly drawn up stipulating ‘100 instalments, each of 1% of £8000, ie, £80, ‘with interest on the principal sum for the time being unpaid’, these terms being fixed by the commissioners who ‘declined to grant the loan repayable by way of an annuity.’

The minutes for 6th June contain handwritten copy of a letter from the Board’s architect making the Board aware, ‘in strictest confidence’, of ‘the difficulties being experienced by the contractors in obtaining suitable quality stone for the sills and heads of the windows.’ The letter continues: ‘I regret to say that some time has already been lost and I greatly fear the much further delay will follow for this cause; good stone is difficult to obtain at the present time and it is only by slow degrees that it can be got.’ The architect also advised that ‘the Contractor’s commitment to completion by 1st October ‘is simply impossible even under the most favourable conditions and if the works are finished in a satisfactory manner by the end of the year I should think all will have been done that could be.’ The Board’s response to this intelligence was to enquire about the penalties for non-fulfilment of the contract. In fact, the boys’ school and caretaker’s cottage were finished on time. The two-storey building was late.

A cheque for £2012 10s 0d was paid to Mr Styring on 25 th June ‘for the land purchased’ and a further cheque for £74 8s 7d ‘in payment of interest on the purchase money from 29th October 1881 to 26th July 1882, 270 days at 5%’.

On 25th November, it was proposed that ‘Mr Thomas Beckett Peddle be appointed Caretaker and Attendance Officer at a salary of 20/- per week - this being 5/- per week less than the amount asked for by Mr Peddle – with house, coal and gas found’. The minutes later show Mr Peddle was paid two salaries: as Caretaker £2 5s 0d per week and as Attendance Officer £1 12 0d per week. This amounts to considerably more than that received by the master of the boys’ school (£140) and more than three times that paid to the mistresses of the girls’ and infants’ schools (£70). With house, coal and gas all paid for, Mr Peddle did very well for himself.

On 22nd December 1882, the headmaster of the boys’ school made the final entry in the National School log book: ‘Closed this afternoon for the usual Christmas holidays, after which it is proposed that the school shall re-open in the new buildings erected by the Board on Church Street.’ The Board decided that there should be no public ceremony at the opening of the schools and that instead, the new school buildings would be ‘thrown open for public inspection of the ratepayers on Monday 8th January 1883.’ The schools opened for business the next day and notices were posted to that effect.

The new schools opened with furniture borrowed from the old schools and tenders were invited for new desks. The desks were to be ‘9 ft long and 14 in wide, 2 ft 4½ in high to the top when flat, 11 in wide at the seat with a shelf underneath about 8 in wide, pitch pine, varnished’. The winning bid was that of Messrs Wright and Son for 3s 9d per foot with the offer of 2½% discount for prompt payment. The old desks were modified as required to fit the specification requirements.

On 4th April 1883, the clerk made a statement to the Board with respect to the loan and the expenditure thereof. It would appear that £191 6s 8d was withheld from the Contractors but this may be a misreading of the accounts – the author is not an accountant. The land cost £2012 10s and the Contractors were paid £5050. The fee paid to Wright and Son for the new desks was £148; the cost of modifying the old desks was £44. Legal expenses to Richards Webster and Styring came to £51 7s 6d. Gas laying costs were £10 6s 5d. With other legal expenses of £50 plus: architects fees £100, £40 17s to the Public Works Loans Board, £81 18s to the Clerk of the Works and £74 8s 7d interest that left £336 2s 6d in the hands of the treasurer. The statement ends: ‘From this balance, £191 6s 8d was due to the Contractors’.

The War Years -

In the early stages of the war, the children were taught to make rudimentary shelters out of desks and blackboards. Eventually, the schools went over to a shift system owing to insufficient air-raid shelter provision for all the children and a letter was circulated to parents. Half the school attended in the morning, half in the afternoons with some of the children on each shift being sent to the Beeston Fields and Roundhill Schools where shelter could be provided.

Post-war Years -

At the end of August 1949 the Rylands Junior School opened and, with a few exceptions 9, boys attending the Church Street Schools who lived the other side of the railway line were transferred to the new school. On 13th October 1952, the Church Street Schools changed their names to Beeston Manor County infants’/junior girls’/junior boys’ Schools. On 30th July 1953, the junior boys moved into the two-storey building to join the girls and form a mixed junior school – Beeston Manor County Junior School. The infants moved into the single-story building - Beeston Manor County Infants’ School. In January 1958, the junior and infant schools amalgamated to form the Beeston County Primary School.

The school buildings were used by Broxtowe College from 1980 to 2005 for youth training programmes. The buildings were then sold and work began to renovate the outside of the two-storey building and convert it into apartments; the single-storey boys’ school was demolished and new buildings put in its place. New buildings were erected on the boys’ school playground. With cutting edge design … ‘The Manor’ provides 82 state of the art apartments within six buildings around a central landscaped courtyard. 64 of the apartments are provided within four brand new buildings and 18 are within two former school buildings, transformed into unique apartments of real character 10. The apartments were all sold 'off the plans' to investors, ie, speculators 11.

Wages Bill, 28th February 1884 12

.....the following cheques were drawn and payments made accordingly:

JE Mills headmaster boys’ school £11 13 4
H Whippey assistant master £5 16 8
A Eaton assistant master £4 3 4
E Pettener headmistress girls’ school £5 0 0
SA Clifton assistant mistress £3 6 8
LA Felthome transfer PT £1 15 0
M Dickson headmistress infants’ school £5 16 8
H Godfrey assistant infants’ school £2 18 4
L Moss assistant infants’ school £2 18 4
A Lambert assistant infants’ school £2 18 4
RB Peddle caretaker and visitor 13 £4 10 0
T Shrewsbury PT 16s 8d
G White monitor 10s 0d
G Head monitor 8s 0d
A Rogers monitor 10s 0d

Famous Old Boys

Sir Neil Cossons, Director of the Ironbridge Museum Trust from 1971 to 1984, Director of the Greenwich Maritime Museum from 1983 to 1986, Director of the Science Museum from 1986 to 2000 when, at the age of sixty, he became Chairman of English Heritage, a position from which he retires in 2007.

Neil Cossons attended Church Street Infants’ School from January 1944 to September 1947 when he moved to the Church Street Junior Boys’ School where his father, Arthur Cossons, was headmaster and where he passed the 11+ and went to the Henry Mellish Grammar School.

See also, Beeston Connections

.

Sources and Acknowledgements

Beeston and Stapleford: The Official Guide. Looking Back: Beeston by Arthur Cossons. Undated.
The History of the Church Street Schools by Margaret Cooper. Published 2007.
Ordnance Survey Maps: Sheet 41.12, 1901 and 1903. Sheet 41.16, 1901 and 1928.
School Board Minute Book. Nottinghamshire Archives, Document SB5/1/1 covering 1881 to 1884.

Thanks are due to the staff at the local history departments of Beeston and Nottingham libraries and the staff at the Nottinghamshire Archives.


Footnotes - (Note: the respective footnote text may now be viewed in a pop-up window by clicking on any blue, underscored note number within the main text)
Where reference is made to the Probate Calender (Index giving brief details of grant of Probate/Administration), unless specifically stated, the full will and probate documentation has not been seen.
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Notes

© Wallace Mason - 2007