Miscellany 6 - Longsleddale School

When the church was rebuilt in 1863, a village school was built, by grant and subscription, next to it, in the centre of the valley. Previously, children would have been taught in the chapel. The school closed on October 31st 1946 with only 7 on the register. The building is now the Community Hall.

Schooldays Remembered: by Nancy

Nancy as a child My family moved to Murthwaite in Longsleddale in 1939 when I was 3 years old. My father, George Edward Dawson, had been born in the valley, at Docker Nook, in 1892. He started school in March 1897, and can be found in the register page below. Then he left the valley to farm elsewhere, and he served in the first World War.

During the second World War we had evacuee families living with us at Murthwaite and nearby, and I am still in contact with them. My earliest memories are of playing with other children in the fields, and our favourite place was the island in the river.

From the age of five, I walked or cycled the 2 miles to the village school. There were 2 entrances with small cloakrooms, the present front door for boys, the back one - now the kitchen - for girls. The toilets in the separate block were buckets! As many as 17 pupils were taught in the single room, by one teacher, the infants starting in the north-west corner around a big stove, moving to the other end of the room as they grew older. Mrs Worden was the excellent teacher for most of my time there.

We did not have a sports area but did Music and Movement to the radio. Electricity did not arrive here until Christmas 1959 so the radio ran on batteries, which faded towards the end of the week. The farmers wives took their batteries into Kendal on Saturdays to be charged at Gilbert Parkinson's Cycle Shop at the bottom of Kent Street, whilst they sold their eggs and butter in the Market Hall. But the old glass/acid ones had to kept hidden on Sammy Mitchell's weekly bus as he did not like carrying them!

I left the school just before it closed in 1946, when I passed the scholarship examination to the Girls High School on Thorny Hills in Kendal. I was married in the valley and brought up 2 children at Murthwaite, where my son, his wife and 2 of my grandchildren now live. My husband and I live next door.

Schooldays Recorded: the Registers and Log Books

Kendal Record Office holds the School Admissions Registers, but only records older than 100 years can be seen. Those up to 1911 have been transcribed with other local records on this website ...
button School Admissions Register 1883-1911
Kendal Record Office also holds the School Log Books 1885-1946 (WDS70/1) which were kept by the teacher. There was usually only one certificated teacher, man or woman. In the early days someone else would teach the girls needlework, and maybe an ex-pupil would act as a teaching monitor. The parson visited regularly to give Religious Instruction. Teachers rarely stayed long, sometimes less than a year. The age of pupils ranged from 5 to 14, and even in the late 1930's some children over 12 were not able to attend the Senior School in Kendal "on account of the difficulties of transporting them." The number of children on the role was usually between 3 and 30; in the mid 1930's school numbers increased temporarily during the construction of the Haweswater aqueduct.
The log books report on the subjects taught and the results of inspections, and they also include special events and minor disasters and paint an interesting picture of school life. A small selection ...

January 30th 1885    Examined the children and found them most backward in spelling.

February 20th 1885    School Fees reduced to threepence per week.

June 9th 1885    Talked very seriously to all the children about speaking the truth..

January 27th 1886    No school this week owing to dreadful storms and snow.

November 19th 1886    The attendance during the past week has been very low, owing to the servants being away for their holidays and the children having to stay at home to work.

June 20th 1887    Schoolwill be closed tomorrow the 21st being the Jubilee Day of Queen Victoria's reign.

September 30th 1887    Revd. W Barnes visited school and questionned the children on the Creation, and heard them repeat the 1st Psalm.    Received hodd of coals for winter fires.
school group about 1890
This photo is about 1890 but without a precise date it is difficult to list the pupils - about 50 children were on the register at various times between 1889 and 1891, some for very short periods.
Thomas Gibson was teacher with Mrs Gibson until 21-4-1890, then Thomas Wright with Miss Wilson.
January 16th 1888    I hereby certify that the Longsleddale Elementary School has been closed for a fortnight ... as a precautionary measure against the ... spread of scarlet fever. [signed by Medical Officer]

June 5th 1889    [measles] ... School closed by order of the Medical Officer.
June 24th 1889    ... the school shall remain closed another week. ... The Sanitory Inspector has disinfected the premises.

The Attendance Officer visited every month because the grant given to the school depended on attendance, which was often affected by snow and floods, illness, and farming activities ...
register cover
July 1st 1889    The Hay-harvest has begun and the parents require the children at home.
July 11th 1892    Eight children away all day on account of sheep clippings.
September 15th 1893    The Dixons (3) have been kept away dipping lambs, raking brackens, & picking potatoes.
December 1st 1893    Seven boys are absent today - foxhunting.

register cover

January 1894    ... deficiencies in reading, spelling, composition, mental and written work. Singing is sweet, but too slow, and is much wanting in animation. Boys draw well, needlework needs attention, though knitting has begun.
July 1st 1898    The school will be closed on Monday for the children's excursion to Morecambe.

November 3rd 1898    School was not opened yesterday. The roads being in many places knee deep in water, neither children or I were able to cross.

January 19th 1900    Alice Miles has been absent from school today. The bridge connecting the house with the road has collapsed ... because of the heavy rain.

February 1st 1900    Thick snow has continued to fall all day ...
February 7th 1900    The schoolroom this morning is intensely cold. Thermometer is actually at 27degrees [F] and the slates are frozen. ... the children are to be kept as near the fire as possible to keep themselves warm.
February 19th 1900    Resumed school [since Feb 8th] - roads still very bad.
school group 1928
School Group 1928 with Rev Haines
To avoid data protection and privacy issues, we have not included the identify of the pupils from the 20th century photos on this website.
school group - 1929?
School Group - 1929?
school group - 1930?
School Group 1930? with Rev Haines
April-May-June 1928    ... all except 4 children have whooping cough.

February 26th 1931    School Dental Surgeon gave treatment. Nurse Martindale weighed children.

April 1st 1931    Dr Wright ... examined the scholars who required their eyes testing.

September 2nd 1931    The piano tuner called and tuned the piano.

December 22nd 1931    After school all the children and their parents were entertained to tea in school. A Christmas Tree was provided, and the children each received a present. They also gave an entertainment of songs and recitation ...

  school group 1931
School Group 1931 with teacher and Rev Haines
February 17th 1932    Report by HMI ... Engineering operations on a large scale have recently caused a sudden increase in the population of this remote valley, and the number of children in attendance at the school ...
May 6th 1935    Annual School Party. Tea and games - prizes for good work.

May 15th 1940    Examined all the gas masks ...

July 8th-10th 1940    All schools closed on account of evacuation of school-children from Newcastle to Westmorland.

August 1940    Mr Tipper called this afternoon to examine arrangements for Air Raid Precautions. It was decided that the children should take cover in the two porches, the windows of which are to be protected by anti-splinter net and a piece of heavy fabric to be nailed over the plaster work.

28th October 1941    When I arrived at school this morning the room was full of smoke and fumes from the new stove. The flames were shooting out into the room. There was a strong wind blowing ... the man who had installed the stove ... said he thought there was no remedy.
school group 1932
School Group 1932 with 2 teachers
January 14th - February 16th 1942    No children were able to get to school ... snowbound roads.

December 10th 1942    The manager granted us a half-day holiday so that I could take the children to the pictures to see Charlie Chaplin in "The Gold Rush". This was part of their Christmas Treat. It was their first visit to the pictures for some of the children.

September 3rd 1945    ... Victory Celebrations - a bonfire on Castle Hill and a firework display.

October 31st 1946    My duties at this school terminate today, as the school is being closed, and the children taken to Selside School.

Olwen Harris published a book in 1969 called "The School in the Fells" about her short time as the teacher (Miss Johnson) at this school in the early 1940s.

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