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Schools in Beeston -

Early Provision for Education in England - up to the early part of the 19th century, facilities for education in England - outside the exclusive Public Schools - was haphazard, noncompulsory, informal and, in the main, privately provided. Usually it took the form of the so called "dame schools" - often not much more than child-minding, provided by women in their homes, themselves often having little or no education - and small private academies, often provided by Church of England parsons. In the old order, an education for the working man - even to provide the basic skills of reading and writing - was all too often not considered essential. But in the decades either side of the start of the 19th Century, things were changing with increased mobility, industrialisation and more complex working environments. The recognition of the need for at least a basic education became to be seen as desirable by those who needed it and by social reformers, philanthropists and political radicals who saw it has an essential ingredient of a well ordered society. The churches played their respective parts in responding to these needs - notable the growing Non-Conformist bodies who were keen to save souls while improving minds, and the evangelical movements within the Church of England keen to protect the social order and reinforce traditional codes of behaviour in the process.

The Sunday School movement, providing basic life skills alongside a strong emphasise on Christian teaching, was pioneered in its most effective form by Robert Raikes (1736-1811), an Anglican layman, philanthropist and editor of the Gloucester Journal, in the 1780s. Whilst this system had considerable success, its emphasis on Anglican tenets faced opposition from nonconformists, resulting in a number of initiatives - notably that by the Quaker, Joseph Lancaster whose vision of universal education was initially to fail financially but was to form the basis of The Royal Lancastrian Society, formed in 1808, which became the British & Foreign School Society in 1814. To counter this movement. the Church of England formed the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, based on principles developed by a clergyman, Dr Andrew Bell.

Each of these two competing organisations developed its own network of schools - "British" and "National" Schools respectively. Taken together - with National Schools by far the larger of the two networks - these voluntary schools provided the basis of education for the majority of the population for about 50 years. Both systems, whilst differing in detail, were based on the monitor system with, in their early, unreformed format, a schoolmaster supervising the whole school in a single large schoolroom, assisted by monitors - usually older children - instructing groups of children in a very rudimentary education. From about 1832, things began to change - slowly and with resistance from the Church authorities who objected to the implied interference - when Government began to make grants to the Societies and set up a Parliamentary Committee to oversee their administration. Under its energetic Secretary, Dr James Kay - who became Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth - progress was made eventually in the development of inspection (which led to payments as incentives to improved performance) and teacher training (notable a "Pupil Teacher" scheme) and there was help with the funding of buildings and equipment. However, the influence and motives of the Established Church, inherent in its dominant position in the structure drew increasing resentment from Non-Conformists and the system as a whole faced opposition from those opposed to any denominational influence. It was also clear that the whole structure could not cope with the problems presented by a rapidly increasing population, which was more and more polarized in urban areas and was failing to reach large section of the poorer sections of these communities; by the 1860s, only 50% of the child population in Britain attended a day-school 1.

The Education Act of 1870 began to change all that by allowing locally elected School Boards to build and manage schools where local provision was inadequate. These were to supplement rather than to replace the voluntary schools - indeed, these received parallel government grants which encouraged the church authorities to a further round of expansion which, ultimately, they were unable to sustain. The Act provided for government inspection to ensure adequate standards, fees were not abolished - indeed they were formalised - but could be remitted locally where the child's family was unable to pay. Attendance was still not compulsory - this came in further legislation in 1880, when all children were compelled to attend school up to 10 years of age - raised to 11 in 1893 and to 12 (for most) in 1899. Fees were finally abolished in 1891.

Provision in Beeston - this general picture of provision can also be traced in Beeston. Amongst its growing local non-conformist population in particular, there was a strong thirst for knowledge, reflecting the recognition that education was the key to both self-advancement and social reform. This self-help movement amongst the aspirational poor appears to have been based on the Sunday schools - reflecting, as much as anything, the fact that this was the only spare time available in a very full working week. In Beeston, the initiatives would have developed around the local Baptist and Methodist communities and, perhaps inevitably, benefited from the personal contribution of a few particularly dedicated individuals - amongst the Baptist community for instance, Septimus Thornhill was to be an early influence on John Clifford as his Sunday School teacher and there are examples of enlightened employers - such as the Felkins - who contributed support where they thought appropriate 2.

In these early days - and continuing into and throughout the 19th century and even, in a limited way beyond and to this day, those who could afford it were able to turn to a few private establishments - some probably little more than the so-called "dame schools" that are seen as representative of that era. Still further up the social ladder - and there were relatively few families in Beeston in this category - a live-in governess could be employed or sons (in particular) could be sent to a boarding school elsewhere.

Looking back, when writing in 1873, Rev Thomas Oldrini mentioned two schoolteachers from earlier times, who left their mark in Beeston. From the 18th century, he mentions John Mellars (who died in 1763) but offers no more detail. From a slightly later time, he identified Charles Marshall who died in 1824 aged 69, as a "very superior schoolmaster" who, it was said, "used the ferule pretty freely, as was the custom of his fraternity in those days ... but he appears, nevertheless, to have taught the three Rís very successfully, and, what is more, to have obtained the respect and love of his numerous alumni". Marshall also served as Parish Clerk when, says Oldrini, "his writing being really superb - not to be surpassed by copperplate itself" - a quality he must have passed on to his pupils 3.

But these scant recollections illustrate how inadequate the overall provision was. What is clear is that day schools for the poorer children, especially for boys, were very limited. In 1823, for example, the then new Vicar, Rev John Hurt, had found that the provision for boys day schooling was particularly lacking with virtually none of the 137 boys in the Parish, between the ages of 7 and 13, receiving any kind of week day education. Of the 141 girls of similar ages, he had found that about half were receiving a reasonable level of education at privately run schools in Beeston. At that time, he identified two such girls' schools - one was a "very nice school calculated perhaps for 35 girls, established and supported entirely by a lady .." and the other, a Dame school containing 35 girls. He found no boys' day school at that time 4.

Private schools continued to provide an alternative education for those who could afford it during the period when the Voluntary Schools (and later the Board Schools) offered a more universally affordable, and eventually free, alternative - much as they do today except, of course, they would have operated unregulated. Mellors recalls "there were in 1844 two boarding and day schools" 5. . The census records (from 1841) and directories (from 1854) for Beeston allow us to track the location of probable private educational establishments that operated in Beeston - some of which probably took boarders and pupils from elsewhere :

Private School Teachers - Beeston
1841Elizabeth BARNETTMarket StreetApparently a small boarding school for (then 4) older girls
1841William BRICEVilla StreetA school teacher and sometime Dissenting Minister (1851 in Leicestershire) who appears to have done casual teaching in Beeston. He was born in Sleaford, Lincs about 1807. In 1871 he was a teacher of mathematics in Oxford.
1841Francis SMITHButcher Lane 
1841Frances & Sophia GOODALLNether StreetThese sisters, were aged 62 and 55 in 1841, and then appear to be operating a Dame school in Nether Street, Beeston. This appears to have ceased operating by 1851 although their niece, Francis Goodall Oldham had become an infants' teacher, probably at the National School.
1841Mary WITHAMMarket Street 
1841John HUNSWORTHNew Buildings 
1841-1855+Frederick John & Jane COLEMarket StreetThis couple appear to have arrived in Beeston about 1841 after marrying in Lincolnshire a few years earlier. They had at least five children while living in Beeston, four of whom were baptised in the Parish church. In the 1851 census they are described as a schoolmaster and schoolmistress respectively and were living on Market Street (now Middle Street) and Frederick is so described on two of their children's baptism records. Whilst it is possible that they taught at the National School, based on evidence from the 1851 census that they were educating their own children at home, it is concluded that they were operating a private school there. By 1854 they appear to have moved to Villa Street, Beeston and, sometime between then and 1861, the couple moved to Sneinton, Notts where Frederick took a job as a letter carrier (postman). Interestingly. they appear to have continued home education of their children.
1854Hannah VARNEYThe City 
1858Miss ASTLEChurch St 
1854-1864Mary & Sarah TROTTERUnion St & Middle StThese two ladies appear as teachers in Directories in 1854 and 1864. However, these dates do not fully match with their respective census entries and their teaching credentials appear sparse. It is also difficult to differentiate between Sarah's mother and probable sister, both having the name Mary. In 1852, the younger Mary married James Cross, a machine builder, and the family had moved to Doncaster, with the widowed older Mary, by 1858.
1858Mrs LambDerby Road 
1854-1861Mary CARTLEDGEUnion St/Market St 
1861Emma CROSSHigh Road 
1861Hannah SMITHERSUnion StreetIn 1861, Hannah was the widow of Anthony Smithers and living on Union Street, Beeston close to her brother and described as a schoolmistress, James Hudston who was a lifelong Lay Preacher with the Methodist New Connection. It appears therefore, that Hannah, then aged 61, is likely to have been undertaking small-scale private teaching for Non-Conformist children.
1858-1881Annie & Mary BARKERBroadgate/Salthouse LaneJoined by their niece E M Barker by 1881. The Misses Barker had a ladies' boarding and day school in the early eighties. Miss Barker was an energetic worker in the village and opened a mission room at the Rylands.
1871Rebecca & Hannah C FRETTINGHAMFrettingham's Lane 
1871Martha SMITHHigh Road 
1871 - 1881+Elizabeth HENSHALLMiddle Street & West EndMiss Henshall was a native of Staffordshire, the daughter of William & Mary Henshall. Elizabeth & her mother, then a widow with private means, moved to Beeston before 1871 and took residence on Middle Street. Having previously worked as a governess, Elizabeth began teaching and, by 1881 had started a school at her home in the West End; this included a few boarding pupils. She died, unmarried, in 1898.
1883-1888Annie HOFTONHigh Road 
1885Frederick CREAKQueens RdCreak ran a boarding and day school on Queens Rd for a short time around 1885, He was born in Great Yarmouth, had a B.A. degree and had previous taught in Castle Donington before arriving in Beeston. Afterwards he moved to Leicester where, by 1901 he had become a Congregational Minsister.
by 1901Maud Mary WILLETTWest EndMiss Willett was born in Nantwich, Cheshire in 1870, the daughter of Joseph Willett, a haberdasher, and his wife Mary. She operated the school started by Miss Henshall and continued later by Amy Horner at West End House, Beeston. In 1901, there were two child boarders, probably pupils, aged 6 and 7, in her household
by 1910Amy Eleanor HORNERWest EndMiss Horner, the daughter of William Frederick & Charlotte Horner, was born in Nottingham about 1879. Her father was a hosiery manufacturer but died when Amy was a child. By 1901, she was the youngest of four sisters who were occupied in teaching. By 1910 she had moved to Beeston where she, apparently, took over the private school for boys and girls at West End House, Beeston, started by Elizabeth Henshall and continued by Maud Willett. She continued teaching there well into the 20th Century. She never married and died in 1973. In 1911, Violet Mabel Richards, the daughter of a Beeston solicitor, was an assistant teacher at the school.

Voluntary Schools - A more formal school provision began to be provided in Beeston with the opening of the National School in 1834 followed, in 1839 by a Wesleyan School (probably in the British School model if not in fact) at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on Chapel Street.

Until the arrival of Rev. John Francis Thomas Hurt (who later changed his name to Wolley by adopting his wife's maiden name and arms), previous incumbents often had multiple livings and tended not to make Beeston their principal home. Although he found Beeston not entirely congenial ("the numerous lower orders .. . exemplified by dirt, misery and extreme ignorance." is how he described what he found there), he did make Beeston his home for the 32 years he served as Vicar and the 22 years of his retirement - albeit shunning the old vicarage in favour of the Hall he built on Middle Street. Despite personal tragedy - his wife died in 1844, aged 45, and eight of their eleven children died as infants or relatively young adults - he was able to contribute greatly to the welfare and development of the community. It was during his incumbency that the church was rebuilt but, as is particularly relevant here, he improved education provision in the Parish significantly 6.

Rev John Wolley Rev Wolley (then Hurt - shown here) came to the Parish as Vicar in 1822 and, by 1825, he had already taken steps to address the shortfall in education provision (detailed above) - and the social issues which that contributed to. Sunday School provision for boys was somewhat better, mainly from the Methodist Sunday School which provided for 63 boys (and 76 girls), although he had no confidence in that held in the Church, attended by 30-40 boys, but "managed as badly as it is possible, or rather under no management or control". Again, provision for girls on Sunday was considerably better, with some 30 under instruction in the comparatively well managed Church Sunday School. The Rev Wolley observed that, as a result of the shortfall in provision, many boys and young men spend Sunday "running about the fields, committing damage and nuisances all around." 7.

The Vicar's proposal, outlined in a preliminary enquiry to the National Society dated 6 March 1823 and a subsequent application for funding aid, submitted on 29th November 1823, was to construct a schoolhouse near to the church on "a slip of Glebe". The building would consist of two rooms, each 31 feet long and 19 feet wide, one expected to accommodate 120 boys and the other 80 girls. The total expected cost appears to have been £280, most of which he would expect to raise by subscriptions from land-owners, gentry and others of the more financially able in the neighbourhood. Financial support from the farmers had been difficult to come-by, they being already burdened by the poor-rate, but the Vicar was pleased to be able to report a welcome subscription from a perhaps unexpected source; £10 had been given by "the Head man of the Methodists, who is a lace machine owner and in good circumstances" (Undoubtedly, this would have been Henry Kirkland). On-going running costs, including the cost of a master and mistress, would be just over £100, met by a weekly charge of 2 pence from all but the poorest pupil, subscriptions and an annual sermon. On 7th January 1824, aid from the Society of £100 was agreed 8.

For some reason, however, the 1823 proposal was not proceeded with and the aid agreed in 1824 was not therefore taken up. Another 10 years passed before the plans became reality. By then, the Rev Wolley had been able to obtain another site on the south-west side of Brown Lane (now Station Road, on land currently occupied by the now closed Fire Station). This site, with a frontage of 36 yards on Brown Lane and a depth of 17 yards (comprising some 612 square yards) was bought from Peter Broughton Strey for a notional 5 shillings. It was conveyed to Woolley and a group of five other trustees (who were "desirous of promoting the education of the poor of the Parish of Beeston according to the Doctrines and Discipline of the Established Church of England"), their heirs and assigns, for use as a site for a National School. The description of the parcel of land makes reference to "an infant school belonging to John Hurt Woolley" to the "south" (more precisely the south-west). It seems therefore that this school had already been built - paid for by Woolley - prior to the erection of the main National School building. 9.

In fact, even before title to the land had been obtained, by September 1834, the school was already completed and operating with, as we have seen, actual ownership of the land following in December. However, there was another problem for the Vicar who, anticipating a grant from the National School which had not materialised, had gone ahead by financing the scheme largely from his own pocket.The building, 76 feet long by 26 feet wide, two rooms with the master's house between them, had cost £558 (eventually to total £575). Initially only £170 had been subscribed - Lord Middleton having, at least at the early stage, refused to subscribe - but this eventually reached £228. This meant that the Vicar was some £347 out-of-pocket and that was in additional to £120 that he had spent opening the Infants' School. He was "feeling exceedingly annoyed" and wrote to the National Society, on 13th September 1834, to register his feeling of injustice in not being approved for the Society's assistance and pleading for reconsideration. Expressing forcibly his perceived justice of the case for assistance, he described the difficulties he faced in raising money in "a poor parish swarming with children". Happily, it appears that the Society responded with a grant if £120 after the Rev Wolley agreed to guarantee personally the remaining shortfall of £227. It took more than a year but eventually a further grant of £144 was obtained, through the Society, from the Government Treasury. This reduced Wolley's personal contribution to a more manageable £83 but, when added to the £120 he had given £203 or more to establish a reasonable level of educational provision in Beeston. Most certainly, the community owed both him and his family a deep debt of gratitude 10.

The school was designed to accommodate 144 boys and 144 girls and an infants' department, apparently of slightly earlier date - apparently located to the rear (see above) - had space for at least 160. From its inception, the school attracted good numbers - 130 boys, 80 girls (who already had other provision elsewhere in the village) and 160 infants by November 1834. All but the extreme poor paid 2d (less than 1p) each per week with some who could afford it paying 3d (a little more than 1p) 11.

The school continued operating on this site up until a local School Board was formed in 1880 and began to take over the provision of education in the village early in 1881. Although the evidence is not definite, there is a suggestion that the building was extended during the incumbency of Rev T J Oldrini, sometime between 1854 and 1880, possibly in 1875 12. Whatever the case, it was clear to the Board when it took over, that additional accommodation would be required, but by necessity, a replacement school not being immediately available, the National School premises continued to be used by the Board School until the new Church Street Schools were ready at the beginning of 1883.

Being of no further use as a day school, the Parish Church put the Brown Lane premises to use as a Sunday School and for use on other days for Parochial meetings, a Men's Institute, Band of Hope meetings, and for other similar uses. By 1904, the building was described as "very much dilapidated - in fact, falling to pieces" by the then Vicar, Reverend Arthur C Beckton when writing to the National Society with regard to evidence of Title relating to the premises 13. At that time, the Parish authorities appear to have had thoughts of renovation or even of rebuilding, however, this does not appear to have happened as the building remaining in essentially its original form until its demolition as part of the redevelopment of the central Beeston area in the 1960s. In between these dates most of the building was used for about 25 years or more as the Headquarters of 2nd Beeston Sea Scouts.

The following table gives something of the background of each of the teachers who worked at the National School, whom we have identified from the census and from contemporary directories. Many of them must have brought a broader intellectual experience to the village which must have inspired and influenced at least some of the pupils in their charge. John Clifford, for instance, spoke of a "Mr Godler" (probably William Godber) who, during a year that John spent at the school, inspired him ".. by his talk of Oxford and the aids it offered to learning" 14. At least two of those who taught in Beeston, went on to be ordained as Church of England clergymen.

National School Teachers - Beeston
1834Robert & Jane Mullins (née GIBBS) WALSH/WELCHBrown LaneThis couple, originally from Somerset, appear to have been appointed as Master and Mistress when the school opened in 1834. In September of that year, the Vicar expressed satisfaction with them but had a misgiving - "I like the Master & Mistress. She, I am sorry to say, is likely to increase her family". Sure enough, a new daughter was baptised in the Parish Church on New Years Day, 1835. By October 1835 things were not going so well; attendances were down and, by way of explanation, Rev Wolley described the Master as "inclined to indolence" and the Mistress "has not good health". One way or another, they left Beeston soon after this, briefly to Melbourne in Derbyshire before taking positions as Master and Matron of Taunton Union Workhouse in their native Somerset. Following Jane's death in 1849, Robert took over as keeper of the Little Angel Inn in Taunton. He died shortly after in 1851.
1841Robert & Sarah MARTINBrown LaneRobert Martin was originally from the Chesterfield area of Derbyshire and Sarah was from Car Colston, Notts, where the couple had married in 1818. They had a son born in 1819, who stayed in Car Colson and three daughters between 1822 and 1826 during a period when they lived in Middlesex. It appears that their involvement with the National School may have ceased sometime in the early 1850s, although they continued to live in Beeston.

Their photograph and the remarkable story of their descendants may be seen by clicking here

about 1845William GODBER Born in Stapleford, Notts, William was teaching in Beeston about 1845 and was a big influence on the young John Clifford, speaking to him of the advantages that an Oxford Education would bring. While in Beeston, he married Mary Elizabeth Darby and they had one son before moving to Derby where William took another teaching post. In 1850, Mary Elizabeth died, apparently during the birth of their second son. In 1858, William married Susannah Ann Marshall in Shoreditch and, with the support of her family and his own sister Mary Ann, who was also a National School teacher, he was able to take a degree in theology at Kings Collage, London. He and Mary Elizabeth had two daughters before she died in 1868. By 1881, William had become the Vicar of Langley, Essex where he lived out his life, dying in 1901. Both of his sons attended Oxford University.
1841Frances Goodall OLDHAMNether StreetFrances has been included as a teacher at the school on the balance of probability. She was born in 1822 in Beeston where her aunts, Frances & Sophia Goodall had previously operated a school and was baptised at the Parish Church. In the 1851 census she is aged 28 and described as an Infant Schoolmistress; although not identified specifically, this is likely to be at the National School. Soon after this she appears to have moved to Quardon, near Derby, probably to take a position at the Infants' School there. In 1854, she married Thomas Clifford, a widower, a carpenter in Quardon, who lived very close to the school. They lived out their lives in Quardon and had one son who died young. She died in 1875 having become blind some years earlier.
1851John Doward THACKABERYBrown LaneBorn in Ireland in about 1829, he taught in Beeston for a short period around 1851, unmarried and living at the schoolhouse with the help of a domestic servant, Jane Kendrick. In 1852 he moved to Buxton as a teacher at the Endowed Grammar School but returned briefly to Beeston to marry Jane Kendrick in the Parish Church in November 1852. Sadly, Jane died in 1858, apparently childless, aged about 24. In 1861, still teaching in Buxton, John married Ellen Wilson Lawson.
1852William BALFREYBrown LaneThis teacher, originally from Ireland, was at the school for a few years from about 1852. He had previously taught at the National School in Keighley, Yorkshire. He was a married man with four children when he arrived. Twin boys were born to the couple in the late summer of 1852, they were baptised at Beeston Parish Church but died apparently within days of each other early in 1853. By 1855, it appears that he had left Beeston to take a position with the National School in Tibshelf, Derbyshire, as another child was born there then.
1855Samuel WILLIAMSONBrown LaneSamuel, aged about 21, originally from Nottingham and newly married to Emily (née Wootton, originally from Leicester), moved to the school in 1855. During their time at Beeston, two sons were born and baptised at the Parish Church. In about 1858 they moved to take up another teaching post in Silloth, Cumberland. Later. Samuel was ordained as a Priest and, by 1881, was Vicar of St Andrews Church in Radcliffe, near Bury, Lancashire. After his wife died there in 1882 (aged 55), Samuel remained in Radcliffe, where he died, aged 64, in 1898. Click here for a picture of him in his later life
about 1860Thomas ARTHURBrown LaneThomas Arthur was about 37 and unmarried when he arrived in Beeston to take up a position as schoolmaster in Beeston. Born in Hednesford, Staffordshire, he had previously worked as a writing clerk. In 1861, he married Priscilla Wood, a domestic servant from East Bridgford, Notts and their daughter and son were baptised at the Parish Church in 1862 and 1863 respectively. Sadly, the daughter Clara died, aged 1. By about 1865 the couple moved away, three further children were born and they eventually settling in Penmark, Glamorgan where Thomas continued to work as a schoolteacher. In 1876, Priscilla died, followed in the following year by Thomas; their eldest son, John Henry, was apprenticed to a shoemaker, later taking a position in charge of shoemaking at a workhouse and eventually becoming Master of the Newark Union Workhouse. Another son joined his uncle as a saddler in Walsall and the two daughters went into domestic service,
1861Elizabeth TOWLEHigh RoadElizabeth was the oldest daughter of Edmund and Sarah (née Foster) Towle; Edmund was a lace manufacture in Beeston who operated a small factory on Chapel Street. Sarah's uncle was Robert Foster who was a partner in Foster & Pearson the successful agricultural builders. Like most of her brothers and sisters, Elizabeth was baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel, then on Chapel Street, Beeston so it is perhaps surprising that she became an infant teacher National School, from about 1861 (when she was only 15) until at least 1864.
1861Elizabeth NORRISMarket StreetElizabeth Norris was born in Halsall, Lancashire, the daughter of a wheelwright. She came to Beeston by 1861 (when she was aged 24 and boarding with John and Elizabeth Stothard on Market Street) and remained until at least 1864.
1861Martha Ann WILLIAMSHigh RoadIn 1861, Martha was a pupil teacher, aged about 16 and living with father, Thomas (a lace maker) and step-mother on Chapel Street, Beeston. In 1866, she married a Beeston plumber, Joseph Heard and may have continued teaching at the school, probably until her first child was born in 1868, although she is still described as a National School Mistress in the census of 1871.
1862James Edward ANTRIM?This man appears briefly in a directory of this date; no other information has been found.
1869John PIERREPONTChapel StreetThe son of an Ollerton agricultural labourer, John Pierrepont had taken a teaching position with the school by the time he was 23 in 1871 and remained there until about 1880, when he moved to Nottingham to take a teaching position with the school associated with Holy Trinity Church. In 1872, he had married Sarah Towle, the sister of Elizabeth who had been the infant teacher (see above). The couple had 11 children, 7 of who survived into adulthood; their eldest son, Ernest Stanley Pierrepont, eventually returned to Beeston as the Branch Manager of the Nottingham & Notts Banking Company Limited. By 1911, John was employed as a Head Teacher with the Nottingham Education Committee and their eldest daughter was Head Teacher at a County school.
1871Frances Sophia E KELSEYBrown LaneBy 1871, Miss Frances S E Kelsey was teaching at the school. She was born in London in about 1819 and never married. Although not much is presently known about her early life, in the 1861 census she is described as a school teacher and is a visitor in the household of William Hinds Wyatt and his wife Anne in Sneinton, Notts where Wyatt was the Perpetual Curate. It is known that the Wyatts employed governesses for their children and it is possible that Frances had worked in that capacity at one time. By 1881 she had moved to live just inside the Chilwell boundary, but it is likely that she was then still teaching at Beeston. By 1891 she had retired to live in Margate, Kent where she died in 1902, aged 83.
1876James Benjamin COLLINGTON James Benjamin Collington was born in Beeston in 1853, the son of Benjamin and Ann Collington; his father was a grocer and a very well known figure in the community and a Local Board member for some years. James Benjamin originally started work as an iron merchant's clerk - possible to John Roger Anderson, also a Board member. In 1875 he married a local girl, Marian Page Bailey who had stayed in Beeston, working in domestic service after her parents had left to live in the Manchester area about 10 years earlier. James began working as a National School teacher, perhaps outside of Beeston in the early years but, by 1878 or at the most a few years later, he was teaching and living in Beeston. Except for a brief spell around 1884 when the family appeared to have moved to London, this appears to have continued until 1894 when Marian died, aged 39. About a year later, James married Harriett Elizabeth Wallis and took a teaching post in Heage, Derbyshire. By the time of the census in 1911, James appears to have changed the course of his career completely, as he is then living apart from his wife, boarding in Sutton in Ashfield, Notts and working as a canvasser for a dental company; his wife is then working as a domestic housekeeper in Nottingham. James died in the Mansfield area in 1932, aged 80. His wife lived on for over 30 years, dying in 1963, aged 101.
1879Sarah BLASDALEWilloughby StreetSarah Blasdale (1855-1903) was the daughter of Samuel (a smith at the silk mill) & Catherine (née Freeman). By 1871 she was a pupil teacher and then worked as a mistress at the National School until her marriage, in 1879, to Nottingham grocer Joseph Pears. After her father's death in 1881, the couple moved to Beeston where Joseph operated his business at 7 Church Street and later 25 Church Street before their return to Nottingham by 1901. She died there in 1903, aged only 48.
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Wesleyan School It wasn't long after the opening of the National School that the Wesleyans responded, in 1839, by opening a day school of their own, for both boys and girls, on Chapel Street. This early venture, probably accommodated within the chapel and undoubtedly supported greatly by William Kirkland, was clearly successful, as they soon sought to expand and to improve their facilities. In 1863, Trustees were appointed formally and land was acquired adjoining the chapel 15. Click to see details of the Trustees.

The property included a house and a lace factory which had been used by William Kirkland but was now cleared to make way for a new purpose-built school which was opened in 1866, with fundraising continued into the next year and probably beyond. The photograph, shown left (click it to enlarge), shows the building in later years but more or less as built. The school consisted of one large room with 3 or 4 classes, each arranged in three sides of a square with wooden forms 16. The Master's house can be glimpsed on the left of the photograph. Click to see details of 1866 fundraising

The teachers that worked at the Wesleyan school in the early days are not easily identified and it is possible that some that we have already identified as operating private establishments were, in fact, teaching at the school. Those who were definitely identified are:

Wesleyan School Teachers - Beeston
1871George MORTIMERChapel StreetGeorge Mortimer was born in Wetherby, Yorkshire in 1841, the son of an agricultural labourer. In 1861, age 19, he was gaining teaching as a pupil teacher in the local Wesleyan school. He probably had taken up the position of schoolmaster in Beeston and settled into the schoolhouse next to school when - or soon after - the new school opened in 1866. By 1868, he had married Emily Moore, the daughter of a member of the Wesleyan community in Beeston and their only child, Louisa, was born in 1869. By 1881, his wife was also teaching at the school but, tragically, she died in 1861, aged only 37. In 1887, he married Annie Colemen Moore (who, despite having the same surname, appears not to have been related to his first wife) who was the daughter of teachers in East Stoke, Notts and herself a teacher. After the Wesleyan school closed in 1898, George took a position at the new Nether Street Schools and the couple moved to City Road. By 1911, George had retired and they had moved to Cleethorpes to live near to his daughter's family.
1874Aaron BURNHAMVilla StreetAaron was born in Beeston in 1857, the son of Edward & Ann Burnham. He was the exception in the family, in that he did not join the family joinery business. After working at the Beeston school around 1874 - he can be seen on the photographs below - he had moved, by 1881 to Weelsby, Lincolnshire where he had found a teaching post. In 1886, he married Miriam Dobson who died a year later as a result of giving birth to their only child, Charles. Aaron continued to teach in the Grimsby area and, in 1895, married his servant Kate Moore.
1881-1888Bessie Eva MOORECity RoadBorn in Falmouth, Cornwall about 1860, she was boarding with John & Jane Moore (John was the brother of Emily Moore, George Mortimer's wife). After mentions in Directories up to 1888, no further trace has been found.
1881Emily MORTIMERChapel StreetEmily was the wife of George and mother of Louis and taught at the school for a short period around 1881, up to her early death, age 37, in 1884
1891Walter Ernest BOWLEYChurch StreetWalter was the son of Amos Bowley who operated an Ironmonger's business on Church Street at the corner of Chapel Street. He was born in Beeston in 1872 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel in Chapel Street in 1875. By 1891 he was working as an assistant elementary teacher at the school and, in 1897, married Louisa, the daughter of George Mortimer. By 1899, the couple had moved to Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire where he had taken a position as schoolmaster. By 1911 the family moved to Cleethorpes where Walter had taken another post as schoolmaster.
1891Louisa MORTIMERChapel StreetLouisa was the daughter of George & Emily Mortimer and appears to have been teaching at the school by 1891. In 1897 she married fellow teacher Walter Ernest Bowley after which she moved with him to Lincolnshire.
1891James BONSERWollaton RoadBorn in Beeston in 1876, the son of Joseph (a lace maker) and Mary A Bonser. By 1891 he was a pupil teacher and appears to have taught at Chapel Street until joining the staff at Church Street School in 1892. In January 1901 he moved to Nether Street School, Beeston.
about 1898John Thomas MEDCALFBayley StreetWas born in Brough, Yorkshire in about 1871, the son of John (a farmer) and Maria Medcalf. Although he married Agnes Rosinia Broughton in Yorkshire towards the end of 1896 and their first child was born in Goole in 1898, it is possible that he taught briefly at Chapel Street before moving, when it closed. to teach at Nether Street Schools. By 1901 he was living with his family at Bayley Street, Beeston and later moved to 32 Enfield Street, Beeston.

Photographs of the pupils at the school - and something about many of the identified individuals - can be seen be clicking on the respective images below :

1874 group
1874 Boys' Group

1876 group
1876 Boys' Group

1874-6 girls group
c1874-6 Girls' Group

The school continued to operate after the School Board was formed in 1880, until the Board opened Nether Street Schools in 1898 and its pupils were transferred there. Before fees were abolished in 1891, it is believed that pupils paid 3d or 4d (a little over 1p) per week 17. After it closed, the premises were used as a Mission Hall by the Salvation Army and, by 1908, were acquired as a Masonic Hall. In 1939, the property was sold to Ericssons Telephones which, in turn, sold to the local Council when it assembled land in that area in the 1960s as part of the then redevelopment of central Beeston 18.

Factory Schooling - from 1819, a series of Factory Acts were passed to limit hours, set lower age limits and improve working conditions generally within textile mills. The 1833 Act, for instance, restricted the number of working hours per day for children aged from 9-12 to a maximum of 9 and a maximum of 48 hours per week. Children were to be given 2 hours schooling each week. The Factory Act of 1844 extended the schooling requirement substantially with the provision that they were to spend half of each day at school.

The silk mill, opened in 1826 in what is now the centre of Beeston, was a major local employer during the remainder of the 19th century. This included a large proportion of child labour, particularly girls, until it was prohibited by legislation towards the end of that century. In 1851 the average age of all females working at the mill was 18.4 years, which compared with 28.3 years for the total female working population. For males it was 18.3 years for silk workers, 33.5 years overall. The following table 19 analyses the silk mill workforce further:

 Working PopulationSilk Mill Workers% Silk Mill/Total
 AllUnder 1111-16AllUnder 1111-16AllUnder 1111-16
1851Females73435127258 238735.165.768.5

In response to the legislation, the silk mill provided a schoolroom where girls were taught on alternate days, the other being a full day working in the mill. This arrangement appears to be of benefit to both parties, as it seems to have provided a supply of young - that is, low paid - female labour while providing the girls with a basic education they might not otherwise have received. In the context of the age, it served a purpose.

By 1861 the school was run by Miss Leah Cowell who continued there, probably until it closed, afterwards taking a position as an elementary teacher with the school board. She was born about 1839 in Thornton, Lancashire, the daughter of a gardener. She died in 1893 in Beeston, a well regarded lady who served the community well.

The "Ten Bell", which is now a feature outside the Sainsburys store on Stoney Street, was once on the roof of the silk mill, calling the workers and pupils to the mill at ten minutes before the starting time 20.

Board Schools - a School Board was formed in Beeston in 1880. Elections for its five elected members took place every three years, starting in December 1880 . The Clerk to the Board, Edwin S Browne of Pelham Street, Nottingham, was appointed and received a fee of £25 per year. Membership of the first three elected Boards were as follows :
Elected School Board Members - Beeston
1880Benjamin Baker VENN1833Chairman. Hosiery Manufacturer
1880F BRADLEY Vice-Chairman. Possibly Frederick, partner TS & T Bailey, b. 1846
1880William ROBERTS1827Retired grocer
1880Dr John ORTON1845Doctor, Medical Officer of Health
1880W A WADE Probably William, hosier, b.1851
1883Francis (Frank) WILKINSON1845Lace Manufacturer
1883Samuel KIRKBY1848Clerk, Gas office
1883Arthur KIRKLAND1853Lace Manufacturer
1883John POLLARD1839Lace Manufacturer
1883Mr STEVENS May be Isaac, Master lacemaker, b. 1836
1886Mr STEVENS Chairman. May be Isaac, Master lacemaker, b. 1836
1886Samuel KIRKBY1848Clerk, Gas office
1886Arthur KIRKLAND1853Lace Manufacturer
1886E JENKINS May be Evan Jenkins, Chemist, b. 1854
1886John Roger ANDERSON1857Ironmonger

The Board had been formed to carry out the provisions of the Education Acts, designed to provide an education - by 1891, a free education - for all children. After a review of the existing facilities and the local demand, it was soon clear to the Board that new buildings would be required. This they set about doing - while continuing to use the National School for a short period (up to 1883) and Wesleyan School for rather longer (to 1898), while construction went ahead. In 1903 the operations of the School Board were transferred to the County Council but, during its 23 years of operation, it had transformed education provision in the village. In that time, two major schools had been built :
  • Church Street Schools: opened in 1883 with separate facilities for infants, girls and boys. It was built originally to accommodate 350 pupils but was greatly enlarged later.
  • Nether Street Schools: opened in 1898 with provision for 1002 children.

folio of photographs of Church Street, dated July 1914, showing the school and a classroom, the staff and a boys' standard 3 group may be seen by clicking each link in turn. They show us much about life at the boys' school in particular, at that time.

Over the years since, with education the responsibility of the County Council Education Committee, provision has continued to expand, in terms of number of places, geographical coverage and the development of Secondary education. Nether Street School - now John Clifford School - still operates, these days as a Primary School and, over the years has been joined by Beeston Fields Schools, Roundhill School and Beeston Rylands School. Nowadays all secondary and tertiary education is provided outside of Beeston itself. Church Street Schools (later named Manor School) closed in 1980 and, after that, served as an annexe to Beeston College. In more recent years, the site - including some of the buildings - were redevelopment as apartments.

More detail of the history of two of these Beeston schools has been well described by Wallace Mason in pieces that he made available originally on the BBC h2g2 site. As that site is no longer available from that source, he has kindly made the accounts available here :

A growing collection of photographs, mainly class groups, from Beeston schools may be seen on our School Photographs page.

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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.
Scroll through the notes as required - or display them all by selecting expanded notes here

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© David Hallam - 2010