Mirror of Village Life: Extracts from the Log Books of Alsagers Bank School, 1870-1929

Pat Spode

The Heathcote family of Apedale Hall provided the building which is now the Heathcote Primary School, Alsagers Bank.  For many years it was used to hold Church of England services and as a Sunday school.  During the week it was the village day school, aided by the Heathcote family.  The following extracts from the log books paint a vivid picture of the village and village life.  The society is grateful to the Governors of Heathcote Primary School for permission to use these extracts.

There were no written records before this date, though we know that all pupils paid 2d per week for tuition.

1870 Mr Jonas Turner appointed Master.

1872 January.  Standards 1-3... 3d per week.  Standards 4-6 ... 4d per week.  Parents to provide: a slate at 2d, a copybook at 2d, an exercise book and homework Arithmetic book at 2d.  Any child who is disobedient or breaks the school rules will be REMOVED THEREFROM.  9-9.40 am Every day SCRIPTURE.

During the months of Dec. 1872, January, February, March and April 1873, the SMALLPOX was prevalent in the village, consequently many children were absent either directly from having the disease or from fear of infection.

1874, 20th June.  Many absentees this week, carrying water - in consequence of the extreme scarcity of that necessary article. 

11th July.  Many children absent carrying water.

1875, 2nd Feb.  Holiday the whole day in order to prepare the schoolroom for the Baptism of the son and heir of Captain and Mrs Edwards Heathcote, this afternoon.

1881, 7th Feb.  GAS FITTINGS used for the first time in this school.

1885, 15-16 Jan.  Holiday both days in consequence of Tea Meeting and Sale of Work in connection with a proposed COTTAGE HOME at Alsagers Bank for ORPHANS. (The home opened Saturday 9th May, 1885)                    

1889, 23 Sept.  A BALL in the school room this evening in aid of the ORPHANAGE.

1st Nov - All Soul’s Day - consequently a poor school owing to some parents allowing their children to go HOWLING from house to house.

(1889-1903 Mr Barrett was headmaster)

1891, Jan 1.  The management of this school has passed from Capt. Edwards-Heathcote to the Midland Coal, Coke & Iron Co.

Sept 1.  The School opens as a FREE SCHOOL under the Education Act of 1891.  Parents still provide copy books.

1898, 23 Nov.  The first appearance of winter.  Wind blowing a perfect hurricane and driving and drifting snow in every conceivable place.  Very few pupils put in an appearance and they who did were dripping wet and cold.  Snow lay drifted from 4 to 6 feet deep.  By noon there was no change in the atmospheric conditions.  School was closed.

1899, 17 April.  Today the attendance is poor owing to parents having kept their children at home “to go to Newcastle to buy new clothes for the ‘CHARITY’ which takes place next Sunday week.  (i.e. Free Church)

5 June.  Poor attendance due to the late rising, the result of the ‘CHARITY’ held yesterday. (i.e. Wesleyan)

20 July.  The school was closed this afternoon to allow a ‘TREAT’ at Apedale Hall, provided thro’ the generosity of Mrs Edwards-Heathcote, who, with her daughters Miss Heathcote & Miss Dorothy, worked indefatigably to provide the scholars with amusement besides providing each scholar with a present.  After tea, games and sports were indulged in and when the shades of evening began to creep, buns and cakes were distributed and thus ended a very happy and enjoyable afternoon.

1st Nov.  A large number of scholars were absent, according to some absurd custom, which consists of house to house visits HOWLING, something of the nature of begging.

1900, 21 May.  Owing to the relief of gallant Col. Baden Powell and his band of followers at Mafeking, there was a holiday today.

24 May.  This being the 81st birthday of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, the scholars were granted a holiday.  However, they and the Staff met at the school during the morning and after singing the National Anthem, giving Cheers for the Queen and the saying of various patriotic songs, they paraded the village, singing and cheering at various point.  The whole concluded with a plentiful supply of sweets provided by Headmaster and Staff.

2-4th June.  School closed as a BAZAAR was being held on behalf of Church Funds.

12th June.  About 2.15 p.m. dark clouds began to gather until it became almost as dark as night.  Then commenced a terrific storm of thunder and lightening accompanied by a very heavy downpour.  This lasted considerably over an hour and was a scene never to be forgotten.  The rain came down in such torrents that the drains were useless in coping with it and the Infants’ Classroom soon was under water, while the school was like an island in the midst of a lake.

1903, Nov 3.  William Highfield Burgess appointed Headmaster.  Tasked the teachers to put away the long canes with which they are armed.  They resented this, but firmness on my part prevailed.

Nov 6.  Each day this week I have examined the children’s hands, and tried to persuade the boys to wear collars.  Each day I have noticed a slight improvement.

Nov 13.  9 boys who last week wore scarves have every day this week worn a collar.

1905, 12 May.  This week I have commenced to teach the Old Notation to standards 3-7.  As many children are learning to play some musical instrument, a knowledge of this would prove most useful to them.

23 May.  Preliminary arrangements for a violin class were made.

1909 17 Dec.  Several children have been absent lately owing to extreme POVERTY.  Their parents cannot afford to buy clogs for them when needed and one parent sent word that she has no food in the house.

1910, 13 Jan.  Many of the school desks and cupboards were last night damaged owing to people standing on them at a POLITICAL MEETING.

4 April.  School open today after being closed for 8 weeks for diphtheria.

6 May.  Diphtheria broke out again in Downing’s Place & Corne’s Place.  Three children from one family died on 5th & 6th May.

31 Oct.  School dismissed at 3.15 to enable Choir Boys and Sunday Scholars to attend a BRICK LAYING ceremony at the NEW CHURCH.

1912, 28 March.  This morning the necessitous children were given a BREAKFAST at school - consisting of bread, butter, jam and a mug of cocoa.  This will be repeated on school days until further notice.  This feeding has been rendered necessary in consequence of the COAL STRIKE.

23 May.  Spoke to the scholars upon the dangers of running after motor cars.  Dr Daley of Silverdale has complained of this.

1914, 23 Mar.  School dismissed at 3.10 p.m. to enable scholars to welcome the TROOPS on a ROUTE MARCH past this school.

1925, 2nd July.  ___ ___ was sent home this morning as his mother had failed, after a request, to mend the seat of his trousers.

1929, 11 Dec.  Funeral of Rev SIMPSON for 44 years, Vicar of this Parish.