Chapter 2

1890: and yet another controversy for Edward

In June 1890 the Rev. Edward stood as one of the four Church candidates for the upcoming School Board election … and in his campaign he made some very controversial remarks about Board Schools.

At holiday times we see young men breaking down the branches of trees and doing other mischief, and young married men brutally ill-treating their still younger wives; and these have been educated in Board Schools.

In reply to Edward’s views, Mr Harvey, the miner’s agent, stated that the Vicar had, by his words, simultaneously managed to insult the town, the members of the School Board and the parents of the Board School’s children. He knew of Church parsons who got drunk and had to be carried home — much worse behaved than these imaginary Board School scholars. Voluntary Church schools educated the snobocracy — all collar, cuff, and tie !!

Mr. Harvey then referred to Edward’s speech at the Church Institute in January of the previous year (above). To the miner’s agent there was no man sufficiently high for another man to demean himself by bowing and scraping to. Church parsons were not the friends of working classes, they were the greatest enemies they had had, and, with the Tory Party, had blocked many reforms they should have had. If they had depended upon men like the Vicar of Ilkeston, would they have had the secret ballot, or free press, or the franchise, or compulsory education ?? He hoped that ‘the voice of the people’ would be heard in this election and would leave the vicar at the bottom of the poll.

And of course the Vicar was quick to defend himself. In a speech to his electorate a few days later, Edward declared that he had been totally misunderstood. The standard of education found in Board Schools was excellent, and thus he was so surprised when he discovered that some young people of these schools were misbehaving around the town — especially on Bank holidays. He commended the religious education in these schools and, if elected onto the Board, he would never interfere in this education. At the culmination of his speech, it appears that he had not fully convinced his audience !!

When the results were announced, close to midnight on June 18th, the wish of Mr Harvey, the miners’ agent, was granted … almost !! Edward was bottom of those elected (that is, number 9), and the Derby Daily Telegraph had some very stern advice for Edward ….
The Vicar, it is to be noted, only got in by the skin of his teeth, although he appears to have been confident of occupying them premier position, and of being elected chairman. The reverend gentleman, moreover, went to the length of indicating the changes he intended to propse when acting in that capacity. In future it is to be hoped he will recognise the wisdom of  “never prophesying unless he is quite sure”. (June 20th)

September 24th 1890: a musical concert.

The refurbished Church organ, installed less than a year before, still had a significant debt attached to it. Step in, Ilkeston’s leading musical talent, Harry Stanley Hawley. On this Wednesday, aided by several artists from the R.A.M., he gave two concerts — afternoon and evening — in aid of the Organ Fund.