The School Board

The Board’s early years: 1878 -1887

Ilkeston’s ASBO had failed in its primary aim of preventing the establishment of a School Board, but it had secured a majority for its ‘Church’ representatives on the new School Board.
One of the first tasks set by the Board was to assess any school accommodation needs of the town, which was therefore divided into four districts.
District 1 included Cotmanhay up to Lower Granby Street.
District 2 from Lower Granby Street to the Market Place.
District 3 from the Market Place to Regent Street.
District 4 was from Regent Street down Nottingham Road and included Hallam Fields.

It was then calculated that about 500 additional school places were needed for the town but that the Cotmanhay area was most in need of extra provision. Thus a new school to accommodate 500 children was to be built in this district.

1878: Granby Schools are planned

These first schools built by the Board were Granby Schools.
The original site for the schools, chosen in October 1878, was in Potter’s Old Engine Close belonging to the Duke of Rutland, described as being a field on the south side of Charlotte Street, about one acre in size, and architect Augustus H. Potter of Mansfield was instructed to draw up plans. However by February 1879 it was clear that the Duke was unwilling to sell this land. Now the Board considered a ‘compulsory purchase‘ of the land as it was entitled to do, by the Land Clauses Consolidation Act. At the same time the name “Granby Schools” was chosen, to accomodate 300 boys and 300 girls in separate departments with a suitable adjacent teacher’s residence.
The Duke came back to offer two alternative sites — one in Horridge’s Brickyard-close was turned down but the one accepted by the Board ( — eventually, after some discussion with the tenants of the land –) was at the junction of Charlotte Street and Heanor Road.

New tenders for an architect were published and they resulted in a different choice. In December 1879 plans for the buildings were chosen, now designed by architect and surveyor James Tait of Friar Lane, Leicester, and in July 1880 it was decided that the schools were to be built by Frederick Shaw of the Manor House. Though they were not the first school opened by the Board.

By September 1880 the building of Granby Schools had not begun, held up by arguments over the valuation of property and the land on which the schools were to be built.
H.M. Inspector of Schools noted this ’serious delay’ in building the new schools and suggested that the Board should open an interim school immediately.
Such a temporary schoolroom for infants was opened in January 1881 in the Wesley Street Free Church schoolroom, Cotmanhay, its first mistress being Mary Elizabeth Pollard, daughter of Henry and Lucy (nee Brown), at a salary of £60 pa.
In March 1881 Lucy Moss, daughter of John and Mary (nee Scattergood), was appointed as pupil teacher/assistant to Mary Elizabeth. Fees for the children attending this school were 2d per week.

1881: School Board elections come around again.

The second election of the School Board was due in June 1881.
In the preceding month the Pioneer noted that….
“the Board … had worked so well and harmoniously together  that they should be re-elected without the expense of an election…. Education is nowadays a necessity, and that necessity entails a liberal outlay of money which cannot be avoided. Yet there is a vast difference between spending money on educating children for the battle of life and needlessly squandering it over expensive sites, ornamental buildings and exorbitant professional charges”.
One wonders what the newspaper’s attitude to the election would have been had the Churchmen not held a majority on the old Board?

The newspaper’s wishes were not granted.
An election was to be held and some of the candidates — but not all — took this far more seriously than William Mellor had done in 1878.
Several of them organised open-air meetings at various parts of the town. The four Dissenting nominees spoke at the junction of Awsworth Road and Cotmanhay Road, and later at Cotmanhay.
‘Churchmen’ William Adlington and John Moss declined to stand once more and thus there were only three Church candidates “all of whom made the best of their way individually, there being no attempt at combination”. (Old Resident). They were not organised, had no committee rooms and did not address the electors directly.
Edwin Trueman, although a Churchman, stood as an independent Working Man’s candidate and spoke at three meetings, starting in Cotmanhay, then at the end of Awsworth Road and finally in the Market Place. He advertised himself as a nominee of no party or clique, though like the other Church candidates he supported religious education which incorporated some discussion and comment — and unlike the Dissenters who wanted no comment or note – and also supported the survival of the voluntary schools.

For many therefore the result was not a surprise.
The four nonconformists were returned, thus reversing the strength of each party on the first Board.
For those of you who want the names ….
the new members were Rev. John Harry Buchanan** (Holy Trinity Church); Rev. John Fleming (Independent Chapel); Stephen Keeling (Primitive Methodist member); Samuel Streets Potter (C of E); Joseph Belfield Shorthose (C of E); Herbert Tatham (Free Methodist); Charles Woolliscroft (Wesleyan Methodist).
Edwin Trueman narrowly failed in his bid to be selected. Some argued that his supporters were too confident and had split their votes in favour of the other candidates. Edwin put the blame on Samuel Trueman who also had stood in the election and who had attracted a measly 81 voters some of whom thought that they were voting for Edwin.
“This was a party dodge which had the desired effect, and was afterwards boasted of by its perpetrator”.

** Some time later the Pioneer commented upon the newly-arrived Rev Buchanan .. “a new star which had appeared in the local firmament .. and who had come to the town to take charge of the Mission district, later the Parish of Holy Trinity. He had been rousing the ire of a good many Ilkeston worthies, both Churchmen and Nonconformists by his rather advanced ideas on certain matters, and who intimated his intention of having a finger in the local Eduational Pie.”

1881-1883: Granby Schools .. at last!!

Now with a different political and religious complexion the new School Board tried to alter the Granby School plans of the previous administration, by adding an infants department to the original plans, which were for boys and girls only.
This would necessitate a change in the original agreement for the purchase of the land from the Duke of Rutland … and the Duke’s agent Robert Nesfield was having none of it!  He would not allow the Duke to be dragged into local political arguments and so had to decline the School Board’s request.
Negotiations dragged on but in February 1882 the contract for building the new Granby Schools was agreed and signed off between the Local Board and Frederick Shaw, its builder. The projected date of opening was the end of September. … a date which came and went !!

Meanwhile, on November 2nd 1882 it was decided to advertise for a Master at £150 pa and a Mistress at £80 pa, as well as two pupil teachers for each department. There were 131 applications for the post of master and nine for the post of mistress. (Read into that what you will).

Elizabeth Martha Brant and George Barratt Hargreaves were appointed.

The Granby schools were finally opened for business during the second week of January 1883, though formal opening was delayed until April 2nd of that year by which time there were 470 children ‘on the books’.
“So Granby Schools  entered upon their career of usefulness without any ceremony or formality, without any blowing of trumpets or making of speeches, but quietly and businesslike, setting out as it intended .. ” (IP Jan 20th 1933)
They were built to accommodate 578 boys and girls but no infants.
As Chairman of the School Board Charles Woolliscroft said at the opening ceremony, the schools were ‘substantial and neat’ and the Board had been careful to ensure that there was no expenditure on ‘unnecessary ornamentation’.
“Neat and attractive” agreed the (Liberal) Advertiser, “making no pretensions to the ornateness of style affected by some School Boards”.

It went on to describe the schools’ interior.
“… the main room being in both schools of the shape of the letter T
“A wing on one side of the boys’ school contains two class-rooms, which can at the option of the teacher be thrown into one large room.
“Glass panels in the doors communicating with the class-rooms subject them both to the inspection of the headmaster in the main room.
“In the girls’ school the class-rooms are arranged at one end, instead of along the side. The other details are precisely similar to those in the boys’ school.
“Each school is capable of accommodating some 280 pupils, and the class-rooms are calculated to hold about 70”.

George Barratt Hargreaves, the first Head, came as a well-qualified ‘educationalist’ — with ten years experience as a certificated teacher, the last three years serving as senior assistant master in a large Board School in London. Miss E.M.Brant was the Mistress of the Girls’ School.

The Boys’ school was built to accommodate 281 children but by 1884 its average attendance was 305. Mr. Hargreaves was compelled to turn potential students away !!

Granby Schools about 1890 (‘Views of Ilkeston’ series) … taken from Heanor Road with Charlotte Street on the left

1884: ET gets on the School Board … at last!!

In 1884 Edwin Trueman was at last successful in his efforts to be elected as a member of the School Board.
And it was he who in August 1884 put forward the following motion to the School Board.
“That the resolution of the Board having reference to the reading of the Bible in Board Schools, passed on the 31st of January 1883, be rescinded; and that it be an instruction to the head teachers of the Board schools that at the proper time set aside for the purpose the children sing a hymn, and repeat after the teachers the Lord’s Prayer. The children shall also read a chapter in the Bible, the teachers to accompany the same by such explanation and comment as may to them appear necessary or desirable, but they must carefully avoid in such comment any reference of a distinctly denominational character. Further, that once, at least, in every week the children be taught to recite the Ten Commandments, and the teachers be required to explain the meaning of the same”.

By this motion Edwin was seeking to provide a more complete education for the children by including an ‘education of the conscience’ and an ‘inculcation of the moral law’ to avoid ‘a collapse in the social fabric’.

Another member of the Board, the Rev. John Harry Buchanan of Holy Trinity Church, proposed an amendment.
“That all previous motions on the subject of religious education be hereby rescinded, and that it be and hereby is an instruction given to the head teachers  of the Ilkeston Board Schools, and that in each and all their several departments religious instruction shall be given for half an hour each morning as follows: — First, the singing of a hymn, followed on Monday by the reading of the Old Testament, on Tuesday by the reading of the New Testament, on Wednesday by the reading of the Ten Commandments, on Thursday by the reading of the Old Testament, and on Friday by the reading of the New Testament, and that all such instructions be accompanied by such explanation as shall fairly arise from the text without involving any points of religious or dogmatic controversy”.

And yet another member of the Board, the Rev. John Fleming of the Congregational Chapel, moved as a rider,
“That no comment, ethical or theological, be permitted on the reading of the Scriptures or the Ten Commandments”.
He felt that no teacher could discuss or explain the Scriptures without giving his or her own particular denominational views.

After a flurry of voting the original motion was the one adopted by the Board.
Wouldn’t you just know it?!!

1880s: a progress report on the National and British Schools

The original and still existing Ilkeston schools continued their work.

December 1881: End of year report for Ilkeston National Schools by H.M. Government.

Boys’ School.
1st Standard worked fairly; all else in excellent style.
Class work not so good. Grammar passable.
Geography in 4th Class very weak.
History very good in 6th Standard.
Literature carefully and intelligently done.
Boys are in good order and sing with great taste.

Girls’ School.
In nearly all points, work extremely good.
Sewing of unusual excellence.
Grammar very fair, especially in 3rd Class.
But 4th Standard weak and in arithmetic 5th and 6th Standard weak.
Domestic Economy in First Stage of no value; passable in Second and Third Stages.
Singing particularly tasteful.

Infants’ School.
Instruction in all Classes very fairly successful.
Reading hardly fluent enough in upper Classes.
Recitations well done.
Singing and Exercises satisfactory; Marching needs more variety and precision.
Sewing of 1st Class good.

And here’s Her Majesty’s Inpector’s Report for the British School, dated November 4th 1885.

Percentage of passes in recent exams = 90%
This school continues to be taught with vigour and intelligence, and the examination both in elementary and class subjects (English grammer and literature, history and geography) was passed with ease and credit.
The order and singing by notes are very good.
The infants are taught with care and precision.

The school was once again awarded the merit of excellence

1885: The School Building and Expansion Programme continues.

In January 1885 the Derby Daily Telegraph reported that there were 5000 children between the ages of five and 14 years but school accommodation for only 4000. Additional schools were in the process of being erected at Kensington.

And two months later, John H Barber of Woolsthorpe near Grantham was appointed as Assistant Master at the schools with a salary of £45 pa. And in the same month the School Board was looking for two monitors for Granby, perhaps to later become Pupil Teachers; they will be expected to pass the Candidates’ Examination in October next, when they must be 14 years of age.

In September 1885 head teachers for the new Kensington Schools in Nottingham Road were appointed.

Chosen from a group of five candidates, Arthur Butt, son of James and Ann of Union Road, was to take charge of the Boys’ School, and be paid a salary of £100 pa, with one third of the gross Government grant. Alfred had previously been Assistant master at the school. Miss Glover of the School House, Haxey, was appointed Head Mistress.

The schools were opened on January 11th, 1886 — infants, boys and girls.

Exactly two years later the Town Council finalised the purchase of a site in Lower Chapel Street for the construction of a Board School in that area — this was to be the Chaucer Street Schools. And in 1888 plans for the new Chaucer Street Schools, drawn up by George Haslam, were eventually approved. The schools are covered here

Chaucer Schools, looking from the junction of Lower Chapel Street (left) and Cranmer Street (right)


The School Board goes from strength to strength: 1887 – 1895

1887: The School Board grows

At the Board election of 1887 nine members were now up for election … divided into several ‘camps’. There were now Churchmen, Independent Churchmen, Liberal Nonconformists, and Independent Nonconformists. The Liberal Nonconformists — Nathan Buxton, Stephen Keeling, Thomas Roe, William Tatham, and Charles Woolliscroft — banded together on a united ‘ticket’ and issued a joint address to their electorate. However the Church candidates — Rev. J Harry Buchanan, William Flint, John Moss, Robert Robinson, Joseph Shorthose, and Edwin Trueman — ran independently of each other.

At one hustings during the election campaign, one candidate declared that Ilkeston life is made up of ‘pit, pub and bed‘. The Mansfield Reporter suggested that he might add ‘electioneering’ to that list, because in the last 12 months the town had had two Parliamentary, one Local Board, one Guardians, two Town Council, and now one School Board contest.

At the election, the Liberal Nonconformists Messrs Tatham, Buxton, Roe and Wooliscroft were all returned, along with Alfred Jackson and George William Knott, both Independent Nonconformists. This gave them a majority. Churchmen Messrs Buchanan, Trueman and Moss, were also elected.

At the first few meetings of the new ‘enlarged’ Board, both the chairman and vice-chairman were elected from the ‘majority’ camp — despite Edwin Trueman pointing out that it had been the custom to select the latter post-holder from the ‘minority’ party. Edwin was nonplussed. (However it should be noted that Edwin was a ‘man of principle‘; three years later when his name was put forward to be vice-chairman of the new School Board, as a member of the ‘minority’, he refused the honour on the grounds that it was no longer accepted as custom — and he would abide by that !!)

It was also determined that children were not to be sent out of school by their teachers to ‘hunt up’ absentees. And the Board then considered a petition, signed by most of their teachers, that their schools’ summer holiday be extended from two to three weeks — the season had been an exceptionally hot one and most trying to the teachers, agreed the Board which acceded to the teachers’ request.  A motion to open the School Board meetings to the public was defeated, and Sergeant Pilbeam was reappointed as drill instructor for the Board Schools for 26 weeks.

Finally, the Rev. J Harry Buchanan of Holy Trinity Church had to resign from the body, through ill health. Thus a replacement member had to be appointed by the remaining members. At a subsequent meeting, Edwin Trueman (a Churchman) nominated Robert Robinson, a defeated candidate in the School Board elections (and another Churchman) and this was seconded by John Moss (yet another Churchman). Edwin pointed out that the Board had lost one Churchman when the Rev Buchanan resigned, and it was only right and custom that he be replaced by another Churchman.

Custom ? This was not important to some other Board members.
Thus Thomas Roe (Liberal Nonconformist) proposed that the vacant seat be taken by John Hancock, a hosiery works manager at J. B. Lewis & Sons, newly arrived in the town (and also a Liberal) and this was seconded by Charles Woolliscroft (a Liberal Nonconformist) …… you can see where this is going can’t you !?
The votes of the eight members was evenly split, and so the Chairman William Tatham (Liberal Nonconformist) gave his casting vote for — (I leave you to fill in the gap !!!)
Edwin Trueman was apoplectic. “This is the very last time I shall sit on this Board as a member”. He wrote out his resignation almost immediately.
However he was still there at the next meeting !!  … as was John Hancock.

1888-1890: School Board rules …. and prizes

In the March meeting of 1888 the members of the Board did something they had never done before. They were accustomed to imposing fines upon parents who persistently allowed their children to ‘miss‘ school; however the son of Elizabeth Foulger was the first student to be sent to an industrial school, until the age of 14. (

Occasionally, if a fine was imposed upon parents, a disputed case would arise in the Petty Sessions, and such was the case in January 1889. Samuel and Martha Beardsley of Albion Place were summoned for persistently not sending their son, Samuel junior, to the British School in Bath Street. The lad had been a pupil there for seven years but had recently been excluded because he was ‘not as respectable‘ as some of the other children, and his mother had no wish to send him to another school. And Edwin Trueman, a member of the School Board of course, came to her defence !!
He argued that the British School was merely weeding pupils out, trying to reduce its numbers because it was overcrowded, and the only reason it had given for excluding the pupil was because his shoes weren’t blacked !!
Sitting in judgement, the magistrate thought that Edwin was making a speech rather than giving evidence, though he argued that he was merely trying to expose the true reason why the lad had not attended school.  And of course there was no love lost between himself (a Conservative Churchman) and the Non-Conformist (Liberal) British School.
In the end Samuel junior was transferred to attend St. Mary’s (National) School.

Persistent absence wasn’t the only punisable offence with a fine.
For example, in September 1890, Selina Spencer (nee Everley) was hauled up before the magistrates at Ilkeston Petty Sessions by Wright Lissett, clerk of the Board. For a couple of months she had been claiming a remission of school fees for two of her sons, Alfred and Everley, aged 11 and 9 respectively. She had pleaded hardship — her husband Isaiah was working in Russia and she could only earn a trifling sum for washing, while another son was only getting 9s a week to keep them all going. She couldn’t afford to send the lads to school unless she was granted the remission — which she was.
It was subsequently learned that she was in fact receiving 35s 6d per week. And while her husband was away working, his employer was paying £1 per week, while two of her other sons were, combined, earning about 16s per week. By fraudulently claiming, she had basically committed ‘highway robbery’. It was the first case of its kind pursued by the School Board and so the magistrates decided to treat Selina leniently; she was fined 5s with £1 0s 10d costs, and allowed  seven days to pay. The maximum sentence was 14 days imprisonment, which would in future be imposed. So beware !!

However there were often ‘good news’ stories. For example, at the annual prize-giving at Granby Board Schools in May 1890, the Inspector’s report showed a return of 95% passes. Fifteen boys had attended every time the schools were open, 10 were absent only once, 12 were absent twice, and 30 others made from 440 to 413 attendances out of a possible 446. One star lad had only six absences in seven years.


Free elementary schooling for all children was provided only with the Elementary Education Act of 1891. However this issue arose at a School Board meeting of May 1st 1890, held at the Town Hall. George Knott, a member of that Board, put forward a motion “that in the opinion of this Board it is desirable that, as education is compulsory, it should also be free, and this Board strongly urges the Government to introduce a bill having for its purpose that end”. This motion wasn’t seconded however, until Edwin Trueman offered to second it, if the words “The advantages being extended alike to all public elementary schools, whether voluntary or Board schools”. George Knott declined this offer, and the motion was therefore dropped.

At this time Ilkeston ratepayers had to pay for education on a limited scale, although the School Board could remit fees in needy cases; it also could allow three children from the same family to attend school for the price of two.  And during the 1890 election campaign for the new School Board, some novel suggestions were put forward to pay for ‘free education’ — e.g. reduce the enormous salaries of bishops and archbishops of the Church of England, or take away the perpetual pensions of men who had never raised a sword in defence of the realm (ideas put forward by Reuben Limb, checkweighman)

1890: a new School Board is elected

The results are in !!!  After a fierce and controversial election campaign the results were announced, close to midnight on June 18th. The nine members elected were ….
In order (of popularity) John Hancock, Walter Tatham, Reuben Limb, Thomas Roe — all Liberal and unsectarian.
Followed by Edwin Trueman — a Churchman
Then Father Phillip James McCarthy — the Roman Catholic priest
The Rev. Alfred Jackson — Independent Denominationist
William Haslam — Liberal and unsectarian
And finally the Rev. Edward Muirhead Evans, Vicar of St. Mary’s — a Churchman

Five candidates were unsuccessful.

It was clearly a victory, once more, for the Liberal/unsectarian interests, and a congratulatory telegram was sent to the Liberal group by the constituency M.P. Sir Walter Foster: “Most hearty congratulations that the Ilkeston electors have behaved so solidly. It is an honour to represent such thorough Liberals”

At the first meeting of the new Board, Thomas Roe was chosen as chairman (unanimously), with John Hancock as his vice-chairman.
It soon got to work and in September 1890 decided to purchase a piece of land in Cotmanhay (4000 yards at 2/6d per yard) to build a new school, a replacement for the old, temporary Wesley Street school. The latter was to be closed in January of 1892 and the new one would be called the Cotmanhay Road Infants’ School. In March 1891, out of three sets of plans submitted for the new school, that of George Haslam (yes, him again !!) was chosen. Now all that was needed was a builder !! This was achieved in July 1891 when William Edwin Shaw was chosen — the son of Frederick Shaw of Manor Farm. However this decision was, a month later, rescinded and was replaced by the tender of John Brown, builder of Long Eaton. (It was almost £400 cheaper). When John Brown demanded a downpayment before he would accept the work, the Board promptly cancelled the offer and reinstated William Edwin Shaw as the school’s prospective builder !!

A school assembly at a Girls’ Board School at the end of the Victorian era

1891: The future of the British School.

At the beginning of the year the managers of the British School approached the School Board, suggesting that the latter could take over that school and operate it as a Higher Grade School … which, as its name suggests, would provide enhanced education within the Elementary system for older pupils who showed ability and commitment. The Board, strongly in favour of this idea, immediately recommended a ‘take-over‘, as well as purchasing the schools furniture and apparatus. The teachers would be transferred into the ‘new’ higher school on their existing salaries, and the head master of the British School, Henry Frederick Daykin, would receive an annual salary of £144 plus one-third of all grants.  If this proposal wasn’t accepted there was a distinct danger that the British School would be closed !!

The  proposal was accepted, and agreed by the Education Department; it was now to be called the Bath Street Board School. At the ‘hand-over’ ceremony, Henry Frederick was presented with a marble timepiece with candelabra and a hand-painted silver-mounted matchbox.

Henry Frederick was still there on November 11th, 1892 when Lady Foster, wife of Ilkeston’s M.P., was at the school to give out prizes, awared by the Department of Science and Art,  to the students of the school’s Science class, the first such occasion.

August 1891: Free education in Ilkeston

At the monthly meeting of the School Board on August 5th, a resolution, proposed by Edwin Trueman, was passed almost unanimously, that from September 1st all fees in Board Schools — except the Bath Street school — be abolished. The fees of the latter school were to be reduced by 3d.

Three months later Edwin announced that he would not seek re-election to the School Board — he was going to concentrate upon ‘active Conservative work’. His place was eventually filled (January 1892) by Charles Maltby  — not after an election as Charles was nominated, unopposed, by members of the Board.

1891: A laughing stock

The ‘acrobatics‘ over the builder’s contract with the Cotmanhay Road Infants’ school and the firing and hiring of ‘Miss Brant‘ as headmistress of the Granby Girls’ School provoked much merriment. Here is what the Derby Mercury (September 9th) thought of it all …

“What an amusing body the Ilkeston School Board must be. When they are not entertaining themselves with what the reporters call ‘acrimonious’ and ‘heated’ discussions, they play the delightful game of passing resolutions and rescinding them. They decided to ‘order’ one of their mistresses to leave their service on the 1st day of July. On the 1st day of September they rescinded the motion, and instead of considering the applications for the vacant post reinstated the lady again. Then they decided that a contract which was first accepted and then rejected shoud be again accepted, but an effort to bind the Board to make it a rule to affixthe common seal to contracts accepted by resolution of the Board, and notified by the Clderk to the contractor, was lost ! So proud does the Board seem to be of its wobbling accomplishments that it has solemnly resolved that in future its meetings shall be open to the public.”

October 1891: The School Board puts its foot down

Every child was given a leaflet to take home, on which was printed the by-law which stated quite clearly that parents who kept their children from school could be prosecuted, even if the absence was only for half a day !!  The reason for affirming this right ? The fact that several children had absented themselves on the day of the drawing examination !!

June 1893: Election time again !!

The Liberal/unsectarian ‘party’ decided to put forward five candidates once more — to secure a majority on the 9-person Board. And, as at the previous election, it was further resolved that two of the candidates would be selected by the trades unionists of the town. Thomas Roe (Bath Street printer), Councillor Walter Tatham, and Dr. Joseph Carroll (Medical Officer of Health for Ilkeston Corporation and “a strong Radical in educational matters“) were selected as the three Liberal candidates. George Knott, a grocer of St. Mary Street, and Ezekiel Hardy were the unsectarian trades unionists.
The ‘Churchmen’ also put forward five candidates for the same reason.
And there was a section of Independents …. Councillor Charles Mitchell, George Kemp and George Robert Dean, colliery clerk of Byron Street, as well as a Roman Catholic and a Temperence candidate (Joseph Scattergood’s wife).
After some whittling down a total of 15 candidates stood for office.

It was a close-run contest for control of the Board, but in the end the Unsectarians and Labour outperformed the Churchmen. Four of their number were elected — Thomas Roe, Walter Tatham, George Knott and Ezekiel Hardy, as well as George Robert Dean, the Independent Unsectarian. They were joined by three Churchmen and one Roman Catholic (John Lally)’
Thus, a balance just in favour of the Unsectarian element.
A few months later one of the Churchmen resigned and George Andrew was elected onto the Board as his (Churchman) replacement.

At the Board’s first meeting in July, Walter Tatham was elected as Chairman with George Knott as his vice-Chairman.

December 1893: more personnel changes; appointments and resignations galore !!

The reign of Walter Tatham as Chairman lasted only  a few months and by December he had resigned (as he had also done from the Town Council). Two others had also resigned and Ezekiel Hardy, aged 35, had died. After an internal election, the Board chose to appoint George Kemp (Labour) and William Hollis (Liberal) as replacements for Walter and the late Ezekiel, with George Robert Dean being chosen as chairman. This didn’t go down well with the remaining Churchmen on the Board
And yet another appointment !! Alice Pounder was appointed as Headmistress of Chaucer Street school.

It was also agreed that condolences be sent to Ezekiel Hardy’s widow, Catherine (nee Brentnall), who was now left with six children, all under 13, to provide for. And at the same time more condolences were sent to the widow of Henry Frederick Daykin, headmaster of what had previously been the British School in Bath Street before being acquired by the School Board; she was Annie Mary (nee Bunting), daughter of the late George Bunting, who had died on December 16th. Under Henry Frederick’s headmastership the school had gained the ‘excellent merit grant’ for 13 years in succession.

Arising from the discontent over appointments to the Board which had surfaced at the end of the previous year, in April 1894, Councillor Charles Maltby, a Churchman, resigned his post on the Board. This resulted in a ‘mini-crisis’, which was compounded when, in the following month Thomas Roe and George Andrew both resigned … ostensibly because of the behaviour and language used by the Chairman, both inside and outside the Board meetings. And they were quickly followed by William Hollis (who hadn’t lasted long !!) for much the same reason; he was very unhappy with the conduct of the Chairman. Now only three of the original members elected in the previous June remained. All the Churchmen and Non-conformists had gone, leaving the ‘labour’ representatives in firm control — time to dissolve the Board and ask for a new election ??  This thought was reinforced at the next monthly meeting (June) when only three members were able to be present.

If you have lost track by this time ? … I summarise for you. The Board members now consisted of three original members — George Robert Dean (chair), George Knott, John Lally — as well as George Kemp and Frederick Sinfield, all the other members having resigned, that is William Hollis, Thomas Roe, George Andrew and Charles Maltby.

June-August 1894: Filling the gaps ?

Chairman of the Board George Dean was desperate to find would-be members to fill the vacancies, so he wrote to Edwin Trueman asking if he could supply names of men willing to act as ‘Churchmen’ members. This was the same Edwin Trueman who had been at loggerheads with the Board ever since his resignation in 1891, who had tried to get back on the Board subsequently but who had been denied a place by the ‘Non-conformist’ majority votes on that same Board !!  Edwin was not in a forgiving mood and basically told George what he could do with his request …. but in a quasi-polite but sarcastic reply. A few more insults were passed between the two before George accepted that no constructive suggestions would be forthcoming from Edwin.

The ‘vacancy’ situation was becoming increasingly laughable. Chairman Dean called a special School Board meeting in August to fill the three vacancies, a meeting which he himself could not attend !!! Only three Board members were there which meant there wasn’t a quorum — no business could be done and thus the vacancies weren’t filled.
However, at the next monthly Board meeting three names were put forward to fill the vacancies — George Chapmen, grocer of Station Road, William Rowland Bamber, plumber of Gregory Street, and Frederick Thompson, insurance agent of South Street. As there were no other nominations the three were ‘elected’ unanimously. Abraham J George, clothier of Bath Street, was also co-opted onto the Board. This now meant that the composition of the Board’s sub-committees — i.e. the Financial Committee, the Parents’ and School Visitors; Committee, and the Building and Caretakers’ Committee — could now be determined.

March 1895: The School Board sticks its nose into a Town Council feud

At the School Board‘s monthly meeting, member George Knott introduced a motion; “That no servant or servants of this Board shall hold any public office or appointment at a remuneration”. At his election to the Board, George had promised that he would pursue this policy of “One man, one job” and that is what he was now doing. One of his arguments was that, in time of harsh unemployment, one man should not draw a great salary while another man walked the streets with nothing in his pockets. However it was pointed out to George that most of the present Board members had not been chosen by the ratepayers — they had been co-opted — and therefore were not pledged to this idea. In fact, as it turned out, apart from George, only two other members had promised support to the notion — they were the chairman George Robert Dean and the late Ezekiel Hardy.

It soon became clear that this motion, although seemingly very general, was aimed specifically at one man. That man was Wright Lissett who acted both as Town Clerk (for the Council) and clerk to the School Board (and who was in the room listening to this discussion of course !!).

And then, naturally, the name of Councillor Charles Mitchell alias “the Member for Hallam Fields” was thrown into the ring. There had long been animosity between these two men, the latter having ‘persecuted’ the former on numerous occasions at Town Council meetings.

And now, several Board members stepped up to speak highly of Mr. Lissett … he had served the Board and ratepayers as clerk for 25 years, always with credit, never with a blemish to his character. No-one could fault his work as clerk. He had always been ready to assist on every possible occasion. There was never a more gentlemanly man as the present clerk. Why should they do the ‘dirty work’ of Mr. Mitchell and support this motion ??

[The picture (right) shows Wright in his barrister’s wig, having attained the position of a barrister-at-law in June 1895.]

Wright Lissett by Sylvanus Redgate (held by Erewash Borough Council)

Sensing that he was in a minority of one, George continued on the attack and defended his motion. While Mr. Lissett was a gentleman in every way, George could not see how one man could properly discharge the duties of the two offices he held. George had a duty to his electors to push for his motion. He would vote for it as he had a belief in the living wage. And of course, he was the only one to vote for it !!!

May 1895: What’s in a name ?

A new school was now needed. It was to replace the Bath Street Board School, formerly the British School. After over 50 years in existence it was now ‘hopelessly out of date’. Among many in the town however, it still retained its reputation as the best school in the town for higher grade teaching — a reputation established by its late headmaster Henry Frederick Daykin and enhanced by its present head John Hunt.
At an extraordinary meeting of the Board at the end of May the purchase of the site for a new school had to be signed off, and a name was needed to put before the Government Education Department for reference in correspondence.
The Gladstone school‘ was suggested but shot down as ‘too political’.
What about ‘Park-road‘ ? But they were going to sell the frontage of the site on Park Road, and the school entrance would then be on Gladstone Street !!
What about ‘The Dean’ school suggested one member, glancing at the chairman, George William Dean.
‘The Park’ might fit, and was the suggestion of clerk Wright Lissett. A bit too aristocratic though ?
Eventually the amended ‘Gladstone Street schools‘ was thought sensible and appropriate … and chosen.

Then, with just one opposed, the solicitor for the school negotiations, was chosen — Henry Thurman of Thurman, Cattle and Nelson of 6 Bath Street.

Next, who was to be the architect ? A competitive tender process for the school design, between three local architects, was to be set up, with plans submitted by July 1st. And within that same month, the plans of architect Charles William Hunt of Station Road were adopted for the new school. (see below … January 1898)

August 1895: Teachers’ Regulations

These new regulations concerned the salaries and appointment of staff, and the subject was discussed at a Board meeting at the end of the month … and in particular, the employment of married women. The regulations now required that a woman had to inform her school employers of an intended marriage so that they could terminate her employment. The chairman, George Dean, had a particular aversion to married women within the profession, though other board members voiced a support for them, especially if employed in infant schools. William Rowland Bamber asked about male teachers — he supposed that they should not be married either ??!!! — whereupon the chairman stated that a marriage would not interfere with the discharge of a man’s duties. Women on the other hand had their household duties to consider and supervise. Signs here of the friction between the Chairman and William Bamber ??

September 1895: Samuel Shaw’s clay-hole

At the end of Chaucer Street was the brickworks and property of Samuel Shaw. And within that estate was a troublesome clay-hole which the Board’s chairman drew attention to.
George Dean noted that there had been a lot of diptheria cases in the school area and this particular clay-hole should be of concern to them, especially as they were guardians of up to 1200 children while they were in their care. Refuse of all kinds was being dumped into the hole, and sewage from Chaucer and Cranmer Streets was also finding its way there. As a consequence — and particularly in summer — the hole would fill up with stagnant water and filth, and cast a repugnant smell over the whole district. George had stood in the school yard and smelt it himself. He was going to write to the Town Council requesting that this nuisance be abated. Others had noted the smell too, and had seen rubbish being thrown into the water there. However George Kemp wasn’t so sure that they should sanction a letter to the Council — were they a School Board or a Health Committee ?? It seemed to George K that this was outside their jurisdiction; it was not their business to interfere at all. However George D was adamant; it was their duty to care for the health of the pupils and considered a letter to the Council was the proper course of action — the subsequent vote by the Board confirmed his view.

This particular clay-hole was a cause of concern just over a year later — though not for the same reason. In the cold January of 1897 the hole had iced over and was a magnet to lads in the area who wished to try out their sliding skills. Almost inevitably one boy had fallen through and in between his cries for help, had sunk twice into the icy water. Richard Thorpe, a collier of Chapel Street, heard the cries, rushed to the spot, jumped into the water and saved the lad’s life. Edwin Tueman heard of this brave deed and brought it to the attention of the Royal Humane Society — this was the fifth time that Richard had saved a life. In 1876 he had rescued a child from the Erewash Canal; in August 1879 he pulled young Thomas Winfield out of the Erewash; and in July 1882 he rescued two boys who were out of their depth in the Great Northern Canal. The Society unanimously agreed to award the collier its Certificate of Bravery, inscribed on vellum. Edwin had it framed and asked Mayor Samuel Richards at Ilkeston Petty Sessions to award it to Richard, The presentation was made and Richard also received a resounding round of applause. Good on him !!


The School Board at the century’s end: 1896-1901

Winter 1895-1896: A double dose of Read

Nothing, it seemed, was ever sweetness and light between the Board members … and various feuds and personal animosity existed between several members, a situation which was almost impossible to resolve.

At a Board meeting in November 1895 William Bamber introduced a motion that Miss Amy Read, headmistress of Granby Girls’ School, be given three months notice to resign her position or be sacked. He wanted the reasons for his motion and the discussion which would follow to be heard in private — was he sensitive to the general public hearing what might be disclosed ? When it was clear that there would be no ‘closed session’ William simply introduced his motion, gave no reasons for it, and sat down !! The Education Code gave the School Board the right to dismiss a teacher without any reason being given … although the teacher could then appeal to the Education Department and defy the Board.
This was chairman George Dean’s ideal opportunity to lay into a Board member whom he clearly disliked intensely and he gave ‘both barrels’ to his perceived enemy. He claimed that Miss Read’s reputation had been attacked in the local press, and this was the outcome of the bitter and merciless persecution by one member of the Board — William Bamber. According to George, William had visited the school, behaved obnoxiously towards the headmistress, claimed that she was bullying some of her staff and was untruthful — he had said that she had missed her vocation and ought to get married !! He had encouraged some parents to deliberately use their children to undermine Miss Read’s authority, and had used other school staff to effectively act as undercover spies, reporting to him on the affairs of the school. He had also used his position to gain access to the school’s log book where he had found adverse comments made against one member of staff, and had then encouraged that member to submit her resignation — the only reason being to cast discredit upon Amy Read and the management of her school. He had reportedly said to another member of the Board that “she’s a brute; she’s a vixen; and I shall never rest until I’ve seen her out of the school”. The chairman was clear that such behaviour was unworthy of any Board member and ‘the man who could do such things was not worthy of the name man‘  !!  William was acting out of spite — because the headmistress had refused to allow him to interfere with her teachers, or with the management and discipline of her school.
During this verbal attack, it was evident that other Board members were still unsure why the headmistress was being asked to resign. Was she being dismissed ? — and if so, for what? — not attending a meeting she had been asked to be present at ? — for cruelty ? — or for some other reason ??  And others supported her too. George Kemp spoke highly of Amy; Granby School had been ‘in a very bad state‘ before she took over. In her first year there she had raised its standard to ‘good’ and for the two years after she had achieved the ‘excellent‘ standard. When she took over the school in March 1892, H.M.Inspectorate was on the verge of declaring Granby as ‘inefficient’ but now, just three years later, it had reached such a high standard, with excellent discipline, that this year the school was exempted from inspection.

All this time William had said nothing to interrupt the Chairman’s diatribe — at least, nothing distinctly audible, although he had been chuntering under his breath a great deal. However when it seemed that George Dean had exhausted his attack, William stepped in, not only defending his own position but launching a counter-attack. Yes, he had examined the school’s log book but felt that teachers should be aware of what was being written about them. George Dean had a personal friendship with the headmistress and this was. perhaps. colouring his views. William insisted that he had never known Miss Read to be anything other than straight-forward and respectable, but he had done his duty in the interests of the school and of the Board. He had remarked about marriage to her — if she were married she would have more sympathy with the teachers and the children, and would not thrash them so cruelly as people were claiming.

As the Board members now seemed to be going around in circles with their arguements — as is often the case when there are strongly held views on both sides — the motion was put to the Board, and passed with a clear majority. This decision didn’t escape local indignation however.

On December 2nd a meeting of protest was held at the Town Hall, attended by the Mayor, Councillors and many others, including a couple of members of the School Board (George Dean being one). By this time the World and his dog knew why Miss Read had been requested to resign — it was claimed that she was unnecessarily severe and harsh to teachers and children under her care, and that she had ignored a request from the Board to attend a meeting with its members.
At the Town Hall meeting, a resolution was passed urging the reinstatement of Miss Read and was carried almost unanimously. Before the next School Board meeting, a couple of days later, on December 4th, there had been several local ‘demonstrations‘ against, and insults thrown at, some Board members … but only those who had shown animosity towards Amy Read. William Bamber was unrepentant however and offered a resolution to the meeting, advertising a replacement teacher for the headmistress. The motion was not seconded !!  Instead notice was given that at the next meeting they would be asked to vote to rescind the dismissal notice.
And on January 1st 1896 the dismissal of Miss Read was duly nullified.

The chairman of the Board, George Dean, at times demonstrated not only a viscious temper but his supernatural gift of a memory like a sieve — at least when it suited him. In March 1896, Miss Dorothy Read, assistant teacher at Granby School, and George Rockley, the caretaker there, were called before the Board. They had to explain why it was that Dorothy had been allowed to use a room at the school, free of charge, for the past year, to give private painting lessons without the School Board’s approval or knowledge. At a previous meeting George Dean had declared no knowledge of this arrangement but now that he had had time to think about it, he vaguely recollected that Dorothy had asked for permission and he had granted it.
“A cock-and-bull story” was the reaction of some members to this news … whereupon the animosities within the Board once more rose easily to the surface. It was William Bamber’s chance to get a little of his own back, though the chairman steadfastly declined to take any lectures from him or any censure from the Board; he was the chairman and so had the right to take decisions independently. When a motion was put forward to charge Dorothy for use of the room in future, George tried to end the meeting but he was too late !! — a new chair was temporarily voted in and the motion passed by five votes to two.

May 1896: Board conflict with the Vicar

The Rev. Edward Evans of St. Mary’s Church was cross … very cross. He had read in the local press that the School Board had been approached by a “travelling van man“, asking to use the old British School premises in Bath Street for his religious services every morning and evening on Sunday. And that this rquest had been granted. These were described as ‘Church of England services‘ and were conducted with ‘the decorum of the Church of England‘. The van man was an itinerant ‘missionary’ — David Steventon Hyslop — and, according to Edward, was not a parishioner nor in any way connected with the town. The Vicar felt it was his duty to write to the Board (which he did), pointing all this out and adding that these services had not been authorised by the Bishop of the diocese or by himself. Did he then try to overwhelm the Board members by referring to the Canon Law 1603, citing when and how ratepayers property might be used ? Hyslop was a ‘fanatical orator of a Puritan faction‘. The Vicar could understand a Nonconformist of definite principles being allowed the use of the premises, “but when a person poses under the guise of the Church of England principles, and refuses to be subservient to such principles” then the Board should refuse his request.
All of this came at a time of some controversy in the town’s religious atmosphere — when the Rev. Binney of St. John’s Church and, to a lesser extent, the Rev. Evans himself, were caught up in charges of ‘excessive  and extreme ritualism‘ at their churches.
At the May meeting of the School Board, member George Knott declared that he had visited one of the services complained about and had found it a most decorous Church of England service — nothing for the Vicar to worry about !!  And other members offered the same view. To them it seemed that Vicar Edward was perhaps concerned about these services as they did not include the ‘paraphernalia’ and ‘ritual’ found at St. Mary’s and St. John’s.
Board Chairman George Dean once more found himself in a minority of one. His view was that school premises should not be hired out for any purpose other than an educational one. When he tried to put a motion to the meeting that they should require the ‘van man’ to stop using their premises, there was no seconder !! The matter then dropped.

P.S. Builder George Robert Dean filed for bankruptcy in May, 1899. At that time the Official Receiver described him as “the most contumacious bankrupt” who thought he could override the Bankruptcy Act. Well, would you believe it !!?

June 1896: Another new School Board

The triennial election took place at the beginning of June with a record poll –2615 votes out of a possible 3724.
Four out of five of the Liberal/Nonconformist candidates were returned, their number being bolstered by one Independent Liberal.
Three out of four of the Churchmen candidates secured election.
John Lally was returned as the Roman Catholic member.
The election was poorly organised by the Liberal/Nonconformist faction however. Their fifth candiadate, who just missed being relected, was Abraham J George … he needed just a few more votes to secure a place on the Board. Their candidate who headed the poll was Frederick Chambers who had plenty of votes ‘to spare’ … he should have ‘lent’ some of his votes to Abraham … a process known as “plumping“. In that way (and it was legal at that time) all five Liberal/Nonconformists would have been returned.
The campaign had been fought amidst the background of the row over ‘Ritualism‘ within the church/chapel community in Ilkeston. The fact that the unsectarian candidates won an overwhelming majority of the votes was an indication of the feeling within the town.

Former chairman George Robert Dean (standing as an Independent) failed in his bid to be re-elected. However this wasn’t the only matter which might have been worrying him at that time. Almost simultaneously he was defending himself at Ilkeston County Court, as he was being sued by painter and paperhanger William Wheatley. The latter had just redecorated the school house on Granby Street, where Amy Read of Granby School lived. Several witnesses testified the George was the one who had ordered the job to be done and had promised that the School Board would pay the bill. The Building and Finance Committees of the Board had other ideas however, and the bill was rejected. William still wanted paying and so sued the ex-chairman. This seems to have been another case of George’s memory letting him down; he couldn’t confirm that he had authorised the job in the first place and luckily for him, the judge gave a verdict in his favour.

As it seemed that painter William stood no future chance of being paid for the redecoration he had undertaken, the Board took pity on him. By September of 1896 the job of painting the ironwork on Cotmanhay Road school had been advertised and William had put in the most expensive tender (£4 12s as opposed to the lowest tender being £2 5s). The usually parsimonious Board voted to award William the contract … out of its generosity.

December 1896: Vital issues

The Board, now chaired by Frederick Chambers, settled down to discuss this month’s agenda. As usual school attendances kicked off the session and at the outset Edwin Trueman announced that he would not be speaking — he had made so many in the past !!
An outbreak of measles in the town had affected all attendance averages, especially at Cotmanhay Road School. It was agreed that the Board would buy two and a half gross of carbolic tablets to place at frequent intervals along the walls at each school. It was also agreed that schools would close earlier than usaul for the Winter/Christmas holiday.
The teachers at Granby complained of the quality of ink they had been supplied with. Board member (and printer) John Flint Walker added his expert knowledge to point out that the ink would be expensive at 6d a gallon as Duckett’s ink powder was being used. The clerk pointed out that it actually cost 9d a gallon and and was fine if diluted with the correct quantity of water.
The pointing of the brickwork at Granby school had been carried out to a high standard.
Mrs. Agnes Hollis, headmistress at Cotmanhay, had complained of a bad smell there — this had been traced to a gas leak and the matter had been remedied.
Cloak accommodation at Granby Girls’ school was inadequate — three girls were having to share each peg, and often children took home the wrong clothing.

Edwin almost kept his promise. At the end of the session he was about to compliment the new chairman and cast an aspertion in the direction of the old chairman (now no longer with them) when he recovered his composure and cut himself short !! And thus ended the Board’s meetings for that year.


August 1897: Tragedy for Granby Boys’ School

Arthur Henry Moon was born in Mapperley, Derbyshire on June 13th, 1862, the son of George and Eliza Eleanor (nee Daykin). His father was a cordwainer/grocer, then a chemist/druggist, and from 1865 to his death in 1881, was churchwarden of the Parish Church in the village. Arthur Henry was a schoolmaster and on July 23rd, 1892 he married Mary Tamar Gregory, the second daughter of Charles Hiram Gregory, landlord of the Wine Vaults, and Emma Jane (nee Jackson).

By August 1897 Arthur Henry was employed as assistant master at Granby Boys’ School and in the summer holiday took his wife and young son Charles George (born in December 1895) to Chapel St Leonard’s near Skegness. They were joined by other relatives including ‘Captain’ Gregory, and enjoyed restful times together. As the holiday drew to a close and their luggage was packed, Arthur Henry, a strong and keen swimmer, took a last opportunity for an afternoon swim in the North Sea, accompanied by his brother-in-law. It was meant to be a ‘quick dip’ but Arthur Henry got caught in the strong current of an outfall tunnel and his body was driven against some hefty wooden piles, submerged in the water. He shouted for help but before his companion could reach him Arthur Henry was lifeless; his body was dragged to the shore where all efforts at revival were fruitless.

“The sad tragedy cast quite a gloom over Ilkeston, where Mr. Moon was very widely known and deservedly held in great esteem for his gentlemanly bearing in life, and his unostentatious generosity to all with whom he came into contact”.

After the inquest, the body was brought home to Ilkeston by Arthur Henry’s father-in-law and buried in Park Cemetery on August 11th.

Just over a year after the death of her husband Mary Tamar remarried, to widower John Brimson, a lace curtain designer of Nottingham. He had a daughter Gladys Lilian (born in 1890) from his first marriage to Annie Elizabeth Clay; after his second marriage on November 19th, 1898, his step-son Charles George became a ‘Brimson’.


January 10th 1898: Gladstone Street Schools are formally opened

The School Board had wanted this to be a higher grade school and thus to have all the latest improvements, in the shape of cooking apparatus and other special arrangements (such as they had at Long Eaton and Heanor !!!) At present Ilkeston, a town of 20,000 people, had no Board school beyond an ordinary Elementary school. If it had ‘higher grade’ status, with all the extra specific subjects it could include, the new school could earn a Government grant of £9 per pupil, nearly twice what it could earn without that status. It would of course then take the place of the Bath Street school (the old British School). There had been much discussion about the numbers and ages of the pupils, the status of the school, and how the numbers and ages might be altered to increase the school’s income, which seemed a priority for certain Board members. After a very close vote, it was decided that a school to accommodate 300 boys, 300 girls, and 300 infants was the ideal.

The architect, Charles William Hunt had designed the school on the central hall system, with separate classrooms for each standard, and with two blocks, one accommodating the boys and  girls, and the other for infants. Each block would have an entrance lobby leading into the central hall. There were to be three full departments, the schools having two classrooms each, for 40, 50 and 60 scholars respectively. Each school was to have cloakrooms and teachers’ rooms. In the larger block the central hall, when the partition was removed, would be a convenient area (101 feet by 24 feet) for entertainment. In the infacts building the hall was to be 48 feet by 24 feet).Both covered and open playgrounds were to be provided for each school.
And it had already been suggested that the new premises should have a room where the Board might hold its meetings, as it could be turned out of the Town Hall, the present meeting place, at any time. And also have possibly a caretaker’s house at or near the premises.
A cookery school was also provided in a separate building, with an entrance lobby, pantry and scullery. It was planned to use it also for evening cookery classes.

Only in April 1896 were the plans for the new Gladstone Street schools approved by the Government’s Education Board. And in the following month the builder of the new schools was chosen — William Edwin Shaw of Rutland Street. Work could now begin.
The materials ? — red Leicestershire bricks, the roofs covered with Brosely tiles, the floors of solid wood blocks laid upon concrete. All internal walls would have white glazed brick dado to four feet high, with plaster stucco above the dado.
Heating ? — a hot water system. A separate heating chamber with coal house for each block. Separate and independent ventialtion for all rooms.
Entrances ? — from Gladstone Street for the girls’ and infants’ section, and the cookery school: from Extension Street for the boys’ school.
Cost of erection ? — £9945

By November 1897 the new schools were almost complete except for the small galleries in the babies’ room. They were to be opened to the public on December 1st and 2nd, and formally opened on Monday December 6th. The Mayor, Samuel Richards, was invited to do the honours. Events however put the opening day back to January 10th of 1898, though the Mayor would still play the starring role. Which, on that day, he did !!

William Edward Stanley of Cotmanhay Road was appointed as the first caretaker of this new school, and as he was also the Vice-chairman of the School Board, he had to resign that position. He was replaced by Frederick Sinfield who, like William Edward (and George Knott, a few years before), represented the ‘Labour element’ of the Board.

…. and December 1898: the new school proves to be a success ?

When the school returns for October had been analysed by the end of the year it was reported that school attendance was almost identical to that of the previus year. However Gladstone Street schools had increased its intake by 80 pupils … mostly at the expense of transfers from other schools in the town.

January 1899: teacher training in the town, and other issues

The New Year opened with a long list of issues for the Board to sort out; at the first meeting on January 13th, the agenda was bulging !!

Firstly, the school visitors (members of the Board) each gave their reports. Illness had severely affected Chaucer Street, Cotmanhay infants and Kensington girls and infants, though attendance at Granby was excellent; the main culprits were epidemics of whooping cough, mumps and measles. The Board’s clerk, Wright Lissett, pointed out that average attendance in last November was 66 less than in the previous November.

Next, attention switched to recalcitrant parents who wouldn’t enforce their children’s attendance at school, and what to do about them. In particular, the difficult case of Horace Kirk, a five-year-old blind lad living in Club Row, was considered at length. Young Horace was the first of several illegitimate children of Hannah Elizabeth Kirk who was now living with Thomas Henry Lee, driver of the Corporation steam roller. All of the illegitimate children were his except for Horace whose father was a chap called Bennett, a private in the army and now serving in India. He paid Hannah Elizabeth 1s 9d a week towards his child’s keep and she was willing to give this up towards his maintenance by the Board. Horace wasn’t getting the proper instruction while he was living at home and so Board member Edwin Trueman suggested that they try to find him a place at the Nottingham blind school.  This proved not to be too easy however, as the lad was too young. However, by June 1899 Horace had been offered a place into the Nottingham Blind Institute (below), the fee being £21, with ‘an outfit’.

                       From the Illustrated London News, April 1853.

Staff changes were then discussed before attention moved on to ‘Young Teachers’. The Board had set up a special committee to investigate the issue of teacher training and had come to the conclusion that a central class should be established to train pupil teachers, monitors and candidates proposed by the Board, as well as assistant teachers who had not yet attained their Queen’s Scholarship or the certificate of merit. This central class would commence on January 9th at the Gladstone Street schools, under the supervision of schoolmaster Thomas Alfred Beacroft. The class would meet on two half-days per week and Thomas Alfred would be paid £120 p.a. for his efforts. As this tuition had previously been done in schools by the headmasters and headmistresses, their teaching load had thus been reduced by this change — and as a result, their salary would also be reduced; headmasters would have salaries cut by £5 p.a., and headmistresses by £4 p.a. Nor were they to interfere, in any way, with the management of this new class.
The central class would have places available for ‘trainees’ other than those at Borough Board Schools (i.e. from the Borough’s church/voluntary schools), so long as they paid a fee of £1 p.a.
This same committee also recommended that all girls attending Board schools should regularly attend a laundry class — which would be compulsory !!

Then there was the problem of Miss Amy Read’s absence from Granby Girls’ School — the headmistress had not returned to her post after the holiday. She had visited her sister in France and found her seriously ill. So she wished to extend her holiday period for a day or two to care for her sister. Permission was granted.

Finally, another female with a problem was the headmistress of Gladstone Infants’ School — she had changed her name !! During the holidays Emily Sisson had married George Francis Crookes and thus, as a married woman, had forfeited her employment, according to the School Board regulations. She had subsequently written to ask if she might be re-appointed, though several members were keen to search for a ‘new’, unmarried teacher to fill the post. Eventually a vote was taken, to re-appoint Mrs Crookes and passed by 5 votes to 2.
As a consequence of Emily’s problem, in the following month a motion was introduced at the Board’s meeting that “the Rule in paragraph 5 of the printed regulations of the School Board viz:- “That the marriage of a female teacher in the service shall terminate her engagement” do be and hereby is deleted”. It was defeated by 5 votes to 3.

June 1899: election time once more

A new School Board was needed.
The old Board had done a good job, and had worked harmoniously during its term of office … according to all its members, as they bid farewell. This had been in contrast to its predecessor Board which had been fractured by dissent … the blame for which was placed squarely on the shoulders of its Chairman.

Now a new group of nine members had to be elected out of ten candidates. An election could have been avoided if there had been one less, but William Smith once more decided to stand, despite numerous attempts to dissuade him. This was the same ‘old pensioner labourer’ William Smith who had stood in the Council elections of November 1898 and had amassed 18 votes !! The result seemed a foregone conclusion and so there were no public meetings in the lead-up to the vote, no bills were posted, a bit of canvassing took place, and an address by each candidate was allowed.
In fact old William Smith did much better than anticipated … although he lost heavily !!

From the Sheffield Independent, June 15th, 1899

N = Nonconformist.  I = Independent.  R.C. = Roman Catholic.  S = Socialist.

As Frederick Chambers had chaired the previous Board with such efficiency he was elected unanimously to chair the new Board.
At the new Board’s first meeting in July there were clear signs that affairs would perhaps not be conducted in such a harmonious manner as before. Ominously even the seating arrangements forebode disagreement. Around the meeting table were arranged the five Nonconformists on one side and the four ‘independents’ on the other. When it came to choosing a vice-chairman and who should sit on the various committees, it was clear that the Board was dividing into these two factions.

January 1900: a swimming baths ?

Thomas Mayfield brought forward his proposal for the establishment of swimming baths attached to their Board Schools. When Charles Sudbury suggested as an amendment that the Board should write to the  Council first of all, Thomas withdrew his idea in favour of the amendment which was thus adopted.When the Council received the letter from the School Board it was shunted down the line, to be considered by their General Works Committee.

July 1900: a medical officer for the Board Schools ?

Perhaps Board member Thomas Mayfield was a man before his time ??  He was certainly someone who placed a significance on the physical well-being of pupils and how that could impact upon their learning. This is why he now proposed that a medical officer be appointed to oversee the health conditions of all the Board’s children. For Thomas the necessity of such an appointment was self-evident: it would stimulate an interest in the physical culture within schools and establish an inter-dependence of body and mind in the matter of all-round human development. In his promulgation of this role, Thomas widened his argument to include the present Second Boer War and the circumstances which the British Army had found itself confronted with. It had been reported that 11,000 men had applied to join the army but of those, 8000 were declared totally unfit, only 1000 being of the standard needed for full duty. If the country could spend millions and sacrifice thousands of souls in a fight in a far-off land, to extinguish a handful of peasant farmers rightly struggling for their freedom, surely they could spend far less in ensuring the progress of their own children.
Thomas’s proposal was seconded by Frederick Sinfield but got no further … every other member voting against it.

December 1900:”expert” advice on the sewing machine

Eight male members of the Board came together to discuss the proposal of George Knott — that a sewing machine be purchased for each of the four girls’ Board Schools. In this way the higher standard pupils would gain proficiency in using the machine so that, on leaving school, they would immediately be able to earn a livelihood, rather than spending six or seven weeks in a factory learning the machine. Opposition to this motion was largely along the lines of ‘cost’ — the initial and substantial outlay of providing the machines — they could prove to be a useless expense. Would Ilkeston’s ratepayers approve of ‘throwing money away’ like this ??  And fitting such practice into the school curriculum would be difficult. Several members also opined on the usefulness of hand-sewing which would suffer if machines were introduced.
In the event the resolution was lost by five votes to three.

Other issues which were settled … 25 desks were to be purchased for the pupil teachers’ centre; rooms were to be rented in a central part of the town for the education of ‘neglected and defective‘ children; a piano was to be provided for Gladstone Street Infants’ school;


As a post-script, Andrew Knighton has a couple of very interesting items. He writes ….

The two items are school leaving certificates for Fred Knighton (my great grandfather) and his brother, Harry Knighton. They both attended the British School on Bath Street, which used to stand opposite Albion Place, later the site of the Globe Picture House/billiard hall and latterly before demolition, John Collier’s and Gunn’s card shop. There is a distant view, showing the steps up into the school room in the view of the top end of Bath Street, looking down, in Cox and Mason’s Views of Ilkeston, published c.1900. 


1901: School Report for Ilkeston

Looking at a trade directory at the end of the Victorian era, you might well find a list of Ilkeston’s schools to help you judge how successful the School Board had been so far, in its 20+ years of existence. Here is a brief summary from one such trade directory …..

School Board formed on 24th June 1878.
Board Schools constructed ….
Granby Schools on Heanor Road, erected 1883. Total places = 564 (girls and boys)
Kensington Schools on Nottingham Road, erected 1885. Total places = 522 (girls, boys and infants)
Chaucer Street Schools, erected 1889 and enlarged in 1894. Total places = 1110 (girls, boys and infants)
Cotmanhay Road School, erected 1892. Total places = 400 (infants)
Gladstone Street Schools, erected in 1897. Total places = 900 (mixed and infants)

There were, of course, other schools serving the town ….
The National Schools off the Market Place, erected in 1874. Total places = 630 (girls, boys and infants)
Holy Trinity in Factory Lane, erected in 1876. Total places = 300 (infants)
Catholic School in Regent Street, erected in 1898. Total places = 140 (mixed)


How about looking at a few schools photos, several from erstwhile Board Schools ?