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Earth Floors to Fitted Carpets
Mere Brow Local History Society - August 1990
ISBN 0951643509
Extracts reproduced, with permission, for reference only
Web Transcript © Hubmaker 2002. Reproduction by any means strictly prohibited.

THE MERE BROW CHURCH OF ENGLAND
PRIMARY SCHOOL

The School was founded in 1847 and so would be one of the earliest "National" schools in the country providing free education for the children of the hamlet. Unfortunately, the Log Book was not begun until 1873 so that little is known about the earliest years, but it can be deduced from what was written later that standards did not reach requirements until sometime in the 1870's.

In 1873 there were twenty-three pupils and in this year Mr. Wm. Sowray commenced duties as Master on the 19th August and began the Log Book. He examined the children the next day and wrote "not one of them fit for the 3rd Standard"... "home lessons badly prepared", "cautioned children against coming late to school" though it appeared some did not come at all since he wrote "many children employed in the harvest fields".

New scholars were admitted on the "wet and windy morning" of the 25th August, and there were forty-seven children present.

The records are mostly concerned with mundane matters:

29th August "Reprimanded two boys for fighting in lane, promised not to repeat the act". Things improved in September and he records "children seemed INTERESTED in learning the 'Tonic Sol-Fa" and home lessons had been learned "uncommonly well".

On 23rd September, the Rev. M. Fletcher, Messrs. Banks and Dandy and full committee inspected certain school buildings and the school. (This was probably done in order to ensure that an education grant would be forthcoming).

On 30th September "Boy brought by father - had been truanting for 11/2 days".

On 24th December 'last day of school duty for me, W. Sowray, in this school". A short stay!

In the nextyear, on 5thJanuary, Samuel Skelton Howard became Master and although the Log Book describes his sister as a Teacher she was, in fact, an Unpaid Monitor - a practice which foreshadowed the custom of pupil-teachers (untrained staff). Fifty children were present and the school bell was hung this day.

An interesting note is that the Easter holiday was limited to one day.

On 11 th June, 1874, Her Majesty's Inspector, the Reverend W. P. Coward, visited the school "attended by his assistant, Mr. Glover". They duly examined the school between the hours of 10.00 a.m. and noon and the Master "received the advice of the Inspector as to the drawing up of a time-table, the style of writing and the advisability of selecting a new set of Reading Books". The Revd. M. Fletcher, Mr. Banks, Mr. Hy Dandy and members of the school committee were present at the close of the examination.

Early in 1875 the "gallery was completed", (a raised platform in the classroom), and "the Revd. M. Fletcher, chairman of the committee died this morning" (12th February).

On the 9th August 1875, a good report was received from H.M. Inspector but noted and called the attention of "Their Lordships" to "certain erasures and alterations in the Registers. Though my Lords cannot but feel there is some evidence to support the graver charge, they are willing to believe that these proceeded from carelessness and not from intentional dishonesty but they must under the circumstances withhold for the present the issue of Mr. Howard's certificate". This statement was signed by "Robert C. Fletcher" chairman. One Christopher Garner replaced Mr. Howard as Master.

On 28th September, it is recorded that the committee bought for the school "a map of the world (16s.) 3 dozen Parry's Arithmetic (3s.) One Answers to Parry's Arithmetic (6d.)"!

The Log Books simply record attendances, inspections by a member of the committee, very often the type of weather, (things don't change!), and the teaching of "Reading, Spelling, Arithmetic, and General Information". Religious Instruction and Scripture lessons were given from 11.30 a.m. until noon.

Thursday, 1 st June, 1876 - "School attendance very small this morning owing to the annual tea party at a neighbouring chapel of which many of the children are Sunday scholars. Gave holiday in the afternoon".

30th June, 1876 - "The infection of smallpox is, as yet, confined to two houses in the neighbourhood - most Of the children have been kept from school since Monday to prevent, as far as possible, their intermixing."

By 1887, the number of children in school had risen to 93, all of whom were taught in one room. The Inspectors threatened to withhold the "grammar granC throughout this period unless additional accommodation was built. They also drew attention to the "poor offices". An outbreak of measles always resulted in attendances being halved. Scarlet fever was also a great problem at this time. The new infant building (now the kitchen) was commenced towards the end of this year.

7th June, 1888 - "The Consecration of the new Church at Tarleton today. The school was closed to allow the villagers to attend". Miss E. M. Partington was Mistress of the school at this time. Staff changes were very frequent indeed.

In March, 1892, Robert Iddon was appointed as Master and reported that "few, if any, are as advanced as they should be in any subject".

Absences were widespread for any reason from sickness and helping at home or in the fields, to "Rufford Horse Show".

School was closed for a special holiday in the afternoon on 16th June 1893, in honour of a visit paid to the school that morning by the Bishop of Manchester. However, two Inspectors reported "this school has made a very creditable advance since we last visited the school two years ago". The number in school this year was 108.

Many local names (Ascroft, Caunce, Wright) have persisted throughout the school's history. Other names appear to have died out localIy (Hamilton, Banks, Roscoe).


School Group c 1890

Sergeant- Major Wright visited the school in 1911 to "see the Physical Exercises". Apart from which, nothing much remarkable seems to have happened for many years except that in September that year "the organ tuner called to examine the Mission Church organ"!

It was about this time that School Attendance Officers were established and in this period one frequently visited the school. The attendances during the war period was, on average, sixty-five. Frequent examinations took place but the results were not noted as in the latter part of the previous century. No celebrations or even a mention are recorded about the end of the War in 1918.

In 1928, Miss M. F. Foster of Tarleton commenced duties as Uncertificated Assistant. The Head Teacher at this time was Mr. D. M. Shorrocks who had disagreements with the Rector concerning the employment of his wife as an assistant. The Rector said "you cannot have a certificated teacher in place on an uncertificated one". The Head appears to have been absent for some days after this ruling! (May, 1930).

The year after, Mr. Shorrocks complained in the Log Book that the Rector had not allowed him to be present at the interviews for a new assistant. He recorded cryptically "Ye who read will live and learn". He resigned the following year "due to injustice to the school and myself'.

Mr. J. R. Billington took over on 1st May, 1931, and some people in the area will remember this period in the school's history. Electricity was introduced into the school in September, 1932 and two years later hot-water pipes
replaced the open fires.

Swimming instruction was arranged at the Victoria Baths in Southport (1934)

An amusing incident occurred in March, 1935, being recorded "At assembly this morning and before all the children Miss Fazackerly refused to continue playing the morning hymn after being requested to do so by the Headmaster, stating she was too deaf to hear what was being said."Mary Hunter, a pupil here, was chosen as the Silver Jubilee Queen of Tarleton and the other children presented her with a pair of silver shoes to mark the occasion. A party of the older children visited London for the close of the Jubilee celebrations. Miss Fazackerly was ill for a long period and the Rector had to take charge of the school whilst the Head took the children to Southport for swimming lessons. She returned to duty the day after! Strife continued and when the Head entered her classroom, Miss Fazackerly "ran out of the room and slammed the door". Despite the fact that he and the Caretaker took her home in his car and she was away from school for some time she wrote in her time-books that she had been "bullied by the Headmaster". It appears there were more Staff and Governor problems at this time than difficulties with attendances and education.


School Group c 1931

In 1937 the school took part in the parish's celebrations for the Coronation of George VI and Mr. Billington began to be ill. Miss Swarbrick was placed in charge of the school with Mrs. Hunter as Assistant.

During the War, fifty-one Evacuees were on the school roll. Mr. Davies and Miss Abbott from St. Michael's School, Liverpool, taught the children on a "shift" basis.

The first Air Raid alerts recorded in the Log Book began on 5th November, 1940 and appear to have been continued spasmodically in daylight hours until 12th January, 1941. The staff room was turned into an Air Raid Warden's post with sand bags etc. outside the windows. That April the children collected 677 eggs for Southport Infirmary. From time to time there were more daytime alerts.

In January, 1942 school was abandoned, the roads being blocked with snow. In November, 1945 Mr. Iddon (Headmaster 47 years previously) visited the school and talked to the children.

The Centenary celebrations took place in 1947. There was a procession and a fancy-dress carnival and a special tea in the Methodist Schoolroom with a cake decorated with 100 candles. The cake was cut by Mr. R. Iddon of Preston, Mr. C. Mayor an old scholar, as well as Margaret Blackham, the youngest scholar aged 5.

Nothing unusual happened for some years but Mr. Billington became ill and he retired due to illness on 16th July, 1958. Mrs. Graham had hardly put in one full week without illness for many years. Mr. Billington was Headmaster for 28 years and for long periods was single-handed.

In August, 1958, Mr. J. E. Vickers was appointed temporary Headteacher for the six months of Mr. Billington's sick leave prior to retirement, after which Mr. Vickers was appointed as Head. Old books and furniture were got rid of and minor repairs took place. Organisers from the County were invited to the School by Mr. Vickers to see some of the needs and an early visit was paid by Mr. Jeff, an Inspector. Classes were re-organised. Mr. Vickers recorded that the Managers had no money to pay light and fuel bills and a dance was organised to raise money for their fund by the Mere Brow Homing Society. Fiftyone children were on roll at this time. Mrs. Graham retired in July, 1959. Only 28 children were on roll after the Summer holidays in 1959.

Mr. Vickers introduced many new features and for the first time a Nativity Play was given in Holmes Chapel after having been given previously in school. School trips, Sports Days and Open Days were introduced over these years. The Rector, the Rev. L. N. Forse, died in November, 1961, having been the Chairman of Governors since 1924. Some of the pupils attended his funeral.

Mrs. Charnley commenced duty as a part-time teacher in January, 1962 and Miss G. Sewell began work as the Infants teacher. The new Rector, the Revd. W. Riley, was present at the morning assembly on 4th September and was introduced to children and staff. In December that year the Rector brought the Diocesan Architect to the school to discuss replacing the outside lavatories and the building of new classrooms.

Mr. Vickers left the school in December, 1966, to become Headteacher of Tarleton County Primary School. He records his happiness for the eight years he had been at Mere Brow. Mr. Bentley took over in January, 1967. The new extensions were opened in November, 1968 and were dedicated by the Bishop of Burnley.

Mrs. M. Riley commencedwork in the school as Infant Teacher on 7th January, 1970 and Mr. Bentley left on 14th February, 1975 for an appointment in Burnley. Mr. P. G. Thomas was appointed as Headteacher and took up duties towards the end of April.

Mr. Thomas took up a new appointment in 1978 and Mrs. M. D. Riley was appointed as Headteacher. Mr. Robert Spencer was elected as Chairman which made history since Mr. Spencer was the first Methodist to be so elected by a predominantly Anglican Managing Body. It is customary to elect the Parish Incumbent as Chairman but the Rector thought it better to have an independent Chairman. Mrs. S. Dixon was appointed as assistant and, later, as Deputy Head. After a long period of service to the school Mrs. Charnley and Mrs. M. Vickers, part-time teachers, retired and Mrs. Joan Dyson was appointed as a full-time member of staff.

In 1988 a new Education Reform Act came into being which resulted in larger Governing Bodies and a great deal of study on the part of Governors.

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