The Schools

1912 school trail

Matthew Marriott had begun to build the first block cottages for Richard Barrow’s new model village when, on 6th June, 1854, a large tent was erected near the Midland Railway station and a meeting was held there to view and discuss the plans for the building of the schools and villas on what is now Station Road. [1]  The following advertisement then appeared in the Derbyshire Courier in July 1854. [2]

DC July 1854 Contractors WM

What is now Barrow Hill Primary School was originally built as a combined Church of England mission, community meeting room and National School at a cost of £3,000. Designed by Staveley architect, Mr M.A.Watson, it was built of local stone, in the Elizabethan style, on the summit of the hill and was topped by a distinctive 76 foot spire above a belfry. The large public hall was 45ft by 35ft, and 45 ft high, with a painted open roof; it separated the Boys and Girls schools and had two stained glass rose windows as well as a beautiful organ and choir gallery.

Barrow watermarkedThe building opened on 3rd October 1856 and the opening ceremony was led by the band of the Chatsworth Rifles.

In the centre of the south wall was a full length life portrait of Richard Barrow, “who is represented as seated in a chair, with books, maps and globes, and appropriate accessories, identifying him with his position as an iron and coal master, and a railway director.  The inscription reads, “Richard Barrow, Esq. Presented to him as a Testimonial of his energy and enterprise, by his agents employed in carrying out the works at Staveley. 1856 ” [3]

In 1842, the Royal Commission on children’s employment had recorded children as young as five working in the Staveley mines. By 1856, when the school opened, the law on working hours for children had reduced to a maximum of ten hours a day and they could no longer work underground below the age of ten. The new school admitted infant pupils aged three to six, and the boys and girls schools admitted pupils aged seven to nine. Parents at this period had yet to be convinced of the value of education, especially when attendance meant the loss of the child’s wage and 3d per week school fees to find.

No schoolmaster had yet been appointed when the school opened. A Mr Vick is reported as the schoolmaster in local newspaper reports from 1858 and the 1861 census records the occupant of the new schoolhouse, on Station Road, as  Mr George Stevenson. Thomas De Vine was appointed as the Church of England lay reader to teach the Sunday schools and conduct the church services.

By 1858, there were 164 girls and 147 boys in the school and a further 250 attending the Sunday Schools. The hall was also used for public events such as lectures, concerts, teas and for classes provided by the Mechanics Institute.

From the early 1870’s to the turn of the 20th century, William Ridgway was the Boys School master, Miss Mary E.Baggaley was in charge of the Girls School and Mrs Ellen Robotham was the Infant School mistress. With an average attendance of 212 boys, 190 girls and 175 infants, a number of assistant teachers were also employed.

School2In 1893, the raising of the school leaving age led to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company building a new infant school. The school was designed by a team of works draughtsmen which included a young Raymond Unwin.

The following year, the church moved out of the school to their new building across the road. With them went the Holt organ and the bell from the steeple.

In 1905, the Staveley Company sold the boys and girls schools to Derbyshire County Council for £2925 and £1475 for the Infant School. The compulsory school leaving age at this time was twelve but pupils could not leave until they were at least 13 and had an offer of a job.

Following the first world war, the school leaving age was raised to 14 and the schools were too small to cope with the additional numbers. For some years, classes were held in an old army hut belonging to St Andrew’s Church. A similar situation arose when the leaving age was raised again in 1944 and the Church Hall was then used for classes.

The first pupil from Barrow Hill School to win a scholarship to Netherthorpe Grammar School was Arnold Nash. Soon afterwards, Harold Miller and William Davey followed in his footsteps and all went on to become eminent in their chosen professions.

Thomas Haddock was the Head of the Boys School in 1912 with Mrs F. Booth in charge of the Infants and Miss Hibbard as the Head of the Girls School. There were 235 boys, 210 girls and 210 infants on the school roll.

In his memoir, Arthur Fox recalled the staff as “Miss Hibbard (later Mrs Maurice Unwin) as Head, then Mrs Jones, Miss Godber and Miss Donovan. In the boys school the Head, Mr Walters, he was a great teacher and disciplinarian, Maurice Unwin, Richard Phillips, Miss Sherwin, Miss Wake and Miss Kent.”

RH Philips HT BH Boys 1923Richard Henry Philipps was appointed as a teacher at Barrow Hill Boys School in 1906 and became Headmaster in 1922 until his death in 1923.

The use of a wide range of technology by Barrow Hill Primary School pupils today began in 1923 when a “receiving set” was brought into school and the children listened in to a wireless concert of orchestral music and songs and stories from “aunts and uncles.”

In 1925, the Head of the Boys School was Harold W. Wood with Mrs F. Booth  still in post as Head of the Girls School and Miss Armstrong in charge of the Infants.

With war clouds gathering once again, gas masks were issued to pupils in August 1939 and air-raid shelters were built on the rear playground of the infant school.

With the building of Hollingwood Girls School, the senior girls were transferred on 8th January 1940.  The senior boys remained until the early 1960s when Middlecroft School was built.

Click here for the school photograph gallery

Click here for the school website

[1] Derbyshire Courier: 10th June 1854
[2] Although dated 1850, the advertisement did not appear until 1854.
[3]Derbyshire Courier: 6th October 1856

© Ann Lucas

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