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Before 1852 when a school was established at Barnston, the children of the village along with children from the ten other townships of the parish would have had to have attended the school at Woodchurch, if their parents could have afforded it.  

William Gleave on his death in 1665 left the sum of £500 for the erecting of a Free-School at Woodchurch. In 1786 John Spencer was bound ‘in the sum of One hundred pounds as a schoolmaster’ he was to be ‘a Man of Good Life and Conversation, learned in the Greek and Latin Tongues, and studiously spent two or three Years in the University, at least be a Bachelor of Arts’. Evidently this school was not for the poorer children of the parish.

The original school at Woodchurch stood in the grounds of the Churchyard, by 1853 it was remarked ‘that at a distance of from two to three and a half miles from the Parish Church and school……the children were growing up without any education at all’.

Barnston school was established in July 1852, prior to this, in common with most other facilities Barnston would have had to look to Woodchurch for the provision of education. A report dated 1853 remarks, on the establishment of a school in Barnston in July 1852 and goes on to say ‘Suitable premises happening to fall vacant at that time were engaged for a term, with a view to establish a School for the admission of Children without any restriction of age, or sex, and to Licence the Room for Divine Service. By the liberal contributions of friends, a sufficient sum was subscribed to effect the necessary alterations…………The school being opened under the management, at first, of only a Master, but shortly afterwards (by the acceptable aid of a benefaction for this special purpose) under the combined direction of a Master and Mistress’.

‘It is satisfactory to report that since the opening of the school the attendance has steadily increased from 12 to 50 – boys, girls and infants : most of whom are assembled also on every Sunday afternoon for Religious Instruction’. ‘Thanks are due to the Subscribers for their contributions during the past year, they are earnestly solicited ……….to extend their liberality in favour of the School at Barnston.’. ‘the Treasurer hopes that all those, whom God has blessed with the means of assisting in such good works, may freely give for the benefit of the children of their poorer neighbours, even as they have freely received’.

The report was with the accounts for Barnston school, which show a total balance of £96..6s..9d (£96.33p) £25 having been donated by Joseph Hegan who eventually donated the land for the school for the salary of a schoolmistress. £13..17s..10d was spent on a schoolmaster, a mistress was paid £8..2s..9d, with books and materials costing £7..4s..1 ½ with £2..16s..4 ½ being paid for heating and lighting.

Village with 'Beechfield' site of the first school
in the background

Both the report and treasurers accounts were signed by P. R. Robin M. A. who was then the Rector of Woodchurch.

By 1873 the barn was obviously becoming too cramped and a new school was built, the present Church Hall. The new school had two rooms, the smaller one measuring 24 feet by 14 feet was set aside for infants, whilst the larger, 35 feet by 18 feet 4 ins was for the older children.

From 1872 the school, as now kept a series of ‘Log Books’, the first from 1872/1915, 1919/1967 then 1967/1990, they record frequent outbreaks of epidemic diseases, the school being often closed for two or three weeks at a time. I have been unable to trace the whereabouts of the earliest log book but extracts from it, taken from Dakins history of Barnston published for the Church centenary, and the later Log Books, which are still held by the school are printed below.

1873 Eight new scholars came from Heswall School, "the other school being more expensive than this." Bamston School became a free school in 1891.

1874 5th June, Owing to a local club holding its annual treat on Tuesday the attendance was reduced to three boys and seven girls and again on Thursday when there was another in the neighbourhood. Several absent all week (!) from the same cause."

1875 Children were kept away from school to assist their parents in picking fruit and vegetables, tending cows, haymaking and preparing for markets. On one day in 1875 a boy was kept at work although only ten years old and there were only three boys present in school, the rest being employed in haymaking.
1880 8th October, -"On Wednesday the marriage of a friend to the school took place in our Church when each of the scholars received a bun. In return for this kindness the school walls were made to echo with cheering for Bride and Bridegroom."

Coronations and royal jubilees were usually celebrated by a procession (led by a band) through the village to the church for a special service. The children were given mugs and had sports and tea in the dale. The adults went later to Scott's Farm for a "substantial meat tea" followed by a dance. The village was decorated with flags and at night "gaily illuminated by Chinese lanterns."

22nd October, A scholar in Standard 1 removed by death from our midst through the sad effects of diphtheria." (Another death occurred on the 3rd December.)

Other epidemic diseases causing prolonged absence were mumps, whooping cough, scarietina, chickenpox and ringworm.

1882 a girl having attended 444 times the previous year "obtained a shilling from the Vicar."

1882 18th September, -"Six girls absent all week blackberrying and mushrooming. Several away for want of boots. Four children in one family, the father having spent."

Many of the girls left school at an early age to go into domestic service. In 1873 one girl left at the age of eleven years and eight months.

1891 1st May, I found a girl in Standard Ill totally unfit for that Standard so sent her back to Standard 11. Her mother did not like this and said if 1 insisted in keeping her in Standard 11 she would pay only 2d. School Fees (1d. short). 1 have refused to admit her with the 2d. and her mother has refused to pay more. The girl has been away since April 7th."

1905 March, three children left to go to a school at Thornton Hough recently opened by Mr. Lever."


Right.  School Group 6 in 1906 with Miss Esther Pickavance (£42 p.a. in 1902) and Mr William Crellin Headmaster (£92p.a. in 1902)


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