History of Education in Malhamdale
Kirkby Malham United School
(1874 - 1974)
To commemorate the centenery of the school being created and moving
into the new building a brochure was produced featuring a brief history
of the school, the contents of which are reproduced here:
Kirkby Malham United School 1874-1974
A Brief History of the School...
Over 100 years ago, before Kirkby Malham school was built, there appears
to have been three schools in existence serving the villages of Malham
and Kirkby Malham. The oldest one was in Kirkby Malham, founded in
the year 1606 by Benjamin Lambert of Airton Hall and his friend John
Topham. It was maintained by the income from certain lands. The school
itself was pulled down about 100 years ago. Another school in Malham
situated at the north east corner of the village and still standing
was founded in 1717 by Rowland Brayshaw, also endowed with an income
from lands. There is evidence of another school in Malham for girls,
financed by a resident in Malham, who put £1,000 in Trust, the
income from it being for the maintenance of the school but this school
closed in the latter half of the 19th Century.
Shortly after 1870 the late Walter Morrison, M.P., then only about
35 years of age, who was a governor of the Kirkby Malham school, expressed
to the Endowed School Commissioners his willingness to grant or secure
a suitable site and at his sole expense erect there on school buildings
sufficient and adequate for accommodating the pupils of both schools
thereby amalgamating both schemes and endowments. The commissioners
gave approval to this proposal on the 9th August 1872 and a new scheme
was prepared to continue education in one school for the two villages.
The first board of governors was formed during that year.
After considerable discussion regarding a site for the new school
buildings the present one situated mid-way between the two villages
was decided upon, being part of Raw Riggs meadow which was an endowment
of the Malham school. In order to comply with the conditions of the
scheme, Mr. Morrison bought one acre of the meadow for the sum of
£50, and the erection of the school buildings and headmasters
house during the following two years cost him a further £2,874
The population of the whole parish at this time according to the 1871
census was 930, of whom about 700 lived within two miles of the new
During the summer of 1874 when the new school was almost completed,
the governors advertised for a headmaster and assistant teacher to
take up duties when the school opened on the 10th August of that year.
58 applicants replied to the advertisement. Mr. Edwin Wheadon Hicks
was appointed the first headmaster at a salary of £70 per year
plus half the school fees and half the Government grant. His wife,
Mrs. Elizabeth Hicks, was appointed assistant teacher and received
£30 per year plus a quarter of the school fees and a quarter
of the Government grant. They taught in the school for five years.
The fees for school children in the upper department were £2
per year and the infants approximately 10/-. The headmaster was allowed
to take up to six boarders in the school house, each boarder to pay
£25 per year. The masters house servant cleaned the school for
£3 per year.
According to the register of admission, about 70 children were admitted
during the first term when the school opened. This was when the school
building was smaller than at present.
The scholars were of course drawn from a large area, northwards from
as far away as Rainscar Farm, and from Calton, Newfield Grange and
Otterburn in the south. It is surprising how many of those children
whose names appear on the register in that first term have descendents
still living in this area to-day. It must also be remembered that
many of those 70 children attending were only "half-timers"
as attendance at school was not compulsory, there being no law to
enforce it, and this being an agricultural area, seasons like haytime
and lambing seasons reduced attendance considerably as farmers kept
their sons at home to help.
Other children in the upper department worked half-time at the Scalegill
silk mill or Airton mill and attended half days at school. It was
not uncommon for scholars to leave school at 10 or 11 years of age
to work full-time at these mills. During the first year 1874 a boy
called William Carr, 12 years old, was admitted from Malham, but could
only attend two hours each day from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. after which
he had to deliver letters round Malham Moor. On Wednesday, 14th October
1874, 34 scholars asked leave for the following day which was Malham
Sheep Fair, so few scholars did in fact attend next morning that the
school was closed for the day.
Some days later a number of the older boys were questioned about their
stained hands which it appeared impossible to clean. This had been
caused by them assisting farmers with the "salving of sheep"
a practice now replaced by sheep dipping in a bath. The meeting of
the hounds on Malham Green when the hunts were taking place was another
occasion when the school was almost empty.
The first heating system in the school was one of coal fires and stoves,
and evidently left much to be desired. Smoke from these appliances
was no small problem, and very often when school opened in the morning
the temperature was only 30°F rising to 40°F in the afternoon,
which necessitated children doing lessons with overcoats on in order
to keep warm. Scholars were often in charge of stoking the fires.
This proved very unsatisfactory when the girls were in charge. They
frequently went out. This brought angry letters from parents, the
problem eventually being brought to the notice of the Governors who
decided to pay 4d per week to certain boys to carry out these duties.
Lighting too was rather poor; the original windows in the school were
small and very high causing natural light to be scarce and only oil
lamps provided artificial light. Many entries in the log book state
that it was too dark to read or for girls to do sewing.
In November 1886 a Mr. Carr of Park House, Bordley Moor, wrote to
the headmaster requesting that his children could leave school at
3-30 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. in order that they could walk the four
miles home before dark. Conditions generally were difficult in mid
winter and many children from outlying farms and houses ceased to
attend during these worst months.
French and Latin were taught in those early days, extra fees being
payable for these subjects. Mr. Walter Morrison called in frequently
to hear the senior scholars read in French-on one occasion he had
a French visitor with him and the entry states that he was well pleased
with their knowledge and pronunciation.
Police constable Redfern of Kirkby Malham called at school one afternoon
to say that a mad dog had gone by up towards Malham and asked the
master to keep the children indoors until he called again. It was
late in the evening before the children were allowed to go home-after
the dog had been shot, but not before it had mauled and bitten 7 other
Rev. T. C. Henley was the vicar at Kirkby Malham Church when the school
opened in 1874 and was on the board of Governors until he died in
1898. For practically all of those 24 years he acted as correspondent
to the governors and took a very keen interest in all the work and
activities of the school. After his death his wife made arrangements
for a prize book-known as the "Henley" prize-to be presented
every alternate year to the scholar gaining most marks for attendance
To those scholars who were much less ambitious, and were more mischievously
inclined the cane appears to have been their just reward. The theory
to "Spare the rod and spoilt the child" was very much in
evidence in those days in establishing discipline. Some rather unusual
offences appear in the log book-a child of 8 chewing twist in school-heating
red hot pokers in the stove to chase other children-stealing from
dinner bags-kissing the girls often cost the boys two cuts in each
hand, but it failed to stop the practice.
The Education Act of 1902 caused some concern to the school governors
as it appeared they were to lose some control of the school and its
endowments if the Act became law. The chairman, Mr. Walter Morrison,
fought hard against the Authority of the Act insofar as it applied
to Kirkby Malham school. Expert legal advice was sought and considerable
correspondence with the Board of Education ensued. Eventually on 2nd
December 1904 a Public Enquiry was held in the Church Hall, Kirkby
Malham, heard by a barrister from London, Mr. C. B. M. Coore. The
outcome was that after further consultation and discussion between
the governors and Board of Education a new scheme of Management was
drawn up which was satisfactory to both parties, this scheme being
still in use to-day.
A considerable improvement was added to the school facilities when
spring water from Malham was piped to the school in 1913. The cost
of the scheme was £195 and the contractor was Mr. George W.
Parker of Airton. It was not until 1925 that water toilets were installed
replacing the pit type earth toilets provided when the school was
On 18th December 1921, Mr. Walter Morrison died aged 85 years. As
already stated he had built this school and had been chairman of the
governors for almost 50 years. Entries in the minute books refer to
the stalwart work he had done in the interests of Education in the
Dale and of his profound interest in all that concerned the welfare
of the school.
For almost 90 years the school continued in the original buildings
erected 1872- 1874 but certain changes in the Education Act 1944 regarding
minimum requirements of accommodation meant that the governors had
to make plans for extending the school buildings. These were carried
out in 1960-61 at a cost of just over £7,000 and consisted of
a new dining hall, also used as additional teaching area, new staff
room and toilets and a new kitchen equipped for cooking dinners on
the premises. These had hitherto been brought to the school in containers
from Hellifield. More ground was also taken from Raw Riggs meadow
adjoining the school yard as a playing field.
Yet again, due to increasing numbers of scholars, the centenary year
sees the erection on the front green of a temporary classroom provided
by the Education Authority, pending more permanent extensions being
carried out by the Governors. The scheme also includes the provision
of a turning area for the increasing number of cars which convey children
to and from school each day, only half a mile in some cases, an example
of the extent to which things have changed Since 100 years ago when
children walked three or four miles regularly.
And so the work goes on. Numbers are increasing; an excellent staff
are in charge of all work and activities in the school; and the smooth
running, progress and expansion is a credit to all who are involved
in its management.
As for the future-who knows? It is most likely that Mr. Walter Morrison
would not recognise the present school as it was in his day-therefore
it is more than likely that we should not recognise the present school
one hundred years hence. Suffice to say, education must never stand
still and Kirkby Malham school will be no exception to this concept.