Malhamdale Local History Group    





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Walter Morrison

Walter Morrison MP and school benefactor





Note from Walter Morrison accompanying the summary of building costs below.





Summary of the cost of setting up the school.





Bill for the Constables for the 1892 election of Governors




Beer and sandwiches

Bill for beer and sandwiches for the Constables!




Aerial photo

Aerial photo of the school pre 1960




School photo circa 1895
Albert K Turner with his pupils 1896




School pupils circa 1897
Miss Turner with the younger boys 1896




1908 seniors

1908 senior class with Mr Albert K Turner, the head teacher of the United School. (named)




Pupils 1919

Kirkby Malham School 1919




Pupils early 1920s

Pupils and staff pictured in the early 1920's




PE 1923

Girl's PE in the playground circa 1923




Pupils 1927

Mr Winnerah and Miss Bell with the Kirkby Malham United School pupils circa 1927 (named)




Relay champions

Inter schools relay race champion team circa 1927
L-R back: Jimmy Hall, Norman Heaton
L-R front: George Hayhurst, John Yeadon



Pupils 1950s

Early 1950's? Do you recognise anyone?




Red Riding Hood

"Little Red Riding Hood"




1958 article

Craven Herald article about the school in 1958 when Mrs Johnston was head teacher.




Pupils 1963

1963 (named)




Pupils 1966

1966 (named)




Pupils 1967

1967 (named)




Appeal 1974

Centenary appeal- 1974





Centenary Celebrations Invitation





1974 - School Centenary celebrations, staff, children and guests




Pupils 1986

Staff and pupils in 1986 (named)

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The History of Education in Malhamdale

Kirkby Malham United School (1874 - present)

By the late 1860s it had become necessary to completely reorganise the education provision in Malham and Kirkby Malham. The two old endowed grammar schools in Malham and Kirkby Malham were both having difficulties. Both premises were inadequate and the endowments were insufficient to maintain and improve two schools to the standards which were expected at that time. One of the chief instigators of the need for reform was Mr Walter Morrison of Malham Tarn, who was a Governor of the Kirkby Malham School.

After much discussion it was decided by the Endowed Schools Commission to unite the two foundations under one management with a single Foundation or Trust. This ‘United’ school was to have new, purpose built premises which it was felt would enable the education of the children of both villages to progress. Walter Morrison had offered to provide the new buildings at his own expense.
The Commission had originally hoped to include Malham School for Girls, with the endowment from Thomas Clapham, into the united scheme, but due to certain conditions imposed on the endowment this was not possible. However, very soon after the scheme came into operation, the School for Girls was merged into the United School and the endowment was used for the general benefit of the new school. It was not until after the death of Thomas Preston who administered the endowment and was also a Governor of the United School, that the capital sum was finally transferred on 29th June 1892, and became part of the overall endowments for the United School.

The documents for the uniting of the two foundations were finally approved by Queen Victoria with the advice of her Privy Council at the Court at Osborne House on 8th August 1872. The scheme set out the conditions for the amalgamation of the endowments and for the management of the school. The Governing Body was to consist of seven people, of whom three were to be elected by the ratepayers, and four co-opted. The four co-opted Governors were to be :

Walter Morrison MP of Malham Tarn House
Rev Thomas Clark Henley, the Vicar of Kirkby Malham
Thomas Preston of Scosthrop House, Bell Busk
John Bonny Dewhurst of Skipton.

Walter Morrison and Rev Henley were to serve for ten years and Thomas Preston and John Dewhurst for nine years.
The scheme stipulated that the Headmaster was to be a certificated teacher and would receive a stipend of £70 per annum plus a further payment for each scholar. He was also to be allowed to take boarders at a charge of no more than £25 per annum. In return for this salary every Headmaster was required to sign the following declaration in the Minute Book of the Governors:

‘I declare that I will always, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties of Head Master of Kirkby Malham School during my tenure of the office, and that if I am removed by the Governors, according to the constitution of the said School, I will acquiesce in such removal, and will thereupon relinquish all claim to the mastership and its future emoluments, and will deliver up to the Governors, or as they direct, possession of all their property then in my possession or occupation.

After the disputes between the Trustees of the Malham school and the last headmaster, Mr Atkinson in 1856 and 1869 which involved the intervention of the Charity Commissioners, perhaps it was thought wise to try to make any new appointment within more rigid boundaries.
The Scheme also stipulated that the school should be open to ‘all boys and girls who are of good character and sufficient bodily health’ who would pay tuition fees of up to 9d per week. There was also provision for an Upper Department ‘for the purposes of education higher than elementary education,’ for which the pupils would pay between £2 and £4 per year. There were also arrangements made for various ‘Exhibitions’ or scholarships. The subjects taught in the Upper Department were to be :

Mensuration and Land surveying
English Grammar, Composition and Literature
Geography, political and physical
At least one branch of Natural Science
Latin, or some foreign European language
Vocal Music

Every year there was to be an examination of the scholars either by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools or by an Examiner appointed by the Governors.
From the date of the new scheme, Mr Christopher Edmondson was to cease to be Master of Kirkby Malham school and was to receive an annual pension of £15 for life. According to the report in the local paper at the time of the opening of the new school, the numbers attending had fallen so low that he didn’t think it worth his while to continue to teach while the new school was being built. It appears that his few remaining pupils went to Malham in the interim period.
Provision was also made for Mr Atkinson, Master at Malham, to be awarded an annual pension of £20 for life.

Immediately following the acceptance of this scheme on August 9th 1872, plans were put in place to hold an election on September 27th 1872 for the three Representative Governors. There were five candidates :

William Gomersall from Otterburn, Landed Proprietor
Edward Taylor from Airton, Gentleman
Anthony Taylor from Airton, Gentleman
William Anderson from Hanlith Farmer
James Howarh from Capon Hall, Malham Moor, Farmer.

Edward Taylor, Anthony Taylor and James Howarth were the three elected to serve for five years.

With a Board of Governors in place, the next problem was to find a suitable site for the new building and the one chosen was Raw Riggs Meadow which was part of the original endowment from Rowland Brayshaw for Malham School. (In the old documents this was referred to as Rariggs.) This had the advantage of being half way between the two villages. The population of the whole parish according to the 1871 census was 930 and of these 700 lived within two miles of the proposed site. In order to comply with the scheme Walter Morrison first bought a piece of the land from the Trustees of Malham School for £50. Work could then begin on the building to the design by Messrs Paley and Austin, Architects from Lancaster. The contractor was Mr Robert Sugden from Keighley and the T shaped building used Kirkby Fell stone from the local quarry there.

The buildings consisted of a large room, a classroom and separate cloakrooms and toilets for boys and girls. There was also the master’s residence which had space for boarders if required. According to the report in the local paper there were also recreation grounds ‘the boys being separated from the girls by a high wall, while each are supplied with a shed in case of wet weather.’

The new buildings were finished by May 1874 and the Charity Commissioners authorised the Governors to exchange the site and buildings of the old school which had been valued at £190, for the new site and buildings. The cost to Mr Walter Morrison at the time of the exchange was £2874-3-10d which covered buildings, furniture and fittings but he later had further expenditure and the total cost was about £3000. It was certainly a very generous gift to ensure the local children received a good education.
A letter enclosed with the full accounts was sent by Walter Morrison to Rev D Renwick Hall in April 1898. He says ‘I have come across the enclosed on looking for another paper. Please to put it with the other school papers. It will be interesting a century hence.’ How prophetic a statement!

While the buildings were in the course of preparation, the Governors turned their attention to the appointment of the first Master and Assistant Mistress for the school. They had written to William Atkinson in December 1872 offering him the continued Mastership of the Malham School under the new control and he held the position until the move to the new buildings (see page with various correspondence between W Atkinson and the Governors). He appeared to find it more congenial working for the new Governing Body than he had for the old Trustees.
The advertisements brought in 58 applications from all over the country but of the 3 invited to attend for interview Mr Edwin Wheadon Hicks and his wife Elizabeth A Hicks were selected. They were both Certificated teachers from Calstock National School, Tavistock in Devon.

On Friday 7th August 1874 the celebrations were held for the opening of the new Kirkby Malham United School. It took the form of a tea followed by a concert. In a report about the event from the Craven Herald the writer describes the decorations in great detail.

‘A garland of evergreens hung gracefully on the walls right round the rooms, the tea-tables were plentifully adorned with the choicest hot and greenhouse blooms, while the numerous deep-bayed windows were literally crowded with a beautiful collection of pot plants from the conservatories of Mr Morrison, Mr J W Tottie, Coniston Hall, Mr Alcock of Newfield, and Mr J B Dewhurst of Aireville. In the evening when the lamps were lighted and placed promiscuously among the varied tinted flowers and plants in the windows, the scene was one of almost fairy-like beauty…’

All the local gentry were present and in all about 300 people attended.
The concert was a great success with a glee party from Skipton providing part of the entertainment and even the new Master, Mr Hicks, contributed by singing ‘The Last Rose of Summer’. Mrs Hicks had declined an invitation to participate.
Mr Walter Morrison welcomed the guests and declared that the school would open the following Monday, August 10th, at 9.30am, and would people please pass on this information. It seemed quite a casual way to open a new school! He encouraged parents to ensure children attended regularly, as 250 attendances were needed by each child before they were entitled to sit for examination, and this affected the size of the Government grant, which was so important to the school. A profit of £20 was made on the entertainment which was given to the school as a Prize Fund.

The new school building was a great improvement for pupils and teachers alike, but from the log book it is clear that academic progress was all too often sacrificed to necessity. The weather was often given as the reason for the small numbers in school; many children would have a considerable distance to walk and it is understandable that snow or persistent rain could keep them at home. Often boys were absent in lambing time and hay time. What we now call the summer holiday was called then (1874) the Harvest holiday (ie. the hay harvest) and it lasted for four weeks, but that would not always cover hay time. Additional holidays were two weeks at Christmas and Good Friday and Easter week. Other reasons given for absence were: gathering firewood, farm sales and Long Preston hiring days whilst holidays were given for Skipton Show and the Malham Fairs. A child arriving late after the registers were closed would be sent straight back home and marked absent. It was noticed that many boys were missing when the foxhounds or the beagles met locally.

Some of the older children were ‘half-timers’ working half time at the mills, Airton or Scalegill, with the Governors’ approval. They were obliged to spend three days or six half days in school. The law concerning these part timers changed in 1892 so that any child who was working with a part time labour certificate had to cease working on his or her 13th birthday, unless or until they had passed the total exemption standard, or else held a dunce’s certificate! From the following year, no child under the age of 11 could become a part timer.
The number of scholars attending on any day varied greatly, from 31 the first morning to 75, which was the highest number during the first 30 years. One boy could only attend from 9am to 11am ‘because he has to carry letters to Malham Moor.’

Some entries from the school log stir the imagination: April 1876 ‘John Parker came to say that he was about to work for his father, a mason. Yet he is not ten years old and has not passed Stage II’ and May 1877 ‘Margaret Hyde … gone to service in Clapham although only nine years of age.’
Other entries show us the harsh realities of life in those early days. The log records the deaths of five children between 1878 and 1905. An entry for June 3rd 1878 records the death of Margaret Robinson aged 15. On the day of her funeral all the school walked in procession before the hearse and six girls were dressed in white and carried flowers to strew on the coffin. She was described by the Headmaster as truthful, honest, obedient and diligent and gave a motherly attention to the wants of the little ones in wintertime.

Illness caused many absences. Sometimes the school was closed for three or four weeks during a measles epidemic. Whooping cough took its toll as did the common cold. The children had plenty of fresh air from their walks to and from school, but in school the atmosphere must have been dense at times. There are many references to the smoke from the stove and fires and various boys were appointed to stoke and riddle them, but it was such an unpopular job that the Governors agreed to pay 4d a week to boys who attended to the fires in the daytime.

In December 1890 a Governor, Mr George Sedgewick wrote ‘I visited the school. All the children are shivering with cold. The stove at 11am gives as little heat as though just lighted.’ On dismal days and particularly no doubt when the stove was smoking badly, certain work had to be abandoned because of bad light.
It was not until 1903 that it was noted that ‘the new heating apparatus acts admirably – the temperature today has not fallen below 50F.’ but in 1904 the inspector found the underfloor heating apparatus ‘inconvenient’.
But however maligned, the stove won good marks for providing ashes to ‘deodorise the closets’. Shortly after the school was opened it is recorded that a ‘Boy was to be paid 3d per week for putting earth in daily or as often as needed’.
Whilst in school the children did not always make the best use of their time. According to the school log, one boy ‘unscrewed a desk and let it down.’ He was ‘suitably punished’. Who, boy or girl, was responsible for the ‘nest of paper and rubbish containing five young mice, all dead’ found on the harmonium keys? One Thomas Greenwood was chastised and sent to the bottom of his class for a month for ‘using a very indecent word’.

Some offences were more serious such as the damage done in the plantation and the school garden in 1881. Investigations by the policeman and Mr Morrison’s steward had ascertained that three boys, James Peacock, William Clarke and Robert Coates were responsible and the Governors decided that a letter should be sent to the parents. The letter stated that each boy should make a public apology at the school entertainment at the time of the presentation of the school prizes, and that one pound one shilling be paid by each child for the cost of the damage. Failure to comply with these conditions would result in summonses to appear before the Magistrates in Settle. Fortunately all three boys complied!

Boys did seem to court more punishment but the girls were mentioned too. In February 1875 it was found that ‘notes were passing between the boys and girls, the latter most to blame’ and in May 1876 ‘Anne Peacock and other girls had penalties for waiting in the road last night so that Edward and John Gomersall overtook them, then chased them and finally John Gomersall kissed Anne Peacock. For this he and his brother were caned.’

The curriculum taught in the early days was wide. All scholars had to achieve the standards in the 3Rs as laid down by the Government Inspectors grading from Standard 1 to Standard VI. In addition to the 3Rs, there are references in the early years of the School Log to geography, history, drawing, singing, religious knowledge, drill for the boys and needlework for the girls, plus French and mathematics for the Upper Department. During the headship of Reuben Moss 1879-95, the Upper Department were studying Latin, Euclid and algebra, and Mr Turner who came in 1887, taught elementary science to the older scholars covering ‘from foodstuffs, manufacturies, plants animals to weather and general agriculture’. The Government Inspectors visited the school every year to test the standards and an inspector organised and paid for by the Governors also visited annually. Some of these subjects were considered unnecessary by parents. In 1887 Thomas Parker’s parents sent to say ‘They did not wish him to learn drawing as it would be of little use to him’. They obviously had a down to earth job in mind for their son!

The Governors’ choice of staff seems to have caused some problems over the first twelve years. Mr and Mrs Hicks who were the first teachers appointed in 1874, gave notice in 1879 due to the ill health of Mr Hicks, ‘making a removal to a milder climate desirable’. There were 84 applications for the post and Mr and Mrs Reuben Moss were appointed. However in 1885, after an unsatisfactory Inspector’s report and complaints about the general dirty state of the school premises, Mr and Mrs Moss offered their resignations and the Governors again set about the task of finding replacements.

From January 1886 Mr John Rebanks was appointed Master and his daughter Jane was appointed Assistant Mistress. All appeared to go well until June 1886 when the Governors unexpectedly received a letter from the Education Department asking if they had received satisfactory testimonials from Mr Rebanks and were they aware of the circumstances under which he had left his previous school, Asby near Penrith. The reasons proved to be that he had falsified the registers in order to qualify for a larger Government grant, for which offence he was asked to resign. However, just before he left, he replaced the offending pages in the register with the consequence that the school lost the grant for the last nine months of his employment at Asby.

That letter from the Education Department started six months of accusations, counter accusations and recriminations which must have caused great concern and division in the dale, and despite a petition on Rebank’s behalf from 58 of the local householders, he was finally removed from office at the end of 1886, and Mr Albert K Turner was appointed master and his sister Emma was appointed Assistant with the appointments lasting until 1919. At last the Governors were getting the stability they hoped for, and in the 33 years of the rule of the Turners, the Government Inspectors’ reports went from lukewarm and sometimes critical, to satisfactory to good. A Diocesan Inspector’s report found: ‘The religious knowledge work wonderfully and consistently good, in fact in a country school it is unsurpassed’.

One of the major landmarks in the history of the school came in September 1891 when the Education Department offered a Fee Grant to the school. This was a sum of 10s per pupil and was to replace the fees collected from the parents, which at that time at Kirkby Malham, amounted to 13s 1d. The Governors decided not to charge the parents the extra 3s 1d and from that time onwards the education was free.

Throughout the Minute Book of the Governors, are references to the election of the three Representative Governors as required by the Scheme. If more than three candidates were proposed an election was held and those eligible to vote were the ratepayers of the parish of Kirkby Malhamdale who registered their votes at either Airton, Malham Moor or Kirkby Malham school, presided over by three of the Co-opted Governors. This is what happened on October 15th 1892 where there are records of payment for two constables at 4 shillings each with 2s 2d for mileage (presumably on bicycles!) and an account from the Victoria hotel for one dozen beer and stout at 2s 6d and sandwiches at 3s provided as ‘Refreshments to poll clerks and policemen’. The idea of two policemen being needed for an election of school governors seems quite extreme but obviously the elections were taken very seriously.

Changes in the administration of the school were to be necessary following the Education Act of 1902 which had a section relating to voluntary schools. The Governors, led by Walter Morrison, strongly opposed some of these enforced changes and much correspondence was exchanged between them and the Board of Education, with even some reference in the minute book to the possibility of testing the validity in a Court of Law.
This did not happen, but an Enquiry was held under Mr G B M Coore, an official of the Board of Education, on December 2nd 1904 in the Kirkby Malham Church Hall, to enable the Governors to state their case. Their concern was that they were to lose some power over the administration of the endowment income. More correspondence followed with a Draft Scheme being drawn up by the Board of Education and the Governors again objecting to certain sections. It was not until 1913 that a Scheme for Administration of the Endowment was approved by His Majesty in Council and the affair was finally settled.

As a result of this new Scheme, there was a residue from the Endowment Income and the school was given a grant to start a library, which was supplemented yearly by a grant of £5. Part of the residue was used for the relief of rates in the villages of Hanlith, Malham and Kirkby Malham, this until 1944 / 45, when the Governors thought they would need the money for the possible expenditure on the buildings under the new Education Act of 1944.

Under the Scheme, money was also to be spent on further education and for many years the Governors financed past scholars to go on courses in dairywork and dressmaking. One boy learned bootmaking and other apprenticeships were sponsored and many evening classes and lectures were financed including one in 1920 on ‘Improvements to Grassland’. Money was given to scholars who furthered their education at Skipton Grammar School and occasionally for an ex pupil to go to university. Money was given each year to the prize fund and leaving grants were given to all school leavers who had satisfied certain requirements. Many people in the Dale had cause to be grateful for this generosity.

When Mr and Mrs Turner retired in 1919, the Managers were overruled in their desire to have another master as head of the school, a female teacher earning a lower salary than a male at that time, and finally Mrs Johnson was appointed. She remained until 1923, followed by Thomas Braithwaite, 1923 – 26, and John Whinnerah, 1926 – 31. On his resignation the Governors were told that the numbers did not justify a male teacher, and although the Governors suggested that they themselves may pay the difference in salary, the next five head teachers were all female.

It was while Mrs Johnson was Headteacher in 1921, that Walter Morrison died at the age of 85. He had been a most generous benefactor to Malhamdale, supporting not only Kirkby Malham School, but also Malham Tarn School and St Michael’s Church. Despite all his interests and his commitments as an MP he found time to be Chairman of the Governors of the United School for nearly 50 years, and his interest in the welfare of the school was remarkable.

It was just following the introduction of the new Scheme in 1913, that the school got a new water supply piped from Pikedaw. The work was carried out by Mr G W Parker and the Education Authority requested that the old earth toilets could then be converted to water closets. The Governors responded saying ‘…the difficulty would be with frost in having water closets in a high situation such as Malhamdale’. So it was not until 1925 that W Cs were finally installed and not until 1956, when the school was connected to the Malhamdale Water Scheme, that it was possible to improve the cloakrooms and install a hot water system. Added to these improvements, electricity had also been installed in 1938.

As had happened so often in the history of the school, changes came about as the result of Education Acts, the 1944 Act being no exception. One of the requirements of this Act was that education was redefined as primary, secondary and further education with primary and secondary schooling to be conducted in separate premises. Kirkby Malham School, like so many others, kept pupils until leaving age, with the exception of the few who passed the County Minor Scholarship and went to the Skipton Grammar Schools, often as boarders.
In 1947 the Governors discussed the proposition that it was ‘…desirable that the school be continued and that provision should be made for the accommodation of between 23 and 30 junior mixed and infant scholars.’ As a consequence of this, the following year it was decided that the senior scholars should be transferred to a senior school ‘with a rural bias’. This was to be Barnoldswick Modern School, again with the exception of the children who gained scholarships for Skipton Grammar Schools. With the subsequent fall in numbers, the school had to loose the services of one assistant teacher.

With the enlarging of Aireville School at Skipton in the early 1960s, Kirkby Malham scholars ceased to go to Barnoldswick, and the choice was then either Ermysteds Grammar school, Skipton Girls’ High School, Aireville Secondary Modern School or the comprehensive school which had opened in Settle in 1955.

In 1975 the LEA resolved that Kirkby Malham children should transfer to Skipton schools at 11+, but over the years, with greater parental choice, children now attend a variety of schools including Skipton, Settle and Grassington.
Another aspect of the Education Act of 1944 was that it laid down certain minimum requirements for accommodation, and in his annual church report of 1945, the Rev Chick, who was also a Governor of the school states ‘Sooner or later there will be building alterations to consider when the new Education Act is applied. A considerable sum will have to be found then, otherwise we shall not be allowed to retain control of the school.’ The governing body did in fact ‘retain control’ of the school and in 1953 it was granted ‘Aided Status’.

The alterations anticipated by Rev Chick in 1945 were finally completed in 1961, giving the school a new dining hall, also used as additional teaching space, a new staff room and toilets, and a new kitchen for cooking dinners on the premises – these had previously been transported from Hellifield. An invitation was issued to parents and interested parties to view the extensions on 13th May 1961. Shortly afterwards a new playing field was added to the school using part of Raw Riggs meadow. This had first been discussed in 1949, so had taken some years to become a reality.

The new accommodation was soon to be outgrown however, and 1974, the centenary year, was the beginning of a further expansion of the school. A temporary classroom was erected as the numbers on the roll were increasing from an average of 25 to 47, mainly due to the closure of Airton School that same year. Also in the Centenary year, 1974, the Governors and Managers launched an appeal for £2000 to provide a proper, safe turning area away from the busy main road, quite a change from a hundred years before when children walked miles to attend school!
A centenary celebration was held on Saturday 16th June that year to which past and present pupils, parents, friends and dignitaries were invited. There was entertainment provided by the children who were dressed in Victorian costume and sang songs from the 1874 era, and the school housed a display of items from that period. Afternoon tea was served, and an address was given by Sir Alec Clegg, the former Chief Education Officer for the West Riding.

View the Centenary Brochure

From 1981 onwards it was clear that the school again needed to expand to meet modern standards. Eventually in 1998 the Governors purchased a larger temporary classroom, which was superseded in 2000 by a proper two-storey extension to the school building, one classroom being above the other.
The school has been very fortunate in having staff who have been dedicated to giving the children the best possible education. Noel Longbottom became Headmaster in 1971 and served a remarkable 22 years in post (Read his recollections). He was followed in 1993 by Paul Duke, then Richard Wright and currently by Sue Benson. Throughout the years the Heads have been supported by a team of equally dedicated staff, both teaching and ancillary.

The school has certainly come a long way since Walter Morrison and others had the vision of a better education for the children of the Dale. It has embraced the IT revolution along with dozens of other changes in education. It has gone from strength to strength and enjoys an enviable reputation in the district. Our children are indeed fortunate.

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