Malhamdale Local History Group
Clicking on most pictures will show a larger version
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
Bill for beer and sandwiches for the Constables!
Aerial photo of the school pre 1960
1908 senior class with Mr Albert K Turner, the head teacher of the United School. (named)
Kirkby Malham School 1919
Pupils and staff pictured in the early 1920's
Girl's PE in the playground circa 1923
Mr Winnerah and Miss Bell with the Kirkby Malham United School pupils circa 1927 (named)
Inter schools relay race champion team circa 1927
Early 1950's? Do you recognise anyone?
"Little Red Riding Hood"
Craven Herald article about the school in 1958 when Mrs Johnston was head teacher.
Centenary appeal- 1974
Centenary Celebrations Invitation
1974 - School Centenary celebrations, staff, children and guests
Staff and pupils in 1986 (named)
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 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 and Rev Henley were to serve for ten years and Thomas
Preston and John Dewhurst for nine years.
Every year there was to be an examination of the scholars either by Her
Majestys Inspector of Schools or by an Examiner appointed by the
Edward Taylor, Anthony Taylor and James Howarth were the three elected
to serve for five years.
The buildings consisted of a large room, a classroom and separate cloakrooms
and toilets for boys and girls. There was also the masters 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.
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
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.
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.
All the local gentry were present and in all about 300 people attended.
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 dunces certificate! From the following
year, no child under the age of 11 could become a part timer.
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.
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.
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
Morrisons 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 Parkers 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 Inspectors 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
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 Rebanks 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 Inspectors 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.
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 Michaels 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
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
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.
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
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!
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 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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