Colwick schools

St John's School on Empire Day
St. John's School on Empire Day 1914.

The first form of general education for the poorer children of the village was not started until 1802, when a charity school at West Bridgford was opened, by the Rev. William Thompson (who was at the time Rector of both the parishes) and John Musters (who provided the living for both parishes). This only apparently catered for the very poor, as the school only took 10 scholars in all, from both parishes. In 1828, it was found that “owing to the small number of poor parishioners in the two parishes”, it was difficult to maintain the full complement of the ten scholars to benefit by the charity. No records mention how the pupils made their way to and from West Bridgford, and this strange arrangement was continued for some considerable time. The salary paid to the Schoolmaster in 1829 was £20. The Charity is still in existence and is now paid into the Diocesan Day School Fund and is worth per annum, £11.12.10d. See more details under Thompson Charity.

Before the National School was opened, the Parish Room or Oratory in the Old Rectory was used for lessons, and some of the older residents around the First World War, could remember Vine Cottage, Old Colwick, being used as a school.

The first mention that the erection of a school was contemplated, occurred in the minutes of a meeting of the Vestry, held at the rectory, on 4th Jan., 1886, when it was proposed by Mr. Mason and seconded by Mr. John Smith, that a deputation of Mr. Slaney, Mr. Thomas Neale, Mr. Pearson and Mr. Smith, should wait on Mr. Musters with a request from the parishioners for a voluntary gift of sufficient land to build a school. There was no recording of the result of the deputation, but on 25th March, 1886 there is an entry which records a proposition that the same deputation should see Mr. Musters agent on 27th March, as to the ground for a school.

There is no mention of the matter again until 12th November, 1886, when a meeting was held in “Mr. Hooton’s Factory” with Mrs. Musters as chairman. It was proposed after discussion that a voluntary school should be erected and maintained in the parish “to avoid a School board”. A committee was then formed to go into details, but again there is an absence of records until 10th July, 1890 when the minutes of the vestry meeting state that the meeting was held in the “Colwick National Schools”, which is nearly two years after it was opened.

The first National School is still in existence as three houses, numbers 8, 10 and 12 Woodland Grove. The first two comprised the school and the other was the School Mistresses house, which has an interesting ornamentation over the front door of a woman’s and a man’s head. The school building was altered into two houses sometime after it was closed in 1895, but the occupants have found plenty of evidence of there having been a school. The school was opened on 3rd December 1888, when 34 children were admitted in the morning, 4 first standard and the rest Infants, in the presence of three of the five managers, Mr. Mason, Mr. Forman and Mr. Hooton. The staff was Ellen Kirk, Certificate Mistress. (1st year) assisted by Ada Marr (Pupil Teacher) from Netherfield. The Public Opening was held on 10th December, at 9 a.m., to which Parents were invited. The Rector, Rev. Alexander read a psalm and Mr. Mellors made a speech. — Mr. Mason, Mr. Forman, Mr. Hooton and Mr. Wagstaff were present.

1889 up to the present (1970s)

The number of pupils soon increased to above 80, and by 29th January 1891, two boys were refused admission owing to the school being full. The attendances were not very good in these early days, and sometimes no reason was given for absence. The common illnesses given for absence were whooping cough, ringworm and fever. On 11th February, 1889, many children were absent owing to heavy snow, and on 15th March, of same year, many were absent owing to the road being flooded. On 3rd October, of same year, Goose Fair, the attendance is quoted as very good, yet on 3rd November, 1890, the children were sent borne as only 37 turned up, the rest had gone to Carlton Feast. In later years the school was closed at Goose Fair owing to bad attendance.

Copy of the first report of Her Majesty’s Inspectors for the half year ending May 31st, 1889, reads as follows; — “Mixed School. The few children presented in standards have passed a very good examination. Infant’s class. The children are very orderly and attentive and have been very well instructed, especially in the object lessons and occupations”. A grant of £19.1s.4d. was made to the school. In 1890 the grant was £49.16s.8d., in 1891 it was £73. 15s. 0d. and in 1892, £89.

During these years the number of pupils increased and the teachers from two to four. The average attendance in November 1891 was 94, and in August 1892 there were 119 children on the books and 93 present. It does not seem possible that these were all pushed into the area of two, two-storied terraced houses. The big increase appears to have started after the payment of fees for attending discontinued in September 1891.

The School Inspectors were not happy about the number of pupils at the school. In their report for June 1892, it quoted that the attendance must not average more than 7 in the existing premises or the grant will be liable to forfeiture. The school managers do not appear to have taken much notice of this warning, as the number of pupils continued to increase. Consequently, their report for 1893, was worded as follows:— “Mixed School. “The efficiency of the instruction is on the whole exceedingly creditable, though weakness in the composition of the fifth and sixth standards endangers the higher Principal Grant”. Infants Class “The instruction of the infants is on the whole satisfactory, but the majority of them are taught in a room which is too small and fitted with an old fashioned and uncomfortable gallery.” A proper classroom should be provided and suitably fitted for the infants. Cloakroom accommodation is required. Adverting to your letter of the 16th instant, my Lords have allowed payment of the Annual Grant for the past school year, but they may be unable to renew it if the average attendance again exceeds the prescribed limits. Signed M. J. Clarke.

The Inspectors report in 1894, once again threatened to withdraw the grant for the next year if accommodation was not improved, and an entry which was out of order, stated that the gallery should be fitted with proper desks for the infants. The 12th September, 1895, saw the long awaited Public Opening of the New School, at the side of Mr. Hooton’s factory, on the Vale, by the Lord Bishop of Southwell. Being as the new building was for 150 children, all grants were again restored and in 1897, the Governing Body of Nottingham Association was granting extra money for desks for the infants. The general education began to improve, but not up to a standard of the scripture lessons, which were taken by the Rector.

The women teachers did not seem to be able to keep the children under control, and towards the time when Mrs. Kirk took ill and died in 1902, it gradually got worse. Mrs. Kirk passed away on the 12th of February and Mrs. Wayman was appointed in her place on the 7th of April.

The new Head Mistress worked hard to try and improve the standard of the school but her efforts appear to have been wasted, as the reports from the Inspectors’ were still not good. The report of 1905, stated that the infants class of 41 was to large, and if children under 5 continued to attend the staff must be increased. A few weeks previous to this report, Mrs. Wayman had sent home 6 children under 2 years of age. Although the idea of having a gallery in the infants, in the first school building was condemned by the H. M. Inspectors, it was still carried out in the second school, and again was condemned, but was not removed until just before the First World War.

When the new school building was erected, no drainage was laid for storm water, and foul water ran into a cess pool dug within a few feet of the building. In 1909, the drainage for storm water was put in and connected to the parish drain. By 1913, the floor in the Infants Class had to be replaced and the main floor repaired, and the foul water drainage taken through to the parish sewer.

On the 10th January, 1910, Edward Clee Peace, commenced duty as Head Master, and an immediate improvement of the school was to be seen. The report for 1910, reads as follows: — “The new Master is to be congratulated upon the great improvement which he has made in this school. The tone has much improved, the written exercises show both care and style and the elder children take an intelligent interest in their work, which used to be conspicuously absent.” No more reports of classes getting out of hand, children not behaving, either in school or between school and home, teachers not being able to teach their lessons properly. The discipline the school required had at last arrived. He added as many extra classes as was possible for the senior pupils to help them after they left school. Cookery and sewing for the girls, woodwork and gardening for the boys. He had more trouble getting suitable equipment to carry out the classes owing to shortage of money.

During the 1914-18 war, Mr Peace was called up for military service three times, but only for a few days each time. On the 19th November 1917, Mr. Mason, founder of the school and until 1916, a manager, died. The school was closed on the 21st, at dinnertime for his funeral.

On Wednesday, 24th November 1926, the ordinary work of the morning session finished at 11-15 a.m. owing to the visit of His Majesty King George V, to the Anglo Scottish Beet Company’s Works, Old Colwick. Through the kindness and labours of the Head Master and the Trent Concrete Company, the Teachers and Children had a special invitation to view the King. Also again in July 1928, 60 children were taken to Nottingham to see the Royal Procession, when King George V and Queen Mary paid a visit.

In September, 1927, Mrs. Ellen Dean, came to the school on a temporary basis and finished up staying on until she retired from teaching in 1941, and still resided afterwards on Chaworth Road.

On 30th September, 1936, Mr. Peace retired from being Head Master after nearly 27 years. In acknowledgement of his faithful service to the school, a farewell meeting was held in the main schoolroom, which was packed to capacity with parents, old scholars, present pupils and teachers who wished to say thank you.

In acknowledgement of the gifts he was presented with, he said that he had done his work, been paid his wages and was satisfied, and that he would remind them as a Yorkshireman of the Yorkshireman’s motto; “Hear all and say nowt.”

On 1st October, 1936, Cyril Robert Capwell replaced Mr. Peace, but be only stayed until the 16th February, 1937, and on 1st March, 1937, Harry James Padmore, was appointed and he also took over as organist and choirmaster at the Church. During his stay at Colwick, the school was reduced to a Junior School only. Senior Girls were transferred to the canton Girls’ School on Station Road, and the Senior Boys to Chandos Street Boys’ School, Netherfield. Following is a list of the examination results for 1937:—



Head Boy

Wilfred Breward

Head Girl

Vera Rippon

Highest Award — Boy — George Morgan     — Girl —Vera Rippon

Boys — Gordon Hear, John Harrison, Kenneth Jarratt, Henry Kirke
Girls — Joyce Bray, Doreen Dean, Dorothy Holland, Winifred Morgan.

Senior Boy Allen Whitehouse
Girl — Vera Frebury

Infants, Boy — Ronald Kirkham; Girl — Dulcie Pibn
I.— Brian. Day           
II.— Joan Brassington           
III.— Iris Spencer
IV. — Dennis Flear
V.— Doreen Pettinger
VI. — Wilfred Breward — Vera Rippon (equal)
VII. — Eileeen Shawcross

Mr. Padmore resigned in March, 1939, and James Wordley came as a temporary Head Master until the end of June. On 3rd July, 1939, Edward Cunliffe Lea was engaged as a permanent Head Master. Mr. Lea stayed for 9½ years and saw the school through the war period. He was also choirmaster and a member of the Parochial Church Council, and also gave quite a lot of time to running the Sunday School. During his time there in the spring of 1947, the school was closed for a week owing for the “Vale” being flooded, and in July of the same year, 525 yds of land at the rear of the building was rented to Spray & Burgesses for coal storage. Although the number of pupils at the school dropped as low as 45, by the time he left the discipline of the older pupils deteriorated, and also the standard of education. Ability to control children was not one of his best qualities.

On the 27th January 1949, Mr. Lea resigned for another position, and after a temporary Head Mistress had taken over for three months, George Sydney Wadsworth was appointed as head Master. During his stay of two years the school did show a little improvement, and the number of pupils began to increase. The school had a one day holiday on the 28th June, 1949 for the visit of H.R.E. Princess Elizabeth and H.RH. Duke of Edinburgh to Nottingham.

Mr. Wadsworth resigned as head Master in July, 1951, and Mr. Porter was appointed in his place. By this time the number of pupils had reached 88, with 36 infants, and in 1952, it was 95, with 45 infants. During 1951, the Local Education Authorities, talked of closing the school and transferring the pupils to Netherfield, but the Parochial church Council arid the School Managers, entered the school in the Barchester Scheme for retaining the school as “Aided Status” as a Church School. On the 4th July 1952, 31 of the children were taken on an outing to Liverpool and New Brighton, which was a new venture for the school. After a successful eight years at the school, in which the standard of the pupils had improved, at the end of 1959, Mr. Porter resigned his post to enter the Church.

On 1st January, 1960, the present Head Master, Mr. R.K. Brown, was appointed as Head Master. At about the same time, the vacant plot to the west of the school was purchased by L.E.A. for school extensions, but the land to be used at first for playing fields. At the School Managers Meeting in March 1964, the Diocesan Director of Education, was present, and addressed them on the subject of a new school and they decided to proceed with a Clasp Style building, which would be a much quicker proposition. Plans for the new school were shown to the Managers on 25th June, 1965, and the necessary steps taken to organise the financing of the project. Part of the money was raised by selling the land rented to Spray & Burgasses, to them.

Work on the New School was started in 1966, and the total cost was expected to be in the region of £33,046. The building was designed to have three classrooms, with allowance for a fourth, which was already in demand before the building was completed, plus an assembly hall etc. The school was taken over from the builders on the 7th January 1967, and by March of the same year tenders had been sent out for the fourth classroom. This was in rather desperate need as the number of pupils had gone over the hundred mark. The lowest tender of £7,238, sent in by H & E Loach of Colwick, was accepted. This work was carried out and. completed by the 28th February 1968, by which time the number of pupils numbered 129, which was 17 above the amount allowed for the additional classroom. Two years after the building had been taken over, it was officially opened by Mr. Robert McLeish, of Radio Nottingham.

During the last few years the out of school, activities of visits to places of interest and to local firms have been increased. The school also has started to compete with other local schools in various sports in which they have been very successful. The older children are at last receiving swimming lessons, which is a necessary need with the river Trent as one of the boundaries. In 1970, a Parent Teacher Association was started at the school to obtain more equipment it may be in need of.

Copy of Thompson’s Charity.

The Revd. WILLIAM THOMPSON, of West Bridgford, by his Will, bearing date 30th June, 1802, and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 1803, gave to his wife, for life, the dividends arising from 1,000 1. Consolidated three per cents, and after her death he gave the said stock to John Musters, esquire, and his heirs, and to the rectors of West Bridgford and Colwick, and their successors, for ever, in trust that they should pay two thirds of the said yearly dividends, or 20 1. per annum, to a proper person, to be by them elected, to instruct the children of such labourers and manufacturers in the parishes of West Bridgford and Colwick as should be deemed too poor to pay for them, in the rudiments of the Christian religion, reading, writing, and accounts, and that they should apply the other third part of the dividends of the said stock, or 10 1. a year, towards the clothing such of the said children as were most necessitous, or to the purchase of books for their use, or to the repairs of the school and dwelling house, then inhabited by Samuel Whites, which, with the assistance and permission of the said John Musters, esquire, the testator had built on the waste for the purpose of a school-room, and a dwelling-house for the master, at their discretion, and in whatever manner they should think proper; and this particular request was, that the trustees should be very attentive to the conduct of the said master that he performed his duty well.

The first receipt of dividends on account of this charity appears to have been in 1822, Mrs. Thompson, the donor’s widow, having died shortly before that time. Of the above—mentioned 1,000 1 stock 100 1. was sold for the payment of the legacy—duty, which amounted to 70 1. 6s. The produce of the sale was 80 1., and the residue of that sum was invested in the purchase of 12 1. of the same stock. There is now therefore belonging to the charity 912 1. Consolidated three per cents, standing in the names of John Musters, esquire, and the Revd. Levett Thoroton, rector of the parishes of West Bridgford and Colwick. The dividends thereof, amounting to 27 1. 7s. 2d. p.a. received by Messrs. Wright, bankers of Nottingham, and carried to a separate account, from which payments are made for the purpose of the charity on drafts drawn by the rector.

A salary 20 1 p.a. is paid to a schoolmaster, who resides in the house mentioned in the donor’s will, for instructing in the schoolroom adjoining thereto ten poor children of West Bridgford and Colwick, in reading, writing and arithmetic, and with the residue of’ the income, books and stationery are provided for the use of the children, and the school and master’s house are kept in repair. At the time of our enquiry there was a balance in the hands of the bankers of 5 1. 18s. 9d. in favour of the charity.

The children are appointed by the rector, who states, that in consequence of the small number of poor inhabitants resident in the two parishes, there is difficulty in keeping the number of ten children complete, and that he has therefore sometimes admitted into the school the children of persons belonging to although not residing in them. The master is allowed to take other scholars for whose instruction he is paid by their parents.

In the 1909 Terrier the charity was still worth £11 12s p.a.