Report on the opening of Marsden Council School

From the Colne Valley Guardian - 22.7.1910

"A handsome and imposing building".
"The building is bright, well-equipped and arranged on the most modem lines for the accommodation of 420 mixed scholars."

"The arrangement of the interior is for one large, lofty and well-lighted central hall, 60ft by 32ft to which access is gained through two entrances, one for boys and one for girls; adjoining the entrances adequate cloakroom and lavatory accommodation is provided. On each side of the central hall are ranged two classrooms, each opening into the main hall. At the front of the building are three more classrooms. On each side of the building are ranged rooms for the headmaster, stores and caretaker having access from the main hall by a short corridor. Over these rooms on the first floor are placed on each side rooms for the male and female assistants respectively. The gradient of the land is made use of by arranging under the front of the building large rooms for cookery and manual instruction and the heating chamber. Two additional entrances are placed here giving access to the basement rooms and to the central hall by means of a stone staircase. The heating, ventilation, conveniences and sanitation throughout are on the very latest principles. The buildings are of stone and of a substantial and pleasing appearance without the use of any actual ornamentation and have been erected at a cost of 6,190 pounds from the designs of the County Education architect under whose supervision the work has been carried out."

The Chairman, County Councillor John Whiteley, Chairman of the Colne Valley Education Committee, hoped "that the children would make good use of the advantages offered them and that the parents would assist by sending them to school regularly and allowing them to remain as long as possible." He "believed the teachers would use best and most earnest endeavours to fit the children for the vocations to which they might be called".

Mr. Samuel Firth JP officially opened the school with a handsome, inscribed gold key. The school, he said "would replace the Town School which, in future, would be used by the infants". He continued "the old Town School was opened in 1820. A number of educationalists met together and bought a site of freehold land for 19 pounds 10 pence. That site served for the school, a school house, a playground and there was also a garden". "In those days there were no Government grants and the fees charged were 4d. per week for reading, 8d. for reading and writing and 10d. for reading, writing and arithmatic." "The fees were revised and reduced later on but the fact that they were paid showed that the parents in those days exercised great sacrifices and self-denial in order to educate their children."

In 1876 the old school was considered too small and the present Town School was opened in 1878. Mr. McLintock was the head for seven and a half years. Mr. Griffiths, the present head was appointed in 1885. At that time there were only 141 scholars in both the mixed and infants' depamrents while to-day the number of children in attendance was 417 making a threefold increase in 25 years.

By 1910 the education authority were charged with many additional duties:

  • Increase in teachers' salaries - "for a long time the teachers in non-provided schools had been sweated" whereas now salaries had been brought up to the levels of teachers in provided schools.
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Employment of larger numbers of certificated teachers
  • Feeding and medical supervision of children
  • Better provision for defective children.

John Furniss of Slaithwaite referred to the abolition of half time schooling in Colne Valley which had been brought about chiefly by co-operation with employers and with the good will of parents.

After the ceremony Mr. Firth paid for the provision of tea for all 500 mixed and infant children of the Town School. In the evening games and sports were enjoyed by all in a field lent by Mr. Ernest Lockwood.

Mr. Griffiths was appointed the first headmaster, having transferred from the Town School.

Judi Thorpe October 2005