The Early Years or “And you thought you had it rough.” - A History by Arnold Snowball
In the 17th 18th and early part of the 19th Centuries not much credence was given to education, particularly in rural areas. What schools there were, were in poor buildings and as there were no such things as School teachers the job fell to priests who were ‘passing rich on £40 a year’ or ‘a decrepit parishioner too frail for physical work’ Their qualification was to know a little English and arithmetic and be able to recite the Catechism to the local Bishop, which when you think about it is a lot cheaper and quicker than a PGCE. Quakers were pioneers in education and as early as 1667 George Fox recommended setting up boarding schools around London. In 1691 representatives of 15 Friends Schools reported to Yearly meeting. Quaker parents were not advised to send their children to established Church schools as they ‘taught the dreaded catechism and corrupt ways’ and the language of the world. Cumberland Quarterly Meeting was one of the last to set up a School. Saffron Walden started in 1702, Ackworth in 1779 and Sidcot in 1808. In 1812 plans were put in place for the provision of a school and suitable premises were sought. A house at Highmoor was settled on being a sound building and quite near to the Meeting House? There was a suitable path across the fields so as not to go through the town. A 22 year lease was taken at £29 pa. with an option to cancel after eleven years. A sum of £3000 (the equivalent of £100,000 today) had to be raised from Quarterly meetings for making alterations (to a property they didn’t own) to accommodate 20 boys and 20 girls. The money raised was invested in Navy bonds!.
The school opened its doors to only 9 boys and 8 girls on the 4/09/1815. (names of months or days of the week were never used until about 1907) Fees were to be £14 p a. Many parents were not keen to send their children at that price so fees were halved in 1821. A major oversight was that if you have a school it would be a jolly good idea to have teachers. who of course had to be Quakers which meant virtually none were available. William Rothwell was appointed as Superintendent, this was an overseer not as a teacher, although both roles were joined much later. His wife Hannah was appointed as Housekeeper and a Samuel Evans was appointed teacher of the boys. They had ‘experience of schools’. Ongoing alterations to the building were detrimental to finding suitable staff and to the teaching of the pupils. Adverts were placed with Quarterly Meetings ‘throughout the Kingdom’ without success. Another issue that prevented recruitment of enough staff and affected finances was that two independent schools were run for Boys and Girls. Co-education was not introduced for another 64 years, they even had their own libraries.
The Rothwells gave their services free but left within a year. They were not replaced for four years when their places were taken by John and Mary Everett who only lasted a few months, and they were not replaced for five years when Josiah and Jane Hall from Alston were appointed as Superintendent and Housekeeper in 1825. In 10th month 1815 it was minuted that the bread, at present made from barley and rye was suitable and was to be continued. At the same time the Superintendent was to order cloth for boys waistcoats and coats the same kind and colour as that used at Ackworth, and one or two pieces of stuff for the girls. It was hoped that ladies at Carlisle Meeting would knit stockings for the boys.
The first list of School rules changed very little over the years. Pupils were to rise at 6am (which of course was dark for many months, how did they light their candles?) dress themselves quietly and orderly, endeavouring to begin the day in the fear of the Lord. When the bell rang for breakfast dinner or supper they were to assemble in silence having their faces and hands clean and hair combed, and that they refrain from talking or whispering in School. The daily time table was 7 -8 lessons, 9 – 11 lessons, 11 – 12 lessons, 2 – 5 spelling, dictation etc. 7pm – 8pm sens. Latin and French, Juniors prepare spelling. In the first accounts presented in 1817 one item was £9 10s for ‘Ale and beer’ and this continued till 1837 and varied from £2 to £10 pa. It was not specified whether it was for staff or pupils -boys at Ackworth were allowed to brew their own beer.
Ten years after the school opened it was obvious that Highmoor was unable to expand any further and new, bigger premises had to be found. Enter Thomas Richardson a wealthy London banker and great supporter of Friend’s Schools, especially Wigton. I think it is fair to say that without his very generous financial support Brookfield would not have survived. He purchased two small fields at Brookfield of about three and a half acres for £350 and a further field for £170. He donated £650 towards the building fund then paid a further £1400 (the shortfall between income and cost). On a number of years he paid off the schools deficit under the name ‘Anonymous’ He donated two valuable globes and a telescope. In 1839 he gave 2 shares in the Stockton and Darlington Railway worth £265 each. Then two half shares. He set up a fund to pay fees for poor non-members. He paid for the original West Gate. He donated many books and in his will he left sufficient funds to a number of Friend’s school to generate an income of £30 pa. He was very popular with the pupils because when he visited he always brought sweets and gave a half day holiday.
The first estimate for the cost of the building at Brookfield was £2000 to be raised by donations from individuals and contributions from Quarterly Meetings. It was to accommodate 20 boys and 20 girls and the possibility of extending to 30 of each. Detailed descriptions of all the work and materials used were carefully documented. The overseer of the work was Robert Layfield on a salary of 25/- a week, with a bonus of 3/- a week if the Committee were pleased with his work. Men employed on the building were to be given a supper of bread, cheese and ale, this not to exceed three pints each. The Lord moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. The good Ship ‘North Star’ set out from New Brunswick in 1825 bound for Lothian with a cargo of good Canadian Timber. The skipper managed to get all the way across the Atlantic but when trying to navigate the tides of the Solway managed to run aground at Beckfoot. Now imagine a scene from Poldark with the good Quaker ladies and gentlemen of Beckfoot and Allonby wading thigh deep in the surf rescuing timber that might be used in the construction of a school. It then had to be horse-drawn as had everything else to Wigton. The estimate had risen to £4000 and contributions fell short by about £1400 which was made up by Thomas Richardson, who had already given £650 to the original appeal. The actual move from Highmoor to Brookfield took place in November 1826. ‘The Family’ then consisted of 21 boys and 21 girls under the stewardship of John Hall, from Alston, his wife Jane Hall had joined him as Housekeeper in February 1827. So here we are ‘The Family’ nicely settled into the Brookfield that we all knew and loved. But was it? William Walker Dixon from Toddell near Cockermouth wrote of his life at Brookfield 80 years after he started:-
It can’t have done him that much harm as he lived till he was 92. He never left Toddell. ‘He has gone to his rest beloved by all leaving a rare example of rectitude and true living having throughout worn the white flower of a blameless life. Thomas Williamson Williamson friend came to School from Allonby in 1826 and didn’t go home till he left in 1829 again without leaving school for a single day.
In August 1827 the boys, not the girls, were examined by John Dalton and male members of the Committee.
‘The boys read well and are free from provincialisms noted last year. The boys generally read well and their improvement from last year was evident. In Arithmetic sum books appeared neat and they are mostly expert in their tables’ (Pupils didn’t sit exams they stood them). The move to Brookfield from Highmoor meant cancelling the 22 year lease after 11 years. This apparently was not carried out properly and the landlord Joseph Hodge insisted that a further 11 years rent was to be paid of £300.(£14,500) Superintendent Joseph Hall was sent hot foot with a bribe of £100 (£4000) but this was turned down. To add insult to injury the said Joseph Hodge made a claim of £30 for dilapidation to the premises. This was upheld by an arbitrator in Carlisle. With no option but to pay the rent the Committee sublet Highmoor to recoup some of the cost. Joseph and Mary Hall retired in 1829 after giving their services free. The Committee, being very pleased with the services they had given agreed to present them with a few gifts:- six silver tablespoons, one silver dream jug and moreen for hanging a bed. Total cost £14 15s.
The first ever holiday of three weeks was introduced in 1832. This was to stop parents taking pupils away at any time and was very strict in what came back to school, strictly no food or non-uniform clothing. Parents had been ‘injudicious and sent their children back with such things as butter, cheese, sweet loaves and the like to the annoyance of the Housekeeper. Thomas Richardson set up a fund to pay for poorer pupils to attend and gave £45 to create a bigger playground for the boys. The Committee failed to find a suitable Friend as Superintendent until Thomas Hall was appointed in August 1840. During this time the schools were often left in sole charge of Apprentices, or Student teachers who could be as young as 14.
In 1838, a married teacher, Alfred Barter asked the Committee if it would be possible to build him and his wife a house. It was agreed and the house, what we know as Hillside, was built but again well over budget and sadly Mr Barter died before he had moved in! He was a very popular teacher known as Alfred the Great. He started the boys’ Association in 1838. This was for 4th and 5th year students and was very popular. To be accepted pupils had to submit an essay. The meetings were held every month in the evening. One halfpenny was paid each meeting but supper was provided! It still existed in our time but without the halfpenny charge. The interesting thing about Mr Barton is that he appears to have died twice, depending on which document you read. One document says that he died of Pulmonary disease in March 1840. The more romantic version was that he often visited Carlisle on horseback on one of his journeys he was thrown from his horse and died of his injuries a few days later at the home of a Carlisle Friend. The writer attended his funeral in a ‘commodious chaise’. He also said he was the Superintendent, which he wasn’t! The summer holiday was extended to 4 weeks in 1841 and was to stay at that for ten years. In March 1843 plans were shown to committee of the proposed route of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway which came perilously close if not through the grounds. The route was moved but a request by the Committee to have a request stop was turned down.
Thomas Hall left after three years and was succeeded by Isaac Clerk in 1843, who moved into the new house. He made the mistake of teaching the boys about the Magna Carta and subsequently found himself locked in a cupboard until he agreed to the relaxation of certain rules and more holidays, which were granted - then he left. His place was taken by Charles Barnard in 1845. He married shortly after being appointed Superintendent and Headmaster, his wife Mary Ann Ord was appointed Housekeeper, sadly she died soon after in Jan 1847.Charles ‘began paying attention to the Senior Apprentice’. This did not go down well with the Committee and he was asked to resign and the ladies apprenticeship cancelled but broadminded parents from Newcastle got together and demanded CB’s reinstatement. After due consideration he was asked to return on an increased salary raised from £120 to £135 pa and given the Lodge and a garden to live in with his new wife.
In some of his time he was superintendent, teacher, secretary and anything else. If he had to leave school at any time it was ‘not as it was on his return’!
The next few years were a time of turmoil with many changes of staff in both schools the senior mistress on the girl’s side was asked to leave and in CBs time he was asked to give attention to the unacceptable behaviour and language of the boys. He resigned in 1851. In 1852 a small committee was appointed to look into the possibility of lighting the premises with gas. Gas had arrived in Wigton and it was hoped that it could be piped to Brookfield but it couldn’t be so they set about creating their own gas plant in 1857. The cost of the gas plant was estimated at £300 to be raised by donation, only £150 was raised and the cost was actually £600. This also revealed that the school accounts were in a bad way, they were some £900 overdrawn at the bank at 10% so £1200 Railway stock were sold and a major shake-up of the finance committee took place. It is however gratifying to know that the gas house yard did actually produce gas and was not just for extra-curricular human biology experiments. It ceased to produce gas in 1887 when it was eventually piped from Wigton. In the years from 1851 to 1860 there were no fewer than four Superintendents including Sarah Walker, a member of the School Committee when no man could be found. In the years between 1815 and 1860 £5,306 was received in legacies.
Many visitors came to speak to the pupils (all by horse) they included Elizabeth Fry in 1851. In the first 45 years of the Schools history there were no fewer than ten Superintendents. The longest any of them stayed was six years. One of them Henry Barren Smith decided to keep costs down by reducing food. The boys had plans to supplement their meagre rations by lowering a small boy down the coal chute on a rope to get access to the bake house and would be pulled back up with a loaf of bread. In 1858 the strip of land between the road and the Railway was purchased by William Dodgson who was the first day boy in 1835 specifically for Freddie Bell to keep his chickens on. In 1860 the school was at a very low ebb in almost every department the girls school was doing well but the boys side hadn’t had a superintendent or headmaster for the last year so the only male teacher was a youth. Boys left and were not replaced, so numbers were low, education standards had fallen and finances were in an unsatisfactory state. Then at last the Committee had a Master stroke by appointing Martin Lidbetter as Superintendent and Headmaster. He was to stay at the helm for the next 33 years. A former pupil and teacher at Ackworth he was an outstanding character, a true Quaker gentleman, well loved and respected for the whole of his tenure. He arrived with his wife Elizabeth but she died within two years of arriving. Although a strict disciplinarian he also had a good sense of humour and joined the boys in many activities including getting up at 4am when there was a severe frost to supervise the boys getting buckets of water from the baths to pour down the front to make a slide. He was well known for marching down to meeting with the boys, his umbrella over his shoulder military fashion. The first written exams were introduced in 1861. Prior to this all exams were oral and the candidate stood.
The possibility of a Christmas holiday was proposed in 1862 but many parents were against the idea. A trial holiday was held in 1863 with pupils being given the choice of two weeks winter holiday or stay at school, staff had to stay at school. An adverse bank balance had been building up for 15 years and in 1866 fees were raised and parents were asked to supply all pupils clothing which had previously been paid for by the school and non-Quaker pupils were admitted.
In 1867 Eliza Walpole was appointed house-keeper and she married Martin Lidbetter six years later. The wedding was celebrated with a huge party.
Daily routines for pupils had changed very little since the opening of Brookfield. Meals and lessons were to be in complete silence. There were no pictures on the walls and absolutely no music except for the melodiously whistling of one boy to who ML said ‘If I could spend an hour with thee I could disabuse thy mind of thy liking for music’. Hymns were read not sung. There had to be no resemblance of acting but one lady teacher started an ‘As you like it’ reading circle reading Shakespeare. Somehow all the books disappeared. Co-education was not introduced until 1882. Pupils walked down to Meeting three times a week. If an adult knelt in prayer the boys had to stand and face the door until the adult regained their seat. A very rare occasion when the not so gentle side of ML was seen was when he returned to School on one occasion to be welcomed by screams of laughter from the whole school watching a travelling punch and Judy show. He got rid of the operator sharply then lectured the pupils about no form of violence being acceptable.
The love, admiration and respect held for Martin was shown by the 200 pupils, former pupils, past and present members of staff and friends with and without a capital f that turned up to celebrate his 70th birthday in 1890. Such was the gathering in the lecture room that supports were put in the dining room to prevent the ceiling from falling in. He was presented with a silk purse containing 100 guineas, about £7000 today. Eliza was presented with a silver tea service suitably engraved to mark the occasion. Remember that all 200 visitors about half in long dresses or skirts, must have arrived by horse transport in one kind or another. How the mushroom growers of Wigton must have rejoiced! Where were the horses kept and fed? It was of course at this great coming together of former pupils that our Old Scholars Association was born. Originally called ‘Old Wigton Scholars Association’ it was set up to ‘create a common bond amongst hundreds of Old Scholars and to help all manner of good work done at the school’ A donation of 2/6 each was asked for. The first AGM was held at School on 17th June 1891. The number of Members that responded was 170 and the annual fee was to be 1/-. The first President was John Hall Watson of Cockermouth and he was re-elected for the next nine years. In his address to the AGM of the 24th Aug 1899 he remarked on the advancement of electricity and the telephone. He said that he had heard that there were now 150,000 telephones in use in the UK and it has become possible for any house in England to speak to any other house, rather an appalling idea for the average householder. John sadly died when he was still in office in 1902. He had been manager of the Carlisle City Bank for 44 years till it became Midland. He was succeeded by Thomas Wigham after his three years in the position and it was decided that in future Presidents should only be in office for one year. It was also proposed the re-unions should be for two days.
Excursions The first re-unions met at school but then went off on excursions often with some pupils. It was amazing how far they travelled and again by horse power, bicycle, on foot and eventually motor vehicle, together with long skirts, dresses and large hats. The AGM was often held at the end of the excursion. They travelled widely throughout north Cumberland and even forays over the border. I have selected two short extracts to speak about. The first took place in 1903 ‘Early Friday morning. 100 mouths had to be fed before catching the 7 o’clock train from Wigton en-route to Braithwaite and Grisedale pike. The second in 1914 to Grasmere in motor Char-a-bancs; ‘We soon left Bothel, Castle Inn and Bassenthwaite behind, then stopped at Keswick to quench the Motor’s thirst. We were about to climb a steep hill which our Chary took in its stride but at the summit it began to run back and then suddenly stopped and one of the hind wheels fell off, some of the ladies got a bit excited. We found that the axle had snapped. As there was no mobile signal two OSs legged it back to Keswick and returned with two horse drawn waggonettes.
The first balance sheet I have is from 1896 and shows a balance of £12 in hand and the annual income and expenditure was £21 9s and 11 p.
In 1891, The first graduate, Joseph Jopling was appointed to the Staff. The quality of teachers improved considerably from then and at least 11 went on to become Headmasters as far afield as Hobart in Tasmania, Lisburn in NI and Saffron Waldren
Two years later JJJ was invited to be Superintendent and Headmaster after the retirement of Martin Lidbetter. He moved to live in Wigton but still came up to school almost every day, on foot or by dog cart to help with paper work until his eyesight failed. He died in 1905 aged 85, his wife Eliza died in 1907. Joseph Jopling stayed as Head till 1923 so there had been seven superintendents for the first forty-five years and two for the next sixty-three.
When OS had sufficient funds to allocate, one of the first things they did was to award an annual prize of £1 each to the Natural History Club and for swimming. For many years the emphasis at school wasn’t on academic success as Quakers as dissenters were not allowed to attend university. The Nature Club produced some splendid work over the years and it seems that pupils were allowed to wander off on the free Wednesday afternoon to collect plant samples and observe nature whilst swimming in the Waver! Every Year there were competitions, judged by a knowledgeable OS for mounted and identified wild flowers and Nature diaries. Prizes were monetary, donated yearly by OS and varied from 4/- to a halfpenny. An on-going list of wild flowers identified reached 425 in 1913. Every encouragement was given to get boys and girls to swim - 1d a length this was increased to 1/- to the dismay of OS who only got a penny. There was an obsession about distance swimming. A mile in my day and at Wigton baths, where life-saving exams were taken. Distances swum kept on increasing till 1925 when Leslie Graham swam four miles. 480 lengths! In 1898 the idea of presenting an Old Scholars Scholarship was put forward. This was agreed in principle but there was a lot of discussion as to where the money, (£20 recommended over £1000 today) was coming from. The usual method of fund raising by donation was put in place to raise sufficient capital to pay the Scholarship from interest received. This took a long time and it wasn’t till 1905 that it was achieved, though awards were made before that. One suggestion put forward to raise money for the fund by John Williamson (the most common OS surname) said ‘Modest people who do not visit school and to whom it would be a kindness to relieve them of their wealth!’ Prior to 1899 pupils had been examined orally by Committee members but in that year pupils were entered in the College of Preceptors exams in Scripture, Arithmetic, Drawing, Grammar and Geography. One boy Lawrence Taylor topped the honours list with 4 1sts. Annie Clayton was 2nd with 2 1sts and 2 2nds. However at GM LWT was disqualified by the time limit rule and the Scholarship was given to Annie I understand there is still time for an appeal. He obviously did not take offence, he had run a carving class at school and went on to be very successful architect, school being one of his clients. He was also a great benefactor making and donating the Scholarship and War memorial boards. He was the first OS appointed to the School Committee andhe designed and I think built the New West Gate. He was President of OS in 1933/4 and died in 1939.
At the AGM in 1899 it was decided that the association would be called ‘Wigton Old Scholars Association’ On Guy Fawkes night boys collected sticks and potato tops to make a fire to show their hatred of Popish plots. Apparently there was no fire but lots of smoke. In 1900 the number of wild flowers exhibited for the competition was to be limited to 60! Others could be collected but not displayed. The year after in the swimming report, it read ‘In addition to the swimming and diving competitions two girls received prizes for floating’. For how long or where is not recorded, nor the colour or condition of their skin at the end!
Rachel Hall in encouraging girls to take part in competitions remembered winning a halfpenny!
The arrival of the new century does not appear to be celebrated in any way, but major alterations and improvements were made to the building, particularly involving sanitation and heating costing £1700 (£9700 today) When the fields were bought to build the school on this site it did not include any playing fields. A lot of games matches took place but on the front, which had been levelled!! This included many matches against other schools in football, cricket and hockey as well as a version of sports days. Can you imagine playing football, or bowling uphill. One of the events in a limited number of events on sports day was ‘Kicking the football’ I should imagine if it was kicked from in front of the school it would probably finish up at Sunnymede.
A day holiday ‘Peace Monday’ was given to celebrate the end of the Boer War in 1902. The same year a field across the brook was rented for 21 years originally only as a cricket pitch. It was eventually bought outright in 1905. After a lot of debate OS funded a cricket pavilion, at a cost of £15 to be built where the caretakers cottage was in our time before being moved to the top of the field. In 1904 there was a heated debate at Committee as to whether or not to buy a roller for the cricket pitch with a cost of £6 it was ‘negatived’ and ‘we will continue to hire one from Pat Carr’. The next year however it was approved and was to be bought at a cost not exceeding £6. In 1904 a three term year was introduced. In 1910 the whole school went to Carlisle to hear Sir Ernest Shackleton speak on his attempt to reach the South Pole and Capt. Evans on the preparation of Capt. Scott’s doomed expedition
The first week end re-union was celebrated by 80 OSs in 1906.
Shorthand was removed from the time table to be replaced by elocution lessons in an attempt to get rid of the Cumberland dialect.
By 1912 ideas were being put forward as to how to celebrate the Schools Centenary in 1915. One of them was to produce a ‘History of Wigton School’. This did take place but all other arrangements were put on hold by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the beginning of the First World war or as they called it then the ‘Great European War’. Weekend re-unions were cancelled but the AGM’s were held as normal. The Old Scholars Magazine wasn’t published for three years. The centenary was eventually celebrated on the 2nd August 1919 when between 250 and 300 Old Scholars turned up. How did they get there and where were all the vehicles parked?. Josiah Hall chaired the meeting which was very fitting as his Grandparents, Joseph and Jane Hall were Superintendent and Housekeeper when ‘The Family’ moved from Highmoor to Brookfield. He had been Treasurer since OS started. It had been decided a while ago that for this auspicious occasion Walter Corder was elected President, sadly ill health prevented him from being there so his Brother Herbert was elected to take his place. The principal speaker was the Head of Ackworth. Other honoured guests and OS made speeches celebrating the schools achievements of the last 100 years. The ‘History of the School’ had sold half of the 500 copies printed at 4/- plus 6d postage.
The schools centenary coincided with the 25th year of Joseph Jopling’s headship and 21 years of Miss Walker’s Mistress of the household. There were again many speeches showing how loved and respected they had been. They were each presented with a cheque for £130 about £2700 today. At this time the School was full and there was a waiting list for boarders. When JJJ arrived there were 74 pupils, now there are 96. The meeting was closed on a sad note when everyone stood as the head read out the names of the 21 ex-pupils who lost their lives in the War, he was to write to all their parents. It was quite sobering to see names on the list of pupils who had been prize winners only five years earlier. Meeting house was packed on the Sunday, First day with a capital F. About 200 stayed for tea on Monday. So ended what I’m sure was the best week-end in OS history.
And later a few events
In 1922 the School was recognised by the Education Board and the Old Scholars blazer was designed with green, brown, white and purple stripes with a monogram WS as the badge. Cost 46/-. It was another eight years before the School Badge was designed, a green background with the blue brook running through with the scales of science on one side and the lamp of learning on the other. There was a lot of discussion about the motto a number of traditionalists wanted a latin one but you all know what won. On either side of a torch at the top it said Wigton School, this was later changed to Brookfield. Joseph Jopling retired in 1923 and died in 1932. The next year the new West gate was erected as his memorial. Very strange that the much loved Martin Lidbetter was only recognised two years later and 30 years after his death the Martin Lidbetter tree Cedra Atlantica Glauca was planted.
In 1926 there were 572 OSs.
On the stairs leading down to the junior boys changing room there was an iron hand rail and there was a story, urban myth, that someone, one frosty morning put his tongue on it and it stuck fast. This tale obviously goes back a long way. A very long way. In the 1870s the tale was being retold one very frosty morning that someone had put their tongue on the frosted rail and how someone had to rush to the kitchen for some warm water to successfully release the tongue. One of the listeners, either James Fenwick or James MacDonald, not sure which as it was a joint article was dared to put his tongue on the frozen iron and they accepted the challenge. In their own words, ‘Alas no sooner did my tongue touch the metal that it was held fast squarely on the rail. The cry went up to rush for hot water but thinking this unnecessary I shut my eyes and pulled. For days I had to walk around like a dog in summer and had little nourishment other than milk. The rail it turns out wasn’t the one in the yard as the one where earlier events took place was removed in 1938.
In 1901 it was proposed that re-unions should last for 2 days. At the same AGM it was decided to buy ‘Purple Monkey’?
In 1912 there was a major building programme with the addition of the gym, changing rooms, lab, music rooms, craft rooms and bedrooms as well as improvements to sanitation and heating. There were now 6 pianos and 3 violins in the school. In the same year £10 was raised to outfit and pay the passage of a Barnardo’s boy to Canada. One of the main projects to celebrate the centenary was the production of a School History. This didn’t have an Editor as such but a number of well-respected OSs were invited to contribute a chapter. It was on sale for 4s.
Do you remember? Tirzah various spelling first mentioned in 1896, Treat night, Collect, Please, monthly walks, bonfire night, pug and brambling in 1921 after several excursions ¼ of a ton was picked.
On-going saga The swimming pool was made/dug/built in 1832 making it certainly the earliest pool in a school in Cumberland and probably further afield. In 1896 Guielma S Watson proposed the Swimming Bath should be covered-in, heated, and lined with white tiles. In the 1901 report it stated that the swimming season could be extended if the pool was covered and heated. At GM in 1903 Charles Waterfall, son of W B commented that ‘bricks on the bottom of the pool were an improvement on the rough sandstone flags and the water appeared to be slightly cleaner, that is since he left in 1866!! In 1914 there was a proposal to cover and heat the swimming pool est £500 - £1000. Richard Hall commented that there was nothing wrong with the pool except the water wasn’t changed often enough and that bathing in warm water in winter would weaken scholars. Pupils were prevented from using Wigton Baths for risk of infection. This decreed by a Head whose Baths nobody had seen the bottom of for many years. In 1924 President James MacDonald suggested that lighting in the school should be improved and the baths should be heated and covered. In 1947 very detailed drawings and costings were made for covering and heating but nothing happened. It was left to Louis Abraham to make a last attempt. Ackworth Baths were covered and heated in 1899
Some notable Old Scholars
In the 1840s there were only between 16 – 20 boys in the school. They were known for being mischievous. Among them was John Mark from Hesket, Brothers John and Raylton Dixon from Newcastle and Benjamin and Hudson Scott from Carlisle. John Mark (who was one of the poor boys funded by Thomas Richardson) became Sir John, he became Mayor of Manchester and Manager of their Water company when the negotiations were being carried on to extract water from Thirlmere. Raylton Dixon became Sir Raylton owner of one of the biggest ship builders in the country at Middlesborough, employing 2,500 men. His elder brother John a London engineer was responsible for bringing Cleopatra’s needle from Egypt to London. It was unearthed in Egypt and towed to England in a special canister he had designed. Benjamin Scott became Sir Benjamin and was Mayor of Carlisle on a number of occasions and a Freeman of the City. With his brother Hudson they created a company called Hudson Scott colour printers and can manufacturers which was to become Metal Box a multi-national company and still the biggest employer in Carlisle. An interesting life of an OS was that of W B Waterfall, splendid name. He started at Brookfield in 1859 and left when he was 15. Despite parental objections he joined the Mercantile marine. His first vessel was the ‘Stanley’ a famous tea clipper. His first voyage lasted 3 years. When he was 19 he brought the ship back from Cape Horn after the death of the Captain. At 20 he was given command of her and retired from the sea at 23 to join his father’s Fertiliser firm. On the sports side Woodville Gray was at school from 1874 – 1879 before moving to Bootham. He became the first 17 year old to play football for Scotland (CW remembers him well!). One history says rugby - not true. He was the son of William Gray a Quaker and proprietor of Gray Dunn biscuits. He went on to represent Scotland on a number of occasions and played for Queens Park against Blackburn Rovers in the 1885 Cup final. Bill Stout from Whitehaven who was at school from 1908 - 1912 was one of five golfing brothers at Seascale. In 1928 he became English Amateur Golf Champion and played for England from 28 – 32 and for great Britain in the Walker Cup in 30 and 32. TWH McEageen won the Isle of Man Junior Amateur TT in 1928.
In 1928 a Joint reunion was held in Penrith for OSs from Wigton, Ackworth, Ayton and Bootham. The same year a re-union was planned for OSs in the Liverpool area and a London one in 1946.
Centenary Celebrations 1919
Finale At the 100th Celebration J E Brown – Humes said :- This day will long live in our memories, it is a landmark in the history of WS and most of us here today have lived long enough to realise that although we do not think so at the time our school days really are our best days and as the years go by we shall never forget the Old School, and we are happy in the assurance that if we never disgrace WS it will never disgrace us. Chairman Josiah Hall said :- With advances in education great changes were likely to be made but hoped that Brookfield would be allowed to remain for another 100 years.