In consequence of increased and cheap railway accommodation for the working classes afforded by the London and North-Western Railway Company at Castlethorpe, many of the men employed in the Wolverton Works have taken up their residence in this village within the past few years. As a consequence the Voluntary school, which was mainly supported by Lord Carrington, who owns most of the property district, was found to be quite unable to provide the accommodation required, and many of the children had to go to Hanslope, some mile and three-quarters distant. Consequently it was found necessary to erect a new school at Castlethorpe by the School Board formed. It is situated almost in the centre of the village, and is one of the most prominent buildings. The site, with compensation to cottage holders, was about £240 and the buildings, together with the Schoolmaster’s house, has cost about £2,000. The school is of brick, with Bath stone dressing, the roof being covered with Brisley tiles. Over the principle entrance is a small tower, in which a bell is placed, and in the lower-front of which there is a clock. Accommodation is provided for about 150 children and the large room being 46ft. 6in.by 20ft., the classroom 18ft. by 17ft., and the infants’ room 20ft. by 17ft. At each of the entrances there is a well-arranged lavatory and cloak-room, and every necessary detail has been fully considered, the architects having displayed great judgement in this respect. The rooms are warmed by Stainton’s medium pressure hot water system, and every attention has been paid to ventilation. The floors are of wood blocks, and every detail for comfort, cleanliness and warmth has been brought into requisition. Outdoor exercise has not been forgotten, as at the rear of the school there are spacious playgrounds, which have been laid with asphalt. In addition to the Schools there is also a well-arranged residence for the Schoolmaster and mistress. The School and buildings generally have been erected from the designs of Messrs. H. H. Dyer and Son, architects, of Newland, Northampton, and the builders were Messrs. Adnitt and Everard, of Rushden; and they have given general satisfaction. The clock in the tower was supplied by Messrs. Knight and Son, of Northampton, Mr. J. Ward, of Northampton, did the asphalting of the school-yard, and Messrs. Wake and Dean, of London, supplied the school fittings. The opening of the school on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 15, was the occasion of a large gathering, it having been announced that Lord and Lady Carrington, the former of whom was the late Governor of New South Wales, would take part in the ceremony. Among those present were Mr. G. Rainbow (Chairman of the School Board), Mr. C. Whiting (Vice-chairman), Mr. G. Richardson, Mr. C. Jones, Mr. W. Manning, Mr. T. Osborne (Clerk), Mr. Adams (Chairman of the Hanslope School Board), Mr. Smart (vice-chairman), Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Rose, Mr. Checkley, the Rev. Hawksley Westall, Mrs. Whiting, the Rev. M. A. Nicholson, the Rev. F. Varney, the Misses Varney, the Rev. F. W. Harnett, the Rev. M. Tuckwell, Mr. Symington, Mr. Fitzsimons, Mr. King, Mrs. and Miss Watts, Miss Brownrigg, Miss Cox, Mr. Jonas, sen., Mr. Jonas, jun., Mr. Grimes, Mr. and Mrs. Pike, Mrs. Checkley, Mr. T. Amos, Mr. Shrimpton, Mr. and Mrs. Quixley, Mr. E. Williams, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Coxall, Mr. Kemp, Mr. J. Plant, Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Brearley, Mr. East, and Mr. A. Lampitt. The front of the improvised platform in the large room was prettily decorated with flowers by Mrs. C. and the Misses Whiting, and prior to the proceedings Mr. Bartholomew, of Great Linford, photographed the members of the Board. On Lord and Lady Carrington making their appearance on the platform there was hearty cheering, and Lady Carrington was presented by little Miss Dorothy Louise Whiting with a handsome bouquet, which her ladyship graciously acknowledged. The opening ceremony commenced by the singing of the hymn “All people that on earth do dwell,” in which the whole of the large company joined. Letters of apology were next read from Mr. C. A. Park, Wolverton; Mr. Worley and Mr. Hudson, Stony Stratford.
The Clerk of the Board (Mr. T. Osborne) read the following: “At the request of the Chairman, I have pleasure in submitting a short statement for your consideration, relative to the important work which has culminated in the erection of this handsome and commodious school. I simply propose taking a short survey of the work actually done by the Board during the time they have been in office. At the outset I beg to remark that the spirit which has animated the Board in their efforts has been a desire to do their duty, and to accomplish something that will meet present necessities and yet be capable of development so as to be adequate for the requirements of the future. Their task has been an arduous one and one of great responsibility. They have been entrusted with the power of providing a school to supply the Elementary Education of the children of this parish. This power is confirmed upon School Boards by the Elementary Education Act of 1870. Section 19 of the said Act reads as follows:- ‘Every School Board for the purpose of providing sufficient Public School accommodation for their district, whether in obedience to any requisition or not, may provide, by building or otherwise, schoolhouses properly fitted up, and improve, enlarge and fit up any schoolhouse provided by them, and supply school apparatus and everything necessary for the efficiency of the schools provided by them, and purchase and take on lease any land, and any right over land, or may exercise any such powers.’ I would also like to add that the same authority which delegated this power to local bodies has power to take it away if not properly performed. See Elementary Education Act 1870, Section 18. The Board, therefore, were bound to carry out their work in accordance with the requirements of the Education Department. When they were elected to office in the 1858, the Voluntary School had been closed for three months because the accommodation was insufficient to meet the increased demand. The question then arose whether it would be better to enlarge the old school or build a new one. Acting, after the fullest consideration, upon the advice of one of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools, who visited the district, they decided to erect a new one, and with this object in view negotiations were commenced for the purchase of a suitable site of land. Four sites were suggested, but the one most approved of was that known as the “Tithe Close.” The Inspector also strongly recommended this site as the most eligible of the four for School premises. In his report to the Education Department, he stated that no objection would be offered, that it was central, sufficient, and that it commanded a good frontage with ample road room before it on which children would be dismissed without interfering with the traffic, and was the only site which the Board could take on the morrow and begin building operations on without waiting for elaborate draining of marshes or demolition of buildings. However, the Board failed to secure this site, and in consequence of serious objections against the two other sites offered, and the high price asked for the land, viz., £500 per acre, the Board began to turn their attention towards the one upon which the School now stands. Before taking any definite action in the matter, they convened a meeting of rate payers to confer with them. At this meeting Mr. Parker was present on behalf of the L. & N. W. Railway Company, who are the largest ratepayers in the parish. The rateable value of their land in this parish is £7,850 a very important item. Mr. Parker advised the Board to use every effort to secure this site. Accordingly, the Lincoln Corporation were approached and eventually they agreed to let the Board have a rood of land for £90. In order to give the necessary frontage to the school the Board were obliged to buy out two small holders of freehold property a blacksmith’s shop and a barn for which they paid £150 for compensation making the total cost of the site £240. Before building operations were commenced, a certificate had to be obtained from the medical Officer of Health, showing that the proximity of grave yard would not injuriously affect the health of the children who attended the school. The purity of the water in the well on the site had to be ascertained. Several samples were submitted to the Public Analyst for examination, the result being satisfactory. Plans of School and Master’s House were then asked for by the Education Department, and accordingly prepared in conformity with their Building Rules by the Board’s architect, Mr. H. H. Dyer, Northampton. In drawing up these plans calculations were made for the accommodation of 120 children, but according to the Department’s Architect there is accommodation for 138, allowing 8 sq. ft. for each child. The population of this parish in 1881 was 389. At the census taken in April last it was 441, showing an increase of 112 or 3½ per cent. Assuming the same rate of increase during the next 10 years, the accommodation provided will be barely sufficient. The plans of the School after undergoing several modifications, were finally approved, and it was decided that tenders for the execution of the work should be obtained. In answer to the advertisement the Board received 13 tenders the highest being £2,188 and the lowest, which was accepted by them, being £1,750. The Public Works Loan Commissioners, on the recommendation of the education Department, resolved that a loan not exceeding £2,097 should be granted to the Board, upon security of a charge upon the School Fund and Local Rate, such loan to be repaid in 35 years by equal half-yearly instalments of principal with interest, at 3½ per cent per annum on the principal sum from time to time remaining unpaid. Considering the rateable value of the parish, which is £10,137, and this easy mode of repayment, the School Board rate will be comparatively low. The Board have secured the services of a fully certified master and mistress to take charge of the school, and we hope that parents will do their bet to secure the very best possible attendance.
The Rev. W. Hawksley Westall next addresses a few words to the meeting, and in the course of them he expressed his pleasure at the opening of the Schools in the village, and the hope that education given would be of a thoroughly efficient character. He also hoped the Board would exercise economy in the course of their transactions, as that was very necessary. He welcomed Lord and Lady Carrington among them, and thanked them for the interest they had taken in the Schools.
Mr. T. Osborne then presented an address of welcome to Lord and Lady Carrington on behalf of the members of the Board, as follows:- “To the Right Honourable Lord Carrington, G.C.M.G., We, the members of the Castlethorpe School Board, avail ourselves of this opportunity of welcoming your Lordship on your first visit to this village, since your return from New South Wales, where you so conspicuously displayed your administrative abilities. We also desire to express our warmest thanks to you and your esteemed wife, for so kindly accepting our invitation to open this school. We sincerely trust this visit will be the precursor of other to follow, because we believe they would contribute toward the establishment of that good feeling between all classes of society which is so essential in a free and prosperous country. We further trust that you and your devoted wife may be blessed with health and happiness, and will be long spared to take a prominent part in those things which are calculated to enhance the happiness of mankind.
Lord Carrington, in reply, thanked the Board on behalf of Lady Carrington and himself for the address, and said it was a great pleasure to them to attend at Castlethorpe that day, as it was there he had spent many happy days of his childhood. He had a great respect for his tenantry in the village and neighbourhood, and much regretted the loss by death of Mr. Whiting and Mr. Amos, but was glad to hear that their sons were still carrying on the farms in the same excellent manner as their fathers did before them. He was pleased with the building the Board had erected , and hoped the village would greatly develop in the future, and the children, who would have the management of the place in the future when District Councils were adjusted, would receive a good education. His lordship referred to the thrifty habits of the workmen in the employ of the London and North-Western Railway Company, the latter of whom had been the making of the village, and said he should be glad to lay out a piece of land so that those who desired might purchase their own freehold building sites to build homes upon at a very moderate cost, a remark which was received with hearty cheers. He further stated he was pleased the School Board members were working harmoniously together and hoped they would continue to do so and keep the rates down as low as possible. In conclusion, Lord Carrington declared the Schools open, and said he thought they might heartily congratulate themselves upon the fact that the some of the children had not now to trudge to Hanslope, as they had an excellent school in their midst where he hoped they would be well instructed and be brought up to be proud Christian men and women and a credit to the village and the County. (Applause).
The National Anthem was then sung, and the proceedings terminated.
Subsequently there was a public tea, the arrangements in connection with which were carried out by Messrs. J. Luing, H. Cowley, D. Cowley, A. Nichols, J. Sprittles, and W. Onley.; the Misses Varney, Miss Gregory, the Misses Cowley, Sprittles, Compton, Eakins, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. Swannell, Mrs. Clifton, and Mrs. Clarke.
The following was the programme of music performed:- Pianoforte solo, “In the Highlands,” Mr. A. Lampitt; song, “In old Madrid,” Miss Gregory; song “Twig of the Shannon,” Mr. J. Plant; violin duet, Miss A. Varney and Mr. Cole; song “Ora pro nobis,” Mrs. T. A. Brearley; trio, “ye shepherds tell me,” Miss Gregory, Messrs. Osborne and Manning; song, the Rev. W. Hawksley Westall.