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Wymeswold School Logbook 1876–1918

Keith James

I looked through the Wymeswold School logbook for mention of the ten members of my grandfather's generation who would have attended between 1881 until 1913, when the youngest, Dorothy, left at the age of thirteen. I also looked in the logbook for information about the First World War. After reading through 450 pages I had nine pages of notes, mainly dealing with interesting events in the lives of the school and local community.

The school had an attendance of around fifty children. It was run by a certified teacher assisted by a monitor (a teenage girl). It was split into two classes, with the youngest being referred to as the 'baby class'.

Wymeswold was an agricultural community and there are constant references to children missing from school because they were needed for seasonal agricultural work. This included the normal harvesting times for hay, grain, potatoes and blackberries. But one activity I was not aware of previously was picking coltsfoot and cowslips. It was mentioned in the log that a boy could earn 8d (just over 3p) in an afternoon by picking a peck of them. (A peck is quarter of a bushel, so would be just over nine litres; more precisely it is two gallons.)

The log constantly lists children being absent through illness and on rare occasions the school was closed for up to two weeks at a time by order of the County Medical Health Officer because of local epidemics of illnesses like measles, whooping cough, mumps, chicken pox and scarlet fever. The longest closure was at the end of the First World War for nine weeks. A complaint rarely seen in our times – ring worm – is mentioned on several occasions, but usually only a few children were infected with it at any time.

Boys performed military-style drill while girls had lessons in knitting and sewing. Half-day holidays were often granted so pupils could attend teas provided by the local chapels and the church. The school was closed every year for two days in early November while pupils attended the annual fair in Loughborough. This continued even during the First World War.

The lives of the teaching staff are constantly mentioned, especially their absences caused by illnesses, their appointments, and time taken off to complete qualifying exams. The leaving of female teachers to marry and who they married is also recorded. In 1906 the Headmaster celebrated 28 years of service at the School as he had joined in 1878.

The Rector, Rev Green, acted as School Manager, Chairman of Governors and, at times, relief teacher. He regularly inspected the pupils' work. After a period of 33 years he left the area in June 1914. Rev Green was awarded annual prizes for good attendance and religious knowledge, usually in the form of a book deemed suitable. The logbook gives a list of recipients and this is a good source of names of pupils.

School closures for special events in the area were mentioned in the logbook. In November 1899 'no school due to the Barnham and Bailey show taking place in Loughborough'. Clearly the circus was in town! In July 1907 a hundred children were taken to Skegness by train from the Great Central station in Loughborough. The fares and entertainment were paid by a fund-raising event held in the previous November. On 26th June 1914 the children were taken to Nottingham to see the king, who was visiting the city that day.

The Quorn Hunt is mentioned as a cause of absent children when it met or passed through the village. The school was also closed for the day when it was used as a polling station in General Elections. The most interesting note is for 9th December 1910 when the Liberal candidate, Sir Maurice Levy, stood against the Conservative candidate, Neville Smith-Carington. Levey was returned by a majority of 572.

From 1902, Empire Day starts to get a mention and is celebrated with increasing gusto with the whole school joining flag waving, poems, readings and patriotic songs. It is considered a very worthwhile event, and a good influence on the children.


Here's some of the entries which caught my attention:-

7th November 1893:– Forty-four children came with clean boots. However, one child was sent home to be washed.

16th December 1895:– Rev Green and a Police Sergeant were called into school to deal with an irate parent, Thomas Morris whose son George had been sent home for arriving late. The master objected to the use of foul and abusive language in front of the school. What the outcome of this incident was is not mentioned.

25th November 1896:– The entry states it was Martinmass Week, when those in domestic service came home for their annual holiday.

20th April 1900:– 'Old boy' Walter Bates (born 7th August 1876) had been killed on duty while working at Leicester station as a pointsman by a passing express train. He was due to be married to an ex-Wymeswold schoolgirl.

23rd January 1901:– Children told of the death of Queen Victoria.

11th October 1901:– A list of five boys who were regarded as backward. (Luckily none of my family were among them.)

17th January 1902:– The parents of Adela Wilson were summoned for her poor attendance. On 21st January the case was remanded to give the parents a chance to send the child to school.

30th March 1903:– A new boy was admitted who had been adopted by a childless publican in the village.

13th January 1904:– A new school attendance officer was appointed for the area. This is the only appointment of such that I found mentioned, although there is constant noting of their visits in the log. Perhaps this one was mentioned because of his background – he had served for six years in the Canadian Mounties and for two years in the army during the South African War.

28th June 1905:– Richard Baker, the father of one of the pupils, was killed by falling down a well. He was listed as being a farmer, plumber and Parish Clerk.

9th March 1906:– Mr Brown, an 'old boy', came and photographed the pupils. l wonder if a copy of this still exists. This would been Phillip Brown, the Postmaster.




 
Undated photograph by Phillip Brown of Wymeswold school pupils and teachers.
Possibly taken on 9th March 1906.


31st March 1911:– George Collington went to Loughborough Dispensary for an operation on a rupture.

10th October 1913:– Eric Limbert left the school to be admitted to an orphanage in Birmingham.


The First World War had an enormous effect on peoples' lives. Here are my notes on the log book entries concerning the war and its ex-pupils.

On page 423 is a list of thirty-three former pupils serving in the army, including Fredrick James. It mentions three who had been wounded and Leonard Chadburn as being a prisoner in Germany.

Amos Clarke gets several mentions in the school log. He was a regular soldier serving in the Coldstream Guards and, when on leave, came into the school to drill the boys for an hour at a time. He first gets a mention in 1903 when he is a Corporal. By 1905 he is a Sergeant. In the 1914 in a list of serving soldiers he is listed as Sergeant Major. Also mentioned in the log that in 1904 he tells the boys that school work is more important than drill. Did he survive the war? If so I wonder what happened to him in later life – I do not know at his stage.

In 1912 Staff Sergeant J.M. Pepper of the Supply and Transport Corps, a former pupil who had been at home for a year recovering from sunstroke had returned to service in India and was hoping for promotion. He is noted again among 'old boys' carrying out war service. Again I do not know what happened to him.

The entry for 25th September 1914 states John Richardson, who was serving in the Coldstream Guards, was wounded in the left arm at Mons.

21st October 1914, Trafalgar Day, is celebrated with special songs.

In 1914 the whole school and the song 'God of Battles' every day.

In November 1914 the school garden opened.

The entry for 20th May 1915 states Harold Morris had been wounded in his hand and thigh at Ypres.

The Zeppelin raid on Loughborough which took place on 31st Jan 1916 gets mentioned in the log book.




 
The Zeppelin which bombed Loughborough made another bombing raid on Britain but crashed off the Norwegian coast, near Stavenger. This newspaper photograph is in the collection of Stavenger city archive.
 
There is a plaque in The Rushes in Loughborough commemorating the Zeppelin raid and the casualties. There is a cross-shaped arrangements of granite setts in the tarmac showing where one of the bombs landed.


24th May 1917:– special celebrations for Empire Day.

1st August to 7th October 1918:– school closed for nine weeks by order of the County Medical Officer.

10th December to 7th January 1918 :– school again closed again by order of CMO.

22–23 March 1918:– School closed for two days to allow the teachers to fill in food and meat rationing cards.


A list of mentions of my family, who attended the school between 1880 and 1912:–

11th December 1894:– Henry, aged 8, is in a list of boys bad at spelling.

In 1896 Annie, aged 13, left school after a letter was sent saying she was needed at home.

18th October 1895:– Henry, aged 9, in a list of four boys bad at spelling.

In 1896 Edward (my grandfather) had been absent 42 times in the previous twelve months.

27th November 1900:– Fanny E. James, aged 23, (an old scholar) was married and pupils were missing to go to her wedding.

March 1903:– Dinah, aged 12, was awarded the needlework prize.

25th March 1904:– Prizes for proficiently in Holy Scripture were awarded to two members of the James family: Fredrick, aged 9, in the lower division and Dinah, aged 13, in the upper division.

24th March 1905:– Twenty-four Religious Knowledge Prizes were awarded including to two members of the family: Frederick, aged 10, in the lower division and Dinah, aged 14, in the upper division.

November 1905:– Frederick, aged 10, was in a list of children put up a standard.

1906:– Frederick in a list of pupils awarded a book for religious knowledge.

1907:– Dorothy, aged 7, received a prize for good attendance.

1907:– List of pupils given prizes for good knowledge of scripture included Frederick, aged 12, and Dorothy, aged 7.

January 1908:– Frederick is in a list of 13 year olds who were asking for leaving certificates, for which they were eligible.

June 1908:– Dorothy, aged 9, in a list of prize winners for religious knowledge.

April 1910:– Dorothy, aged 11, again, in a list of prize winners for religious knowledge.

November 1910:– In a list of exam results Dorothy, aged 11, came 44th in standard 5.

June 1911:– Dorothy, aged 12, is in list of prize winners for religious knowledge.

December 1912:– Dorothy, aged 13, is included in a list of pupils who left school. She was the last member of that generation to leave school.


The school log books for Wymeswold School covering the period from 1875 to 1982 are now in the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. But before they were handed over they were digitised. The files can be copied to a memory stick or similar if anyone thinks they have relatives at the school during this period. These logbooks were also helpful to Ivor Perry when researching Bringing Them Home as they revealed both the good and bad sides of the village 'lads'.

If you would like to have copies of any or all of these then email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk. Note: please supply your own memory stick or SD card. The scans of all four school logbooks come to just over 2 gigabytes.


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