Saturday, October 23, 2021

Rashwood School 1884 - 1971

Rashwood School c 1905

This article is reproduced with the permission of Robin Skerratt from his book “Memories of Wychbold before the Motorway”

“Land for the building of Rashwood School was indentured 16th August 1884 between Harry Foley Vernon of Hanbury Hall, and the School Board for the United District of Stoke Prior. £200 was paid to H.F.Vernon for fencing the land, and the school Board to the building of a brick and stone wall.

The solicitor was Bearcroft of Droitwich, and the solicitor and Clerk to the Board was John Blick. The architect was John Cotton from Bromsgrove. The contractors and builders were Joseph Read and his sons Walter and Charles. (This information was provided by Jill Jennings)

John Cotton, the architect, was appointed in 1884 by John Corbett to submit plans for the school and the teacher’s house. The total cost on completion in 1885 was £2,000.

This site was chosen to provide education for children of the rural areas of Rashwood, Dodderhill and Wychbold. The school was planned to accommodate 149 boys and girls, and 80 infants. The average attendance was 112 boys and girls and 44 infants.

Rashwood School opened on Monday 29th June 1885. Mr Thomas Jones was the Master and Miss Jessie Andrews the Infant Mistress, assisted by a monitoress Norah Hyatt. These teachers were known to be still there in July 1918.

In the early years, absenteeism was mainly due to illness and disease through poverty and squalor. The school was closed with distressing regularity because of outbreaks of infectious diseases, especially diphtheria which caused many deaths in the area.

School log books of 100 years ago reveal that life was so precarious – Quite inconceivable today.

Log book entries for 1897 and 1899 record the pathetic state of some children. Some families came to school in a most filthy state, their heads were so full of vermin that creepers were continually dropping on their clothes and desks. Their clothes were swarming with bugs and one pupil was sent out three times so that his brother could pick vermin off his back which was covered with marks and small blisters.

Poor children were found to be ill clad and shivering with cold – they were not expected to attend school if the weather was bad. In winter months flooding was a frequent hazard, so they were allowed out of school early so they could wade home by daylight. When the water was too deep they had to be ferried home in carts.

The 1900 log book for September – disease breaks out again. One of three little brothers, who were all present on Friday, died last night and the other two are seriously ill – All have now died. School closed until November.

In the summer heat, children’s hands used to stick to the slates and books. In the winter the temperature inside was only a couple of degrees above that outside.

Fuel was very scarce to light the fires during World War One and the children were sent with hand carts to try and get some from the work-house in Droitwich. Oil would run out for the lamps and children had to be sent home because it was too dark to see to work.

Water pipes and radiators were installed, but they stood empty for forty years until the mains water and electricity arrived in the 1930’s. In June 1937 children began swimming lessons at the Crown swimming pool.

Head teachers who followed Mr. Thomas Jones were Mrs. Beasley, Mr. Box, Mr. W. H. Bidwell and Mr. Pointer. Mrs. Evelyn Harrison was the infant teacher 1932 – 1949 (left to become Headmistress at Crown East C.E. School, Worcester). She died Thursday 12th May 1994 in her 99th year.

National Lottery - Heritage Lottery Fund© Dodderhill Parish Survey Project 2007 | Site Design & Build: Red Box Consultants Ltd.