Sampford Courtenay Sticklepath Board School

Summary and initial name extraction “A Village School Chronicle 1879-1979” by Victor W. Hutchison

All info from this booklet unless otherwise stated. Essentially a timeline.

Mr Hutchison and pupils demonstrate the weaving loom to parents. Late 1960s

No records exist for the very early years of the school.  

1833 parliament took an interest in education appointing two government inspectors and allocating £20,000 to existing schools.  1856 first education department formed.Local people financed the majority of the schools.  Poorer areas therefore had less and poorer schools.  1870 Forster Education Act divided the country into districts each of which had to set up a school board and build any school deemed necessary in that district.

Such schools were called “Elementary Schools”, a local rate (tax) raised most of the funds and parents paid 9 pence per child per week.  

Kelly’s directory tells us that Belstone Parish contributed two members to the United School Board District of Sampford Courtenay & Honeychurch. Also that the children of Belstone Parish attend school at Sticklepath.  There is also  a “boys’ and girls’ school run by Miss Martha Millard.  Belstone’s population in 1891 was 181.   Ref:  Kelly’s Directory of Devon & Cornwall, 1893. [Part 1. Devon: County & Localities] p91

Kelly’s also tells us that the population of Sampford Courtenay parish was 866, which includes most of Sticklepath village.  The entry under Sticklepath further instructs us that the United School Board of 5 members was formed July 31st 1874.  George Langdon Fulford of North Tawton was clerk to the board and James Arscott the attendance officer.  There was a school at Sampford Courtenay built in 1880 for 150 children, with average attendance of 88, and one at Sticklepath built in 1879 for 80 children with average attendance 48.  The Misses Ellen and Elizabeth Trethewey ran a girls’ school at The Retreat in Sticklepath. Ref: Kelly’s Directory of Devon & Cornwall, 1893. [Part 1. Devon: County & Localities] p590

(Kelly’s South Tawton population for comparison 1,264).

18th April 1878 Conveyance of the site for the school is signed by George Underhill Wills, Lord of the Manor, Sticklepath. 

Built in 1879 to accommodate 80 pupils in one long room 36ft by 16ft with a gallery, two cloakrooms and bucket lavatories.  The very next year 1880 Mundella Education Act made education compulsory aged 5 to 10 (they could leave if their work was of a satisfactory standard).  In 1891 school fees were abolished.  The school was enlarged  in 1899 for 100 pupils.  In 1900 school leaving age was raised to 14 years, though able students could leave sooner.

1902 Fisher Education Act completely re-organised schools and education 5-14y became compulsory. School boards were abolished and Counties and County Boroughs were made responsible for school provision through the Local Education Authority.  Sampford Courtenay Sticklepath Board school was re-named Sampford Courtenay Sticklepath Council School.

The School Grant was the only source of income and depended heavily on the inspector’s report, with average daily attendance being a key factor. Epidemics of measles, German measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, influenza, mumps and chicken pox sometimes led to closures; weather conditions hampered particularly the country children attending; work especially harvest and whortleberry picking kept children away.

So in 1900 despite the number of children on roll being 83 average attendance was 55.  School income for 1900 was a total of £66 and 13 shillings.  Of this £3 and 10 shillings was kept back for teacher superannuation.  

In 1911 the “gallery” in the main room was removed (a platform on which 3-4 rows of desks could be placed so they were a little higher than those in front).  The highest number of children on roll was 103 in 1922.  The playgrounds were not asphalted until 1924. In 1930 a path was laid so children didn’t have to walk on the main road to get to school.  

In 1931 re-organisation of schools in the area meant Sticklepath became a ‘junior’ school taking only children up to 11 years.

1936 Electric light installed.

1938 The Ministry of Health Inspector wrote “I find that there is no water supply on the premises of this school.  The water has to be carried an unreasonable distance and I recommend that this matter be given urgent consideration” … don’t hold your breath.  It took 14 years for action to be taken!

1949 Drainage pipes laid to connect the school to the main drain, previously all waste water ran down to the gutter by the main road.  

December 1952 Bucket toilets finally gave way to flush toilets after years of campaigning. (This included a letter in winter 1951-2 from a TV personality Gilbert harding to the People newspaper).  Up to this time all drinking water had to be collected in buckets from Lady Well.  When the rainwater tanks were frozen or run dry in hot weather, water for all uses had to be carried. On occasion the Okehampton Fire Brigade were called to re-fill the rainwater tanks in the summer months. 

1954 School Canteen added

1960 Storage shed added for PE equipment. (It was here that I learned from another child that babies were born by a doctor inserting a key in the mother’s tummy button).

1960 Electric water heater installed in the cloakroom.

1967 Telephone installed and a temporary classroom erected.

1970 Toilet block enclosed and staff toilets built. The rainwater tank was finally removed.

1977 Fire alarm installed

1979 Lead covered wiring replaced and fluorescent lighting installed.

In 1960 when the road was being dug up the water main was broken and so the school had no water for 5 days and again water had to be carried from afar. That winter the pipes froze and a North Devon Waterboard Tanker had to come and fill the rainwater tanks as a temporary measure. 

School Discipline pages 12-14 should be the subject of a blog post.

Reasons for children leaving school p 15 could inform migration studies.

DEATHS – there were 3 deaths of school children in 1891-1900, and 2 in each subsequent decade up to 1930. Shocking. 

Sticklepath School Headteachers

1883-89 John Arbory

1889-93 William Avery

1893-94 William Richard Hoile

1894-97 Ernest William Pym

Jan 1898 to 

January 1936 Frank Richards

Feb 1936 to

December 1966 Gertrude E Squires

Jan 1967 on Victor William Hutchison

During Frank Richards’ army service June 1916 to Feb 1919 there were 6 different teachers in charge including:

Mrs Mercer, Mr Carlile, Mr Shapcott, Mr Luxton, Miss Saunders.

34 more teachers are named p 18

Comments made by many pupils. Some managers (equivalent of governors) are names. 

Further investigations

When was the School closed?

Further uses of the building

Collating stories about school

Visit Devon Archives to see original records and any name rich register/rolls that can be added to the project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s