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  Tickhill National School


The following, is an account of Tickhill National School, given to Rosemary Cornish by Miss Kate A. Kimberley during their time together during a Workers' Education Association course, run by Local Historian Tom Beastall. In 1977/78 Rosemary was working on a study of Education in Tickhill which was published by the W.E.A. in 1980 (Selections of the History of  Tickhill 1V)


In 2006, Rosemary felt that it would be valuable to reproduce Kate's account to go into the newly formed Tickhill Local History Archive. It is now reproduced on line for even wider availability.


(Photo:  Miss Kimberley outside her house in Northgate, Tickhill)



Tickhill National School 1889-1900

 The school had between 240-250 pupils. Numbers in classes varied between 50-60. There was a Headmaster, an Assistant Master and two untrained Assistant Mistresses. ( Untrained meaning not College trained, earning 60 or so per annum) However one mistress was certified and one uncertified and known then as Article 68's. There was usually one Pupil Teacher, all who went from their own desk at 11 years old to stand before the class with the Assistant Master or Mistress and left in charge, or to take a lesson when the Master/Mistress felt they could be left. They took their Scholarship Exam about 17-18. If they were successful they could then move on and take a paid job as an Article 68. All study had to be done in the evening with a little help from the Head. If they wished to go further they took first and then second year Certificates, for which they had to attend some College. From here most of them went to Richmond (undenominational) or York (Anglican). The Student fixed their own time intervals of from one to two years apart. Exams were usually in Vacation times. My sister went to Knaresboro' at 45 p.a., after passing her Scholarship at just under 18 years and from there took 1st. and 2nd. Certificate at Richmond. The youngest one went to Oxford Place, Doncaster and took her 1st. year Certificate only and married before she could take her 2nd. Certificate. 

The first lesson of the day here, was always R.E. We had no Assembly as such, but went straight from lines to our place in Class. We sat at long desks, which seated 5 or 6. Mr. Dixon ( Headmaster) stood at the Screen door, between the boys and girls rooms, and read the Collect for the day. Then each teacher took their own Scripture Lesson or a lesson on the Prayer Book, including the Catechism and the Collects. 

The rest of the morning would be divided between Geography, the 3 R's, with a ten minute break about 11 a.m. Lunch was 12 to 1.30 p.m. 

In the afternoon, the first lesson for girls was Needlework with Drawing for the boys, being Freehand or Geometrical, for one hour. After this we moved into our own classes for further lessons until 4.30 p.m.. Music was always taken in the afternoon, at varying intervals, as in the lower classes each teacher took her own music lesson. There was an old piano in the Girls' room. Mr. Dixon or Mr. Greenhough usually  took the three upper classes 5,6,7 together. we all had to read from the Modulator, a long roll in Tonic Sol Fa, about 3 octaves long and about 3 feet wide, which could be read from one end of the Boys' Room to the other. The note was pointed out and we had to sing in Unison or the teacher would call upon any child to sing the note or notes alone, or we were taught to take parts. We were also taught to read from the Staff. We were also taught to read and sing part songs printed in Sol Fa. 

We were taught to spell and read. We were taught the parts of speech, the Article nouns, Pronouns, Prepositions, Conjuntions, Verbs, Adverbs, Adjectives. We were also pressed to trace the roots of all words, if possible. We could not be compelled as many families had no dictionary, but we were often offered a small prize of 6d if we did it and then called in to explain it to the rest of the class. We had to Analyse and Parse and know all the tenses and verbs etc. 

For Geography we usually took one country for a full term. We were given a good grounding in the Topography, the weather conditions, the chief towns, especially any big ports and lines of communication. We had to be able to draw freehand maps, adding names with a fine mapping pen,showing mountain ranges and the course of the main rivers etc. We learned by heart the lists of main rivers. As India:-Saluwen, Bramaputra, Ganges, Mahanuddy, Godavery, Krishna, Northern Pennar, Palar, Sth. Pennar, Taptee, Lerbuda, Lunar, Indus. Tributaries of the Indus :- Jihlum, Chenaub, Ravee, Bees and Sutley. 

We learned by heart the 60 British possessions, with their three most important exports. I cannot repeat them now, but if their names are mentioned by any of the media, I know what is being spoken of and many facts are recalled. I call still repeat the names of the main rivers around Europe and the rivers and lakes of Canada. It is often said that learning all of these things is a waste of time, but it was not. Having once learned  them, you never see or hear their names without many other facts returning to mind and you know to what part of the world is being spoken or written about. 

Much the same thing applies to Spelling and Arithmetic Tables. In many shops the reckoning is done for you, but in some Drapery Stores etc you might get 15 yds @ 5/11. I would work in my head 15 X 6 = 90 s less 15 halfpence = 4 - 9 - 4 and a half. The assistant has to put down 5 - 11 and a half fifteen times and the add it up, often getting it wrong. I have tried to show them their mistake and they could not see it. I once walked out of a Doncaster store over 1 to the good, after checking with two assistants, and I knew I was right. 

Arithmetic began in the Infants School with simple addition and subtraction and  we were expected to know our tables up to 4 or 5 times. We were also taught to read and write up to 4 or 5 five letter words and encouraged to go further, if we could, before moving up to the "Big School" at 7 years. ( We began at three). We continued more or less on in the Upper Shool and by Standard 3 were expected to know and use our tables up to 12 times. In Standard 4 we were introduced to the Decimal System and taught to work out more sums in "Vulgar Fractions". Mr Greenhough taught us several formulae by which we could work out sums with a minimum or workings, like:- I over P of a 100 divided by Y (Interest over Principal) X100th divided by years find rate per annum. I have forgotten them now. I have never had money interests to keep me in practice. We did 10 to15 minutes Mental Arithmetic several times a week, also 10 to 15 mins Spelling, when the child who was the quickest off the mark was often given a copper or two as a reward. 

Standards 5,6,7 were often given problem sums to work out, often quite stiff problems and woe betide you if you could not do them, or spell correctly any word which was throw at you, including parraffin, harassment, geneologist, fuchsia, etiquette, pseudonim, physical and anymore ordinary words he cared to fling out. I have done quite a bit of research and I cannot find anyone who left school, in Mr Dixon's or Fred Greenhough's time,  and could not write their own name, or write home to tell their parents what they were doing and where, and they could all calculate their wages. 

School leaving age was 14 for a number of years before I left. Some of the poor were allowed to leave at 12, but they had to pass a simple exam in the 3 R's and be able to state that they had a job to go to, or they could not obtain a Leaving Certificate and must stay until 14 years. 

There were no half-term holidays or teachers rest days, no coffee or tea breaks and no convenience for either. Even Mr. Dixon taught all day, except ten occasional minutes when he left Fred in charge of the top Standards for MusicMental Arithmetic or Spelling. He went one morning per month to Doncaster to cash the Staff Pay cheque. For this he hired a cab. There was no other way except ''Shank's Pony'' There were no free periods for Staff or Scholars. 

There were two families who walked to school all their school days from Wellingley and Stancil Farms, one from Galley Hill, one from ''Cookoo Hall'', one from Thieves Nest'', one from Tickhill Folds, one from Thornbury Hill, one from ''Red Ruins '', Rossington Road, one from Moorhouse Farm and two from High Common. They brought dinner but there was no means of making a drink and they were not allowed  use of the classrooms, only the lobbies with  no any heating of any kind. 

The classrooms only had the old tortoise stoves, except the girl's room had a low open grate as well as the stove, but it was only used on special occasions. Mr Dixon kept a bottle of Friars Balsam and a bag of lump sugar in his desk and would administer a few drops on a lump of sugar to a child with a bad cough. 

We were not allowed to suck or chew sweets, or talk during lessons. We had to sit at our desks with our arms folded behind our backs, unless our hands were occupied. When writing we had to sit up straight with pen or pencil held between right thumb and next two fingers and pen pointing over our right shoulder. Children were never allowed to use their left hand when right was normally used. 

Mr Greenhough was a very good Naturalist and sometimes treated us to a Nature lesson, but either Music or Spelling were worked into it to comply with the Curriculum. 

In the upper classes we were taught how to write a letter, business and friendly and how to make out a bill and settle it. We were taught what the National Debt was and Inflation and that any Nation must produce value for money to carry on. We did a little History but it was never regarded as nearly as important as Geography or the 3 R's. The fixed day for the Exams was done away with about 1898 and the Inspector dropped in at any time. 

Pupil Teachers were required to pass the following subjects at the turn of the Century and into the 1920's:-

The 3 R's--Reading,  'Riting, 'Rithmatic , including Algebra, Euclid and Geometry.

Drawing--freehand and geometrical.

English Grammar--Read, Spell, Parts of Speech and their uses, Composition, Analyse and Parse a Sentence, Roots of Words with Moods and Tenses.

French and Latin were compulsory but they were never taught.

Music--Theory and Practice Singing straight from the Staff and Tonic Sol Fa and at least to strike a chord to give pitch.

Religious Knowledge





Needlework (women)-- Plain and Fancy,  Pattern Drafting of Underwear and Baby wear, with simple frocks with simple foundation patterns for themselves. They also had to knit a sock turning and casting off a rounded toe, also how to graft knitting together so that it did not show. 

We learned part singing by singing Rounds such as Three Blind Mice, The Five Bells of Osney and Old Chairs to Mend. Some of the Glees we learned:- Lass of Richmond Hill, Sweet and Low, Early one Morning and Robin Adair. 

We learned Zadock the Priest and Nathan the Prophet for Edward V11's Coronation. I think it had seven parts. I had left school then, but I was still at home and was invited to take part. I still have my copy somewhere. 

Most of the subjects mentioned earlier had to be passed for Matric as late as 1914 when my sister and several girls from Tickhill School were taking theirs. One girl was five marks short in French and was failed in spite of the fact that she had seven Credits (better than pass) and several other ''Passes'' 

Our generation, girls and boys, were taught some Algebra but I have forgotten mine all long ago. 

There were no grants of any kind except private loans for Students in our day and no Family Allowances, but when my Neices and Nephews came along after the 1st World War, they could get a loan from the County Education Authority to carry them through College. I'm not sure what it was but it was not large and they had to work through Vacations or Parents and other Family Members had to find them Pocket Money. The Loan had to be paid back within their first 2 years of paid employment. The Gt. Nephews and Neices get more in Grants than the previous generation ever earned. I have now a Gt. Niece who failed her first year at College on a Grant in July 1976. After a few weeks on the Dole, at 12 per week, she got a job in one of the London Employment Agencies as a Clerical Officer. Then as an Executive Officer she was sent to Edinbro' University for a Sandwich Course on 10 per day Subsistance Allowance. She is now back in London on a Higher Grade and Salary than my Niece, who is due to retire in April 1978 after 45 years. The whole system is wrong. we need to get our priorities right ! 


The following photographs are courtesy of Ken Kimberley


Tickhill C of E Infants’ School, Tithes Lane, converted from a tithe barn in 1843/1844.

The school was partly demolished in 1969 and the school house on the left became a modern house.

Infant School children with Miss Gertrude Rawson, later Mrs Walter Jarvis 1894/95


Some pupils at a small Private School at the rear of 7/9 Castlegate in 1908.

The properties opposite are still standing in Castlegate

  In the centre of this photograph, at the back, two doors down from the Scarbrough Arms, was another small school.

  Some Pupils of Dormer House School

This school was held in the schoolroom at the rear of Tickhill Methodist Church, Northgate.

This School was held in the Schoolroom at the rear of Tickhill Methodist Church, Northgate.











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