History – Education and Schools

July 1937

South Yorkshire Time, July 16, 1937

To celebrate their 60th Anniversary the “Times” did potted histories of the Dearne Valley Village. These are extracts from the Conisborough and Denaby ones.

Education and Schools

Educational facilities were, 60 years ago, rather meagre according to modern standards; though Conisborough was in no worse case than most of its neighbours in this respect. Prior to the passing of the education act of 1870, apart from “Dame schools” the only public school was a small building (now demolished) erected, I think, in 1812, on site to the left of Clifton Hill. There was a small endowment, the fees the score was formed the chief remuneration of the master.

The first board school was opened in 1872, being built by two local builders, Mr Goodlad and Mr. Twiby, to the plans of Mr George White. At the time it was considered to be a handsome, commodious building, and there was a widespread feeling that the accommodation provided was extravagantly in excess of requirements.

At the formal opening ceremony this feeling was voiced by the then vicar, the Rev. J. G. Wood – a near relative of the famous naturalist of that name – who, assuming the mantle of Elijah, gave it as his opinion that no one then present was likely to see school full.

Alas! How unsafe is prophecy. The original board school (now known as Morley Place school) was twice enlarged during the writers tenure there, and in succession have been built Station Road, Balby Street, and the Middle School, while at Denaby old school, which for long was ample for the needs of that end of the present Urban District, was augmented by the erection of the Large Hall and classrooms many years ago more recently by the erection of the St Albans Catholic school.

Changing methods.

Educational methods have undergone great changes during the period under review, and much more use is now made of Conisborough Castle as a concrete illustration of ancient building by classes of children from neighbouring places.

60 years ago, however, the interior of the keep was not to save a place to explore. Guardrails were lacking and much of the masonry on the top was insecure. Moreover, there was no custodian on the site, and application for the key to the interior had to be made at Ferry Farm.

The most notable event of recent times in the castle’s history was the visit paid by his late Majesty King George V. and Queen Mary on July 8, 1912. They drove from Doncaster and were received at the entrance of the grounds by Mr. W. Lowery-Cole. The King mounted to the summit of the keep, but the Queen waited in the Royal Pavilion, which had been erected in the in the yard and where tea was served.

A great crowd had assembled, and when the Royal standard was broken on the summit of the keep, probably for the first time in 700 years, and mighty cheer went up.