The school expands

Following this the Board decided something had to be done, so they sent out requests for tenders for the building works. It was realized that not only was it the Manchester Ship Canal that was the problem, but the chemical works was now being built and the Salt Works was expanding. The school was at full capacity. It became quite clear that the Weaver Navigation Company couldn't afford to do the improvements, so they decided to expand the school board, the board of elected governors. Castner Kellner's, the Salt Works, and the Church of England all nominated representatives. Quite ahead of its time, there was a parent of one pupil on the governing body too. Parent governors weren't elected until the 1980's for most schools. They were forward thinking in Weston Point! A governors' meeting was held. They didn't hold it at Weston Point, they held it at the Crewe Arms Hotel. Three members were present, Sir Joseph Bergin of Winsford, Edward Milner and the Reverend Canon Armistage, they discussed the school's position and made decisions on its future.

In 1896 there were 93 mixed pupils, plus 46 infants, which gave 162 on roll. In 1897 there were 179 on roll. In 1898, 191 on roll and by 1899 there were 214 on roll, in classes meant to hold 138 children. It was identified that 60 children were of Weaver Navigation employees, 65 of Castner Kellner workers and 40 of Salt Union workers. It was decided that they would have a new building and they sent out requests for tenders for the work. It's fascinating to see how much these things cost. A Mr Sefton of Runcorn got the job, quoting costs such as: paving brick 3 shillings, steel joists - one ton was £10.00, concrete 12s, gullies 5s 6d., terracotta work 5s and boarding to put on the floors was only 1s 9d. They were extravagant and paid for slates; these cost 2 guineas. The wages cost 10d for a mason, the labourers were 5d, the bricklayer was 10d (these are hourly wages, I assume), and the total contract price was going to be £835. Each classroom had to have an open fire and be beautifully plastered. The new rooms were built, but this was not without problems. The head teacher had written to the trustees to say he was not really very keen on the way Mr Sefton was carrying out his duties. He was holding things up, he wasn't turning up on time, jobs were not done properly. They were also having trouble with the furnishings that went inside. The Vicar sent a letter "You promised a cupboard some time ago, and I should be so glad if you could send it by the boat, next Friday" (so, this was being sent from the Weaver Navigation,) "please put the cupboard on the boat". These requests were from the Reverend Sanders-Brown, who was now the incumbent of the church on the island. In August 1901 the headmaster sent a letter to the managers. The work was still not completed. They had problems with the dilatory way that Mr Sefton carried out his contract. The work should have taken six months and it had already taken ten. Portions of the work done were very far from satisfactory; the large windows to the infants were not weatherproof. The building is not weatherproof and the floor is badly planed and loose, and so are the lavatory bowls. The Head, Mr Johnson, had identified a bright little lad, "I think he might win one of the County Scholarships. But, I cannot see how his mother could afford to keep him at school after his 14th birthday. She cannot do much charring owing to the young baby she has, he's a rather smart lad and he might do well". A bursary was requested from the board, it is not recorded whether this was granted.

When the new classroom was nearly ready, a second letter is sent to the Managers by Mr Robert Cookson, who was now the head teacher, saying "I am at a sort of a loss to know how to use the new classroom for the older scholars to the best advantage with the present staff because the accommodation is so small." New desks have been bought, - 8 foot long to seat two pupils! These 8 foot long desks were seating six pupils. The Chief Inspector visited again and he was very pleased with the 'new palace' he called it and he inquired as to the style of the desks. They had trouble with the desks, so he suggested they buy a different sort of desk called a 'dual desk'. I think these are the kind we have now. The new desks were brought, dual desks, and the school received a grant of 20 to buy them. They also had problems with the new toilets, sewage was flowing into the dock. That was probably the best place for it, but it caused a nuisance. There were always problems with funding. Weston Point School was a Board School, the Salt Union and Castner Kellner were supposed to contribute to its maintenance, but they weren't always as keen as they might have been. The schoolhouse was no longer occupied - it became the lock keeper's house. After the two new classrooms were completed, they were still short of space. The numbers were growing and the Government intervened.

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