The "old" school is built

Weston Point was expanding because the canals were being built, the workers, the navvies and the boat people and their families were all arriving in Weston Point. So the Weaver Trustees, again being very paternalistic, decided that they would build a school. The first school opened in Weston Point in 1856. This was long before compulsory education, long before children had to go to school, and it was long before there was free education - you had to pay. The school was built on the dockside and was opened in 1856. The schoolmaster was a man called Mr Silas Worth. It was known as the Weaver Navigation School and both sexes were admitted to it. In fact if you look at the plans they have a room for 50 mixed and another for 38 mixed. Mixed, I assume, means mixed sexes. They still had different entrances for the girls and the boys. Fees were charged, if your Dad worked for the Weaver Navigation it was 1d. per week and if he didn't, it was 2d. a week. The original building had a schoolmaster's house next to it. There were three classrooms. There were girls' closets outside and there were boys' closets on the other side of the playground, that's why you had to have two separate entrances. There was a cloakroom and each room had a fireplace, an open fire. There was a coal monitor, a pupil, who would collect the coal and deliver it to the classroom - you wouldn't be allowed to do that today, would you? The three 'Rs' were taught - reading, writing and arithmetic, as was usual. The girls did needlework and the boys did craft. Then the population grew again. There was a growth of 80% in population between 1851 and 1881. The village started to expand, there were a lot more houses here; Weston Point was still growing. The area was going through a big burst in population size, reflecting the employment opportunities in the area.

In 1870, the Government in its wisdom decided to set up schools and the Board Schools came into being. The school was managed by a Board of Governors. The Board was elected; they were always men, the great and the good. The school was still fee paying. Again, the area grew and all these children were squashed into the school. We have one classroom, which looks to be about 8 feet square, accommodating 50 children, and there were two classes of 50 children and 'a 38 mixed'. 'A 38 mixed', I think, was the infants' school; that is the smaller room. So, the school was actually built to cater for 138 children, but the more that came, the more that were fitted in. The chemical industry was starting and the quarries were expanding. All that wonderful red sandstone quarried here went to Liverpool, Chester, to New York and it needed a large workforce to dig it all out. It was even used to build part of the Runcorn Railway Bridge. So, quarrying was very important, it needed a lot of manpower.

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