AllHallows School, Fletchertown
This is the AllHallows School in Fletchertown and some of its pupils (date unknown).
Julie Edgar very kindly contacted me in Feb 2012 providing further information and identifying some of the pupils in the above photograph.
The three girls in the middle row dressed identically are the daughter's of Annie who was herself the daughter of George Nicholson, the Blacksmith. Annie had married William Lowther who was born in 1885 and who was killed in the Colliery on 2nd October 1913. Annie was the Caretaker at the School. The three orphaned Lowther girls, from left to right in the photograph, are Jane (born 1910) Mary (born 1911) and Margaret (born 1913) and the extremely tall boy at the back is their brother George (born 1909) who can be seen as a baby on his mother's knee in a photograph taken at his Aunty Margaret's wedding in 1910. Jane, Annie's eldest daughter, is Julie Edgar's grandmother. Jane Lowther herself was married to James Easterbrook and their son Dennis Easterbrook attended All Hallows School in 1936 and finally Julie Edgar went to the School in 1965. Julie has traced her family's connection with the School and states that her great great grandfather, Henry Lowther was on the School's register in 1855 which was the year the School began!
The idea of building the school in Fletchertown, long before the mining community grew up there, was championed by the Rev. William Mandell Gunson, M.A., a Cumberland man and tutor at Christ College, Cambridge between 1851 and 1870. Gunson approached George Moore about his idea and the venture was largely jointly financed by these two men, the shortfall being raised by local farmers. When the School opened in 1855, Mr John Green, a certified teacher, was appointed as Headmaster and Mr Henry Nicholls, another certificated teacher soon joined the staff as the popularity of the School grew to capacity, there being some 80 pupils on the register by 1858. Mr William Smith Ponton took over the Headship in 1863 and, assisted by his wife Henrietta, spent the rest of his career there, retiring in April 1905 aged 65. At this point, Mr Hewson who had experience teaching in Carlisle, took over as Headmaster. In the 1870s the Fletcher brothers developed the Allhallows coal mine and the village of Fletchertown was built to house the growing workforce. Around 1880 and again in 1885 the school and later the school house were extended, so that by the turn of the century there were in excess of 220 pupils in attendance. Both Mr Ponton and his successor, Mr Hewson took an active part in the life of the village, for many years serving in one capacity or another on the Committee dealing with the administration of the George Moore Memorial Hall. At one time, the Education Authority rented a room in the Memorial Hall in which girls were taught cookery. The School's Governing Body paid funds to the George Moore Committee for the installation of cookers and washing facilities and this arrangement carried on until 1934/35 when new buildings were erected in the schoolyard to accommodate woodwork and domestic science and later the School's Dining Hall. The Headmaster in the 1930s was a Mr Sewell. During the war years, many children were evacuated to Cumberland and Fletchertown School hosted many evacuees at this time. After WWII ended in 1945 the Butler Education Act (1944) was implemented raising the school leaving age to 15 years which temporarily halted the decline in the school roll. Owing to the closure of the mine, numbers had dropped to around 150 at this time. However, after the War the tripartite system for secondary education was gradually introduced whereby, after the age of 11 years, pupils transferred to a Secondary Modern, Grammar or Technical School and this meant that Allhallows School became the local Primary School. In the 1950s the Headmaster was a Mr Braithwaite and he was succeeded in 1956 by Mr Alex Bell who remained as Head teacher until he retired in 1984. On 19th June 1984 Mrs Fairbrother was appointed Head, a position she held until, owing to dwindling numbers, the School became non-viable and finally closed in 1990.
Today, the Shool is closed and the building is the local Community Centre, replacing "The Hut" which was eventually demolished and modern houses built in its place. The acquisition of the School on a long lease and the establishment of the Allhallows Centre was thanks to the hard work of the late Eric Nixon and others who perceived a need and whose vision it was to have this Community facility.
Mick Jane who maintains the Fletchertown Community Centre Archive has produced a small booklet which reproduces some of the content of an old scrapbook, recently discovered in a poor condition and now conserved for the archive. Produced by pupils at the School in 1953, this is an interesting glimpse at what the parish was like over 50 years ago, seen through the eyes of the children who lived there. More recently, Mick has produced one of his local history booklets entitled 'The History of Allhhallows School", more details of which can be viewed here.