School served village for over a century

In the autumn of 1974 the village school in Ashley was celebrating its centenary.

Like London’s famous Windmill Theatre its motto could have been ‘we never close’ because of the 100 years since its opening the school had survived two World Wars and even managed to keep goingwhen its roof collapsed. To mark its special anniversary, the then headmaster Geoffrey Rickson wrote a book detailing the school’s history.

His research revealed that some of the teachers had ruled with a rod of iron. One of those was headmaster Fred Murgatroyd who Mr Rickson said was a real Dickensian character in charge from 1899 until 1925. “He caned boys for the slightest misdemeanour and if a girl had to be punished she would be made to stand in a corner for hours with a pile of books on her head,” he said. “When he entered the classroom the lesson would never start until a pin could be heard to drop.” However during his tenure the school was ranked second in the county with marks of 99.8 per cent. At that time there were more than 100 pupils in the school whose only heating was from an open fire. The temperature often plummeted to below freezing and one one occasion the frozen door had to be broken down with a pick axe handle.

From 1925 John Keighley took over the headship until the outbreak of the Second World War. He was responsible for installing running water.