History of Colmworth School: status of research June 2008
In researching the history of Colmworth School, a good deal of the information we have used has come from the Bedford and Luton Archives and Records Service. From early maps and plans, we have been able to ascertain an approximate date when Colmworth National School was first established, namely during the 1840s.
Currently we are extracting information from the first of a set of four Log Books. Log Books were kept by the Headteacher in charge of the school. It was not unusual, and indeed was permissible, for the Headteacher to retain a Log Book as one of their personal possessions. The first Log Book to which we have access came from 1866 and this has determined the starting point of our study of the school’s history.
The Log Books have provided us with information such as: the names of Headteachers and of the Monitors who assisted the teachers, attendance figures, the names of some of the pupils, the distances that they might have walked to school, punishments, epidemics, weather conditions and holidays. The 1861 Census was used and its information correlated against the names of the pupils. The Census also gave us a feel for the life that the villagers must have led.
The local clergyman and his wife more often than not made weekly visits to the school. The ‘Established Church’ thus had a big influence on the running of the school. It provided grants both to maintain the school and to pay the teachers.
Governmental Grants were also made and some details of these are held in the County Archives. These details are ‘sketchy’ and do not follow a recognisable sequence. They have however been a useful resource.
Summaries by Her Majesty’s Inspectors are also recorded in the Log Books. These give an indication of the quality of teaching and the state of the buildings. There were also inspectors for the teaching of religion, Health Inspectors and the School Board Attendance Officer. The Attendance Officer paid a good number of visits since Colmworth was an agricultural area and the children were used as a part-time labour force.
There is little published literature on Colmworth School. Books from the County Archives and also the County Library have provided some historical background on the school, working conditions and housing but they have also indicated the comparative lack of importance of Colmworth in the Bedfordshire of the second half of the nineteenth century.
We have been interviewing local residents but their recollections will only be useful when our research work reaches well into the twentieth century.