The National and Infants School (Queen Street School)


Now also known as the Wilderspin National School

Old National and Infants School Click to enlarge.

On 1st April 1844 the Reverend George Uppleby chaired a meeting "for the purpose of considering the Establishment of a National School connected with the Established Church." The subsequently formed committee, within nine months, had raised the finances, found the site, designed, erected and opened the school.  The 'national system' was that promoted by the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (founded in October 1811).  The school was built by local contractors.  It was built in a neo-Tudor style, of red brick with stone dressings for quoins, door and window surrounds.  The roof was built of Welsh slate.  The five-bay front has a projecting entrance porch and side wings with attractive carved stone plaques to the gables.  The building is set back from the street slightly behind a low boundary wall with cast-iron railings and gate posts. It originally contained three rooms, each measuring 45 foot by 20 foot by 16.5 foot high, one for 150 boys, one for 150 girls, the third for 100 infants, and a house for the master.  The total cost of the building work was 846.18s.0d. The foundation stone of the school was laid on 6 September 1844 by Rev. George Uppleby.

On 6 January 1845 the National Infant School opened, followed by the Boys' school on 21 January and the Girls' school on 4 February. The first superintendent of the Infant School was Samual Wilderspin. Wilderspin became Barton's most famous inhabitant and, in 1846, he was offered a Queens Civil List pension of 100 a year for his "services as the founder and promoter of Infant Schools."  After Samuel's retirement in 1848 the infants school, which was already experiencing some difficulty, had to eventually be closed due to lack of funds. It remained closed for eleven years.  A Capitation grant, based on the number of children making at least 176 attendances a year, was made to the school after 1860 which is when the school reopened. 

In December 1844 rules were printed prior to the opening of the National School.  These were 'Rules for the Guidance of Parents' and 'Rules for the Conduct of the Children'.  These rules for the conduct of children were as follows :-

Rules for the Conduct of the Children

 i) They must behave respectfully to their Teachers, and strictly and readily obey the directions given to them.
ii) They must be diligent while at School, and behave with the greatest reverence during the Prayers there, and during Divine Service on Sundays.  They are expected to come straight from home to the School, and especially on Sundays, to go directly home after the occupation of the day is ended.  They are to remember that all playing and rudeness in the Streets or Roads on Sunday is disgraceful and sinful.
iii) They must behave as Christian Children, that is, honour their Parents, be kind and gentle to each other - and never lie, cheat, steal, beg, swear, or use bad language.
iv) They must remember that while on earth they are training to live with God for ever in heaven.  The end of their learning therefore is, that by reading and understanding the Word of God, they may know Him and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent; that they may flee sin, and resist temptation to sin; and through the grace of God, keep the narrow way which may lead them to glory.  Thus, if they would be useful and respectable in life, and happy when they die, they must try to be better children for what they learn.
v) They must look upon their religious instruction as the greatest possible earthly blessing they can receive; and they must show that they think it so, by respecting all their kind friends who, under God, assist to support and carry on the Schools. (1)

In 1849 Sidney Salmon became the master and his wife Sarah became the mistress of the school (boys and girls respectively).  At this time the age of admission for girls and boys was between 6 and 12 years, the school hours being 9am to 12noon and 2pm to 5pm (or 4.30pm in winter) (2).  School fees were charged but were a complicated system.  By 1851 Sidney's wife had been replaced as the mistress by Jane Watt.  By the mid-1850s there were 170 children in attendance at the school.  In 1859 the school fees were amended to help with income, and they were simpler being 'all children under 11 do pay 3d. per week' and 'children above 11 do pay 4d. a week' (3).  By 1861 Frederick George Landon had become the master of the school.  He was taken over in this role by Joshua Allen sometime before 1868.  At the same time Miss Sarah Broadbent was the mistress and Miss Emma Crossley was the infants' mistress.  By 1876 Miss Hannah Rowston had taken over the role of infants' mistress and shortly after this the school was enlarged.  This enlargement meant that by 1882 the amount of children in attendance had rose to around 400, and Miss Jemima Dale was the school mistress.  By 1885 Soloman Ward was the new master of the school, a role he fulfilled for many years.  He was joined by Miss Elizabeth Stow as the mistress and Miss Margaret Julia Hanley as the infants' mistress.  By 1889 the average attendance had dropped to 321.  By 1892 Miss Elizabeth Ann Harrison had become the school mistress, to be replaced around 1896 by Miss Mary M Webster.  At the same time Mrs Maud M Rowe was the infants' mistress.  At the same time there were 152 boys, 117 girls and 102 infants in attendance.  By the turn of the century (1900) Mrs Twidle had replaced Mrs Rowe as the infants' mistress and in attendance were 147 boys, 121 girls and 118 infants.  By 1905 the average attendance rose again to 196 boys, 147 girls and 148 infants, Miss A Ford was the mistress and Miss Walker the infants' mistress (to be replaced around 1909 by Miss Gardner).  Soloman Ward continued in his role as master to sometime before 1922 when he was replaced by Ernest Edward Sibley.  Sibley himself was replaced before 1926 by W H Allberry, who had Miss L M Hobbs as the school mistress and J Hossack as the infants' mistress working alongside him.

The school was built on land that was originally occupied by the site of the former mansion and grounds of the Long family of Barton upon Humber.  The plan that accompanied the Enclosure Award for Barton in 1796 showed the mansion standing in extensive grounds bounded by Marsh Lane to the east, High Street to the south and almost up to Finkle Lane to the west.  The property was sold bit by bit and in 1827 a road, initially called New Road but later renamed Queen Street, was built.  This led the way to the development along the whole of Queen Street.

School House (now demolished)
The School House - 1883 to 1987

The school premises where gradually extended by the erection of the school house in 1883 and the practical work rooms in 1935.  The school house was built in red brick beneath an intricate slate roof, with moulded brick eaves detail and string courses, stone quoins and surrounds to windows and front door.  The estimated cost was 300.19s3d. (The school house was demolished in 1987 to make way for a car park, amid much controversy).
In April 1957 pupils over eleven were transferred to the newly opened Bereton Secondary Modern School.  The Queen Street school was then reorganised as a junior and infant school and remained in use until November 1978 when the newly-built St Peter's Church of England School was opened on Marsh Lane.

The School was closed in 1978 and, in 1993, the Queen Street School Preservation Trust was set up to save the building.  The Trust managed the current restoration project with funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire Forward and English Heritage as part of the South Humber Bank Heritage Tourism Project co-ordinated by North Lincolnshire Council.  It is now known as The Wilderspin National School to celebrate its unique connection with the Victorian infant education pioneer Samuel Wilderspin and the National Schools movement.  The school is now used as a heritage, education and business resource and is part of the South Humber Collection, North Lincolnshire which links a number of heritage and green tourist attractions along the South Humber bank and won national recognition with a 2007 British Urban Regeneration Award.

For more details of the opening times see the Tourist Information page of this website.

Before and After the restoration

Rear of the premises before restoration. Rear of the premises after restoration.
The rear of the building before restoration. The rear of the building after restoration.
Front of the premises before restoration. Front of the premises after restoration.
The front of the building before restoration. The front of the building after restoration.

(1) Barton on Humber in the 1850s - Cradle to the Grave, 29.
(2) Barton on Humber in the 1850s - Cradle to the Grave, 30.
(3) Barton on Humber in the 1850s - Cradle to the Grave, 33.
Further reading - Great Changes in Barton: 1793-1900 by Rec C. Russell

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