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Skyreholme School 1867-1967
By John Townend, Hon Parish Archivist, Burnsall Parish

The first mention of a school at Skyreholme is in 1867. Before that time the only educational provision was Burnsall Grammar School which was some distance away and only provided education for boys.

Christchurch Chapel at Skyreholme built in 1838 which was used as a school from 1867 to 1967
Christchurch Chapel at Skyreholme, built in 1838, which was used as a school from 1867 to 1967

The early history of Skyreholme School is closely bound up with that of Burnsall School. In the 1860s there had been some discontent among parents about the ?malfunctioning? of Burnsall School. According to John Atkinson Bland of Woodhouse Manor, writing to the Craven Pioneer in March 1868, there were 23 boarders and only 17 day boys at the school compared with his time as a scholar there when there were no boarders and 73 day boys. Bland accused the Master of Burnsall School of favouring boarders as they paid their fees directly to him which was contrary to Sir William Craven?s intention which was to provide a free grammar school. This sad state of affairs led the Revd Augustus William George Moore, Curate of Burnsall (1866-1869) to organise a public subscription among parents to start a new school to be held in Christchurch Chapel at Skyreholme. This school was opened in 1867 for about 23 scholars from the Skyreholme end of the Parish. It appears that from 1867 until 1897, Christchurch doubled up as a school during weekdays and as well as place of worship on Sundays.

It appears from an entry in the Burnsall School log book that the chapel harmonium found its way to Burnsall School in 1867 - possibly this created extra space for the pupils at Skyreholme.

One of the first masters to take charge of Skyreholme School was Benjamin Brooksbank. We know quite a lot about him as one of his descendants recently contacted me about his ancestor?s time in the parish.

Benjamin Brooksbank was born in 1843 at Peat Dikes, Stream Head, Allerton, Bradford. He would have been about 24 years of age when he came to Skyreholme where he stayed until 1877. He then moved to become Master of what had been Burnsall Grammar School but which in 1876 became Burnsall Elementary School. This is the first entry in the Burnsall School logbook written by Mr Brooksbank on 25 October 1877.

Burnsall school logbook
Entry from the Burnsall School logbook.

Seven years later Mr Brooksbank moved to Pannal Board School in Harrogate after leaving Burnsall School He died in 1919 but his obituary in the Harrogate Advertiser does not mention Skyreholme and incorrectly refers to Burnsall as a Grammar School.

"For over 40 years Mr Brooksbank was actuary to the Yorkshire Penny Bank at Burnsall and Pannal, where at the former place he held the position of headmaster at the Grammar School and also acted as organist and choirmaster for a number of years."

Very little is known about the first nine years in the life of Skyreholme School. One of the earliest documents to survive is a conveyance dated 16 June 1876 by which the premises of the chapel and school were transferred from the Revd A. C Bland of Appletreewick to the Revd C H Carlisle, Rector of St Wilfrid?s Burnsall. About this time there was some dispute about ownership which was reported in the Craven Pioneer on 6 May 1876.

The first surviving School Admissions registers which date from 1876, just before Mr Brooksbank left to go to Burnsall and continuing up to 1967 when the school closed are now in the North Yorkshire County Record Office at Northallerton. They record the names of all the pupils during this period.

Little is known about the day to day working of the school as its log Books do not appear to have survived. However, an Inspector?s Report on Appletreewick/Skyreholme School has survived from 1897. The inspector reported, ?the children are in good order. The mistress (not named) works hard and does the best she can for her scholars. The work has been carried out under considerable difficulties.? (He does not say what these were.) The average attendance during the year was 40, upon which the following grants have been paid: Principal grant, 12s 6d; discipline &c., 1s 6d; singing, 6d. ; Geography, 2s. ; in all 16s. 6d. or ?33 16s. To this must be added ? for needlework, 16s. ; distance grants ?25; total 358 16s. which with the fee grant (paid quarterly) ?20 makes a grand total for the year of ?78 16s.? From this the Governors had to pay the school mistress and buy all the books and materials.

In November 1899 under the auspices of Miss Hume, the children of Appletreewick and Skyreholme school gave a concert the proceeds of which amounting to ?2 she had been so kind as to give to the Appletreewick Chapel fund. This would be to the new chapel of St John the Baptist which had opened two years earlier leaving the school as sole occupants of the former Skyreholme Chapel.

The school seems to have been a Church of England school in 1900 Mr Chapman and Mr Lumb were elected by the School Governors to represent them on the Ripon Diocesan Association.

In 1901 the ?chapel day school? at Skyreholme is listed in the census.

In 1905 the Reverend W J Stavert, Rector of Burnsall started discussions with the West Riding County Council about transferring the school to the County. This finally took place on 24th April 1808 when the County bought the school from the Revd W J Stavert, Rector of Burnsall l. This would in effect end the church?s connection with it and it became a County School entirely funded by the County Council Education Authority and its name seems to have changed to Appletreewick County Primary School.

Many local people still have happy memories of their time at Appletreewick School. There had been an extension to the original chapel at the west end to house the kitchen and cloakroom. This led through the original arched doorway to the school room which was divided by a moveable partition so infants and juniors could be taught separately for some of the time. Underneath was the boiler house.

The headteacher and fifteen pupils
This photograph from 1954 is one of the earliest to survive. It shows the headteacher and fifteen pupils.

It?s a miracle that the school survived the antics of some of its pupils. On one occasion a boy decided to burn the school down by pouring paraffin over the cast iron boiler. He was discovered by fellow pupils just as the cast iron was a turning red hot. Apparently the culprit was stopped in his attempt at arson and the teacher never found out about it. School meals were brought from Skipton by Willis?s removals to Upper Wharfedale School and then by local taxi to Skyreholme. Another pupil told me that they poured the dreaded sago pudding down a gap between the floor and the iron pipes which led to the boiler house below to avoid being made to eat it.

Miss Simpson and her pupils in the school in the early 1960s.
Miss Simpson and her pupils in the school in the early 1960s.
Miss Ormondroyd and pupils c. 1963
Miss Ormondroyd and pupils c. 1963
This photograph was taken in 1964
This photograph was taken in 1964
The names of most of the pupils were supplied by Elizabeth Gamble (n?e Reynoldson) of Skyreholme.

Back row left to right: John Reynoldson, Stephen Lazenby, James Driver.

Middle row: Trish Earnshaw, Elaine Reed, Rita Moor, Pat Reynoldson, Christine Demaine, Joyce Naylor, Diane Lazenby.

Front row: Jolyn Fitton, ? Hustwick, Gillian Sykes, Gillian Driver, John Fawcett, Martin Harvey.

Miss Dorah Weeds Headteacher and pupils in 1966
Miss Dorah Weeds Headteacher and pupils in 1966
Some of the Head Teachers are listed below. If you can fill in the gaps or give dates the information would be appreciated:
Benjamin Brooksbankc.1867-1877
Miss Hume1899
Miss Lumb (mother of Phyllis Dean)
Miss Leyland from Otley, lodged at Appletreewick during the week.
Mrs Plaisted, known as Biddy Wynn from Embsay.
Mrs Ellen Simpson(mother of Margaret Daggett).1961-1963
Miss Ormondroyd 1963
Miss Dora Weeds of Arncliffe, the last head up to August 1967

In the 1950s there were 26-32 pupils at the school. Some from Grimwith came by taxi. By 1962 there fifteen and in 1967 there were only eleven left at the end of the summer term

These enrolled at Burnsall School on 30 August that year when Appletreewick School finally closed.

If any former pupils or teachers have any further information or photographs of life at Appletreewick/Skyreholme School, or can identify pupils in the pictures please contact me on 01756 720460

My thanks to former pupils Liz Gamble and Robin Hall and Margaret Daggett for their help in compiling this article and loaning photograph .

Further research (documents to be scrutinised):

  • Letter in CRO from A C Bland concerning the ejectment of W Bolton and Margaret Ibbotson, 1874
  • Conveyances of chapel and school May 1876 and December 1876 in CRO
  • Solicitor?s Account for C H Carlisle in dispute over school.
  • Craven Pioneer, Newspaper cutting 6 May 1876 about dispute in CRO and Skipton Library.
  • Order by Board of Education for appointment of foundation managers, 1904 in CRO.
  • File of correspondence a=bout conveyance of school 1905-1908 in CRO.
  • Charity Commissioners scheme for regulation of Skyreholme School 1907 in CRO.

John Townend, Hon. Parish Archivist. August, MMXI, revised July MMXII