Elland Upper Edge Sunday School
On a stone slab, built into the wall near the entrance to the school, there was the following inscription-
ELLAND UPPER EDGE UNION SABBATH SCHOOL
Anno Domini 1841
Prior to the year 1898, when extensions on a large scale were made, this stone occupied a prominent position over the door.
The original building, like many others, erected amongst scattered populations in various parts of the country, stood, like a beacon of light in the surrounding darkness.
Those were the days when facilities for education were very limited, especially amongst the poorer classes.
To the pioneers of those schools, we owe a great debt of gratitude, for, apart from the moral instruction which was imparted, upon them fell the task of teaching the children rudimentary scraps of education. These were very elementary indeed, for the teachers themselves were mostly illiterate men.
There are, however, evidences that some of those early workers possessed certain scholastic qualifications, for the records are well and neatly written, but the phraseology and spelling are not equal in merit to the penmanship.
The following extract is culled from an old minute book:
"That a Sabbath School was established at Elland Upper Edge in the year of the Lord 1841, entitled a Union Sabbath School, for the express purpose of teaching children of all denominations, sect and party, to read and write."
It has been ascertained that a school existed prior to this date. Whether it was the same building, or an improves structure is not clear, for we find that in the year 1834, applicaion was made to join the Halifax Sunday School Union.
At that time, there were 42 Teachers and 95 Scholars.
In the following year there is a report-
"We are sorry to state that for want of books, our school is much inconvenient. We have been kindly assisted with a few Bibles, Testaments and Spelling Books by a neighbouring school which is to make good."
They had now increased their number to 46 male teachers and 19 female, with 57 male scholars and 50 female. In 1836, the Union obtained for them, from a London Society, a grant of Bibles, Testaments and other books, which was a material help to the school. It is interesting to note that the scriptures occupied a definite place in the school's curriculum.
In 1839 there is a somewhat laconic entry "that they had received a notice to quit the premises."
In 1841 the internal management of the school seems to have been placed upon a more solid foundation.
The constitution was based upon 13 rules of a comprehensive character, one of which was rather ambitious. It read-
"That lecturers be admitted on week days to lecture in the school on the following subjects. Divinity, Philosophy, Astronomy, Geology, Geography, Appeal Corn Laws, National Education, Reading, Writing and the formation of a mental improvement to discuss any subject connected with the public good"
A committee of seven persons was appointed to "secure peace and good government."
Amongst the rules are:-
"That the school doors be opened a 1/4 of an hour before 10 o'clock, and business at 10, with singing and a short appropriate prayer suited to the occasion. All children not here when prayer is over, the door to be locked before teaching."
"That strict attention and punctuality must be observed, as the Roll will be called immediately after prayer; and should anyone be too late, he or she will be requested to give an account of the cause for such lateness, and if he or she cannot do that, and afterwise commit a similar offence, their parents will be requested to show cause; and if found guilty of a third offence, the committee will exclude such disorderly children from the school."
It was also enacted that an Annual Meeting, called the Anniversary, should be held at which teachers and friends should gather to hear reports about activities during the year, and it was decided "That previous to the meeting, the children shall have a good banquet of spice cake and warm beer, and the teachers a good tea drinking at their own expense."
Rule 9 states "That if any grievance should arise during the hours of teaching, the Superintendent shall settle the dispute there and then, and if either party feel aggrieved, they may refer the same to a committee, who shall call a meeting of all teachers and their verdict shall be final."
This can be said of the rules as a whole, that justice was attempted, but they certainly did not err on the side of leniency.
At a meeting held on June 3rd, 1861 it was passed - "That if any teacher be absent three months from teaching, or sending a substitute, he shall have his name crossed out, and no teacher is allowed to give a vote except his name be marked three months on the book."
One remarkable feature about the minute book is the detailed registration of items of expenditure.
June 5th, 1865. The following are the expenses of the Children's Feast for Whit Monday
3 st. of Flowers at 1/11 0 5 9
18 lbs. Currants at 4 0 6 0
4 lb. Lard at 7.5 0 2 6
4 lb. Sugar at 4.25 0 1 5
5 Quarts of Milk 0 0 10
Yest and Hall Spice 0 1 0
1.25 lb. Coffee 0 1 8
4 lbs. Sugar at 4.75 0 1 7
1 Milk 0 0 8
£ 1 1 5
Number of cakes 126. Weight 12 ozs. each
June 12th, 1864 - Expenses belonging to the Anniversary
Paid to George Gledhill 0 10 0
23 lbs. of Beef at 8d. 0 15 4
To Bacco and Pipes 0 0 11.5
New Road Stage 0 7 6
Malt 0 6 6
Loan of Bass 0 2 6
Bread 0 1 4
Fetching and Carrying of Bass 0 0 11
Potatoes 0 0 6
Sun Inn Toll Bar 0 0 2
60 Bills Printing 0 4 3
2 Bottles of Pickles and Mustard 0 1 10
£2 11 9.5
In the old days, the Sunday School Anniversary or "Charity" as it was called, was a great occasion in the village. Most of the homes entertained visitors with lavish hospitality. The services were held in the open air, and the singing was led by the local brass band.
There are interesting accounts of the participation of the school in the Halifax Sunday School union's Jubilee Celebrations in 1861 and 1876. At a meeting to make preparations for the first Jubilee, it was decided to have a new Banner. "That it be majenta on one side and blue on the other, and the size to be 3 feet by 2 feet 6 inches." At a later Jubilee in 1885 this banner was superseded by one which is not honoured by a description in the records.
Another ever of historic interest is the record of the linking up of the school and village with the nation in manifestations of loyal devotion to the Crown; when at a meeting it was agreed that the children go in procession to Elland, to take part in local celebrations, on the occasion of the Prince of Wales wedding, March 10th, 1863.
A contingent of 177 Teachers, Scholars and friends represented Upper Edge. Since then, our school has participated in three succeeding Coronation Festivities.
A favourite place for holding the Whitsuntide Festival was Henry Holmes' gardens in Fixby, which to some of our youthful eyes, was a peep into Paradise. There were times when we went further afield. On one occasion we visited Shaw's Park, Stainland, and another, when we went to "Old Pratty's", Lindley Moor.
Another advance along the path of civilization was the memorable time when the old schoolroom was fitted up with ornamental oil lamps, suspended from the beams. The old building was transformed into a "palace beautiful."
From what was an unpretentious building, with its bare whitewashed walls, and heated by a stove in the middle of the room, around which, the scholars who were in close proximity, especially during wintry weather, counted themselves peculiarly fortunate; repeated additions and improvements have been made so that to-day we possess premises admirably equipped with modern requirements for Sunday School work.
There is now a large Assembly Hall with seating accommodation for about 300 with rows of classrooms on each side. Downstairs there is a commodious room, ideal for the Primary Department. It is also used for Teas and various meetings in connection with the Church and Sunday School. This is flanked by a useful kitchen.
This valuable contribution received recognition.
When the present premises, involving an expenditure of about £1400, were opened on January 29th, 1898, the few remaining Trustees of the old building, voluntarily and cheerfully resigned their Trust, and proper legal arrangements were effected transferring the property to a body of Baptist Trustees.
Altogether the Baptists have spent £1800 on the premises.
One of the crowning glories of Sunday School work ever since the days of Robert Raikes, who in the year 1780 opened in Gloucester, what was probably the first Sunday School, has been a continued succession of men and women, who, asking for no earthly reward have found both inspiration and compensation in the declaration of the Master-- "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God."
We give thanks to God for this glorious train of faithful men and women, who in their day and generation, consecrated their gifts, according to their light, to the service of young people. It is impossible to record in this brief history, the story of individual contributions of service, without making invidious distinctions. Let it suffice to say that their names are writ in the "Book of Life." They belong to a noble band, who, through all the vicissitudes of 100 years, have maintained unquenched the fires of devotion burning upon the altar of Divine service.
It is no easy task to tabulate the records of a century, but it has been an interesting study to trace a Divine leading from stage to stage.
During the last 30 or 40 years, there has been a marked change in the communal life of the neighbourhood. Once the relationships were close and intimate. Inter-marriage amongst the inhabitants was common. The joys and sorrows of life was of mutual concern.
Large families were a characteristic feature. Parents almost without exception sent their children to the Sunday School, and during the week they did not go far away from home. Conditions have changed by the attractions of the towns, and the easy facilities for getting there. Families have been broken up. Their sons and daughters have found outside attachments, and they have set up new homes elsewhere. Work and new interests, together with limited house accommodation, has necessitated migration, with a resultant fusion of residents, who are not so deeply attached to the amenities of village life.
All this has contributed to a considerable decrease in the interest and attendance at the Sunday School. Our present number consists of 20 Teachers and 82 Scholars. This is less than half the number we had at one period.
It is a cause for joyful pride to trace the influence of our Sunday School upon the formative character of our young people, and to know that from our midst, there have gone forth into the wider world, young men and women who have played a useful part in other spheres of service; some of whom have made distinguished contributions.
In looking back, we thank God and take courage, finding in the retrospect inspiration and encouragement, bidding us to go forward into the unknown future, confident that the God of our fathers will help us to be loyal to the trust committed to our care. Our prayer is that we may endeavour to maintain the traditions of the past, and hand down to succeeding generations the blessed heritage into which we have entered.
In making arrangements for Centenary celebrations, our hearts are aglow with gratitude, as we call to remembrance the goodness of God, and the continued manifestations of Divine guidance and blessing, which like a beneficent stream, has accompanied the consecrated labours of 100 years.
It is our privilege and pleasure to send out greetings to all scholars and friends, both past and present, and to extend a cordial invitation to participate with us on this occasion of Thanksgiving and Rejoicing.
It will be readily recognized that during a period of 100 years, it would be impossible to tabulate the names of all who, in their day and generation, have contributed faithful service in the work of this Sunday School. The compilers feel, however, that there are many whose lives and labours constitute an integral part of a glorious record; and a total omission to link up their names in a survey of the School's activities, would not only be restricted but would be robbed of that vital interest which their names inspire.
We, therefore, feel constrained to append a list, representative rather than complete, of those who deserve a place on a Roll of Honour.
We are also acutely conscious that the present record of the work of the School, disconnected with that of the Church, is obviously incomplete.
It is impossible to have a true perspective of the picture unless we appreciate the close affinity which existed. Some of the best workers rendered faithful and efficient service in both departments, recognizing that their object and aims were vitally linked together.
This partial testimony finds its explanation in the fact that there was a Sunday School long before there was a Church, which was under the control of unsectarian management.
When in the year 1863, a Baptist Church was founded, the teaching in the School became more and more distinctly religious and assumed a denominational character, which ultimately resulted in legal arrangements being made, authorizing the Baptists to exercise full control and responsibility.
The full story will probably be told when in 1963 the Church will celebrate its Centenary.
Then it will fall to the happy lot of some other scribe to chronicle the history of the Church. When that time comes, there will be cause for great rejoicing; and as they take a review of the way in which God has graciously led them, they can declare "The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad" to whom we ascribe all the praise and glory.
The following names are amongst those, who, in the past, have rendered valuable service.
Rev. T. R. Lewis, Rev. G. B. Combe, Rev. H. Stowell, B.A., Rev. A. E. Jones.
Richard Marsden, Saville Sykes, Geo. C. Jessop, William Stead, Joseph Hepworth, Isaac Whiteley, David Gledhill, Hiram Chadwick, John I. Mortimer, Joseph Beaumont, Oliver Sutcliffe, John Walker, Arthur Shackleton, Ernest Farrar, Mrs. Tom Farrar, Tom Farrar, George Holroyd, Eastwood Barker, Mrs. A. Dean.
Saville Sykes, David G1edhill, Arthur Shackleton, Ernest Farrar, George Holroyd, Redvers Barker, James W. Barker, Winston Shackleton, William Taylor.
Alexander Marsden, James Holmes, Richard Marsden, Enoch Williamson, Saville Sykes, David Gledhill, Arthur Shackleton, Eastwood Barker, Max. S. Shackleton.
In April 1942 a Centenary Fund was launched with the object of raising £250. This met with such an enthusiastic response that it reached the sum of £342.