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