|School Pioneers Met in Barn
Ten scholars and one teacher, meeting in a small chapel near the Green at Rushden in 1848, laid the foundation of the Independent Wesleyan Sunday School which to-day, at its centenary celebrations, can take pride not only in the 200 strong Queen Street school but also in the formation of the Wymington and Wellingborough Road Mission Schools.
The pioneer band grew as Higham Ferrers friends assisted in the undertaking, and on special occasions a Duck Street barn was used for meetings - as the "chapel" proved too small.
In 1852 the "New Chapel" in Chapel Lane (George St.) came into being at an annual rental of £7 10s. Teachers in the Sunday School interested in education started an evening class, and this is where for 21 years business men of the 'village' received their only education.
Teachers not in their appointed places for school opening were fined a halfpenny a time in 1856, and the superintendents the sum of 1d. for each offence.
A canvass of the village revealed 151 Rushden families and 335 children over five years of age289 attended Sunday School.
The establishment of a penny bank for the village came with the opening of 1861 and later in the year the oldest ex-scholar now living, Mrs. M. J. Hazeldine (94), joined the school.
In 1866 the first Band of Hope was formed; 1867 brought "school treats" for the first time, and concern was aroused over the bad conduct of the boys.
A branch school was formed at Wymington in 1879, and for 12 months teachers were supplied from the Rushden school.
A still further advancethe erection of a chapel and school in High Streetdistinguished 1873. The school part consisted of lower and upper rooms, and the total cost was £1,000.
Overcrowding of the school was mentioned for the second time in 1886, and four years later the present schools in Queen Street were erected and opened at a cost of £2,000.
In 1893 there were 470 scholars and 66 teachers and officers.
In 1885 a Mission Hall in Station Road was opened at a cost of £500. Its scholars joined in the Queen St. School treat the next year, when provision was made for 700 with swing boats, sports and a string band.
Jubilee year (1898) was a year full of activity, and work commenced on the erection of the present chapel, which opened on February 22nd, 1900. The Diamond Jubilee year of 1908 saw a gymnastic class with 20 members, who for several years gave displays at the school treat.
The work of the school in 1915 was disturbed by the absence of several workers on war service, but the school treat held jointly with the Mission Hall used provisions which included 90lbs slab cake, 600 buns, 40lbs butter, 40lbs sugar and eight lbs of tea.
Mrs Clark, of "Heatherbreea," Rushden, is a direct descendant of one of the ten original scholars.
A programme of events for the centenary includes a display and pageant by the Girls' Life Brigade and Boys' Brigade, a parents' tea and social, a thanksgiving rally supported by the schools and young people's organisations of 13 churches, and a special treat for the children.
Mr. Walter J. Lack, who has served the school for 53 years, has written an interesting history of the school which is now on sale.