Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Rushden Echo & Argus, 18th June 1948, transcribed by Kay Collins
Wesleyan Sunday School - Origins to Centenary

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 age—289 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 advance—the erection of a chapel and school in High Street—distinguished 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.

Rushden Echo & Argus, 25th June 1948, transcribed by Kay Collins

Messages Came from Near & Far — Sunday School Centenary
Old friends whom time and distance had long separated became reacquainted in person, or through messages from all parts of the country, at a reception at Rushden on Saturday evening.

The Rev. John Renison and Mrs Renison received visitors at the Queen Street Schools, and the minister extended a welcome "in the name of the Independent Wesleyan Sunday School and on behalf of the church" to former officers, teachers and scholars.

The occasion opened a week of celebrations for the school centenary Mr. Walter Lack—who has himself had 53 years in the school—presided and read a of congratulatory messages.

A particularly warm ovation was given that of 93 years old Mrs. M Haseldine of Rushden. There was mention, too, of the school's oldest living ex-scholar Mrs. Mary Mackness (95), in South Dakota, U.S.A.

From Norwich, Mr. C. Willmott, who belonged to the school over 50 years ago, sent a cheque for £50.

From Australia
There were visitors from Australia—Miss D. Burfield and Mrs. V. Burfield, whose husband was a former Sunday School scholar, Mr. Alfred Couper and his mother, another scholar.

Mrs. P. Allcock had made a special journey from Nottingham; 89 years old Mrs. Parker came over from Chelveston, Mrs. J. Barnes from Stony Stratford, and a number from Kettering.

Mrs J Clark a direct descendant of one of the ten original scholars was there,

The Sunday School teachers made all the arrangements for the evening, providing the masses of flowers and refreshments.

There was a concert with solos by Miss Gillian Desborough Mr. Douglas Gilbert and Mr. Alfred Couper, and Mr. S. Weekley was at the piano. Mr. Charles Jones contributed humorous monologues. Mr. C. Spencer accompanied Mr. Couper.

Extract from obituary of Mr Maurice Skinner: His memory was particularly good, and on the occasion of the stone-laying of the new Independent Wesleyan chapel a month ago he said to one of his friends, “I can remember the time when the Wesleyan Methodists used to meet in my father’s house near the Green, 80 years ago.”

Wesleyan Church Mainpage

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the Churches & Chapels index
Click here to e-mail us