The history of Appleton Roebuck School

The Log Book for Appleton Roebuck School, running from 1904 until 1958, is a rich source of history for both school and village. It begins before the present building was constructed when the school was a split site, the upper school in the Parish Room and the infants in a building across the road, where the school is today.

We can see the development of the new school, which opened in 1906, through the eyes of William Clayton, the Master who came here in 1892 as a young man and stayed at the school until his retirement in 1932. He records not only the day-to-day life of the school, but how it was integrated into the village. His relationship with the successive owners of Nun Appleton is clear; first Lord Holden, and then, in the 1920s, the Dawson family, who become involved with the running of the school in both financial and practical ways. Mrs Clayton, too, played an important part in the life of both school and village. She became the Infant teacher and worked alongside her husband for many years.

William Clayton was at the forefront of developments in rural education. He visited America before WWI to look at teaching methods there and after the war, through the NUT and the West Riding Education Committee, became involved in creating new schemes; fitting children in the rural areas for jobs in agriculture and horticulture. The school garden at Appleton was a model and many visitors came to see it including Joseph Rowntree. Mr Clayton was awarded the OBE in 1931- a fitting end to his career.

Arthur Bowers, the next Head Teacher, took enormous pride in the school garden. During his years at Appleton School the Garden Inspection Reports were copied into the log book annually but there is little reference to academic progress. The strong links with Nun Appleton and the wider village, obvious in William Claytons’s time, seem to lessen. Mr Bowers left in 1942 and for a few years after, the school had several head teachers and the gardening had a lower priority.

The transcript runs continuously from 1904 until 1945. Thereafter, the book is of less value to the local historian and the more interesting items have been picked out, including an inspection report from 1951. The book finishes in 1958.

Some abbreviations are used which may be puzzling but can eventually be worked out and the reader today will find some of the language quite old fashioned. When other people have visited school and written in the log book, the text is in italics. Italics are also used within square brackets when a comment is made on the text by the transcriber.

Marjorie Harrison, 30th August 2006.