Silcoates School reopens after fire

Sheffield Daily Telegraph
Friday 2 October 1908

NEW SCHOOL AT SILCOATES

The Right Hon Walter Runciman, President of the Board of Education, formally opened Silcoates School, near Wakefield, yesterday, and the occasion gave not only the principal functionary but other speakers opportunities alluding to views of the Government with regard to national education. The seminary declared open yesterday – though as a matter of fact it was already tenanted – has been erected to replace the buildings destroyed by fire some years ago. Behind it lies an interesting history. Originated in 1831, it was founded as an institution for the education of the sons of Independent ministers, and was called the Congregational School for the counties of Yorkshire end Lancashire. Subsequently, however, the title was changed to the Northern Congregational School. The sons of laymen were admitted, and the territorial limitation was abandoned. From time to time the finances of the undertaking suffered embarrassment. In 1871 the Silcoates estate was purchased for £15,000, and two years later were erected the buildings which were destroyed by fire. The Trustees own part of the coal rights of the estate, and the revenues derived therefrom are to be applied in the reduction of the mortgage. Roundly the scheme just completed involved an expenditure of £15,000, of which fully £7,000 has been either subscribed or promised. The ceremony was performed in glorious weather, and in presence of a gathering which included many of the elite of Congregationalism, to which body school belongs.

Name that tune!

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Friday 16 June 1939

Correspondence
SUNG AT SILCOATES

Sir, The head master of Silcoates School, Wakefield, Mr Sydney Moore, will be grateful to anyone who can give him any particulars of a song, which used to be sung Silcoates 50 years ago – “When this old coët (coat) war new”. I visited Silcoates recently and said I would try to get some information.

Local photographs in old newspapers

The newspaper archives has only come up with half a dozen photographs relating to the Wrenthorpe area – and three of these are of Silcoates. The first is of the last toll bar in the district.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 13 July 1929

SILCOATES OLD TOLL-BAR

In close proximity to the famous Silcoates School, this reminder of old coaching days is still in use, and is one of the few surviving toll-bars in the West Riding.

The image is of an unnamed man with a white beard and hat standing in front of the gate.

19290713SilcoatesTollBar

Pictures in other newspapers:

Yorkshire Evening Post
Wednesday 1 May 1935

BLOSSOM TIME IN THE ORCHARD

Caption: A scene at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield.

Unfortunately the orchard image is too indistinct to show here.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Wednesday 17 July 1940

PLAYING FIELDS NO LONGER

Caption: Boys at Silcoates School, Wakefield, digging their playing fields in preparation for food growing.

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 6 June 1926

A DIVINELY INSPIRED MANSION

Caption: Prophet’s Mansion, at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, built by Prophet John Wroe, who died many years ago. He knew nothing of architecture, and it is said that his plans were divinely inspired. The house is now inhabited by the Prophet’s great-grandson, who confidently awaits his return in the flesh. The second picture shows the novel sundial crowning the house.

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Sheffield Daily Telegraph
Friday 2 October 1908

SILCOATES SCHOOL

On the other side will be found a picture of the ceremony in connection with the opening of the new Silcoates School, the celebrated Congregational college. The new building replaces the edifice that was burnt down some time back. The school was opened by Mr Runciman, and the picture shows Mr G H Baines, JP, one of the trustees, handing the Minister of Education the key. Mrs Runciman will be seen holding a bouquet. At the table is seated Mr Theodore Taylor, MP, while next him is Mr John McLaren, one of the trustees. Immediately beneath this picture is one showing the new school buildings.

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Ben Wroe: the facts (well almost)

Here’s an odd piece from a Suffolk paper in 1937. It’s on a page crammed with strange facts. Pity it doesn’t really get it right.

Framlingham Weekly News
Saturday 31 July 1937

BOY LEADS SECT

In the colliery village of East Ardsley, a few miles from Leeds, lives a nine-year-old boy who is the head of one of the strangest religious sects in the country. He is the great-great-grandson the “Prophet” Wroe, founder of the Christian Israelite movement, which, in its heyday, had followers throughout the West Riding. Members of the sect were well-known, because all male members were required to wear their hair long and to grow a beard. Their teaching was “Belief the law and the Gospel.” The boy, who became head of the movement following the death of father, John Wroe, in a road accident, wears his hair in two long plaits, which reach over his shoulders. He lives with his mother at The Mansion, a residence which has been in the family for generations, and follows the faith his forefathers. The Mansion, with farmlands, was left in entail for the prophet’s descendants so long there should heir and a pair of slippers and a vacant chair in readiness for the founder of the movement, who, it is believed, will one day return.

Silcoates School pupil Benjamin Wroe wasn’t nine but would have been about 15 when this was published. He didn’t live at the Mansion as it had been sold to the Christian Israelite Church the previous year and his mother had died three years before. Ben Wroe was killed in Normandy in 1944.

 

Silcoates School fire

The Leeds Mercury’s take on Silcoates fire, 1904. Interesting that the paper starts its news coverage with a paragraph on the famous Silcoates alumni.

The article also sheds lights on the problems in dealing with the fire. Not only the Wakefield Fire Brigade’s refusal to attend a fire outside its boundaries, but also the inadequate water supply in the vicinity of the School. The ‘Stanley main’ referred to was Stanley Urban District Council’s mains water supply which ended in what’s now Wrenthorpe Lane, at the bridge over Foster Ford Beck, the boundary between Stanley UDC and Wakefield Rural District Council.

Leeds Mercury
Friday 15 April 1904

THE DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT SILCOATES SCHOOL
SOME DISTINGUISHED FORMER PUPILS

The Northern Congregational School, which situate at the top of the hill at Silcoates, near Wakefield, and which was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning, was established on 24th August, 1831; and is well-known for the education many men who have made their mark in the world.

Amongst them we may mention names of Mr Godkin, editor of the “New York Evening Post”; Mr W T Stead, of “The Review of Reviews”; Mr T C Taylor MP, Sir George Newnes MP; Mr John Stubley, Batley; Mr Gerard Ford, Manchester; Mr John Ely, FRIBA, Manchester; and a number of well-known Congregational ministers. Since the school was established, about eight hundred sons of Congregational ministers have been educated there.

During the Easter vacation the school was thoroughly renovated, and the buildings would have presented a most attractive appearance when the pupils, numbering about eighty, returned from their holidays.

The fire was first discovered near what is known as the Juvenile Dormitory, and it had then got a firm hold. The appliances at hand were not sufficient to cope with the flames, which spread with great rapidity; and notwithstanding the efforts of many willing workers, the school building was soon doomed.

About one o’clock the Dewsbury Fire Brigade was sent for, but when they arrived they found they had not sufficient piping enable them to pump the water from the mill dam [Silcoates Mill] and the Stanley [water] main, a couple of fields away, their impression being that the building was situate near the main road. The only supply they were able to obtain was from a 3-inch main near the school, and the force was not strong enough to reach the topmost part of the building.

Before the Dewsbury men arrived, however, it was obvious that all chances of saving any portion of the school building had gone, and the efforts of the workers were concentrated on saving the house of the headmaster (Mr J A Yonge), who was spending his holidays in Switzerland. Sergeant Barraclough, of Dewsbury, handled his men splendidly, and he himself worked like a Trojan, with the result that they bad their efforts rewarded in seeing Mr Young’s house and furniture probably saved.

Soon after the fire was discovered, the Wakefield Fire Brigade were requested to attend, but the request was not complied with owing the fact that a couple of years ago a resolution was passed by the Wakefield Corporation to the effect that the brigade should not attend any more fires outside the city, as the rural authority declined to enter into an agreement to contribute towards the maintenance of a second engine and increased staff.

Painters and decorators have been busily at work since the school “broke up”, renovating the interior of the school building; and at first it was thought the fire was due the carelessness of the workmen. From the position of the fire, however, first discovered, the supposition is that it was caused through the overheating of a flue.

The damage, which roughly estimated at about £12,000, is only partly covered by insurance.