We have been fortunate here at Sandylands to have in our possession some of the original log book, which although mainly statistical, offer an interesting insight into the workings of the school from its opening in 1901 until the 1940’s.
The 1870 Education Act making education compulsory appeared to cause problems with regard to the provision of schooling for children, especially in the West-End of Morecambe. The local newspaper – the Visitor reported that children had been turned away from schools and “had to shift as best they could”.
On the 16th September 1901 Sandylands School was opened on a temporary site on Sefton Road, several streets away from the present site on Hampton Road. This arrangement was whilst more permenant site was sought. The opening was not without its problems and the school had to contend “without the provision of sanitary accommodation, which H.M. Inspector laid such stress in his communication to the Board.” A lack of both furniture and stock also appears to have been a challege for the staff! The school opened at 9am and 103 scholars attended.
It is recorded that by December there were 139 on roll. Miss Smith was the mistress who took charge of standards III, Miss Marshall was in charge of standards I & II and Miss Thompson “assisted generally”.
Negotiations for a more permanent site continued until June 1902, when the Hampton Road site was agreed upon. In August the Heysham School Board agreed to the purchase of the site for the new school, with the plans being submitted. In the pages that follow this brief history are the documentation for purchase and inspection of the Hampton road site and a plan of what the school looked like originally. The foundations were laid in June 1903 on what was known as the Battery Estate. It was not until 29th August 1904, that Sandylands School was opened on its present site. The photograph that follows shows the first Headteacher Mr MacGregor in front of the school on the opening day.
The school was divided into infant and junior departments. The infant department admitted 59 children, with “the Mistress” Miss Tyas and monitor, Miss Garth. The junior department was lead by Mr MacGregor along with Miss Emily Marshall, assisted by G. Topham.
By 20th September 1904 there were 110 on the roll. Other staff were appointed in the following weeks. The youngest children were referred to as the “Babies Class”. There is evidence that children as young as three attended the school.
The log book shows that when the school re-opened in September 1907 there were 195 scholars present. It had almost double in size in three years!
In October 1917, Miss Rodley, a teacher, recorded in the log book, a severe explosion at the White Lund Munitions factory, which meant that the school had to close:
“October 2nd 1917: The schools were closed all day. An explosion took place late last night at the White Lund Munitions works and continued all night. As the people in the district were warned to leave their homes and stay in the fields two or three miles away, owing to serious rumours of greater explosions to follow, no scholar appeared either morning or afternoon. Happily the danger was averted for the time.”
March 1919 signalled the end of Mr MacGregor’s time as headteacher at Sandylands. Mr Swire took over as a temporary head due to Mr MacGregor’s illness. By May of 1919 Mr Braithwaite had taken over as the new head at Sandylands school.
An Act of Parliament in 1928 saw the amalgamation of Morecambe Borough and the Heysham Urban District Council. The County Council however continued to be the Education Authority until March 31st 1929. On the 1st April 1929, the school became known as “Heysham Sandylands Council School, Mixed Department”. The school was now under the ruling of Morecambe and Heysham Education Committee.
On the 5th October 1934, after twenty-seven years as head of the infant department, Miss Rodley retired on pension. Her retirement brought an end to the infant department as a separate entity. The junior and infant department joined forces with Mr Braithwaite as overall head and Miss Roberts as Assistant with special responsibilities for the infant department and a salary increment!
The opening of the new senior school on Balmoral Road (now Heysham High School) on 1st December 1936 meant Sandylands became known as “a Junior Mixed and Infants school”. The opening of the senior school saw a transferral of ninety-eight children, aged between eleven and fourteen, and two members of staff, including the long serving Mr Cunningham.
The outbreak of War on the 4th September 1939 brought about the closure of schools across the country pending the erection of air raid shelters. Sandylands re-opened on the 25th September – but only the junior department. The infants were to remain at home until further notice. The infants were only allowed to be returned to school on the 6th November when three air raid shelters were almost completed. On October 10th the log book states that the school nurse was in attendance to examine the evacuees for “cleanliness, contagious diseases etc…”
In 1940 new school hours were initiated to fit the daylight hours. It was recorded that ARP wardens visited the school to inspect the children’s gas masks. New gas masks were issued to those who had outgrown the earlier issues. Air raid practices were also carried out within the school. The log book also notes that the junior department was visited to:
“survey the possible blacking out, so that the school could be used at night by the RAF” although there is no real records to suggest that the buildings were used for this purpose.
During the war years the numbers on roll in the school increased significantly, by April 1941 there were 385 children attending Sandylands.
In September 1941 the Government “Milk in schools” came into force, with 250 3/4 pint bottles being supplied to the school and sold at a halfpenny each.
Sadly, due to a break in at the school, documented evidence/information about our school no longer exists for the years that follow up until present day.
There have been very little changes to the headteachers at Sandylands – they must have enjoyed themselves too much! Mr MacGregor and Mr Braithwaite have been mentioned in the brief history above. Mr Houghton who was the head at Sandylands during the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s and then Mr Levick took over from 1964-1979. Mrs Norma Dixon became headteacher in 1979 and remained at the school for the next ten years until 1989. Mr Freeland took over in 1989 and was headteacher until 2002. Mrs Ingram is the current headteacher.
It is more than evident that Sandylands has continued to both grow and flourish. With the growth brought a need to expand the premises.
The first annexes to be built were on the Balmoral Road site (where the present Early Years Unit is situated), in 1955, housed junior classes. The Nursery was a purpose built unit erected in the early nineties. This continues to be a very popular addition to our school, providing many children with access to a caring pre-school learning environment.
Other annexes were built in the late eighties, and continue to be in use at the rear of the main school building. The ubiquitous bike shed was made into a much needed resource room. This is also a useful extra classroom for small groups.
And finally in 2001 our kitchen was completed and now for the first time in its long history Sandylands is able to provide school meals.
The log books, although mainly statistical also contain some interesting and often amusing entries concerning events occurring throughout the school.
The first few years of the school had very detailed entries into the log book. It was recorded that registers were checked weekly by a member of the School Board. These were usually found to be correct, but any abnormalities were recorded, as was the name of the culprit! A rigid prescriptive syllabus was adhered to and members of the Board observed the lessons to “ensure the quality and the correctness of the teaching, especially religious education.”
On 30th April 1902 the school was closed for “Children’s day” as part of the Morecambe Festival. It was also reported that owing to school picnics attendance in school had decreased at the beginning of May.
On occasions, in both the Infant and the Junior department, “Drill” was inspected by Sergeant Major Wright!
The log book in November 1907 states that “from this date the Needlework lessons will be taken from 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. to secure better light!”. Girls were found to do needlework whilst the boys did extra arithmetic and in 1918 it was recorded that the senior boys had gardening lessons. At one time, a teacher was employed to give cookery lessons to the girls, although this was short lived as the teacher proved to be unreliable and marked the register incorrectly!
The log books illustrate a fairly high rate of absence of both pupils and staff. In the school’s early years it is recorded that the school closed on several occasions due to measles epidemics. Children with siblings suffering from measles of scarlet fever were excluded from school. Although class sizes were somewhat larger that today (it was not unusual to have a class in excess of sixty children!) there was added pressure for teachers if one of their colleagues was absent. Classes were “doubled up” resulting in teachers having to instruct seventy plus pupils at a time. To some teachers it must have been a blessing that some pupils left at the age of fourteen to take up employment!
Severe weather conditions were another noted reason for high absences. One notable school closure was in November 1904 when the heating system broke down and caused “an epidemic of measles and serious chills”. The log book records that the “parents have complained of the state of the school as responsible for the sickness”. The issue of work permits granting the older pupils in the school (mainly those children in the senior classes) leave of absence led to high figures especially at the beginning of the academic year. The summer holidays were only 4 weeks long – no doubt good for the parents but not so good for the teachers! The Easter and Christmas holidays appear to be the same duration as they are now, however there were no half terms – how did the teachers cope?