An unusual view of the original northern aspect of Lightcliffe Church of England Primary School, which opened in January, 1869. This view, unlike the southern façade, has changed a great deal over the years following four major extensions and a number of minor ones. These began in 1966 when a corridor, indoor toilets, new staff and headteacher’s rooms were added and the partitions separating the classrooms were replaced with solid walls and improved facilities.
The school log books provide us with a fascinating social history of the school. In addition to telling us about the building work and the day to day life of the school, they provide the reader with a picture of what life was like for pupils and staff over a period of more than 100 years. Although a log would have been kept from the day that the school opened, or very shortly afterwards, the first books have never been located. The story begins, therefore, in 1893 when Robert Markham was head of the boys’ school that occupied the western section of the building and Janet Berry was head of the girls’ and infants’ school that occupied the central and eastern portions. The schools amalgamated permanently in 1906. Each head teacher occupied a house at the end of their particular school and the headmistress’s house is still clearly visible at the junction of Wakefield Road and Knowle Top Road.
Many of the early log book entries refer to absenteeism for all sorts of reasons including working in the fields, fruit picking and poor weather. Pupils often had a long walk to school along muddy lanes and when it snowed or poured with rain attendance plummeted. In November, 1901, it was recorded that it was A very stormy day. Children arrived drenched - too wet to remain. School closed for the day. The school was often closed when epidemics struck and there are innumerable references to such occasions. Typical ones are: Epidemic of measles has broken out in the district, school closed owing to the epidemic spreading. (November,1894) and Dr Davidson, MOH, visited school this morning 29 November, 1913 and ordered it to be closed until 15 December, owing to the prevalence of scarlet fever and diphtheria.