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A History of Horncastle by James Conway Walter

A meeting being held at Woodhall Spa

[Picture: St. Mary's Square]

At first classes were held in the Masonic Hall, Bank Street; and in 1891 an efficient teacher, Mr. Mallet, was engaged to give commercial instruction in arithmetic, shorthand, &c., {114a} and he was very successful in getting pupils. In 1892 larger accommodation was required, and two rooms were rented, over what is now the Bicycle Depot of Mr. Sorfleet, at 14, East Street; and Mr. Switzer was engaged as teacher of science and art, at a salary of 100 pounds a year, being allowed further to augment his income by taking private pupils in certain other subjects. About the same time 100 pounds was spent on models, and other requisites; and by the close of 1892, Tetford, Wragby, and Woodhall Spa having been included in a general scheme for the district, it was found that the pupils attending the classes already numbered 219; of whom 76 were under Mr. Mallet's instruction, 101 under Mr. Switzer, including 39 school teachers in the neighbourhood, attending on Saturdays; while 42 received special instruction from a qualified teacher in dressmaking. Operations were also, in the same year, extended to rural parishes, a meeting being held at Woodhall Spa, on Feb. 10, presided over by the Rev. T. Livesey, County Councillor, when a district embracing 20 parishes was formed; Mr. Livesey being _ex officio_ Chairman of Committees, Canon J. Clare Hudson, Vicar of Thornton, appointed as acting Chairman, and the Rev. J. Conway Walter, Rector of Langton, Hon. Secretary.

This was followed by other meetings at Horncastle, at which, in due course, plans were matured for both town and country classes in various subjects. On the death of Mr. T. Livesey, in 1894, Mr. Robert Searby, of Edlington, succeeded him as County Councillor, and took a great interest in the school; the late Mr. W. Brown, of the Capital and Counties Bank, was elected Chairman, and for several years he rendered most valuable service to the schools, being followed, on his decease in 1901, by Mr. R. W. Clitherow, Solicitor, who had previously acted as Treasurer. So far the whole scheme had been attended by the most marked success in all departments.

In the year 1894 the numbers of pupils, and of the subjects taught, had further increased; and it became necessary again to move into more commodious premises. The large building in Queen Street, which had been erected by the late Mr. F. Stevens, of Gordon Villa, and was then occupied by Miss Morris, as a school for young ladies, was rented, having two large classrooms and a smaller one.

Among the teachers who followed was Miss Annie Foster, who succeeded Mr. Switzer in July, 1895, and continued as head of the Institution for nearly six years. She was a most enthusiastic and energetic worker, and under her the schools attained the highest point of success, both as regards the number of pupils attending and the variety of subjects taught. The school at this time had attained to the highest degree of efficiency which it is ever likely to reach. Not only had Horncastle pupils taken more prizes than those of any other technical school in the Parts of Lindsey, but on the visit of the Government Inspector, Mr. Minton, at the prize-giving in September, 1896, he stated that the school occupied the third place in all England. {114b}

In the year 1899 again the Inspector, on his examination in October, reported its state as being "very satisfactory," and in that year grants were earned of 140 pounds from the County Council, 35 pounds from South Kensington Science and Art department, 50 pounds from the Whitehall department, 12 pounds from fees for science and art teaching, 10 pounds from the evening continuation classes, a total of 247 pounds. Miss Foster was assisted by Miss M. E. Edgar. A former pupil, Mr. C. H. Stevens, a native of Horncastle, was also appointed Assistant Master, until he was promoted to take charge of a technical school at Folkestone. Mr. A. Blades, of the London University, Junior Master of the Grammar School, was for a time an Assistant. At the end of 1900 (Nov. 15) Miss Foster resigned, being promoted to the head teachership of the Camden School of Art, in London. Miss M. E. Edgar, who had been assistant teacher for several years, was at this date appointed Head Teacher, in the Science and Art department, Mr. C. W. Gott, of the Grammar School, B.A. of London University, becoming Head Master of the evening continuation school, and Mr. H. J. Haddock teacher of shorthand.

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