At a public meeting, held in the Guildhall, Newcastle, on February 25, 1825, the
Right Worshipful Henry Cramlington, Esq. mayor, in the chair, it was resolved to
establish one or more Infant Schools, by which the children of the labouring classes,
from the age of two to six years, may, for a small weekly payment by the parents,
be not only kept from the danger of accidents, to which at this tender age they are
liable without the most watchful care, but, by a judicious and pleasing interchange of
exercise and instruction, may experience a gradual developement at once of their
bodily and mental powers, and may be prepared for a more beneficial improvement
of the means of education provided for children of a more advanced age. This
meeting accordingly commenced a subscription, and appointed a committee to carry
the scheme into effect.
The Orphan House in Northumberland Street, being engaged at the yearly rent
of £37, was fitted up as a school-room. It is not only a lofty and airy apartment,
but also possesses the advantage of having a convenient play-ground attached. The
school was opened June 20, 1825, under the superintendence of James Urwin, who
had received instructions from Mr. Wilderspin, master of the Spital-field school. By
the report read to the first annual meeting, March 6, 1826, it appears that £137, 8s.
6d. had been received in donations (of which the corporation gave £26, 5s.); £60,
9s. 6d. in annual subscriptions; £39. 2s. 7d. from the children, at 2d. per week
each; and £8, 13s. had been found in the tin box. When the expenses, £157, 13s. 6d.
were taken from the aggregate, a balance of £88, 1d. remained in favour of the
school. This school will hold 200 children; but 180 is the largest number that has
been present at one time. The number that usually attend vary, according to the
weather, from 130 to 150.
The Sallyport Infant School was opened in the Sallyport meeting-house on September 4, 1826. James Kirk has been chosen master, and 156 children are already
entered. It is in contemplation to open another Infant School in the Close, or the
Castle Garth. (fn. 1)