A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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The priest of St. Mary's guild, suppressed in 1547, kept a grammar school. (fn. 1) There were two schoolmasters in 1671, at least one unlicensed. The vicar was probably teaching boys 1672-80, (fn. 2) but there was no free or 'charity' school. (fn. 3) There are references to teachers, writing masters, and schools in 18th- and early 19thcentury Coalbrookdale and Madeley Wood. (fn. 4) A schoolroom near Sunniside was mentioned in Abraham Darby (II)'s will of 1763, (fn. 5) and succeeding managers of the Coalbrookdale Co. provided schools and Sunday schools. (fn. 6) The company's British day school was by 1818 the largest in the parish, but a free school was then greatly needed. (fn. 7)
The Coalbrookdale Co.'s school was exceptional. Almost all the early sustained provision of elementary education was in the Sunday schools. In 1818 some 750 children attended four Sunday schools while twelve unendowed day schools (including the Coalbrookdale Co.'s school) had only 523 pupils, 173 of whom, at the eight principal ones (excluding the company's school), paid 3d.- 6d. a week. From 1813, according to regulations of the parish church's newly founded Sunday school society, the Sunday schools sat 9 a.m.noon and 1.30-4.00 p.m.; primers, catechisms, testaments, religious tracts, slates, and copy books were used. The principal Sunday school, evidently that at Madeley Wood, had c. 150 pupils in 1818. (fn. 8) It owed its existence to J. W. Fletcher who intended the meeting house which he built there c. 1777 to be used also as an elementary day school. (fn. 9) How long a day school was carried on is uncertain, (fn. 10) but Abiah Darby prompted Fletcher to found Sunday schools at Madeley Wood, Coalbrookdale, and Madeley in 1784 and 1785. (fn. 11) A fourth Sunday school was founded at Coalport before 1810. (fn. 12)
In 1818 two of the four Sunday schools evidently met in the Madeley Wood and Coalport Wesleyan chapels, though they were carried on by the parish Sunday school society which, in 1814, built a room in the churchyard for Madeley Sunday school. (fn. 13) Coalbrookdale Sunday school parted from the society in 1816, as Wesleyans and church people began to separate. A separate church Sunday school began in the Madeley Wood house of industry in 1821, when afternoon services began in the Wesleyan chapel: and early next year the Madeley Wood Wesleyans reorganized their Sunday school, which then included an adult school. Another church Sunday school began in the Ironbridge dispensary c. 1830. (fn. 14) In 1838 the Madeley Wood Wesleyans founded a Sunday school society to teach poor children of all denominations to read the Scriptures 'and to understand and practise every moral virtue'. (fn. 15)
By 1833 free elementary education was being provided by six Sunday schools, three Wesleyan (fn. 16) with 261 girls and 230 boys, and three church schools (fn. 17) with 225 girls and 165 boys. There were also eighteen day schools (615 pupils), where fees were paid, but in one (founded 1829) the patron and proprietor and two or three local subscribers made up deficiencies; (fn. 18) it was probably John Bartlett's school near Marnwood Hall gate. (fn. 19) By 1824 Bartlett (incumbent of Buildwas 1822-61) (fn. 20) was a prominent member of the parish Sunday school society; through it he pressed for a central parish school and succeeded in founding parochial infant schools at Madeley and Ironbridge in 1829 and 1831. (fn. 21)
By 1871 there were church schools serving all parts of the parish, Wesleyan schools in Madeley and Madeley Wood (widely supported in the coalfield parishes by subscribers and fund-raising efforts), (fn. 22) and the undenominational company school in Coalbrookdale. The voluntary schools sufficed to avoid the compulsory establishment of a school board, though fear of a board prompted the rector of Ironbridge to retain management of his infant school until 1885 and inspired the managers of the Coalbrookdale schools to appeal for subscriptions and propose voluntary rates. Only poor children's education was a charge on the rates before 1903. A few indoor pauper children were taught, badly, at the Madeley union school in Broseley until 1851 when the union joined the South East Shropshire District School at Quatt. By the 1860s workhouse children were sent to the Blue Schools in Ironbridge. When the guardians were empowered to pay school fees, few parents applied, preferring to keep their children away. (fn. 23)
There was no public provision in 19th-century Madeley for schooling beyond the elementary stage, though by the 1840s and 1850s some children were continuing their education as halftimers at school, others at night schools. School managers sometimes stopped their employees from teaching a night school, considering it detrimental to the day school; at other times they encouraged night schools and took on part-time or temporary teachers to help in them. By 1859 a winter night school at Madeley Wood Wesleyan School was held thrice weekly for pupils aged 11-18. (fn. 24) A school of art founded for Wenlock borough in 1856 gradually centred in the Coalbrookdale institution. (fn. 25) In the 1890s the influence of the art school and the institution helped to bring the county council's organization of technical instruction to a high degree of perfection. (fn. 26) The school had branches throughout the borough and in Dawley, and c. 1906 an art library was provided at the institution. In 1949-50 there were very many well attended evening-institute classes in Coalbrookdale and Madeley. (fn. 27)
In the 19th century there were many private schools, most of them ephemeral. (fn. 28) In the earlier 1840s the artist J. C. Bayliss kept one, probably in Park Hall, (fn. 29) which was used as a private school later in the century. (fn. 30) By 1851 William Evans, secretary of the Ironbridge Mechanics' Institution, kept another in Ironbridge. There were then three boarding schools in the parish, two of them for girls; (fn. 31) those at Brockholes and Dale Coppice lasted many years. The rector of Ironbridge took boarding pupils in the 1870s. (fn. 32) The school near Marnwood Hall evidently became a private school for young middle-class children in the later 19th century. (fn. 33) In the 1890s boys from the private Ironbridge High School were gaining countycouncil scholarships, (fn. 34) and in 1906 a girls' high school in Ironbridge was mentioned; it was possibly the private school, for girls only from c. 1909, in St. Luke's Road between 1891 and 1937. (fn. 35) In the Baptist schoolroom in High Street, Madeley, there was another girls' private school from 1886 to c. 1922 (fn. 36) and a boarding school in Arundel House (the Roman Catholic presbytery) in the 1890s. (fn. 37)
The borough of Wenlock succeeded Madeley school attendance committee as local education authority for the parish in 1903, and in 1912 the county council took over. (fn. 38) One of the eight elementary schools in the parish became a council school in 1916 and closed 1938, one closed in 1926, five became controlled 1946-52, one remained aided. Secondary education was first publicly provided in 1911 when the county council opened Coalbrookdale Secondary (later High) School. (fn. 39) In 1937 Madeley Senior School opened to complement the high school. Some reorganization of schools was being planned before Dawley new town's designation, (fn. 40) and from the mid 1960s secondary schools became comprehensive and many new schools were built. (fn. 41)
Madeley Wood Methodist (formerly Wesleyan) School originated in the day school planned by Fletcher for his first meeting house and the Sunday school which he later established there. After the opening of the new Wesleyan chapel at Madeley Wood in 1838 (fn. 42) Fletcher's old building was used only by the Sunday school. In 1853, however, it was fitted up as a day school, to be supported largely by fees of 3d. a week, deficiencies being supplied by subscriptions and collections. With government grants a new infant schoolroom in Fletcher's memory and a teacher's house were built 1858-9 and another schoolroom in 1864, by which time the school had 280 places. Later in the 19th century the infant department was merged with the mixed school whenever an infants' mistress could not be afforded. (fn. 43) In 1903-4 the school had 168 boys and girls and 122 infants, (fn. 44) but by 1928 there were only 122 boys and girls and 69 infants. (fn. 45) The school became a junior mixed and infant school in 1937, (fn. 46) when Madeley Senior School opened, and became controlled in 1952. (fn. 47) It closed in 1969, the 129 children (fn. 48) thereafter attending Woodside schools. (fn. 49)
Coalbrookdale Boys' School was established before 1816, probably by the early 1790s, in premises belonging to the Coalbrookdale Co. It was conducted on the Lancasterian or British system under the company's direction and in 1818 was the largest day school in the parish with 123 pupils. (fn. 50) In 1840 a new two-storeyed building was erected below Woodside. Later in the century the school lost its primacy in numbers and by 1857 there were only 73 pupils. (fn. 51) Attendance averaged 126 in 1903-4, and there were 87 boys by 1928. (fn. 52) From 1916, when the county council bought the school from the company, it was known as Coalbrookdale Boys' Council School. (fn. 53) It closed in 1938, the year after Madeley Senior School opened; the pupils then transferred to the church school. (fn. 54)
Madeley Parochial Infant School, founded in 1829, was held in the Sunday school room in the churchyard until 1844 when it moved to the ground floor of the new National school. (fn. 55) In 1853 the infants moved to the former Wesleyan chapel, Church Street. (fn. 56) There were 120 pupils in 1903- 4, 149 in 1928. (fn. 57) The school became controlled in 1948 and closed in 1965, over half of its 97 pupils transferring to the junior (former National) school. (fn. 58)
Ironbridge Parochial Infant School for the 'poorer classes' was built at the bottom of Madeley Hill in 1831. In 1833 it and the Madeley infant school together, maintained by fees, accommodated 147 children in roughly equal numbers. In 1858, financed largely by voluntary contributions and church collections, it was attended by 60 infants and c. 30 girls. The mistress had furnished lodgings rent-free. (fn. 59) The school first received a National Society grant in 1875, and in 1885 it was managed with the adjacent mixed Blue Schools. (fn. 60) Then or soon afterwards the infants moved into the Blue Schools, for by 1895 the old infant school housed Ironbridge High School. (fn. 61) In 1903-4 attendance averaged 79 infants. There were 64 pupils in 1928, (fn. 62) when the school became the mixed school's infant department. (fn. 63)
Coalbrookdale C.E. (Aided) School, (known as Coalbrookdale Church School from 1854) for girls and infants was founded by Mrs. Abraham Darby in 1831. In 1840 it moved to new buildings in Wellington Road near the works; a school house was provided. There were 100 pupils in 1855. Connexions with the Darbys and the Coalbrookdale Co. persisted, and at the end of the 19th century the school was managed by company officials and maintained by subscriptions and voluntary rates. (fn. 64) In 1903-4 attendance averaged 94 girls and 78 infants, and by 1928 there were 149 pupils. In 1938 Coalbrookdale Boys' Council School closed and the boys joined the girls and infants in the church school, (fn. 65) which then became a junior mixed and infant school. (fn. 66) In 1971 the school moved to the former Coalbrookdale High School premises at Dale End where, having absorbed Ironbridge C.E. (Controlled) School, it became Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge C.E. (Aided) Primary School. (fn. 67) There were 150 pupils in 1980. (fn. 68)
Madeley National (later C.E.) School was built, with government and National Society grants, opposite the vicarage in 1844 (fn. 69) on a small piece of glebe without room for a playground; it opened in 1845 and was supported by local industrialists. (fn. 70) The two-storeyed school was built in the Tudor style then becoming popular in the county and later employed for other schools in the parish. (fn. 71) There were 'neat' children of the 'right spirit' but at first teaching was inefficient. Boys and girls occupied the upper floor, infants the room below, and attendance averaged 213 by 1850, 270 by 1851. Conditions improved after the infants moved out in 1853. Boys and girls were separated, and a playground, walled off from the churchyard, was provided c. 1854. (fn. 72) Attendance averaged 146 boys and 138 girls in 1903-4, (fn. 73) 141 boys and 110 girls in 1928. (fn. 74) Eleven-year-olds went to the new senior school in 1937. (fn. 75) The junior school became controlled in 1948, took 52 infants when their nearby school closed in 1965, and closed in 1967, when there were 188 pupils. (fn. 76)
Ironbridge Ragged School, Milner's Lane, was opened by Quakers and local industrialists in the 1840s (fn. 77) in an upper storey provided by the Maws. In 1854, when there were 60 pupils, the government inspector called it 'missionary in character', praising its appropriateness to the district. (fn. 78) The withdrawal of ragged school grants caused it to close in 1870, but from 1871 to 1874 it continued under the Maws' patronage as Severnside Undenominational School, qualified for grants and with an average attendance of over 50. After 1874 it lasted for a time as a Sunday school. (fn. 79)
The Lloyds Parochial (later Church) School was established c. 1852 by the Madeley Wood Co. in a former warehouse. In 1862, with the vicar's concurrence, it was managed by John Anstice, a partner in the company. School pence from some 60 mixed pupils then produced c. £12, the deficiency in cost being made up by the company's partners. (fn. 80) In 1903-4 there were 68 boys and girls and 49 infants. The school closed in 1926. (fn. 81)
Ironbridge Parochial School, from 1946 Ironbridge C.E. (Controlled) School, was the only large church school in the parish founded without government or National Society grants. Built 1859-60 in St. Luke's Road, it became known from the colour of its brick as the Blue Schools. There were houses for the master and mistress at the east end. Financed largely by voluntary contributions and school pence, the school was attended by 80 girls and 60 boys in 1860. (fn. 82) After 1885 it evidently took the girls from the adjoining parochial infant school which then came under the same management and then or soon afterwards moved into the same building. (fn. 83) In 1903-4 attendance averaged 125 mixed pupils. In 1928 there were 88 mixed pupils, (fn. 84) and in that year the infant school became the infant department of the school. From 1937, when 11-year-olds went to the new senior school, the school became a junior mixed and infant school with 118 pupils. (fn. 85) In September 1939 St. Alban's R.C. School was evacuated from Liverpool to share the school's buildings, a shift system being introduced: local children used the school in the mornings, St. Alban's children and teachers in the afternoons; children under 6 were excluded. Evacuee numbers soon dropped but in 1941 another evacuation of Liverpool children raised St. Alban's numbers to 97 and the church school's to 131. In 1943 St. Alban's was merged in the church school (fn. 86) which became controlled in 1946. In 1969, after the playground subsided, the school, with 66 pupils, moved to the former Coalbrookdale High School premises at Dale End where, in 1971, it was merged in the newly formed Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge C.E. (Aided) Primary School. (fn. 87)
Madeley Wesleyan (later Methodist) School, established in 1871, opened in Sunday school buildings erected in 1853 behind the Fletcher Memorial Chapel, Court Street. Attendance at first averaged 52 mixed pupils. (fn. 88) In 1903-4 it averaged 154 mixed pupils and 70 infants, and in 1928 there were 187 pupils. (fn. 89) The school became a junior mixed and infant school in 1937, when the senior school opened, and was controlled from 1947. (fn. 90) It closed in 1967, when there were 107 pupils. (fn. 91)
Coalbrookdale County High School (originally Secondary School), Dale End, opened by the county council in 1911 for 75 boys and 75 girls, at first had only 46 boys and 24 girls. The first headmaster, Maurice Jones, had formerly run the private Ironbridge High School and latterly (c. 1909) a fee-paying class in Trinity Hall, Dale End. Though small, the school drew pupils from a wide surrounding area, at times from as far away as Cound and Presthope. The foundation was a dual one, the boys' and girls' schools being separate until 1932 when the girls' headmistress retired and the schools were united. In 1965 the school amalgamated with the modern school at Hill Top to form the Abraham Darby Comprehensive School. The Dale End premises were at first used by the new school's first- and second-year pupils (fn. 92) but in 1968, after extensions to the former modern school's premises, the comprehensive school was concentrated at Hill Top. (fn. 93)
Madeley Senior Council School, Hill Top, opened in 1937 with 400 mixed places. (fn. 94) Known as Madeley Modern School from 1944, (fn. 95) it was enlarged 1958-9 and had 619 pupils by the end of 1959. It amalgamated with Coalbrookdale High School in 1965 to form the Abraham Darby Comprehensive School. (fn. 96)
Madeley Nursery School, Victoria Road, opened in 1946 in the prefabricated premises of a war-time nursery. (fn. 97) It moved to a new building in Bridle Road in 1976. (fn. 98) There were 60 pupils in 1980. (fn. 99)
Abraham Darby Comprehensive School, formed in 1965 by amalgamation of Coalbrookdale High School and Madeley Modern School, (fn. 102) was concentrated on the latter's site in 1968. (fn. 103) There were 1,244 pupils in 1980. (fn. 104)
Madeley (Controlled) Junior School, Upper Road, opened next to Madeley County Infant School in 1967. (fn. 105) Long-planned, it was a joint C.E. and Methodist school to replace the church school closed in 1967 and the Methodist school closed in 1969; within a few weeks it was named John Fletcher (Controlled) Junior School. (fn. 106) There were 291 pupils in 1980. (fn. 107)
Alexander Fleming County Infant School, Southgate, Sutton Hill, opened in 1968 and had 150 pupils in 1980. (fn. 108)
Alexander Fleming County Junior School, Southgate, Sutton Hill, opened in 1968 and had 303 pupils in 1980.
St. Mary's R.C. (Aided) Primary School, Coronation Crescent, Madeley, opened in 1969 and had 284 pupils in 1980.
Woodside County Junior School, Wensley Green, opened in 1969 and had 284 pupils in 1980.
Woodside County Infant School, Wensley Green, opened in 1969 and had 154 pupils in 1980.
Hills Lane County Primary School opened in 1970. In 1976, when an infant school opened alongside, it became John Randall County Junior School. (fn. 109) In 1980 there were 254 pupils.
Madeley Court Comprehensive School, Court Street, opened in 1971 and had 979 pupils in 1980. (fn. 110)
Thomas Parker Special School, Brookside, opened in 1971 and had 59 pupils in 1980. (fn. 111)
William Reynolds County Junior School, Westbourne, Woodside, opened in 1972 and had 280 pupils in 1980.
William Reynolds County Infant School, Westbourne, Woodside, opened in 1972 and had 169 pupils in 1980. (fn. 112)
Holmer Lake County First School, Brookside, opened in 1974 and had 277 pupils in 1980. (fn. 113)
Brindleyford County First School, Brookside, opened in 1974 and had 313 pupils in 1980. (fn. 114)
John Randall County Infant School, Hills Lane, opened in 1976 and took the infants of the adjacent primary school, which then became a junior school. In 1980 there were 134 pupils. (fn. 115)