Institutions for Education: Infant schools

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Institutions for Education: Infant schools', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 456. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Institutions for Education: Infant schools", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 456. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Institutions for Education: Infant schools", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 456. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,


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)


  • 1. The lessons used, and the expositions of Christian doctrines given in these schools, seem to be too abstruse for infant capacities. Certainly, the prints hung up are, with few exceptions, villainous, and must convey very incorrect and false impressions of the originals. The general system is, however, highly ingenious, though susceptible of much improvement. Nothing can be more gratifying than to see the order of these schools, and the judicious manner in which instruction is blended with amusement. Miss Nicholson has opened an Infant School in Albion Street, on the plan of Messrs. Wilderspin and Wilson, for the children of parents in the middle ranks of life. The conception is a happy one, and will no doubt succeed.