Dawley: Education

A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.

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'Dawley: Education', in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford, (London, 1985) pp. 133-135. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp133-135 [accessed 11 April 2024]


Richard Wilding, curate of Daw ley in 1605, and William Banks, rector of Stirchley 1715-58, probably held schools in Dawley (fn. 1) and Richard Poyner was recorded as a schoolmaster there 1718-22. (fn. 2) By 1772 I. H. Browne, owner of Malinslee, was paying for the schooling of 15 children, probably in the Sunday school that he and his tenants, the Botfields, continued to support in 1799. (fn. 3) By 1833 there were 8 Sunday schools, two run by the established church and supported by subscription and six provided by nonconformists. There were several private schools for young children but no public day school, despite the rapidly increasing population. (fn. 4) The earliest nonconformist Sunday school in the area was probably the Wesleyan school at Lawley Bank, opened 1806. (fn. 5) Other Wesleyan schools were opened at Little Dawley in 1813 and Horsehay in 1819; the Revivalist Methodists opened a school at Brandlee in 1822. (fn. 6) In 1833 one of the nonconformist Sunday schools had a lending library attached. (fn. 7)

Public day schools were founded from 1832. In 1875 a school board for the parish was formed compulsorily. It was chaired by W. G. Norris, a Quaker and manager of the Coalbrookdale Co., the first vice-chairman, and from 1894 the clerk to the board, being Charles Buckworth-HerneSoame (9th bt. 1888; d. 1906), an Anglican and physician. (fn. 8) A board school was opened at Langley in 1878 and the board took over the management of the Pool Hill schools in 1887. The standard of elementary education in Dawley was high in the later 19th century, particularly at Pool Hill and Langley schools. (fn. 9) A notable feature of the curriculum was the regular instruction in art and drawing that, from the 1860s, visiting masters gave to both boys and girls at Pool Hill, Langley, and Dawley Bank schools. (fn. 10) Evening schools were held at the National schools from the 1860s (fn. 11) and were started at Pool Hill under the county council's guidance in 1893. (fn. 12) In the later 19th and earlier 20th century children were often absent from school in September when they accompanied their parents to pick fruit in Gloucestershire. (fn. 13)

The paucity of private schools in later 19thcentury Dawley probably reflects the small middle-class population of the area. Only Mrs. E. M. Smith's school for girls in King Street, recorded from 1879 to 1900, lasted for more than a few years. (fn. 14)

After the Second World War some 19thcentury schools, whose buildings needed replacing, were closed, and new schools were opened for Dawley's expanding population. Dawley was one of the last places in Shropshire to be provided with secondary education, a modern school opening only in 1956. In the provision of nursery education, however, government aid put it ahead of other parts of the county, nursery classes being opened in primary schools under the government's urban aid programme in the early 1970s. (fn. 15)

Malinslee Church of England School opened in 1832 as a day school for the Malinslee area. Pupils paid 2d. weekly, remaining costs being met by the Botfields. (fn. 16) In 1844 the school moved into buildings at Dawley Bank, converted from cottages. R. H. Cheney and Beriah Botfield, owner and lessee of Malinslee respectively, were the managers in 1855, when the school contained 80 boys and 50 girls. (fn. 17) The school was known as Malinslee National School from c. 1857. An infant department for 80 was opened in new buildings in 1855 (fn. 18) and the school premises were further enlarged in 1885 and 1895. (fn. 19) The school established at Malinslee Institute in 1895 became a second infant department. In 1906 there were places for 204 older children and 120 infants at Dawley Bank and 94 infants at the Institute. The school was closed in 1950 when juniors were transferred to Langley County School and children over 13 to Pool Hill School. (fn. 20)

Dawley Church of England (Aided) School, united to the National Society, was opened in 1841 in new premises near the parsonage at Brandlee, on land given by R. A. Slaney. (fn. 21) In 1863 there were 59 boys and 56 girls, paying from 1d. to 4d. weekly according to their parents' means; deficiencies in the school's finance were made up by Beriah Botfield. (fn. 22) The buildings were enlarged in 1892 (fn. 23) and 1899, (fn. 24) and by 1903-4 average attendance was 174 in the mixed and 118 in the infant departments. (fn. 25) The school became Aided in 1952 (fn. 26) and from 1956 it became a contributory primary school to the newly opened Dawley Modern School. A nursery class was added in 1974, and the school contained 166 pupils in 1980. (fn. 27)

Captain Webb County School, formerly Pool Hill School, originated in a British boys' school opened by the Coalbrookdale Co. in a room over the stables at Horsehay Farm in 1843. The school moved to Pool Hill c. 1846 and a girls' department opened in 1849. The new schoolrooms, put up 1845-7, were heated by under-floor hot water pipes. The schools were financed primarily by funds for medical and educational purposes contributed by the company's employees. Their child ren were educated free; others paid school pence of 3d. or 6d. weekly. In 1855 there were 134 boys and 136 girls, and only 7 children paid school pence. (fn. 28) Because of the trade depression of the mid 1880s the company discontinued its support of the schools and management passed to the school board in 1887. The board formed one mixed department but continued the separate infant department. (fn. 29) Although there was accommodation for 725 pupils in 1906, average attendance in 1903-4 was only 297 in the mixed and infant departments. (fn. 30) Its ample space and central position led to its choice as a secondary school after the Second World War. In 1955 it was an all-age school receiving senior pupils from 5 other primary schools. (fn. 31) After the construction of the secondary modern school nearby the following year, Pool Hill School became a primary school. In 1966 it became a junior school when an infant school was opened in adjacent new buildings; a nursery class was added to the infant school in 1971. (fn. 32) The junior school was rebuilt after the original buildings were destroyed by fire in 1977 and the two schools were united in 1980 to form a primary school, renamed the Captain Webb County School. (fn. 33) It had 481 pupils that year. (fn. 34)

Hinkshay Mission School for infants was opened in 1873, with a National Society grant, at the Church of England mission chapel at Hinkshay. The school struggled on, short of funds, until at least 1876 (fn. 35) and probably closed when Langley Board School opened nearby in 1878.

Langley County Junior (formerly Board) School was opened by the school board in 1878 in new buildings on the edge of a spoil mound south of Langleyfield colliery. Average attendance in the first term was 81 boys, 76 girls, and 80 infants. (fn. 36) After Dawley Modern School opened in 1956, Langley became a contributory junior school. In 1976 it moved from the original premises to new buildings in Spout Lane, next to St. Leonard's infant school. (fn. 37) There were 398 pupils at Langley New School in 1980. (fn. 38)

Malinslee Institute National Infants' School originated in 1898 as a second infant department of Malinslee National School. It was founded to serve children in the Old Park area and was housed in buildings put up in 1859 and previously used as a mechanics' institute. (fn. 39) The school owed its existence to Edward Parry, vicar of Malinslee, who met, and overcame, determined opposition from nonconformist school board members. (fn. 40) He bought the building himself in 1897 and vested it in the Lichfield Diocesan Trust in 1913. (fn. 41) In 1920, after the addition of a new classroom, the school could accommodate 113 children. (fn. 42) It closed in 1956 when its pupils were transferred to St. Leonard's County Infants' School. (fn. 43)

St. Leonard's County Infants' School opened in 1951 on the edge of new housing estates around St. Leonard's church. (fn. 44) A nursery class was added in 1971, and in 1980 the school contained 234 pupils. (fn. 45)

Dawley Modern School was opened at Pool Hill in 1956 to take children over 11 from four contributory primary schools. (fn. 46) There were c. 500 pupils on the roll until 1965 when comprehensive secondary education was introduced and the school was renamed the Phoenix School. (fn. 47) The number of pupils had risen to 1,159 by 1980. (fn. 48)

Two 'special' schools were opened: Southall (in Rowan Avenue) in 1973 and Hinkshay (in the former Langley school building) in 1976. (fn. 49)

The Ladygrove (formerly North West Dawley) County School was opened in 1979, and Malinslee County Primary School in 1980, (fn. 50) as primary schools serving the new housing estates in Dawley Bank and Malinslee; they had 158 and 175 pupils respectively in 1980. (fn. 51) Another new estate was served by Hollinswood County First School, opened 1976, and Hollinswood County Middle School, opened 1980; in 1980 they had 442 and 191 pupils respectively. (fn. 52)


  • 1. L.J.R.O., B/V/1/24; B/V/3, list of schmasters, 1726.
  • 2. Ibid. B/V/4, 28 June 1718; 30 May 1722 (refs. owed to Dr. R. Hume).
  • 3. Ibid. B/V/5, visit. return of 1772; S.R.O. 3916/1/1.
  • 4. Educ. Enq. Abstract, H.C. 62, p. 773 (1835), xlii.
  • 5. Wellington Jnl. 10 Aug. 1878.
  • 6. J. McFall, 'Educ. in Madeley Union of Salop. in 19th Cent.' (Keele Univ. M.A. (Educ.) thesis, 1973), 43-4.
  • 7. Educ. Enq. Abstract, 773.
  • 8. List. of Sch. Boards, 1902 [Cd. 1038], p. 75, H.C. (1902), lxxix; S.R.O. 559/XXIV/7/2-4.
  • 9. Inf. from Mrs. J. McFall (evid. of inspectors' ann. reps.).
  • 10. McFall, 'Educ. in Madeley Union', 115-16.
  • 11. Ibid. 113.
  • 12. S.R.O. 559/XXIV/7/3, pp. 120-1; V.C.H. Salop. iii. 198.
  • 13. McFall, op. cit. 16, 249-50.
  • 14. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 526; Kelly's Dir. Salop. (1885- 1900).
  • 15. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1971-2, 63, 65.
  • 16. S.R.O. 3916/1/3.
  • 17. P.R.O., ED 7/102, ff. 238-9.
  • 18. Ibid. ff. 236-7.
  • 19. S.R.O. 2732/PM/2 (Sept. 1885); McFall, 'Educ. in Madeley Union', 45.
  • 20. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1905-6, 114; 1950-1, 142.
  • 21. S.R.O. 2374, box 3, papers re sch.; 4084/S/1.
  • 22. P.R.O., ED 7/102, f. 240.
  • 23. Date stone.
  • 24. S.R.O. 4084/Ve/1, Apr. 1899-Apr. 1900.
  • 25. Public Elem. Schs. 1906 [Cd. 3182], p. 536, H.C. (1906), lxxxvi.
  • 26. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1952-3, 44.
  • 27. Ibid. 1974-5, 13; S.C.C. Educ. Cttee. Sch. List (1975), 4; S.C.C. Educ. Cttee. Educ. Dir. (1980), 3, 9.
  • 28. P.R.O., ED 7/103, f. 151; S.R.O. 245/140, p. 77.
  • 29. S.R.O. 559/XXIV/7/2, pp. 324-5; S.R.O. 4139, s.a. 1884-7.
  • 30. Public Elem. Schs. 1906, 536.
  • 31. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1954-5, 132.
  • 32. Ibid. 1971-2, 65-6; Sch. List (1966), 8; (1972), 4.
  • 33. Sch. List (1979), 9; Educ. Dir. (1980), 9.
  • 34. Educ. Dir. (1980), 3, 9.
  • 35. Inf. (from Nat. Soc. rec.) in possession of Mrs. McFall.
  • 36. P.R.O., ED 7/102, f. 232; S.R.O. 559/XXIV/7/2, passim.
  • 37. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1974-5, 337.
  • 38. Educ. Dir. (1980), 9.
  • 39. P.R.O., ED 7/102, ff. 234-5; O.S. Map 6", Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889 and 1903 edns.).
  • 40. S.R.O. 559/XXIV/7/3, p. 324; McFall, 'Educ. in Madeley Union', 45.
  • 41. S.R.O. 2732/Sc/17.
  • 42. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1919-20, 92.
  • 43. Ibid. 1955-6, 279; S.R.O. 2732/Sc/57-94. The bldgs. were later demolished.
  • 44. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1950-1, 142.
  • 45. Ibid. 1971-2, 63-4; Educ. Dir. (1980), 3, 9.
  • 46. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1955-6, 279.
  • 47. S.R.O. 2782/5; S.C.C. Mins. 1964-5, 89-90; S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1965-6, 65.
  • 48. Educ. Dir. (1980), 2.
  • 49. Sch. List (1973), 11; (1976), 11.
  • 50. Ibid. (1979), 9; Educ. Dir. (1980), 10.
  • 51. Educ. Dir. (1980), 9; inf. from S.C.C. Educ. Dept.
  • 52. S.C.C. Mins. (Educ.) 1974-5, 121; Sch. List (1976), 10; Educ. Dir. (1980), 3, 10; inf. from S.C.C. Educ. Dept.