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Endowed School by Dave Ackerley

Endowed School
By Dave Ackerley


The school dates back as far as 1732 although there is an entry in the will of a benefactor Evan Smith dated 8th September 1726 which has an arrangement to pay for the education of poor children appointed by his trustees to the school. On October 2nd 1732 the Lord of the Manor Thomas Ashurst gave a building which had been recently erected on some waste ground, to twelve Skelmersdale men on the condition they converted it into “a school for the instruction of youth”.

Earliest Masters of the school were Mr James Eden who was unlicensed. Next came the Rev. Richard Ashton who was nominated the post on 21st January 1782, and he held the post until his death in 1804. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Ireland who held the position for 20 years until he resigned in September 1824. He then was followed by Charles Rigby along with a Mistress who taught the girls. The school was also used as a Sunday School later on.

During the 1820’s it became necessary to repair and extend the school, this was repeated in 1888 with the addition of two clasrooms due to the increase in population, this can be shown in a few facts:

  • 87 infants were crammed in an upstairs classroom in 1880 which had been condemned two years previous.
  • There were over 200 children attending in 1867.
  • And in 1899 the average attendance was 172 (but by then there were other schools around the Skelmersdale area).

There seem to be no detailed notes on the running of the school along with any registers, and so Log books for the school were only introduced in 1st October 1877 by the newly appointed Principal Teacher John Nightingale, this came about with the conditions and overcrowding in the school, which had also been highlighted by Inspector’s Reports.

In those days (as now!) truancy was a problem but some of this was due to the seasonal demands of the local farming community, especially during Spring and Autumn when the planting of crops and the harvesting took place. Also some holidays were allowed on Holy Days like the optional attending Church on Ash Wednesday and a half-day on Shrove Tuesday.


Information taken from The Skelmersdale Story by Rev N. Sands.