Schools & Education 1800s – 1920

22 October 1849

Angus Bethune Reach, of the Morning Chronicle, visited Cassop Colliery, collecting information for “Labour and the Poor in England and Wales”. He also visited other collieries in the district, including Crowtrees.

Besides reporting on the collieries themselves (poor ventilation in Cassop Colliery, for instance), Reach also reported that there was one National school in Cassop and two others self-supported. At Heugh Hall there were two mutually supported schools. There was no library in either village. There was one, mutually supported, in Coxhoe.

(Source: Morning Chronicle (1851?) “Labour and the Poor in the Metropolitan, Rural and Manufacturing Districts of England and Wales”.)


The first Tursdale school built, by the colliery owners (Bell Bros.), with a capacity of 200 places.

(In 1913, the Council Schools in Ramsay Street replaced this one in School Street.)

(Sources: R. Walton (1991); DRO;


The Cassop-cum-Quarrington Board School was erected at Cassop. It was an iron structure, for mixed and infants, and provided room for 238.

(Source: Whellan.)

11 February 1876

Cassop School Board formed.

The Victoria History says that the Cassop-cum-Quarrington School Board formed that year, however the Durham Record Office gives the date of the C-c-Q Board formation as 1887, when Cassop and Quarrington Boards were amalgamated. The Victoria History date presumably refers to the formation of two separate Boards.

The DRO has Cassop School Board minutes for 6 January 1876 to 20 October 1887, when Cassop and Quarrington Boards merged. It also has minutes for the Quarrington Board for 25 November 1875 to [26 May 1892] and log books for Cassop School for 6 December 1878 to 23 July 1915. The VH says there were two schools in Cassop-cum-Quarrington, seating 418. (Was one of these in Tursdale?) It says that Coxhoe Board was formed on 12 November 1875 and that Coxhoe had one National School, seating 410, and two Board schools, seating 552. (Was one of these in Quarrington Hill?) Kelloe had one National school, seating 184.

(Sources: Victoria History (Vol.1, p.405-6); DRO – School Board minutes and log books.)


Cassop-cum-Quarrington School Board was formed by the amalgamation of Cassop School Board and Quarrington School Board (with the combination of the two townships into one civil parish).

In 1903, when information was collected for the County Council about all Board Schools, there were three such schools in Quarrington: at Cassop Colliery, at Quarrington Hill and at Tursdale Colliery. Presumably the School Board took over Bell Brothers’ original school in School Street.

(Sources:; Durham Records Office.)


Cassop Board Mixed School became Cassop-cum-Quarrington Council Mixed School.

(Source: Durham Records Office.)


Tursdale Colliery Mixed School became Tursdale Council Junior Mixed School.

(Source: DRO – E/WC.)

11 June 1907

Bell Bros. Directors sanctioned the offer of an acre of land on Crowtrees Farm to the Durham County Council for the site of a school for £200. Crowtrees Farm and had been bought by Bell Bros. on 25 February 1904.

(Sources: Bell Bros. Directors Minutes; abstract of title deeds to 8, Clarence St.; Infant School log book.)

25 February 1908

5,637.5 sq. yds. (=1.165 acres) of land was sold by Bell Bros. to Durham County Council on which to build Bowburn Schools.

The school was duly built (in Wylam Street) at a cost of about £5,000.

(Source: Abstracts title of 8, Clarence Street.)

17 October 1908

The Iron Primitive Methodist chapel (later known as the Durham Road Church – also the “top chapel” or “the tin chapel”) was opened at the top of Durham Road West, by Mrs. S. Lancaster, wife of the Circuit Steward. It had been built by Ginger Lee & Co., Manchester, on land donated by Mr. Oxley. Services held previously at 23, Durham Road, home of Thomas Park Robinson.

In 1909, the chapel was loaned to the Education Authority for use as an infant school.

Lambs Place now occupies the site.

(Sources: Kelly’s 1921; F. Knox; Don Wilcock (cf. Interchange (10).)

11 January 1909

The Primitive Methodist Iron Chapel opened as a temporary school for Standard 1 and Infants. 75 children enrolled.

Before this, children had gone to the school in Tursdale.The staff consisted on A. Pinkney, Head Teacher, and uncertificated assistant teachers E. Clegg and L. Trotter.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

12 January 1909

It was reported to Bell Bros. Directors that, of 191 cottages authorised by the local authority, 137 had been built, at an average cost of £154, excluding land but including streets and drainage. It was agreed to put in hand plans for a manager’s house and houses for the overmen.

The 137 houses were presumably Durham Road (32) + Steavenson Street odds (32), which had been built in 1906), and Steavenson Street evens (31) + Clarence Street (16 + 26), which were built in 1907 and 1908. Wylam Street (and Walker Street?) were built in 1909, as was the school, which opened its doors to children on 17 August 1909.

(Sources: Bell Bros. Directors Minutes; School log book.)

12 August 1909

Formal opening of Bowburn Schools. A plaque in today’s infant school reads: “County of Durham. Education Committee. This School was opened on August 12th 1909 by Alderman G.H. Wraith.”

Alderman George Henry Wraith J.P. was “the lieutenant of Mr. Hollis in the management of the Weardale Company” and already a County Councillor when he became the first chairman of Spennymoor Urban District Council, formed in December 1894. In 1909, he was chairman of the Spennymoor District Education Sub-Committee. Also present at the ceremony were Rev. P. Hughes (Tudhoe) in the chair, Rev. W. L. Connor (Quarrington), Mr. T. Raine (district clerk of Spennymoor), Cllr. F. Bell, Mr. Broadley, Mr. H. T. Gradon (Durham architect), Mr. A.T. Smith, Mr. Wake (schoolmaster), Mr. Rose (Durham) with many parents and friends.

Bowburn Infants and Mixed Schools were the only ones in Co. Durham designed by H. T. Gradon, though a very large no. of schools were being built at this time. (50 of them were designed by W. Rushworth, FRIBA, between 1905 and 1918.) Plans for the schools are in the Durham Records Office, dated 11 March 1908 (CC/Arch 94) and 5 March 1909 (CC/Arch 95). Mr. Gradon also designed the Miners’ Hall at Redhills [1913-15] and the United Reform Church in Claypath [1885-86]) Plans for the Miners Hall were submitted 25 November 1913 and aproved 3 December 1913 (ND/DU13/170). Mrs. H.T. Gradon, of The Larches, Western Hill, died 29 September 1907. This was presumably his wife (and address).

(Sources: Plaque in school hall; Durham County Advertiser, 20 August 1909; Dodd (1897/1992); H. T. Gradon obit. in Durham Directory 1908, in Durham Record Office.)

17 August 1909

Bowburn Schools (mixed and infants) opened with 6 staff and 201 pupils in the Mixed School, and 4 staff and 65 pupils in the Infant School. (The formal opening had been on 12 August.)

Built for 300 mixed and 150 infants.

The first Headmaster was Joseph Pyke Wake (born 19 June 1876, aged 33) from Edmondsley School. Certificated Assistants were Wm Robson (25), Thos Robson (22), Sarah Ellen Crozier (22). Uncertificated assistants were Isabella Smith (19) and Violet Elliott (18). Head mistress of Infant School was Miss S. C. Smith. Her assistants were Miss S. Henderson (certificated) and Miss E. Clegg & Miss L. Trotter (both uncertificated).

(Sources: Kelly’s 1921; F. Knox; Junior School log book (re Mixed School staff) and Infant School log book (re Infant School staff).)

27 October 1909

Foundation stone laid for Wesleyan Chapel at bottom of Durham Road West.

Half day’s holiday at Bowburn School.

(Sources: F. Knox; School log book.)

16 January 1911

Bowburn Council School closed after second attendance, for a week, for the coronation of George V.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

24 March 1911

“Mr. Storey (Durham Road) came to the school this morning at playtime, and after complaining of the punishment given his daughter, assaulted Mr. William Robson (C.A.) by siezing him by the throat and striking him on the face in the Head Teacher’s presence. The said punishment [presumably of Miss Storey, rather than of Mr. Robson!] was given entirely in accord with the Regulations of the County Committee.” – Extract from School Log Book.

Mr. Storey was almost certainly “Bacon Jack” Storey, the grocer, whose shop was later Mr. & Mrs. Outram’s chemists shop and is now the Tandouri Restaurant at 3, Durham Road West. He was very possibly the headmaster’s landlord – or at least neighbour. Joseph Pike Wake and his wife lived at Dunholm (1, Durham Road West), Bowburn. Mr. Storey was also a local councillor.

Mr. Robson (26, at the time of the 1911 Census) lived at “Burnlea”, Wylam Terrace – later the home of headteacher D. J. Evans – with his wife, Hannah Johnson Robson (née Grice) (27) and son, Leonard William (7 months, born Coxhoe).

(Source: School Log Book.)

11 April 1911

“Tursdale School. The Durham County Council Education Committee having enquired about a site for a new school at Tursdale Colliery, the Board authorised the offer being made of a site on the Standalone farm near the New Cottages.” – Bell Bros. Directors Minutes.

(The “New Cottages” were Ramsay and School Streets.)

It was reported on 13 June 1911 that DCC had accepted offer of site at £200. Purchase money had been received at 9 January 1912.

(Sources: Bell Bros. Directors Minute Book No. 1 (24 January 1899ó8 July 1913) , p.268; , p.271; , p.279.)

18 December 1911

Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council met at Tursdale County Schools (in School Street).

Chairman Mr. Price presided. Also present were Messrs. Oddy, Taylor and Heron.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 22 December 1911, p.8.)

22 January 1912

Bowburn Council School was instructed, in a telegram from the District Clerk, to close for two weeks, because of the whooping cough epidemic.

The school log book had reported 19 cases of whooping cough on 12 January 1911 and more cases had been reported since.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

20 March 1912

Pony races were held on a field behind Bowburn colliery, to raise money for miners’ families during the Minimum Wage Strike.

It being a Wednesday, Bowburn School was closed from noon onwards, “by leave from the District Clerk” because the races, “it was feared, would seriously affect the attendance.”.

(Sources: Durham Advertiser; Bowburn School Log Book.)

10 April 1912

New schools opened at Cassop.

Plans dated 9 July 1909 are in CC/Arch 95, in DRO. The school was designed by architect W. Rushworth, FRIBA, in 1909 (who also designed about 50 other schools in the county).

(Sources: Durham County Advertiser 12 April 1912, p7; Durham Record Office.)

13 January 1913

“This morning, owing to the snow storm, not a single child from Heugh Hall and Cassop Moor was present” at Bowburn School.

(Source: School Log Book.)


Tursdale Elementary School (mixed and infants) was erected, for 180 children.

(Source: Kelly’s 1921.)

26 or 29 November 1913

Queen Mary visited aged miners’ homes in Shincliffe and also, possibly, Shincliffe School; Bowburn Council School was closed all day for the visit. One account says she also visited Coxhoe (though that may be incorrect). Did she pass through Bowburn on the way? (She was staying at Lambton Castle and also visited aged miners’ homes at Ushaw Moor and Middlestone Moor.)

(Sources: School log book; Manchester Guardian 24 November 1913; Clive & Kath Richardson (2005), “The Woman who didn’t Exist”, p.19.)

13 December 1913

The new Tursdale Elementary School (mixed and infants), in Ramsay Street, was opened by Lady Florence Bell, wife of Sir Hugh Bell, Chairman of Bell Brothers, owners of Tursdale Colliery.

It was designed by W. Rushworth, architect to Durham County Council, built by Messrs Thompson & Denison, of Sunderland and Coxhoe, and cost £2,200 (including £200 for headteacher’s house) + £200 for the land (purchased from Bell Brothers) + £155 for furniture. It had space for 180 children.

A silver gilt key, inscribed “Durham County Council, presented to Lady Bell on the occasion of her opening the Tursdale Council School, 13 December 1913”, was made by Rennison, jeweller and silversmith, Bridge Street, Sunderland. It is on permanent loan to the Durham Record Office.

(Sources: Kelly’s 1921; Durham Record Office D/X 1460/1 and CC/Arch 196-198 (& cf log books: E/WC 35); Dur. Co. Adv., 19 December 1913, p.7.)

14 May 1914

Bowburn School closed at noon – half day holiday because a circus was visiting the district.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

4 May 1915

Bowburn School’s children were marched to the top of the village at morning playtime to see the passing of some mounted soldiers.

(Sources: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

24 November 1915

A concert was organised at Bowburn Schools to raise funds to provide “Christmas presents to soldiers and sailors who have enlisted from Bowburn Colliery”. J. G. Ramsay presided. Performances included ones by Mrs. Bainbridge and Master H. Ramsay, both of Bowburn.

Another concert was held on the Saturday, with the Crook Nigger Minstrels.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 3 December 1915, p.5.)

14 August 1917

Joseph Pyke Wake, of “Dunholm”, Durham Road, Bowburn, Bombardier 104402, 252nd Siege Bty, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of wounds from an artillery shell, received on 4 August 1917, in Pas de Calais, France, aged 41 years.

He was buried in the Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France – Plot IV, Row D, Grave 22 – and is remembered on the Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Church Memorial, on the Bowburn Miners’ Welfare Memorial and on the Durham County Council war memorial.

Mr. Pyke Wake had been headmaster of Bowburn Schools since they opened in August 1909, coming there from Edmondsley Council School, where he had previously been a pupil teacher and was then (w.e.f. 18 July 1904) teacher of the oldest children, class 1, or Standard VII. (His future wife, Minnie Sykes, was also a pupil teacher at Edmondsley.)

He was a well-known preacher on the local Wesleyan Church Circuit, and Choirmaster and Class Leader at Bowburn Wesleyan Church. On 27 November 1915, he had attested (i.e. made an obligation to come forward when called upon, and enlisted in the Royal Artillery (Royal Garrison Artillery), on 17 July 1916, at the age of 40. He served in the 252nd Siege Battery, with the rank of bombardier.

His widow, Minnie Wake, lived at Dunholm (= 1, Durham Road West). She was a certificated teacher and was appointed as an assistant teacher at Bowburn Council Infants School on 17 April 1916, the ban on the employment of married women being waived due to the shortage of teachers, After her husband’s death, she was absent from school from 21 August 1917, returning on 3 September 1917.

(Sources: John Davison (WWI book, p.67); School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984; DRO records about men commemorated on the Durham County Council war memorial.)

6 March 1918

Bowburn School was closed because of an epidemic of measles and whooping cough. It did not re-open till 9 April 1918, after the Easter holidays .

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

13 November 1918

Bowburn School was closed in the morning for the declaration of the Armistice.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

8 May 1919

Bowburn School was closed in the afternoon for the reception of teachers in Spennymoor District returned from the War.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

2 July 1919

Bowburn School was closed for the day for a Sunday School excursion to South Shields.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

26 August 1919

Bowburn School re-opened after an extra week’s holiday for the Signing of Peace.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)