In the 1800s, schools tended to be described as National Schools or Board Schools. National Schools were under the control of the local parish church and teaching would have been based on the Scriptures, whilst Board Schools were under the control of local elected Boards and Councils, so likely had slightly more secular teaching.
According to “The History of the Township of Meltham”, written by the Rev. Joseph Hughes (1803-1863) and published in 1866, the very first school in Meltham was built on this site in 1737. It was a wooden structure built using timber donated by Benjamin Armytage of Thickhollins.
By the early 1800s, this timber school was inadequate for the growing population of Meltham and the present building was erected in 1823 at a cost of just over £266 raised by public subscription, with £100 of that reportedly being loaned or gifted by James Brook (1773-1845) of Meltham Mills.
The school was further extended as much possible in 1844/45 at a cost of around £315 but, by the 1860s, it was becoming overcrowded again. At this point, Charles Brook (1814-1872) of Meltham Hall stepped forwards and donated a suitable plot of land opposite the church, and a new National School was built there in 1868 — that school building is now the Meltham Parish Church Hall.
For the next quarter of a century, the “Old Town School” became the Infants School until being superseded by a new Infants School in 1895.
The Meltham Conservative Club then purchased the building and held a series of fundraising events to cover the costs of renovating the school into a social club. It seems likely that the surviving stained glass windows date from this period. As the Yorkshire Post newspaper noted in 1935, more than a few of the members of the Conservative Club had spent their early years at schoolchildren sat in the very same building they were now supping pints in!
The Conservative Club was advertised for sale in 2012 and subsequently converted into the “Quirky II” restaurant.
Did You Know?
- The layout of the Conservative Club can be seen in the planning application documents for the restaurant.