Brennand’s Endowed School in Slaidburn to celebrate 300th anniversary

Todays pupils at the school created thanks to a bequest in the early 18th century

Todays pupils at the school created thanks to a bequest in the early 18th century - Credit: Archant

Celebrations will be held this month for a Slaidburn school’s special anniversary

Pupils at brennands Endowed School in about 1860

Pupils at brennands Endowed School in about 1860 - Credit: not Archant

History is on the timetable for pupils at a school in the Ribble Valley this month and their own school will be the topic. Brennand’s Endowed School in Slaidburn is hosting a series of events to mark its 300th anniversary and everyone is invited to join in the celebrations.

The school was founded when local landowner John Brennand died in May 1717 and left £200 in his will for the building of a new schoolhouse in the village.

‘He stipulated that it had to be built within a year of his death and he also left a yearly allowance of £50 for the master and £30 for the undermaster,’ said Helen Wallbank of the Slaidburn Archive who is putting together an exhibition of the school’s history to mark the anniversary.

‘Not much is known of John Brennand’s life but it’s thought he was an only child who never married and had no family. He owned land around Slaidburn and he may have amassed his wealth by working as a customs and excise officer.’

Pupils at Brennands Endowed School in Slaidburn in 1933. Back row L-R Mrs Pickles, Albert Briggs, Jo

Pupils at Brennands Endowed School in Slaidburn in 1933. Back row L-R Mrs Pickles, Albert Briggs, John Derek Hodgson, Thomas Mason, Eric Whitfield, James Nicholls. Middle row L-R Joan Wilkinson, Ella Longmire, Elizabeth Brown, Edna Longmire. Front row L-R Barbara Dugdale, Dinah Wilkinson, Barbara Walmsley, Freda Walker, Jenny Mason. Interestingly, a sign of the times, only one child on the front row is wearing shoes, the rest are wearing clogs. - Credit: not Archant

Helen, whose husband, father-in-law and two sons all attended the school is now gathering photographs, press cuttings and other materials relating to the school and events that have taken place there over the years. They will be on display in the school at an afternoon tea on May 19 and that weekend when the building will be open to visitors.

‘The school was a boys’ grammar school originally and many of the boys would have boarded, living upstairs in the school building,’ Helen added.

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‘Slaidburn Archives has quite a bit about the school which I have been trying to piece together. The original logbooks from the 1800s are still at the school but we have copies which people can use for research and we hold lots of old school photographs, including one dating back to 1860.’

Those pupils from the school’s early days would still recognise some parts of the building, but much has changed. The school now caters for boys and girls from ages three to 11 who come from Slaidburn and the surrounding villages. And while the school’s masters were often doubling up as the village vicar, the present headteacher, Sarah Healey, doubles up as head of the sister school, Waddington and West Bradford Primary.

There are now 47 pupils on the roll at Brennand’s Endowed and they will mark the anniversary at a party on May 24 while former pupils will enjoy a reunion dinner dance in July.

Cathy Taylor started teaching at the school in 2000 and been assistant headteacher for the last year. She said: ‘We want to make sure there’s something for everyone – pupils who are at the school now, people who have been pupils here, and the wider community.

‘It’s a lovely place to work. As teachers, we can really get to know the pupils because we have small mixed classes; there is a lovely supportive community and the families are all so helpful.’

For an example of that supportive community, meet David McNamee, whose two daughters used to attend the school.

He organises the annual Slaidburn steam rally which will be held this year on June 10 and 11. The free-to-attend event has been held for 37 years and has so far raised £75,000 for good causes around the village. Money raised this year will pay for a commemorative seat to be placed outside the school, made of stone from Waddington Fell Quarry.

‘We wanted the money to go to something that people could see for ever more,’ said David. ‘We bought a similar one for the village green in jubilee year so it seemed fitting to give one to the school to mark their anniversary.’

The steam fair was born when crowds gathered around David’s steam roller when he parked it in the Hark to Bounty car park and nipped in for a pint. ‘A friend said he’d bring his traction engine the following and another offered to bring his fairground organ,’ added David, who now owns two vintage tractors.

‘I never imagined we’d still be doing it all these years later but it has grown from there and we now have people bringing vehicles from all over the North West.

‘It’s nice to show people what makes the countryside tick and how things used to work. These are the kinds of tractors I used to drive when I was a young lad working on a farm and although there has been a lot of change in farming over the years, people are still interested in machines like these.’

Need to know

Where it is: Slaidburn stands close to the heart of the Forest of Bowland, Typing BB7 3AE into your satnav should take you there.

Famous for: Some of the most spectacular countryside you’ll find anywhere, fabulous wildlife and wonderful walking country.

Local interest: The Slaidburn estate dates back to the 1700s when the King Wilkinson family began buying up land. Anthea Hodson is the current Squire of Slaidburn, an inherited role that comes with the ownership of almost every house in the pretty village along with 1,600 acres of land.

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