Westminster Road Schools

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

Education in the 1850s

In the late 1850s Miss Jane Carver of Egerton Terrace was concerned about the welfare of the many children living in the suburbs of Hoole and hired rooms in Faulkner Street to provide non-sectarian education and a Sunday School for them.

Extract from 1857 Post Office Directory

The Carver family lived at the newly built Egerton Terrace in 1857. They later moved to Lorne Street, Chester.

Extract from 1861 Census for the Carver family
Egerton Terrace in 2015
Advertisment 1857
Extract from 1861 Census - 'used as a Sunday School'

Premises on the corner of Faulkner Street and Charles Street, were rented, to be used as a ‘dissenting’ Sunday School.

1858 Wedding of the Princess Royal

1858 Newspaper article regarding the wedding of the Princess Royal

Miss Carver’s school was a recipient of buns distributed to celebrate the royal wedding. [Note the names of the other schools in Chester]

Jane Carver realised that the children needed day school education as well as Sunday school and she convinced the Marquis of Westminster to build the school on land in Peploe Street acquired from Thomas Faulkner. John Douglas was the architect and it was one of his first buildings. The plan show that it was designed for 150 infants and 150 girls. It opened in 1865.

Original plan for Westminster School 1865-93
Westminster School original main entrance
Extract from an Article about a Procession in 1867 at the opening of Grosvenor Park

Jane Carver became the ‘Superintendent’, working with the Mistresses (for Girls, Miss Elizabeth A. White and for Infants, Miss Mary Frazer) and at the same time continuing the work of the non-secular Sunday School which met twice on the Sabbath and on 3 evenings in the week.

There was a procession in November 1867 at the opening of Grosvenor Park, two years after the school opened. Note “large adult class”

Letter published Christmas 1870

At Christmas 1870, a letter was published showing that only six years after it opened the non-denominational use of Westminster Road School was under threat and a new building was being sought.

Extract from 1871 Census showing 'Schoolmistresses'

The 1871 Census records the first Mistresses by name Elizabeth White (Girls) and Mary Fraser (Infants) living at 12 Peploe Street. They were aged 21 and 23 respectively. Miss Carver’s name is annotated on the Census return.

Advertisment 1875, following Miss Carver's death, handing over the school to a 'comittee of management'

From their opening the schools were run on non-sectarian lines and when Jane died at an early age in November 1875 the by then Duke confirmed that this would continue, and adverts in the local press show its use for Sunday services. Her work was carried on by her sister Emma and then by a group of like-minded enthusiasts.

1875 List of Places of Worship (1)
1875 List of Places of Worship (2)

The first school log-book from 1876 has survived. The schools held annual tea meetings, attended by parents, teachers, dignitaries and officials where pupils received prizes, usually for attendance. Reports of these show that the subjects taught were the 3-Rs, and for older pupils, literature and geography. Being a Girls school needlework was also taught.

Prize distribution in 1881 giving detail of the Inspector’s report and showing growth in attendance since 1876.
Annual Tea meeting 1886 quoting from the Inspector’s report (1)
Annual Tea meeting 1886 quoting from the Inspector’s report (2)

The teaching of these subjects was inspected on an annual basis, as was behaviour and discipline, the state of repair of the building and also attendance. These assessments were very important because a formula was used, based on the findings, to determine how much funding the school received each year. In the 1880s in the order of £200 pa.

School 'treats' in August 1882 – an outing to Delamere and a picnic in Newton

Another source of income was the payment by pupils of ‘school pence’ – 1d a week if children were in Standards 3 to 7, otherwise it was free. There were also public subscriptions. In 1899 the Duke of Westminster gave £140 – this though offset the £140 rent that the school payed to him! The L&NW Railway gave £10, Colonel Hammersley gave 2 guineas, Mr Hayes at Hoole Bank gave 2 guineas etc. Annual treats took place.

A new gymnasium was opened in 1886 when the school was also redecorated. The ‘monitorial’ system was a feature of Victorian and Edwardian education, where older pupils were taught and expected to teach the younger ones. The school had a number of these pupil/teacher posts which were advertised in the local press (salary £10 pa). These posts were also assessed during the annual inspections.

Earliest known photograph

From the time the schools were built the established church was not happy with their non-secular nature, witness Fredrick Anderson’s sermon.

Sermon by Rev. Frederick Anderson February 1870 (1)
Sermon by Rev. Frederick Anderson February 1870 (2)

Pressure to change this from the Church at All Saints which was consecrated in 1871 built up over the years. The population of Hoole was increasing rapidly and the need to enlarge the school and modify it to meet new standards like separate entrances and playgrounds led to the, by then Duke of Westminster, being approached to provide an extension. The sequence of events follows:

Westminster Schools in the 1890s

November 1891 Annual Tea Meeting

  • Sunday School Scholars        288
  • Sunday School Teachers       21
  • Assistant Teachers                 7
  • Attendance at Night Class      50

November 1892 Annual Tea Meeting

  • Poor HMI Report on Day School
  • Headmistresses asked to resign

Poor HMI Report on the Day School 1892 (1)
Poor HMI Report on the Day School 1892 (2)

March 1893 After many years of pressure the Duke proposes to appoint two C of E lay persons to his Management Committee.  He agrees to finance an extension to comply with the requirements of HMI Report.

1893 Drawing for the Westminster School Extension
1893 Plan for the Westminster School Extension

Duke of Westminster opens extension to the Schools April 1895 – details of the extension and its costs are reported (1)
Duke of Westminster opens extension to the Schools April 1895 – details of the extension and its costs are reported (2)

August 1893  Non-conformist Committee Members refuse suggestion that their Sunday Schools should merge with All Saints’.

February 1894 They announce the purchase of a room where 250 people can be seated and the quest for a site on which to erect it. (The Tin Chapel – Walker Street)

February 1894 The Duke announces his new Management Committee - Ven. Archdeacon Barber; Rev. F. Anderson; Col. J. H. Hammersley; Mr. George Dickson; Two Church Wardens; Three Members nominated by parents of Scholars

September 1894  New Headteachers appointed

April 1895        Extension opened by the Duke

Hoole Urban District Council recognised the Duke’s generous gift by renaming Peploe Street as Westminster Road.

1903 Deed of Gift

March 1903 Deed of Gift of Westminster Schools given to the Bishop of Chester and others. Schools become National Schools.

Inspector’s Report 1894 (150) – the first following the extension. Miss E Hammond was the new Headmistress (1)
Inspector’s Report 1894 (150) – the first following the extension. Miss E Hammond was the new Headmistress (2)

Cheshire County Council Questionnaire 1902 (1)
Cheshire County Council Questionnaire 1902 (2)

County Councils became responsible for education and the pictures, which also contains details of All Saints Boys School, shows pupil numbers, expenditure and school fees.

The questionnaire also asked about the non-educational use of the schools.

Cheshire County Council Questionnaire 1902 (3)
List of Non School Activities

For the 150th Anniversary a list was compiled showing the school’s use by the community.

1914 – 18 period

Miss Atkin and Westminster Road Pupils, World War I

The first world war would have been a difficult period, but the photograph appears to show pupils and teachers on an outing.

In 2018, the death of the school caretaker’s son was also reported.

Death of Thomas Charles Price, Caretaker's son (PRICE T C)
Retirement of Miss Atkin 1937

In September 1937 Miss Atkin, who had been Headmistress for over 30 years, retired.

Post World War II History

1944    Education Act introduces 11+ and secondary modern schools. By 1950 Westminster Road, All Saints and Hoole and Newton Schools had lost their senior pupils.

1955    Junior boys from All Saints amalgamate with junior girls at Westminster Road C.E. Junior School. Infants move to boys’ school renamed All Saint C.E. Infants School.

1972    Westminster C.E. Junior School transferred to St James’ Middle School in Hoole Lane (8-12 years). All Saints continues as First School (5-8 years)

1981    Westminster Road School closed; becomes a Polytechnic to Chester College.

1987    Conversion of Westminster Road School to Community Centre by Hoole Area Residents’ Association.

Class Photographs and Memorabilia

The last part of this history shows some class photographs interspersed with memorabilia which were brought to the Society’s open day during the 150th Anniversary celebration.
1950s The Westminster Dance Troupe – the school had a history of participating in dance events
1966 Roger Moore Certificate
The school today – Community Centre