In search of a city: a history of Lee Mount Baptist Church, Halifax 1846–1977

Miss J M Crabtree BA and Rev. M V Jackson BA

A Building of the infants school

The building of the Infants School in 1876 is somewhat mysterious because the records have such scanty references to it, and we should like to learn more. What is known for sure is that four years after the first chapel was built (1872) another building was erected, probably on the site of the present two-storey wing. We have the minute book of the ‘Building Committee’ which records the progress. The Church was already labouring under a debt and probably did not want this increased by further building. However, in the Church report of 1888 we read that ‘the Infant School was erected to meet the requirements of the School Board in 1876.

Our research has pieced together the following picture. The chapel began to be used as a day school in late 1873 (because no state school was built in Lee Mount until 1881). The Sunday School objected because it interfered with the Sunday School teaching. At about this time the first local school Board came into being in Halifax, as result of the 1870 Education Act which made education the responsibility of the State. The School Board obviously considered the premises inadequate for a day school and so a decision was taken to build an Infants School — onto the chapel. The Building Committee consisted partly of Church members and partly of others (nominated by School Board?). The building was paid for by the Church, (cost approximately £800) and then leased to the School Board. However, the arrangement was short-lived as, within five years, a new and much larger school was built in Lee Mount to accommodate 651 pupils. While it lasted the arrangement did cause difficulty as this amusing minute records — ‘the teacher be seen with the necessity of seeing after the order of the scholars, it having been reported that they trample the garden and throw dirt at the windows.’ The Infants School was demolished when the site was re-developed and the new church built in 1908.

That the Church was so willing to become involved in the field of secular education is a measure of the value placed upon it by Free Churchmen of those days.