“when we had no work we could not spare twopence a week for schooling, and now when we have work our children must wind and nurse!”
The school was open, but only on Sundays, there being no money for a full time teacher for the first few years. In order to fix the situation, having found a likely candidate, William Hodgson went back to the National Society for more money.
18 Dec 1843
I am now able to nominate as master for my school Mr John Jackson, a trained master from the Chester Training School. It is arranged that he shall commence his labours on the 15th of January. Should your Committee require to be further satisfied as to his qualifications, a letter addressed to him at
Diocesan Training College
would be attended to; or if after the 22nd instant addressed to him at
St Michael’s on Wyre
The grant which came from the Society was nowhere near enough to cover Jackson’s wages, so Hodgson rashly offered to cover any deficit out of his own pocket and pushed on regardless.
7 Feb 1844
I beg to inform the Committee of the National Society that Mr John Jackson commenced his duties as National School Master of Christ Church Colne, on the 15th Jan 1844.
It must have been obvious to Hodgson within the first few months that he was in trouble: there was no way the children’s fees were going to cover the cost of teaching them. Later in the year he was writing of his difficulties and asking to be dug out of a financial hole – there were simply not enough pupils and the school faced closure.
11 Sep 1844
The Committee of the National Society has the kindness to make a grant of £25 for one year towards the support of a master at the National School of Christ Church Colne; and when I expressed my fear that that sum would leave me very much out of pocket, you kindly promised that you would again lay my case before the Committee after it was seen how my funds would stand. I beg to request you to do me that favour, and as a guide to the Committee I give the following statement of the average number of children and amounts of fees paid:
Av No Fees
1st Quarter, commencing Jan 15 1844 27 £3 2s 6d
2nd ditto 37 £4 11s 5d
3rd ditto calculated from weeks already past 42 £4 16s 0d
Supposing the 4th quarter to be equal to the 3rd (which considering that it will be getting cold and west is doubtful) the fees will amount to £17 6 2. The salary of master being £60, the Society’s grant of £25 would leave me £17 13 10 out of pocket. I have not the most distant hope of collecting any portion of this deficiency and therefore hope that your Committee will give me additional help. A great portion of the District was canvassed by myself after the School opened, but the almost unvaried reply of the people was this,- “when we had no work we could not spare twopence a week for schooling, and now when we have work our children must wind and nurse!” I feel much disappointed that the School has done no better, but am thankful that I have been able to try it and to give the people the opportunity of sending their children. You will see a slight improvement, but whether so much as to induce the Committee to make a grant for a second year is perhaps doubtful. The committee however will see that without their renewal help the school will have to be closed at the end of this year.
The school didn’t close – again the National Society eventually responded with more funds. Hodgson wrote in thanks, relief and, it seems, feeling as though he had failed.
11 Nov 1844
My dear Sir,
I beg to offer my most sincere and unfeigned thanks to the Committee of the National Society for the additional and fully-sufficient help which they have voted me for the present year. As I had given up all hope of being refunded, – it came the more acceptable and excited the more gratitude. I shall (?) forward a statement of a accounts immediately after Christmas when the year will be completed.
I am so disappointed in our attempt so far failing that even should the master be willing to take your grant with what the fees might make I should feel some hesitation. However I could only accept it on condition that he would be satisfied with the grant and the fees. I should feel obliged if you would advise me as to whether I should make an offer of that sort to a man who might be sent from the Diocesan training College. The present master is not disposed to accept such offer. My reason for requesting your advice is my uncertainty as to whether I should be right to accept the grant for a second year having no reason for expecting the second year to do much better than the first. My only hope of improvement would be that parents may begin to see the importance of contriving to obtain a little schooling for their children.
I beg however to offer my thanks to the Committee for their vote of a grant for a second year.
The number of children attending remained low for the next year or so and Hodgson continued to rely on grants from the Society to help with the local shortfall. In September 1845 he still his cap in hand.
The period of the Grant made by the National Society for the second year to my school being to terminate in about two months, I beg to submit the state of my School to the consideration of your Committee, hoping that they may be able to afford me a continuance of their much needed assistance.
The number with which the present master commenced in January was 39; the number at present in attendance is 69.
The average number for the first quarter was 41
the second 56
the third 61
The amount of fees for the year, supposing the 4th quarter to be equal to the 3rd will be £20 6 91/2 which with your Society’s grant (£20) will make the master’s salary
£40 6 9 1/2 The master and the scholars are doing well and I feel happy in being able to report an advance in numbers;- but still, without some extraneous assistance we cannot go on. I should greatly lament the necessity of being obliged to close the school, after having struggled for so long and having seen so much encouragement,- especially seeing that there is hope that by a few years’ assistance our numbers may have become sufficient for the support of the master.
Hoping that my case will meet with the kind consideration of your Committee.
It’s not clear was the answer was, but the school did survive this very shaky and uncertain start. The number of children attending was rising at this point, but still very far short of the 350 Hodgson anticipated. Despite the odds against him and a series of setbacks Reverend Hodgson stuck to his cause, persistent, persuasive and not averse to a touch of emotional blackmail every now and again. As he said in one of his many letters
Sometimes courage almost entirely fails, but there is of course no way but proceeding in the strength of God, and hoping for his blessing.
Sources: the image of Christ Church – Lancashire Archives reference PR 3173/2; Hodgson’s letters to The National Society are at the Church of England Record Centre, reference NS 7/1/3365