History of Education

A History of Education in Colton

St. Mary’s school Colton in the 19th. Century.

The first school in Colton goes back over 200 years to 1764. In that year the people of the village subscribed towards a school for 20 poor children from the parish to be taught to read, to write, to keep accounts and to know the Church of England catechism. Pupils were provided with books, paper quills and ink, only if their parents could not afford to buy them. In 1821 John Spencer a local farmer in remembrance of his brother, gave another £500 for another 20 poor children to go to the school.

The school was held in a cottage in the village that still remains today. The master and his son taught the boys, his wife and daughter taught the girls. The girls were also taught to sew and knit.

Another school had been founded for poor village children some time around 1818. The two schools gradually began to work together and by 1851 one was a boys school and the other a girls school. In 1862 it was decided to build a single new school- St. Mary’s; on a site given by the owner of Colton Manor, Mr. Horsfall and funded by the Webb Trust. Parents were charged two pence a week for their first child to go and a penny for each of their other children This Trust also built the schoolmaster’s house, the present Elm Cottage. This school would take any Colton child from the age of 2. At the age of 11 they were transferred to Colwich until after the war when they transferred to Secondary schools in Rugeley.

The school remains in the same building today but with extensions and improvements.

The Census records for the 1841 also record a private school for 18 boys being run at Colton House. It appears to have only existed for a few years and little is known about it as yet.

Evacuee photo by kind permission of Tony Atkinson.

In World War II children from St. Saviours, Westgate on Sea, were evacuated to Colton and went to St. Mary’s school. Here is an account of one of these evacuees:-Tony Atkinson now lives in Surrey but was only five years old when he came as an evacuee to Colton. Here he is in the centre of the picture at his school in Westgate on Sea.

“The evacuation came upon us suddenly. My parents may have had a little advanced notice, but I only remember being at school one day and being lined up with all the other children on the railway platform next. Details are vague: a cardboard lapel label; a gas mask in a box an a very few belongings……The journey took us via Lichfield to Colton and St. Mary’s school. At the school we trundeled into the hall …..Women from the village appeared, and one by one the other children were singled out and taken away, until just two or three of us remained, and then a kindly lady came and ledme away to her home which was to be my home for the next three years.”

Were you one of these evacuees to Colton? Please get in touch if you were.