Cleator Moor is a town in West Cumbria, UK, born from the ancient village of Cleator. The town grew across moorland, out of industry, enterprise and geographical advantages. Rich haematite iron ore of the district, and the proximity of the parish to coastal shipping, and new railway system, account for a rapid transformation.

In the beginning, the moorland of Cleator was barren with a few farms tending a stark land. In the 17th Century, Iron Ore was first extracted from beneath the ground. In the 18th and 19th Century mining expanded with Iron Ore being a vital ingredient for the Industrial Revolution, modernising industry.

The town had several iron ore mines and excessive mining caused subsidence. Some parts of the town have been demolished due to undermining in the area, most notably the original Montreal Primary School and the whole of Montreal Street on which it stood.

The town's skyline is dominated by Dent Fell and the town is located on the 190 miles (310 km) Coast to Coast Walk that spans Northern England. The Sea to Sea (C2C) cycle network also passes through Cleator Moor via a disused railway which is now part of the National Cycle Network.

On the outskirts of the town of Cleator Moor lies the village of Cleator with which the town is closely associated. As a settlement of note, it was substantially populated by immigrants from the North Eastern counties of Ireland in the latter half of the nineteenth century, leading to the colloquial title of Little Ireland.

South from Cleator, is Longlands Lake, a former iron ore mine which is now a local beauty spot and haven for wildlife. Longlands Lake nature reserve is on the site of the former Longlands iron ore mine that first produced ore in 1879 from four pits. By 1924 the mines had been abandoned. In 1939 the mines started to subside and flood the area creating Longlands Lake. Longlands was acquired by Cumbria County Council in 1980.

Cleator Moor has a few distinct communities which have emerged as the town has grown; such as Mill Hill, Bowthorn and Wath Brow.

The population of Cleator Moor is estimated at 330 in 1688; it then doubled from 362 in 1801 to over 763 by 1841; then surged across the second half of the 19th century as result of industrial development. The new town of Cleator Moor was laid out on former Common land from the 1880s. By 1861 the population stood at 3,995; it peaked at 10,420 in 1881. It then declined, to 8,120 by 1901 and to low point of 6,411 in 1951, after which it rose to 7,686 by 1971; today, the population stands at around 7,000.

Cleator Moor is within the Copeland UK Parliamentary constituency, Trudy Harrison is the Member of parliament.

Before Brexit, it was in the North West England European Parliamentary Constituency.

Historically in Cumberland, the town was based around the iron works industry and was served in this capacity by two railways. The Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway (WC&ER) was the first railway on the scene and it opened for goods traffic in 1855, then two years later it opened for passenger traffic. The WC&ER sold out to the London and North Western Railway in 1878 but when the Furness Railway objected to the sale it too became a partner, thus forming the Furness & London and North Western Joint Railway the following year. The second railway to serve Cleator Moor was the Cleator & Workington Junction Railway. This new company had a station on the western edge of the town and its double track main line made a junction with the former company at Cleator Moor West Junction.

The town had several iron ore mines and excessive mining caused subsidence. Some parts of the town have been demolished due to undermining in the area, most notably the original Montreal Primary School and the whole of Montreal Street on which it stood.

The Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway suffered from subsidence which forced it to build two deviation branch lines and stations. In Cleator Moor itself a new line was built curving further northwest than the original, with a new station being opened in 1866 some 600 yards further west along Leconfield Street than the original, which became a goods station. The new station was known simply as Cleator Moor, but was renamed Cleator Moor East in 1924.

Subsidence also necessitated a deviation at Eskett. As in Cleator Moor itself, a new line was built to the west of the original Eskett station which was retained as a goods station up to 1931. Yeathouse station was opened on the deviation line as a replacement.

The influx of Irish workers gave the town the nickname Little Ireland. World War I and World War II saw a fresh influx of immigrants from mainland Europe to join the settled Irish community.

In 1938, Jakob Spreiregen founded the company Kangol in Cleator, situated across the road from St Mary's Church. The original factory building still stands but empty, since the company ended its association with the town in 2009.

With the decline of traditional industries and the resulting high rate of unemployment, the town's economy is now dependent on the nearby Sellafield complex, which provides jobs to around half the town's people.

From 1879 Cleator Moor had two railway stations: Cleator Moor West on the Cleator and Workington Junction Railway and Cleator Moor East on the Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway. In 1923 both railway companies and their stations passed over to the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The LMS had acquired shares in the local bus company so to make public transport more lucrative the LMS closed both stations to passengers in 1931.

Cleator Moor West railway station was opened as "Cleator Moor" by the Cleator and Workington Junction Railway (C&WJR) in 1879. The line was one of the fruits of the rapid industrialisation of West Cumberland in the second half of the nineteenth century, being specifically borne as a reaction to oligopolistic behaviour by the London and North Western and Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railways. The station was on the company's main line from Moor Row to Workington Central. Both line and station opened to passengers on 1 October 1879.

The station was renamed "Cleator Moor West" on 2 June 1924 to avoid confusion with its neighbour on the former Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway line to Rowrah, which was renamed "Cleator Moor East".

All lines in the area were primarily aimed at mineral traffic, notably iron ore, coal and limestone, none more so than the new line to Workington, which earned the local name "The Track of the Ironmasters". General goods and passenger services were provided, but were very small beer compared with mineral traffic.

Passenger trains consisted of antiquated Furness stock hauled largely by elderly Furness engines referred to as "...rolling ruins..." by one author after a footplate ride in 1949. No Sunday passenger service was ever provided on the line.

Cleator Moor West closed on 13 April 1931 when normal passenger traffic ended along the line. Diversions and specials, for example to football matches, made use of the line, but it was not easy to use as a through north-south route because all such trains would have to reverse at Moor Row or Corkickle.

An enthusiasts' special ran through on 6 September 1954, the only to do so using main line passenger stock. The next such train to traverse any C&WJR metals did so in 1966 at the north end of the line, three years after the line through Cleator Moor closed.

By 1981 the station had been demolished and the cutting had largely been filled in. By 2008 the trackbed had become a public cycleway.

Cleator Moor East railway station was the second station built by the Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway. The line was one of the fruits of the rapid industrialisation of West Cumberland in the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Subsidence led the company to build a deviation line which curved round the west side of the original station and the growing settlement, in a similar manner to what it was forced to do at Eskett a few miles to the east. They built a passenger station on the deviation line - known locally as "The Bowthorn Line" - which would go on to be called Cleator Moor East.

When the deviation line and station opened in 1866 the original station was closed to passengers and became "Cleator Moor Goods Depot." It remained open for goods traffic until the 1950s.

The station closed on 13 April 1931 when normal passenger traffic ended along the line, though workmen's trains were reinstated in March 1940, only to be withdrawn a month later. An enthusiasts' special ran through on 5 September 1954. After scant occasional use the line northwards from Rowrah was abandoned in 1960 and subsequently lifted.

The line southwards from Rowrah through Cleator Moor East lead a charmed life, continuing with a limestone flow from a quarry at Rowrah until 1978, after which all traffic ceased and the tracks were lifted.

Keekle Viaduct
The viaduct is a substantial structure which carried the double-track C&WJR's Cleator Moor West to Siddick Junction via Workington Central main line over the River Keekle. It is situated between the former stations of Cleator Moor West and Keekle Colliers' Platform.

Opened in 1879, it consists of seven equal stone arches across the river. Timetabled passenger services over the viaduct ended on 13 April 1931. Goods and mineral trains, with very occasional passenger excursions and diversions continued to use the line until it closed completely on 16 September 1963.

The tracks were subsequently lifted. The structure was offered for sale for £1 in 1992, but there was no initial response, as any purchaser would have to maintain and repair it, rather than demolish it and recover the stone.

Sectarian troubles (19th century)
It may be that the Irish Famine prompted some increased migration to the town but links between West Cumbria and the northern counties of Ireland had been established before this time. Labourers crossed to work the harvest and, more permanently, take jobs in the mines and ports long before the Famine often prompted by the constant sub-division of farmland among children. From the 1850s to the 1880s, the population expanded rapidly as rich veins of haematite were exploited. From a settlement of 763 in 1841, Cleator Moor grew to house 10,420 souls by 1871, thirty-six percent of whom were Irish. As Donald MacRaild writes, "...formative economic developments, urban growth and the mass arrival of the Irish, took place entirely in years beyond the Famine." The Irish in Cleator Moor were predominantly Roman Catholic but the general influx into the mines and industry of West Cumbria also brought others of a different persuasion from the same country and with them a particular sectarianism to add to the anti-Catholicism of Victorian England.

During the late 1860s the Irish Protestant preacher William Murphy led anti-Catholic meetings throughout the country inciting mobs to attack Catholic targets. Near Chelmsford in Essex they burnt down a Catholic convent. In May 1868, two chapels a school and over one hundred houses and shops in Ashton-under-Lyme were ransacked. This led to the Catholic populations defending themselves and their buildings and when Murphy visited Whitehaven in April 1871, the Catholic iron ore miners of Cleator Moor were determined to confront him. The local authorities requested Murphy and his Orange Order backers to cancel his talks but they would not. He was heckled and threatened at the first meeting in the Oddfellows Hall, Whitehaven and eventually had to be escorted from the place. The following evening there was more concerted opposition as 200 - 300 Cleator Moor miners marched to the Hall and assaulted Murphy before the meeting began. Five men were sentenced for the attack. Murphy died in March 1872 and his death was attributed to the injuries he had received in Whitehaven. Disturbances in the area were regular during the years that followed particularly when Orangemen assembled on 12 July and on that date in 1884, the most serious of them occurred. That was the year the local Orange Lodges decided to hold their annual gathering at Cleator Moor, a deliberately provocative move: "as if to court disturbance the Orangemen... decided they would this year hold their annual demonstration in the stronghold of the enemy". The marchers including eight bands paraded past the Catholic church and held their assembly at Wath Brow. As the gathering broke up and the Orangemen made their way back to the train station, trouble broke out. They were attacked by groups of local men throwing stones and then rushing them. Some of the marchers carried revolvers, cutlasses and pikes which they now used. A local postal messenger, Henry Tumelty, a 19-year-old Catholic was shot in the head and killed while others were listed as having received injuries from these weapons. The local Catholic priests defended their parishioners saying they had been provoked beyond measure by the foul sectarian tunes and the weaponry. Fr. Wray expressed serious regret: "It has thrown us back at least twenty years."

Cleator Moor has a Carnegie library, a grade II listed building which opened in 1906.

The town had two secondary schools but both have closed. St. Cuthbert's stopped functioning in 1977 and in August 2008, after being open for 50 years, the town's other secondary school, Ehenside School was merged with Wyndham School in Egremont, making way for the West Lakes Academy. The academy initially used the Wyndham School buildings until a new academy building was constructed.

Listed Buildings
Cleator Moor contains 15 listed buildings that are recorded in the National Heritage List for England. All the listed buildings are designated at Grade II, the lowest of the three grades, which is applied to buildings of national importance and special interest. The listed buildings include churches and associated structures, houses and associated structures, shops, a bank, civic buildings including offices and a library, and a memorial fountain.

St Leonard's Church
12th century - The nave was rebuilt in 1841–42 by George Webster, and further alterations were carried out in 1900–03 by J. H. Martindale. The chancel is Norman and built in large blocks of sandstone and has pilaster buttresses, the rest of the church is in rubble with stepped buttresses and castellated parapets, and the roofs are slated with coped gables and apex crosses. The church consists of a west baptistry, a nave with a north porch, and a chancel with a vestry. At the west end, over the porch, is a gabled double bellcote

Old Hall and wall
Late 17th century - Originally a hall, later altered, extended and subdivided to form a symmetrical group of nine houses. They are rendered, most with slate roofs. The central house, originally the hall, has three storeys, three bays, a rear wing, and a porch. It is flanked by two-storey two-bay houses, each with a bracketed cornice, and one with a porch. The outer houses project forward, they have two storeys and three bays, the central bay projecting forward and gabled. Most windows are sashes. Along the front of the houses is a wall of sandstone and boulders, with semicircular coping, and pair of monolithic gate posts.

Troughton House
Late 18th or early 19th century - A stuccoed house on a moulded plinth with corner pilasters, an eaves string course, and a slate roof with coped gables. There are two storeys, an L-shaped plan, a symmetrical front of three bays, and a recessed two-bay wing to the right. Steps lead up to the doorway that has a rectangular fanlight, an architrave, and a cornice. The windows are sashes in stone surrounds, and in the wing is a porch.

The Flosh
1832 - Originally a country house, later used as offices, then a hotel. It was enlarged in 1837, and in 1866 a wing in Elizabethan style was added to the south. The building is roughcast with sandstone dressings on a chamfered plinth, with a string course and a Welsh slate roof. There are two storeys and a south front of seven bays. On the south front is a castellated porch with gargoyles in the corners, and gables with decorative bargeboards. The east front has four bays and two gabled dormers. The windows are mullioned or mullioned and transomed.

5 Jacktrees Road and verandah
1856 - The verandah was added to the former Cooperative shop in 1876. The building is in rendered rubble and has a Welsh slate roof with coping at the south end. There are three storeys and 13 bays. In the ground floor is a 20th-century shop front with original fluted and panelled pilasters. In the upper floors are sash windows with stone surrounds. The cast iron verandah rests on a cornice above the shop front; it is glazed and carried on 13 Gothic columns with pierced spandrels.

St John's Church
1870–72 - The church was designed by C. J. Ferguson in Norman style, and restored in 1900. It is in sandstone with quoins and buttresses, and has a slate roof with coped gables. The church consists of a nave with a clerestory, aisles, a chancel with chapels, and a west tower. The tower has three stages, and there is a stair turret to the south. All the windows have round arches and hood moulds.

St Mary's Church
1872 - A Roman Catholic church by E. W. Pugin, it is in sandstone with slate roofs. The church consists of a nave and chancel under one roof, a clerestory, transepts, and a chancel with chapels. The entrance front has a single-storey porch with a lean-to roof, a central doorway and flanking lancet windows. Above the porch are three tall lancets, and an elaborate bellcote. This contains three lancet niches, two circular niches with statues, and a bell in an arched opening.

13–20 High Street and 1 Union Street
Late 19th century - A row of eight shops, stuccoed, with a cornice over the shop fronts, a string course, an eaves cornice, and a hipped Welsh slate roof. There are three storeys and each shop has two bays. In the ground floor are 20th-century shop fronts, the shops separated by panelled pilasters with acanthus capitals. Above the windows in the middle floor are pediments, triangular and segmental alternating in pairs, and the top floor windows have stuccoed surrounds. The Union Street front has four bays and contains a doorway and a decorative panel.

National Westminster Bank
Late 19th century - The bank is in stone on a chamfered plinth, with a string course, an egg and dart cornice, an eaves cornice, and a slate roof with moulded gables surmounted by finials and containing dormers. There are two storeys, an attic, and five bays. The central doorway has an architrave and a serpentine head. The ground floor windows and dormers also have serpentine heads, and between some ground floor windows are engaged Ionic columns. Also on the front are polygonal pilasters.

Local Government Offices
1879 - These comprise two buildings of similar design at right angles to each other. The older contains offices and a market hall, and the other smaller building of 1894 originated as a library. They are in sandstone with hipped slate roofs. Each has a symmetrical front of a single tall storey and five bays, and a central portico with granite columns and a pediment. Steps lead up to the doors that have architraves and semicircular fanlights. The windows are sashes in architraves.

Memorial fountain
1903 - The fountain is in polished grey and pink granite. It has three steps, a moulded plinth, a squat inscribed drum, and a large bowl. From this a column rises and carries a smaller bowl. It was originally surmounted by a pelican, but this is missing.

Lych gate and walls, St Leonard's Church
c. 1903 - Designed by J. H. Martindale, the walls and the plinths of the lych gate are in sandstone. On the plinths is a wooden braced superstructure carrying a slate roof with gablets. On each side the walls, which are about 3 feet (0.91 m) high, form quadrants that are ramped at the ends. On the walls are wrought iron scrolled railings 18 inches (460 mm) high, and on the ends are cast iron lamp supports.

1906 - The library is in sandstone on a chamfered plinth, and has a hipped Welsh slate roof. The symmetrical front has a single tall storey and five bays. The doorway is flanked by granite columns and has a pediment and an inscribed frieze; the door has an architrave and a semicircular fanlight with a mullioned window above. The windows are mullioned and transomed in architraves, and are separated by pilasters.

Cleator war memorial
1922 - The war memorial is in a walled enclosure by the side of the road. It is in grey granite, and consists of an urn with a floral swag on a three-tier pedestal with rosettes and egg and dart moulding on the cornice. This stands on a plinth with a moulded foot on a three-tiered base. On the plinth are stone plaques with inscriptions and the names of those lost in the two World Wars. The enclosure has sandstone walls with embattled coping, decorative iron railings, and a gate.

Cleator Moor war memorial
1922 - The war memorial is in the churchyard of St John's Church. It is in pink granite, and consists of a Celtic cross on a tapering shaft, which stands on a tapering four-sided plinth on one step. On the head of the cross is carved knot work, and on the lower part of the shaft and on the plinth are inscriptions and the names of those lost in the First World War. At the foot of the cross is a tablet with an inscription relating to the Second World War, and the memorial is surrounded by a low wall and eight square posts.

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Lecture On Compulsory Education

On 14th February 1868, at the Flosh, Thomas Ainsworth (owner of Cleator Mills) gave a lecture on paid compulsory education. Fortnightly lect...
On 14th February 1868, at the Flosh, Thomas Ainsworth (owner of Cleator Mills) gave a lecture on paid compulsory education. Fortnightly lectures were held during the winter months at Ainsworths Cleator residence.

In this lecture, Ainsworth advocated parents paying for schooling, rather than wealthy tradesmen paying a tax for educating the country. The following wasn't written for publication, but it was favourably heard by all those that were present:

Friends and Neighbours, I have engaged to say something tonight on the subject of education, and not only of education, but of Compulsory Education. Now, this word "Compulsory" is a word disagreeable to every one, and to none more than to a free-born Briton, whether he be an Englishman, an Irishman, or a Scotchman.

None of us like to be compelled to do anything; but all of us are compelled, daily and hourly, to do something which, if we did not do, we must cease to live, or move, or have our being. Many a man says “I won’t eat," we all know he must, or very soon die. If he says "I won’t clothe myself," he will soon perish from cold. If a man says "I will have the loaf of bread which belongs to my neighbour," the law says "You shall not;" or if you do take it by force, the law, by force, will take you, and compel you, either to restore the loaf of bread, or put you under punishment for your transgression. If a man says "I won't support; my children," the law says "You shall do so, or go to prison."

Now, you see, we all are compelled, daily and hourly, to do something for ourselves which either our physical or social constitution says is for the benefit of ourselves or society.

The clothing and feeding of his children is compulsory on every father; and I really doubt whether clothing and feeding the body, or clothing and feeding the mind, is most worthy of attention. Both are necessary and both are desirable; and, since both are necessary, and both are desirable, a parent should be compelled to provide both for his child. If the parent provides clothes and food for his child’s body, the law does not interfere, and clothe and feed the child; and if the parent educates his child, neither should the law — even if a Compulsory Act were passed — interfere with him, and instruct his child for him. But very ignorant and selfish parents will not educate their children; sometimes, being ignorant themselves, they don’t wish their children to know more than they do; or, are lazy or selfish, they force the child to help to keep the family, or they appropriate what should be the school fee to buy, perhaps, an extra glass of grog in the week. In either of these cases, the children grow up, in general, a trouble and annoyance to the very parents themselves, and also to their neighbours, and, as our calendars of criminals show, an expense to the community.

If each man could keep his ignorant and dirty children entirely to himself, perhaps he might be allowed to take his own way; but if his children are to walk and talk with other people’s children, then I say he is bound to make them something like other people’s children; or, if he won’t do so, then society, I think, should step in and say, “ You shall do so, or you and your children must walk off" - just as we said to the than who would take our loaf of bread without our consent.

You will, then, clearly understand, what I mean to 'express by Compulsory Education' it is, that, if a father will not do his duty in an educational point of view to his child, the law shall step in and make and compel him to do it, or do it for him and make him pay for it.

Is it not better for a community to live on good and equal terms with one another. If so, it is desirable that we should all be made to approach an equality, so as to live on good terms with each other; and it is just when this higher social life commences that good education becomes of more consequence than good dress, which caused me to say, a short time ago, that I doubted whether clothing the body or clothing the mind was most worthy of attention, but this I do know, that, if you take a youth at eighteen, with a well clothed mind, he will soon be able to clothe his body, by the powers of his mind; and if you take an uninstructed youth of eighteen, clothed in purple and fine linen, he can not clothe his mind with all his finery. Money cannot buy knowledge in a moment, as money can buy clothes. Intelligence, the capital of the first boy, has been increased by the use of it to clothe himself, Mere dress, or money, the capital of the second boy, when spent is gone forever.

I have just been reading a book entitled "Florence, the New Capital of Italy," by Charles Richard Weld, in which he says: "There is evidently a desire on the part of the operatives in this country to avail themselves of all the means of education they can. An artizan, whom I had occasion to visit frequently during my stay in Florence assured me that his children, four in number, had benefited greatly by the schools. ‘See, Signor,’ he said, drawing my attention to a book on this subject by Mazzini, ‘is it not the duty of every parent to educate his children to the best of his ability?’ This book says, ‘ You must never lose sight of the fact, that you are responsible and progressive beings. By progressive, I mean that you are created to improve your mental condition, and, above all, bear in mind that you will never succeed in this, except by your own efforts. Have you a family committed to your charge? Remember, that it is the heart's country. Your 'aim and work should be. to sanctity that family. And as education is the bread of the soul, do all in your power to obtain for yourselves, and for your children, moral, useful, and intellectual education."

I probably should not have been so great an advocate of compulsory education, had I not been compelled, myself, to be a compulsory educator; but you all know that, from flax mills being under the Factory Act, I could not give employment to young children, from eight to thirteen years of age, unless those children were attending some school and receiving regular instruction. My doctrine is, that if a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well; and I therefore endeavoured to get a good teacher, who would be perfectly honest, teach well, and do his duty faithfully; and I gave the best pledge of my good faith, by putting a. master to teach others whom I thought good enough to teach my own children.

Well, what has been the result of this compulsory education? The children, first of all, educate themselves, or, I should rather say, pay for their own education, and, after doing so, take home something to their parents varying from 1s (id to 25 8d weekly. These children have been kept from much mischief, have acquired habits of industry and of good manners, and have learnt as much in their young days, as will enable them to keep any books and accounts which they may be asked to keep, should they obtain any situation as overlooker or manager in my works, or in any office or bank in the kingdom.

Well, but the good did not end here, nor with ourselves. Having a certain number of scholars that we could depend upon for regular attendance, it enabled us to show to the country round about what could be done by an industrious child if it attended school regularly; and as soon as the statesmen or farmers in this neighbourhood saw what these little children could do, they began to think it would never do for their children to be behind; and their boys and girls - yes, little boys and girls - would walk three or four miles to this school - would pay an amount of fee that never was heard of in this country before, and not for the sake of obtaining prizes (for we give none) nor an exhibition at some other school, but for the sake of knowledge itself.

I was once sitting at dinner, next at Cambridge Professor, and, on this being told, he said to me "How did you bring about so desirable a state of things?"

"Merely," said I, "by being honest and truthful - giving a good education, and making people pay for it, and calling things by their right names. I know that people never value anything they get for nothing; and when they pay they will take care they get something for their money. No father would let his child walk four miles to school and four miles back - eight miles - and pay 6d, 86, or 10d a-week, as the case may be, without getting something for his money."

Now, the Bishop of Oxford, the other day, as reported in the Times newspaper, was making a speech at Tunbridge Wells on this subject of compulsory education, and he drew a picture of an imaginary half-timer that he called his “lout,” and of course the bishop having a tongue in his head - and a glib one too - a vivid imagination, and no one to contradict him, went on touching up with irony this picture, till at last he produced a picture of a lout who would not go to school, who would play marbles instead, and who would not, and could not, plough. Logically he was not a lout because he went to school, but because he did not go; but you know in fancy sketches we are not particular. Well, I cannot put a half-time educated lout against his, because we have no louts; but I know we could put an educated half-timer against the Bishop himself, and this half-time boy (or girl if he chooses) will work against him sums in decimals and fractions as quick, and perhaps quicker, and as correct, and perhaps more correctly, than the Bishop himself could do for the first half-hour; for these children are in daily practice in these rudimentary branches, while the Bishop is not. These half-timers, too, would stand an examination from the Bishop in algebra up to simple equations, and in the first four or six books of Euclid. I said, and say again, we have no louts; and I now repeat what I have frequently said, that I never saw a confirmed dance in our school; and the reason is, that the master does what I never saw any other master or mistress do - he patiently teaches the slow ones, and the clever children learn from hearing them taught: and in this there is a great secret

Quick children sometimes learn too easily - so easily, indeed, that they never thoroughly understand the reason why; but by this means the subject comes before them in ID many forms that they have it better impressed on their minds. But look at the elect this kindness has on the slow child. Its gratitude is awakened, and all its best endeavours are made to oblige one who so kindly assists it to cope with its more favoured school-fellows. As I have shown how our friend makes intelligent children and willing pupils, I will tell the Bishop how to make a lout. When a poor boy appears at school for the first time, tell him he is an ignorant, dull, stupid fellow. Treat him as if he was a dull, stupid fellow. Bring out the most precocious, perhaps conceited, child you have. Parade this youngster before him, and show him what you expect from him. Then, try to teach him something quite beyond his comprehension. Perhaps, it you throw in a dash of metaphysics, which the Bishop would call religious instruction, all the better. Flog him like a. dog; sneer at him as you would at an inferior animal; show him, at all events, that he is quite inferior to yourself, and cannot pretend for one moment to approach your high position; and you may depend upon it you 'will very soon have a child that agrees in all you say - that he is stupid and cannot learn - in short, you will have a regular Bishop‘s lout.

It was once said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not;" but this is old-fashioned. If these poor children are not taught they will he louts; and it is a shame and a profanity, even for a Bishop, as I think, to designate anything loutish which God has made, if man can, by acting out that old-fashioned rule, “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you," make children not loutish. Let the Bishop try a little of the mild and gentle for the weak and ignorant, and he will find there is more in that to subdue stubbornness and ignorance than all the power of dignity and offensive scorn with which he regards those who, by no fan of their own, are inferior to himself.

I am now about to enter on one view of this compulsory education question, which is of the greatest importance to us as a nation, and which I beg you will all think of, and speak about to your neighbours, friends and children. The Bishop of Oxford very justly said at Tunbridge Wells that instruction and education are very different things, and that you must not call this rudimentary instruction education. The derivation of the words shows the difference; and I have, on previous occasions, drawn your attention to it from this desk. Any child in our school who will pass in the 4th division will tell you that instruction is from instruo, to put in; and education from educo, to draw out. Our teaching hero is rudimentary - that is, in the roots or grounds of instruction; but there is also an educationary element in it. The instruction of today is the education of tomorrow. I will explain this. These halftime children are taught that correctness, truthfulness, exactness, must be at the root of everything. This brings about a correctness in work and an order in discipline, which return to them again in the shape of wages. Just look at the position we have been in, in this parish, during the last year. In Belgium, France, Ireland, Scotland, England, you all know the various flax mills have either been closed or working short time; while here we have been able to employ such extra hands as we could get in the neighbourhood, provided they could do the work as correctly, cleanly, faithfully, as our own workers. How happens this? I have no particular protection.

As I told a friend at our meeting last winter, when I read my paper on Cooperation, Union, and Combination, I have been repeatedly asked to join an Association for fixing the prices of thread, and keeping up those prices. I told him then that I declined joining this union, and that I relied upon myself, not upon others. Well, three months ago, I was asked by this same Association, which was to have kept up prices, to reduce prices. My reply was - "I cannot do that; I have more to do than I can do, and why should I reduce prices?" If I reduce prices I must reduce wages, or sacrifice my profit. I don’t wish to have less profit, and I am sure you don’t wish to have less wages. Well, now, talk this matter over among yourselves, and you will see that the true way to get good prices is to make good work. You cannot make good work with careless, ignorant, dishonest workmen. No; you must have intelligence, truthfulness, discipline. Then you may obtain good and faithful work - “no scamping,” as the navvy says; and you will then be sure to obtain the highest prices going, and be most likely to have constant work; for, when bad trade comes, it is the hard work, the slop work, and the bad workmen who are the first to suffer.

About five years ago I was in Hamburg, and a friend, wishing to show me some civility, obtained permission for me to visit a celebrated coach work in that Free City. They made railway carriages for every Continental railway, and had a great reputation. The principal showed me over the works himself, and when he came to the end he said, “Well! what do you think of our work?" I replied, “You deserve your reputation, but I suppose you use Swedish iron" “ Oh! no," he replied, “it is English iron from Low Moor, in Yorkshire." “Oh! then, you use Liege coal" “No," said he, “it is Newcastle coal." “Well,” I said, “all your tools are from Leeds makers, for I noticed their names upon them." “Yes,” said he. “Then," said I, “where is the secret?" “ It is our work men," said he. “The English workman is not what he was. We have not a man in our employment who will pass a bad piece of work; and if a flaw in the iron should show itself as the work advances, he does not hide it, but shows it, and we take care that he never suffered in his wages for his honest conduct." Now, you clearly see in this what intelligence and good, sound, honest work can effect. An honest man needs no protection. His honesty protects him; and if he relies on anything else, he becomes a pauper in spirit, if not in purse.

Carlyle, in a pamphlet which he wrote the other day, entitled "Shooting Niagara—and After," has this anecdote, which corroborates my observation. He says (page 41): - “Nevertheless, I have myself something to tell you about English Prestige. In my young days, said lately to me one of the wisest and faithfullest German friends I ever had, a correct observer and much a lover both of his own country and mine, in my boyhood (that is some fifty years ago in Wurzburg country, and Central Germany) when you were going to a shop to purchase, wise people would advise you: If you can find an English article of the sort wanted buy it; it will be a few pence dearer; but it will prove that it is a well made, faithful, and skilful thing; a comfortable servant and friend to you for a long time; better buy that. And now, continued he, directly the reverse is the advice given: If you find an English article don’t buy that; that will be a few pence cheaper, but it will prove only a more cunningly-devised mediocrity than any of the others; avoid that above all. Both were good advices; the former fifty years ago was a good advice; the latter is new."

Before I close, I must say one word on a question which I know will be raised on this subject, and that is the religious teaching in schools. My own opinion is, that the introduction of this question has delayed the education of the country for the last thirty years. You all know there are two distinct and separate points in this word, “religion."

It embraces your duty towards God, and your duty towards man. Now, the first of these is called theology, which, to my mind, is a question of age, experience, reflection, rather than of erudition; and if so children cannot comprehend it, and had better, therefore, not be troubled with a subject they can not comprehend. The second - the duty to yourself, and towards your fellow man - is the same in all churches, the English Church, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, and all churches. Now, no school can be conducted satisfactorily to master, parents, or children, unless this latter branch be the foundation, but, then, what does it comprise? Nothing but inculcating those notions of truth, justice, kindness, &c., which the laws of our common country enforce. Therefore, you must see that a master or mistress of a school is bound, in self-defence, to make these the very base of instruction. No one objects to this. But that does not reach the object some of these people have in view. The school is to be made to do the particular church's work, Now, this is not honest instruction, and it is the perversion of language to call such a place a school. This trick was tried upon us. Our master being a Scotchman, the Presbyterian minister rudely entered the school without permission, and came up to the mater, and said, “You have an excellent opportunity here of teaching Scotch Presbyterianism."

The reply was prompt and decisive: “This is a British school. I am here to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, and there is the door."

On the Saturday and Sunday, let each clergyman take the children belonging to his own communion, and indoctrinate them as he pleases; but let the school be common ground English ground - on which we can all meet on equal terms, - and on this ground, and this ground only, no clergyman as such is permitted to enter our school room. And this is not from any dislike of the subject of theology, for individually it is a subject to which I am very partial; but, then, I feel I have no right 'to press my opinions upon another person, and further, think it a subject too sacred, and too great, to be tossed about in a child's school-room; this drawback to a general system of education would be done away with, if the Prime Minister of this country would, from his place in Parliament, at once declare that no money should be granted for sectarian schools, and that he threw on the clergy of the various churches the responsibility of thwarting this solution of the religious question. Now all these things which I have stated have not been done in a corner, or in secret. They are open to the world; and you know whether I have stated one single thing which is not a fact. When, then, the cry of education - compulsory education - got up through the country, I looked round with the hope that some startling fact would be shown us - some finely devised scheme laid down. But no. not so. These Members of Parliament seem afraid of offending their constituents, and therefore they handle the question gingerly. They will not let the thing rest altogether; but they will go on saying some little thing about it, but are not honest enough, and bold enough, to say all they thinks. Last year they passed their Reform Bill, giving votes to a large number of uneducated people. Then they became frightened, and now say all must be educated, and we must have compulsory education.. Well. so say I, but be honest about it - say out at once what you mean, But the English people don’t like to be compelled. Give it up then. Oh! no, something must be done. Now I know my countrymen as well as any man, and I beg to tell the legislators this, - treat them honestly, and justly, and they will go with you heartily; but try to play double with them, and they will not credit you, though you had the fluent tongue of even the Bishop of Oxford.

Many years ago, I was asked to become a candidate for the representation of Leeds, the education question then being the great matter under consideration. I declined the proposal, for I really had no pretensions to such an honour, but also because their views and mine on the subject were quite at variance - I holding to the system we have here, while they were for the voluntary scheme, small fees, and persuasion. I believe they have lived to see their plan will not answer. Men like to be treated as men, and not as half-paupers. If a man is not as rich as his neighbour, it does not follow that he is therefore mean. A poor man, it he is a man, likes to pay his way as well as a rich man, and sometimes even more freely. Then why tempt him to lose his position? Treat him fairly and honestly. Don’t try to make money out of him. Don’t bribe him to send his children to your school, that you may convert them to your church. Give him a good teacher, and let him pay for his child's education, as he would pay for his child's clothes, or his food. I know that poor men are as sensitive on this point, and more so, than some who call themselves gentlemen. Did you ever see a boy from the Blue Coat School in London? He has a long blue coat down to his heels - a leathern girdle - white bands like a clergyman - knee breeches - yellow stockings - high shoes - a cap so small he never wears it, but puts it in his pocket. When at play he tucks up his long coat that he may have the use of his legs. Now you will see boys so dressed driving through the streets of London in carriages, and receiving most, if not all their education, as charity. I don’t think there are many persons here to-night who would much care to have their children educated in this way. The school was founded, as I understand, to assist poor persons to educate their children, but the well-to-do people avail themselves of it. It carries with it the badge of charity, which under any circumstances has a lowering effect on the character, but when brought to hear on the young is demoralizing in the extreme, and perhaps ruins the character for life. I wish there was more honesty, and less charity, in the world.

But I will show you what the poor man has done. I remember some years ago I was travelling through Wales, and I came to 'l‘an-y-Bwlch, where a Mrs. Oakley resided, who had done a great deal in the way of building schools, paying the teacher, and Only charging a small school fee. I don't know that the teacher was a particularly bad one, but the Welsh have minds of their own, and they did not like this half charity work, for there was the religious question in it. So the workmen in the slate quarries at Ffestiniog began to subscribe their money, build school of their own, engaged a teacher, sent their children to him, and when I was there this independent and self-supporting school was full, and the half-charity school of Mrs. Oakley was comparatively empty. Men, real men, don’t like this sort of half-charity thing; and I think it approaches to an insult to offer it, and if accepted the man is degraded, not raised, in his own esteem. The-other day a Member of Parliament said tome, “Oh! I suppose you stop the school out of the worker's wages;" to which I replied, “I should not think of degrading my people in that way. If the parent sends the child to school he should then send the school pence with the child, and not let the poor child appear to its school-fellows to be so inferior a person that it cannot take its school pence as well as the others. I know we have power, under the Factory Act, to stop this fee out of the child's wages; but, then, why resort to this compulsory mode when the parent will do what is right if you will let him? I think such conduct is low, vulgar, and degrading, and is just one of those things which throw an establishment into confusion, and degrade all the men in it. I don't wonder that there are quarrels and strikes between masters and men. Could a ruder and more vulgar thing be done than my stop ping the school wage of a child out of the earnings of that child, just as if doubted the child's or the father's honesty? It I did so, I should expect to have a sulky, suspicious person in my employment, just as the Bishop of Oxford has his ‘ lout.’ D0 justly, and you will receive justice; do unjustly, or harshly, and you will receive injustice and a harsh judgment in return.” From what has yet appeared, it would seem that the tendency of feeling on this subject is in favour of taxing the community for the benefit of a few - of making the frugal, the honest and industrious, pay for the spending the dishonest, or the idle; in fact, of pauperising those who are willing to be made paupers. Now, I protest against this degradation of my country. There needs no great legislation on the subject. We have the machinery ready to our hand, and, to my mind, far better machinery than any I have as yet seen offered. If we are all honest on this subject, and merely want rudimentary instruction for the people, and are at the same time wishful to remove all difficulties, why not pass a law to this effect:

1. No person shall receive any benefit, pecuniary or Otherwise, from a child's labour under 13 years of age, unless such child is being educated as under the Factory Act.

2. When parents or guardians plead poverty, then the school fees of such child shall be paid by the Board of Guardians as parochial relief.

3. The inspectors of the workhouse schools shall visit every school where these children are instructed, and, if the school is up to the required mark, allow the Capitation Grant.

4. If not, then withhold the grant for the first year; and if in the second year the teaching is still below the mark, then remove the children.

5. In this last extremity let Government assist in building a school, and let the ratepayers appoint a teacher, Government retaining the power to dismiss such teacher if not competent as shown in 4.
The Pall Mall Gazette, the only paper which, to my mind, has spoken out on this subject, has three objections to this scheme, to which I think I have most satisfactory replies:

1st. There may be no suitable school within a proper distance. Now, if a law were passed that no parent should receive any benefit from the labour of his child, as under the Factory Act, from 8 to 13 years of age, the child must attend some school for half the day if it is to labour at all. There would then be an increased number of children to educate, and the ' common rule of demand and supply would come into operation. There would be a demand for school-masters, and the masters would come when wanted. The quality might not at first be very good; but, again, if the office of master were remunerative, which it ought to be, competition would soon put that matter right. In Scotland - and I wish our legislators would not forget that there is such a portion of Great Britain, when they are legislating on this subject - it is no unusual thing for a young man to open, on his own account, what they there call a side school, in opposition to a bad teacher in a parish school; and, as you are aware, in each parish in Scotland there is an endowed school where the teacher has a school-room, a house and garden, and a small stipend; and if he be a bad teacher the children will pass his door, go to the side school, and pay a higher school fee - the aids school teacher looking for his reward as sure to come, if he a good teacher, in his appointment to some parish school.

Within the last month I have received the following letters from a side school teacher, applying for a situation in my establishment: - “I understand from Mr McGregor that I am to write to you respecting the situation. I am in my 20th year, and have been always at school. I have had no experience in any office, or anything of that description, except bookkeeping at school. I have an engagement just now at -- and have to teach Latin, algebra, geometry, etc. My engagement expires at Whitsunday first, but I could get away before that time, if necessary. It is only a side school, kept up by a few farmers during the winter season. I can get a character, etc" - Not wishing to bring a youth so far south without being certain his circumstances would be improved, I wrote to ask what his school was doing for him. This is his reply: - “I should prefer giving up the school, as, if it do succeed it will only be carried on during the winter months, like other side schools hereabouts. As to my salary, it would amount say from £1 15s to £2 per month.”

The 2nd objection is, that the child's wages make up a certain portion of the family income. Now, no child between the ages of 8 and 13 can earn much wages by physical strength. If in an agricultural district, its labour will be most valuable in the summer and autumn months. Now, how do they manage this in Scotland? In the summer months, in the Highlands, the schools are closed, and the masters and mistresses often take household or other duties, while the children work in the fields; but in the winter they meet again, and go on with their education. In manufacturing districts the children can work halftime in some manufactory each day, and go to school the other half-day; and our schoolmaster tells me that he thinks the halftimers progress nearly as rapidly as the full timers, for that he finds them fresher at their work, more vigo tons, and frequently sharper, than those who have no occupation. In this case the children would contribute something to the housekeeping, and pay their own school wage. And here I must say a word or two, - for what I have to say applies as much to Scotland as it does to England, if not more. It is not in country parishes that children are worse educated for want of schools, where labour is difficult to procure as well as schooling; but it is in towns, where there are good workshops and plenty of schools. Let any Scotchman now present compare Glasgow with any country parish he knows in Scotland. He will admit: It is the high price given for children’s labour in towns which interferes with their schooling. It is the cupidity of parents - the money grabbing of the parent who sends his child to work, rather than educate him. Work is easy to be had, and money is easily spent, in a town.

The other day in Manchester, I went into a telegraphic-office to send a message. The child who was to transmit the message must, I think, have been lifted on to his stool. When I said to the clerk, “What age is that boy?" " Oh!" he replied, “ he is very clever; he can send the message quite well." “That,” I said. “is not the reason for asking his age. I don't doubt his cleverness." For the poor child was all intelligence and nobody - all mind, and no matter. The clerk then said, "He is about 9 years old." “The shame is," I said, “that his father will allow him to work. That boy should not leave school for 5 years to come. Let the poor child play. This sale of human flesh and blood by a parent at such early years should be stopped by Act of Parliament.”.

The 3rd objection is, that by taking care of the house, the child enables the mother to earn wages. You have heard the old proverb, "Better marry a wife that saves a fortune than one who brings one." So in the poor man's house. A thrifty, managing wife is a fortune; and many families within my experience do I know, where the wife’s home management nearly doubles the man's income. We discourage the employment of married women for that reason. A wife and mother's duty is at home; and she must be a poor wife, indeed, whose place can be supplied by a child of from 8 to 13 years of age.

I have now told you all I have to tell on this subject; but I do sincerely wish there may be found some wise legislator who will meet this question fairly, honestly, faithfully - that he will insist it shall be considered on its own merits, not on that of churches or creeds, with which it really has nothing to do - that he will protect the honest tradesmen and the Christian father from being taxed to pay for the education of the idle, the profligate or the selfish - and, lastly, that he will prevent pauperism eating into the very vitals of our common country.

Photo: Group 12, St. Patrick's School, C1908

Group 12, St. Patrick's School, C1908

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Cleator Moor (Little Ireland): Lecture On Compulsory Education
Lecture On Compulsory Education
Cleator Moor (Little Ireland)
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