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The National [Formerly Lancashire] Public School Association
The National [Formerly Lancashire] Public School Association
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Among the incoming letters, [which have been arranged alphabetically] are some from the following M.P.'s - Elkanah Armitage, Thomas Bazley, William Biggs, John Bowring, John Bright, Joseph Brotherton, William Brown, John Cheetham, Richard Gardner, Thomas Milner Gibson,Alex. Henry, Joseph Hume, James Kershaw, William Scholefield, J.B. Smith, Ralph Thicknesse, Sir Joshua Walmsley, William Williams. There is also one letter each from Charles Dicker. Sam Bamford and John Stuart Mill, while the lowest level of literate society is represented by the 120 or so working men, who wrote in response to the advertisement, in April 1851, of a prize essay competition.Most of the letters received are naturally about the Association's efforts to gain supporters, or about the writers' views on the education question or about schools in their localities.There are direct references to the following schools:- Blackburn - factory schools, Blackburn - Park School, Bradford, Yorks,. Bridport, Dorset , Bristol, Carmarthen-Lancasterian School, Church, nr. Whalley, Edinburgh-United Industrial School, Edinburgh-Williams Secular School, Glasgow-Secular School, Glasgow-New Vennel School, Horsham, Kent-British and Foreign School Horsham, Sussex-Classical, Mathematical and Commercial School, Hyde, King's Somborne, Hants.-National School , Liverpool-High School ,Liverpool-Polytechnic,London-Secular School, London-Birkbeck Schools, London-Commercial Travellers School for Orphan and Necessitous Children, Manchester Manchester-Model Secular School, Manchester-Oddfellows ,Manchester-Sunday Schools ,Newton Heath ,Oldham-St. James's ,St. Bees, Cumbs.-Grammar School ,St. Ives, Hunts.-British and National Schools,St.Mary Cray, Kent ,Salford ,Tenterden, Kent-British School ,Warrington,Warrington-British School,Wortley, Yorks. Mechanics Institutions and Improvement Societies played an important part in the Associations campaign and there are letters from Presidents or Secretaries of the following:- Mechanics Institutions,Ashton and Dukinfield ,Bacup,Barnsley,Bolton ,Bootle ,Burnley ,Bury,Crawshawbooth, Droylsden,Fleetwood,Heywood, Leeds ,Leigh, Levenshulme, Liverpool, London,Manchester ,Marsden, Yorks. ,Middleton ,Miles Platting ,Patricroft Prescot ,Preston,Salford ,Sheffield ,Stalybridge ,Westminster ,Woodhouse, Yorks.,Midland Union of Mechanics Institutes ,Improvement Societies etc. Hailsham, Sussex, Literary Soc.,Madeley, Salop, Church Instruction Soc. ,Swansea Literary Soc. of Working Men Ulverston Improvement Soc.In trying to find some connection between lack of education and crime the Association sent questionnaires to chief constables about criminals, their educational achievements, number of schools and population etc. in the area (M136/3/9/16). Replies, giving statistics for 1847, survive for Ashton under Lyne, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Bury, Chorley, Clitheroe and Whalley, Lancashire CountyNorth Lonsdale, South Lonsdale, Manchester, Middleton, Ormskirk , Prescot, Preston, St. Helens, Stalybridgeand Warrington. There is also a letter from the chaplain of Northampton County Gaol, 1854, about the educational standards of the prisoners and one from Samuel Smiles, 1852, commenting on the statistics of Leeds gaol,which showed that 44 people who had been Sunday School teachers were in prisonThere are few letters from the Association's rival, the Manchester and Salford Committee on Education, written by John Peel, its secretary and C.H. Minchin, its Assistant Secretary, but there are several other references to it, especially in Dr. John Watts's daily reports on the Select Committees on Manchester and Salford Education,Apr. - June 1852 and Mar. - June 1853.There is a great deal of interest in the educational systems of the United States and the Netherlands and even the Professors of Heidelberg University are discussed Subjects other than education appear in some of the letters, e.g. the fear of communism and socialism:- Joseph Barker, editor of the People is described as 'a most wicked man... that vile communist' . Dr. John Watts, one of the mainstays of the Association, was considered unsuitable as a lecturer in Gloucester and Burnley, because of his support of Robert Owen's Socialist principles and his atheist views . At one of the soirèes of the Mechanics Institute in Burnley a clergyman walked out 'because a gentleman who had the reputation of being a Socialist stood up to speak', and in Bury all directors of the Mechanics Institution were canvassed for support except Mr. Bentley, a shoemaker, who as a socialist and atheist might have damaged the Association by supporting it.There are a few complaints about the mid nineteenth century postal service . In 1848 John Calderwood complained that for the third time in a month letters from Manchester only arrived in Liverpool the third day after posting.and in 1851 pamphlets sent to Liverpool by rail had arrived before those sent by post.The Anti-Corn Law League's success in keeping down the price of bread is held responsible for his modest prosperity by Joseph Wood of Birmingham, a packer and warehouseman, who in 1852 said he was 'living in Comfort and saving a little for a rainy day'.Perhaps the most unlikely subject is that of gas in mines. A. Shackleton of Facit, near Rochdale, thought it should be possible to pipe gas from the mines to the surface, thus clearing the air in the mines, and then make use of the gas.The archive is arranged thus :M136/1/1-2 MINUTES1. Minutes2. Draft Minutes and Notes of ResolutionsM136/2/1-6 CORRESPONDENCE1. Letter Books (Out)2. Draft Letters3. Letters Received (Arranged in Alphabetical Order)4. Anonymous Letters5. Unsigned Letters from Newspapers6. Statistics Sent With A Letter, Now MissingM136/3/1-11 MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS1. Draft Articles and Speeches on Education2. Draft Petitions3. Lists of People4. Lists of Newspapers5. Subscription Lists6. Statements of Accounts7. Estimate8. Premises9. Printed Papers Issuing From the Association10. Printed Papers Received By the Association11. Newspaper Cuttings
The National [Formerly Lancashire] Public School Association
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The Lancashire Public School Association for promoting the establishment of a general system of secular education in the County of Lancaster was formed in 1847 in Manchester. Its 'Plan for a General System of Secular Education' published in 1847 advocated secular education to be financed by local rates and controlled by local boards elected by the ratepayers. Public meetings were held, workers canvassed in the factories and several Nonconformist clergy gave their support. By Oct. 1850 it had gained enough influence in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and had enough individual followers elsewhere, to change its name to the National Public School Association, and aim for a general Act of Parliament for the whole country. A lecturer was appointed in Oct. 1851 to canvass southern England, and branches of the Association were formed in London and Birmingham. A prize essay competition was held for working men in 1851, petitions were presented to Parliament and deputations sent to Lord John Russell in Jan. 1852 and June 1853. In Manchester, however, there was opposition to the secular aspects of the 'Plan', from the Church of England, led by the Dean, Rev. George Hull Bowers, Rev. Hugh Stowell and Rev. Charles Richson, who with others, formed the Manchester and Salford Committee on Education. Both bodies brought forward Bills and gave evidence at Select Committees on Education in Manchester and Salford, April-June 1852 and March-June 1853. Neither of them, however, had any lasting success in Parliament, which in 1854, along with the rest of the country, turned its attention to the Crimean War, to the exclusion of the education question. From 1850 George Combe had been advocating the establishment of a model secular school, like his own in Edinburgh, to prove the worth of the Associations aims, but it was not until 1854 that one was set up in Manchester. It was to this school that the funds of the Association were transferred on its dissolution in 1862. No meetings were held after 17 Feb. 1857 when Robert Wilson Smiles, who had been Secretary from Feb. 1850, resigned to become Secretary of the General Committee on Education, because he felt the Association had no hope of persuading Parliament to pass an Act.
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