By Ophélie Arnould
Hall Bower Sunday School was built in 1814 thanks to public subscription. It is believed that there was a group of farmers, who were coming back from the market in Huddersfield and lived near Castle Hill, who saw young people wandering in the street. The youths were believed to be ‘wild rough’ ones. They couldn’t go to the school because the nearest one was situated in Almondbury. The initiative to create a new school in Huddersfield came from the idea that it would be beneficial for the youths to have a school next to Castle Hill. The idea was not only to create a school only for Sundays, but one which would be open every day of the week. In fact, at that time, at the beginning of the 19th century, most schools were only open on Sundays, as boys were working during the week. Each scholar had to pay a fee of 2½d or 3d to the schoolmaster every week. Money was also raised with bazaars. On certain sunny days, scholars could see Castle Hill from the windows.
Castle Hill is an ancient monument overlooking Huddersfield. On the top of the hill, on 24 June 1899, the Victoria Tower was open. It was designed by Isaac Jones of London. As its name shows, this tower was built for the Queen Victoria. It is often referred to as the Jubilee Tower but the correct name is the Victoria Tower. In fact, this is a memorial of her sixty years of reign, in 1896. During the Second World War, it was suggested that the Tower should be demolished in order to not be used by the Germans. Today, the tower is Grade II-designated Listed Building.
The school was built thanks to public subscription. In fact, the wealthiest people gave money to build the school, and the poorest gave their time and labour. There were few wealthy people at that time. After the constructions, the building measure 14 yards by 6 yards and was of two storeys. The first storey is the school itself, the second one is the dwelling rooms of the schoolmaster. In 1824, a library was built in addition to the school. At first, only teachers could go in. Then, it was opened for scholars. In order to go in the library, people had to pay sixpence, but the price was lowered to a penny every six weeks. In 1914, the library counted 280 books.
The school was built in 1814, which is an important date for the world and Great Britain. In fact, at that time, the European war was almost finished. Sixteen kingdoms were fighting France in order to put the “final shutdown” at Waterloo. Great Britain was part of the kingdoms fighting against France and Napoleon. At the end of this war, France lost and Napoleon abdicated.
The school was governed by a committee which was composed of two-thirds school teachers and one-third subscribers. In 1823, Hall Bower Sunday school became affiliated with the Huddersfield Sunday School Union, which regrouped Huddersfield Schools. The union was really ‘prosperous as before.’
At first, in Hall Bower Sunday School, children were taught the basic subjects such as writing and reading. The school took place every day of the week and every Sunday, and scholars received religious instruction. The religion in Hall Bower Sunday school is Protestantism, but as they said, every other Christian traditions was welcome. In 1814, child labour was still accepted and was only regulated in 1833. With the new law, there was more scholars in the school: 177 in total, with 83 female and 94 male scholars. The number was maintained until 1856.
Child labour was still accepted in 1814, the year the school was created. In fact, children still could work in mills and mines, which created fatigue, pain, physical deformations, diseases and had an impact on moral being. It’s only in 1833, with the second factory act, that child labour began to be controlled. Indeed, children under nine couldn’t work any more and the work hours of children of nine and more was restricted. There were eight factory acts who were voted: 1802, 1833, 1844, 1847, 1850, 1867, 1874 and 1891.
Because of the number of students in the school, there was not enough space in the building any more. That’s why in 1856, an extra 6 yards were added to the Northwest building. This made the building 20 yards in length. In 1879, the Chapel was destroyed to build a ‘bigger and better one’. There was still the problem of schoolrooms being overcrowded and the teachers realized that it will be better if older students have their own separate classroom, in order to learn more. That’s why the decision to rebuild the Chapel was made. But the idea of building a new Chapel has been already made in 1876. In fact, on Tuesday, April 19th, 1876, there was a meeting, which was reported by The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser. During this meeting, important pieces of information were given: such as the number of students (214 scholars and 19 teachers), the income of the Sunday School and their desire to rebuild the Chapel. It is said that the cost of this building was to cost £1000 but, thanks to the money the school already had and the subscriptions, they already have £800. The debt was only of 20% and the Chapel could be rebuilt. It was bigger than the old one, measuring 20 yards by 10 yards. This new building was open by a doctor from Salendine Nook, in north Huddersfield, in 1879 and everything was done to pay back all the debt. That’s why they organized a new bazaar with the help of the Primrose Hill United Methodist Church. The debts were paid within five years. The news of the new building of the Chapel was published in the Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser newspaper, showing the importance of the School in Almondburry. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of Hall Bower Sunday School at that period. But on the building, there is written ‘Hall Bower School Rebuilt 1879’, which show that the new building of 1879 was the most important construction of the school, apart from the time it was built.
In 1914, as the war was started, Hall Bower School decided to extend the Chapel again. They wanted to add to the Chapel a new large room on the ground floor and a minister’s vestry, a choir vestry and a smaller room between them on the floor above. The extension was completed at the end of the years and the first meeting inside took place on 27th January 1915, in the New Assembly room. The Chapel didn’t change and it is still the same one today. The First World War affected the Sunday School too. The library was closed in 1914 because of the war. The Chapel’s financial position was also affected. Indeed, the new extension was expensive and the debt was only paid in 1921. During the same year, the school also experienced modernisation. Electricity was laid, changing the gas lighting that they had before.
In 1939 and the beginning of the war, a lot went wrong with the school. In fact, in October 1939, a committee had to be formed to see the blackout of the Chapel Windows and in 1941, the Chapel was occupied by the Home Guard, using it as bedrooms and offices. At the end of the war, the accent of the school was again on the youths. They organized parties, concerts and garden parties. In fact, music was and still is important in that school.
Huddersfield Quintessential, MacArthur Park.
Here is an example of the music played in the Chapel. This video show that the music is a traditional one, as it is expected in a Chapel. This was recorded on March 11 2016. We can imagine this scene in the 19th century, as they played a lot of music in the Chapel. The first musical they had was a bass until the Chapel bought a harmonium in 1863. Then, in 1889, a fund was started in order to purchase a pipe organ. Thanks to the new musical instrument, a lot of music concerts were organized in the Chapel.
Then, in May 1951, it was decided that the best thing to do was to buy the land, including the caretaker’s garden at a cost of £275. It took seven years before the final payment could be made, and in October 1958, the land became the property of the Trust. During this time, the school and the exterior of the Chapel remained as they were. But there was a change inside it. Indeed, in 1958, the Young Ladies classroom was partitioned off to give a separate passage to the toilet and in 1972, the wall between the classroom and the kitchen was destroyed to have a bigger kitchen.
Religion was important in that school, especially in the Chapel. In 1965, the Chapel was licensed for marriages. However, there was no marriage register held by the Chapel. But religious decline came rapidly in Huddersfield, and throughout England. Because of the decline of church attendance, in 1982, the evening service was abandoned and the adult service in the morning replaced it. Children were to attend for the first fifteen minutes before going out to Sunday school. This still continues today.
Nowadays, even though religion is still the main importance in Hall Bower School, other activities are implemented in the Chapel. In fact, in October 2010, an Art exhibition took place in Hall Bower School, which was ‘jointly organised by Hall Bower Chapel Art Club and Hall Bower Chapel Flower Club.’ Everything is done to keep this school as it was before, in its glorious days. Thanks to people who continue to believe in this school, and give money and their time to help it, Hall Bower still exists today. As they say, ‘-We head into the future, not with false confidence, but with reasoned hope and optimism. England has changed almost beyond recognition since 1814, but the needs of our population for Christian understanding and guidance are greater than ever.’
Guide to further resources
http://hallbowersundayschool.com/index.html Website of Hall Bower Sunday School. From the social events to the Church service.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Z2QBHuhHKBB_-tn2a6CWw The Huddersfield Quintessential Youtube Channel to listen music played in religious places, as in Hall Bower Sunday School.
http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/hall-bower-sunday-school-take-7072875 An article from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner which recounts the history of Hall Bower Sunday School.
Castle Hill, Huddersfield. (2017). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Hill,_Huddersfield
“District Intelligence”. (1876, April 22). The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser. Retrieved from https://www.bl.uk/
“District Intelligence”. (1879, July 05). The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser. Retrieved from https://www.bl.uk/
Geograph. (2018). Hall Bower Sunday School. Retrieved from http://www.geograph.org.uk/reuse.php?id=92657.
Hall Bower Sunday School. (n.d). https://www.facebook.com/pg/hallbower/about/?ref=page_internal
Hall Bower Sunday School, Newsome, Huddersfield. (2018). In Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hall_Bower_Sunday_School,_Newsome,_Huddersfield_-_geograph.org.uk_-_656738.jpg
Huddersfield Examiner. (2010, October 2). Art exhibition at Hall Bower Sunday School. The Huddersfield daily examiner. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/art-exhibition-hall-bower-sunday-4987984
Huddersfield exposed. (n.d.). Hall Bower Sunday School, Hall Bower. Retrieved from https://huddersfield.exposed/wiki/Hall_Bower_Sunday_School,_Hall_Bower
Sunday School Union. (1824). The Annual Report of the Sunday School Union for the Year ending May 1, 1824. Tower Hill: H. Teape.
 Sunday School Union, The Annual Report of the Sunday School Union for the Year ending May 1, 1824.
 Facebook page of “Hall Bower Sunday School”.
 “Distric Intelligence”. (1876, April 22). The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser.
 “Distric Intelligence”. (1879, July 05). The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser.
 Facebook page of “Hall Bower Sunday School”.
 Huddersfield Quintessential, MacArthur Park.
 The Huddersfield daily examiner, Art exhibition at Hall Bower Sunday School.
 Facebook page of “Hall Bower Sunday School”.