Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII

Return to History

IN the autumn of 1865, George Dixon sent in his final resignation to the committee, and his son, Ralph Dixon (by whom the following pages are written), entered upon the full duties of superintendent with the New Year.

This did not involve much change, as G. D. had already given up all school work, except the accounts and correspondence.

Ralph DixonThe following brief sketch of the last 25 years is intended to note the improvements and events that have taken place during that period. The expense of alterations, new buildings, &c., has been defrayed by legacies or special donations, so as to leave no burden for future years. In 1865 a valuable addition was made to the comfort of the children by the fitting up of warm baths in the room formerly used for a museum. Previous to this it was amusing to see the contrivances that were adopted when the day for a thorough washing came round. Since the establishment of these baths the health of the children has improved, and chilblains, which were a source of great discomfort to some of the younger ones, have become a thing of the past.

About the same time another great improvement was made in the construction of a commodious swimming bath adjoining the girls’ playground, 75 feet by 35 feet, with a maximum depth of over 5 feet, and a minimum depth of 3 feet. The old bath in Station Lane was taken down and utilised in building the new one, which occupies a portion of an old tan yard, purchased for the sum of £35.

Here, both boys and girls are taught to swim, and many a pleasant half -hour is passed in summer time exercising both lungs and limbs, free from any restraint. It is the custom on General Meeting days to distribute prizes among the boys for proficiency in swimming and diving; this has become a popular part of the day’s proceedings.

With these appliances for cleanliness, with plain wholesome food, and an abundance of pure air and water, the health of the establishment has become almost proverbial; though probably the first doctor, who lived at Stokesley, would not consider he was overpaid, when he contracted to attend to all the ailments that are incidental to child life, for the modest sum of £5 per annum.

With an increased number in the school, the doctor’s bill, for one or two recent years, has not exceeded that sum. Dr. Loy, who resided in the village, was, for many years, the medical attendant, and his familiar form will be well remembered by many old scholars.

There has been only one death amongst the children since the commencement of the institution. In the month of November, 1881, Anatole de Vit, of Bewdley, was somewhat suddenly seized with inflammation of the brain, and died after a few days’ illness. The nature of the complaint prevented much expression. We find the following entry among the minutes of the committee at that time: - “It is with feelings of deep sorrow and sympathy for the relatives, that the committee record the first death of a scholar; the superintendent informs us that Anatole de Vit enjoyed good health until the 18th of 10th month last, when he complained of sickness and was taken to the nurseries. He rapidly grew worse, and becoming delirious a doctor was sent for from Middlesbrough, who pronounced the case a critical one; he died a few days after, his mother being present at the time. There was very little time for expression, but twice he prayed very earnestly for the forgiveness of his sins, also on behalf of his parents. His remains were carried by his companions to the quiet burial ground, adjoining the school, on the 9th of 11th month.”

The school has been remarkably free from infectious complaints; to meet such, a nursery (hospital) is provided on the premises, but entirely separate from the school, where a qualified nurse is ready to receive any child who may be ailing. No doubt the one great drawback to holidays is the danger of introducing infection, and great care is taken for a few weeks after the return of the scholars, at once to isolate any who have suspicious symptoms.

Unfortunately the same precautions cannot be so readily arranged for the live stock on the farm; the year 1866 records serious loss from the cattle plague; this was preceded by the complete failure of the turnip crop. Milk was raised from 8d. to 10d. per gallon, and the committee who hail the charge of the farm agreed that the management should henceforth devolve on the superintendent. The necessity for obtaining a sufficient supply of good milk induced them still to continue it in their own hands, though the loss was sometimes considerable. The land by careful tillage has been gradually improving and for several years notwithstanding the “depression in farming” and after paying for repairs and taxes it has become a source of considerable addition to the income of the school. The accounts are strictly separate – the house being charged at ordinary market price last year the milk was calculated at 8½d per gallon.

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