Cross Lanes School, 1742-1964

The main school for children from Thoralby and Newbiggin was at Cross Lanes. "It was founded in 1742 by John Dupont, vicar of Aysgarth and the inhabitants of Thoralby: George Wray, Tristram Hogg, John Sadler, John Sadler Jun., and John Bywell  raised the Sum of Money by Subscription between and amongst themselves and others to build a School for 70 children,  at a place called Cross Lanes which was built accordingly and they constituted themselves Trustees to manage the School.


One Adam Ellis left a benefaction of £20 to the school the Int. to go to the School Master and some other small donations were given at the time for the same purpose – and the Trustees before named gave a Bond to the Churchwardens for the proper application of Ellis’s Donation – and the Trustees from time to time directed that sometimes 5 sometimes 4 sometimes 3 poor children should be taught gratis out of the benefaction money so given - and the Trustees held regular meetings annually and sometimes oftener to fill up the Vacancies of the Poor children to be educated and elect School Masters and for other purposes of the School. In 1748, Elizabeth Withay endowed it with 3 acres of land, the rent of which was to be used to uphold the school-house and all manner of needful reparation, the remainder to the schoolmaster for teaching not more than three poor children."

One of the earliest school masters was a Christopher Tennant (1761-1835), however his conduct was deemed unsatisfactory and the Trustees tried unsuccessfully to have him removed, taking the matter to Court.


"Soon after Mr C Tennant was appointed he procured a License, as he says from the Archdeaconry Court of Richmond to be a Licensed Schoolmaster to this school, which most probably is the fact, and about the same time he managed to get the possession of the Field called Reynold Ing so given by Mrs Withay as before mentioned and is in the Possession thereof.

His conduct has been so very unsatisfactory that no decent Persons will send their children to be taught by him particularly females and the School in general is deserted however he himself regularly attends and although he does no sleep there yet he is there the whole day and seems to live there – has his Victuals cooked there and occasionally makes Skeps (a sort of basket) the school is in ruin for the want of repair he sometimes has 2 children from a Person who rents a house of him and he keeps Possession of the School merely because he is in Possession of and receives the Rents of the Field by which means the Intent of the Gentlemen who built the School and of Mrs Whitay who gave the field is completely defeated. For some years back various application have been made to him to give up the School in order that it might be repaired, and a proper master appointed but he refuses so to do.

The Place where the School stands is a most eligible Place for a School being nearly at an equal distance from the Villages of Thoralby Newbiggin and Burton and in times when there was a proper Master was a School of considerable note and its being in its present situation is not a considerable grievance but a public loss to the Inhabitants of Thoralby Newbiggin and Burton."

Although during Christopher Tennant's tenure the school had a very poor reputation and he neglected the maintenance of the building, after his death the school gradually became held in high esteem. Initially built for 70 children, the largest attendance appears to have been 77 in 1896, the school was enlarged in 1909 to take up to 120 children, which was very optimistic!

The following is a collection of photographs of the school and its pupils, teachers, trustees and cooks from 1896 up to and including 1964. If you attended the school and you have a photograph of memories you would be willing to share, please contact me.


I would like to say a large thank you to the numerous people who have loaned photographs, newspaper clippings shared their memories and helped to name individuals in the photographs.

Below is a photograph of the school taken in 1955. Courtesy of Francis Frith. 

Three chimneys and 2 large ventilators can clearly be seen.

Trade Directory entries: White, 1840: 'The School, at Cross Lanes, where four or five free-scholars of Newbiggin and Thoralby are educated was founded in 1748, by Eliz. Withay, who endowed it with 3 acres of land, let for £6 a year, besides which the master has the interest of £20, saved by the trustees.'

Kellys, 1893: School, founded in 1748, for 70 children; average attendance 53; John William Hill, master.

Average attendance was around 50 in 1889, but this photograph below from around 1896 shows 77 pupils, two female teachers and the headmaster, John Hill.

Below is a photograph of Cross Lanes School, pupils and teachers, c.1896,

John William Hill, head teacher, David Bond and Miss Sharp, additional teachers, courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler. 

John William Hill, was the master, in addition there were two other teachers, Miss Sharp and David Bond, and  77 pupils of whom, Thomas Heseltine, fifth from the left on the back row; brother Robert Heseltine, East burn Farm, Newbiggin, Margaret Sadler; Maude Sadler; Hugh Sadler; are photographed above. Courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler.

Pupils at Cross Lanes School remember their teacher Miss Haw, in the early 1900s, on being informed of the impending visit of the doctor, sending all the children down to the mill to be weighed by Tommy Sayer.

In 1905 the school became a Council Non-Provided School, with the average attendance up to 70, and James Hill was master. By 1909 it had been enlarged to take up to 120 children, but average attendance remained at 70, James Hill was still the master. In 1913 attendance had dropped to 43, and the mistress there was Miss Constance Mary Walker. 

Below is a school photograph, Mrs Mason and Group IIcourtesy of Jean Dobbing (1908-9).


Back Row:-

Alice Thwaites; Lizzie Dinsdale; ? ; Michael Heseltine and Leonard Bell.

Row 2:-

Teacher: Mrs Mason; John Dinsdale; Will Sadler; Tom Haw; May Helmsley and Annie Thwaites.

Row 3:-

Annie Sadler; Frank Dinsdale; John Dinsdale; Rob Bell; Elizabeth Haw; Sarah Brown and May Haw.

Front Row:-

Ellen Helmsley; Nellie Roth; Rose Thwaites; Matt Dinsdale and Percy Willis.

Below is a school photograph,  Mrs Mason and Group II, courtesy of Jean Dobbing (1909).

Teacher: Mrs Mason;

Back Row:-

Lizzie Haw; May Hemsley; Bessie Dinsdale; Nellie Routh; Annie Sadler; Ellen Hemsley;

Margaret Dinsdale; Edith Craddock and Sarah Brown.

Middle Row:-

Frank Dinsdale; Robert Webster; John Dinsdale; Tom Haw; John Dinsdale;

 Wm. Sadler; Allan Willis & Wm. Sadler; Allan Willis and Percy Willis.

Front Row:-

Matt Dinsdale; Robert Dinsdale and Robert Bell.

Memories: Martha Eleanor Snaith (1905-1995); née Dinsdale, my Grandmother attended Cross Lanes School: 1910 - 1915?, lived at Holmeside Farm, Thoralby, see the 1911 Census for Thoralby. Martha attended school with her siblings, her older sister Margaret Kearton Dinsdale (1903-1998), younger sister Mary Elizabeth Dinsdale (1907-1996), and younger brothers, Francis Spence Dinsdale (1909-1983) and John Dinsdale (1910-1976). Her youngest brother Harry William Dinsdale, died aged only 18 months in November 1918 from the Spanish flue epidemic. Martha was born at Newbiggin, the 2nd child of William Dinsdale and Dorothy Harker. William was a Master Boot and Shoemaker and the family moved to Thoralby when Martha was aged just nine months old. The house they lived in belonged to the Sayer family (mill owners), and William rented the house and a small acreage of land 2 acres. The family home would be significant for Martha, as she would return to Holmeside Farm, after six years of marriage with her husband, Frank Snaith (1904-1991) and her three young children, Harry (1930-2007), my dad and Arthur (1931-1995) and William, known as Billy (1935-2004). My grandparents lived at Holmeside Farm for forty years, and I was born there in the winter of 1963. In 1976, they moved into the bungalow they had built alongside the farm.

The following is an interview with my grandparents, recorded by Maggie Bede at their bungalow on 14.05.1990. Grandma childhood. I have extracted the parts of the interview relevant to this section of the website. The whole recorded interview is available at the Dales Countryside Musem, Hawes.

School – Cross Lanes – Children attending school at the same time period, aged 5-13? (1910-1917):

(Town Head Cottage - Seps house): Will, Annie, and Alice Sadler.


(Old Hall - McGregor's): Bessie Dinsdale, Nellie, Alice Lizzy Routh?


(Town Head Farm - Lancaster's house): Bells ? and ?


(Hillside Cottage - Jim Mudds): James, Jonnie Hannah & Rob ?


(Town head - May Heseltine's) Ginny Fawcett, lived with 2 aunts,


Carters: Fred, Alan, Percy, Willis ??


(Volunteer: – Haws, shoes): May, Lizzie, Tom, Jim and Dick Haw


(High Green Farm - Mrs Atkinsons): John Dinsdale,


(Low Green House): Clara Dinsdale


(Spickles Farm): Ida Furnish.


Cousins: Lizzie, Madge & Alice, Florrie, Wm & Frank D. –

Teachers: Mr Hill, Mrs Hammond, infant Miss Walker & Miss Channon 52 children.


We came home for dinner, if mother out took can of tea, put on hobs to keep warm.


Playtimes 15 mins: drill P.E. 


Best friend Hannah Bell, lived opposite (Stanley Cottage), died aged, only 34, 3 weeks older than me. We played at houses, dock leaves for lettuce sandwiches.

Holmeside, father, farmer and shoemaker's shop in parlour. Lots of toys from uncle in Bradford, mechanical and baby doll, rocking horse could sit on, Uncle, friendly with toy shop owner. Christmas: cake, stocking, apple and orange various toys, nice things. Birthdays: cake, small present. Not able to ride a bicycle, good pillion rider on Franks motorbike. Hobbies: reading books.

Other villagers

(Town Head Farm - next door to Lancaster's house): Aunt Lizzie Beckwith 


(Rose Cottage) - John Willis, Blacksmith.


(Lime Tree House) - Matt. Willis, Blacksmith.


(Wayside - Hillarys) Joiner shop, Willis and blacksmiths shop now a garage.


Attended the Primitive Methodist Chapel, also Tom Dinsdale, Sunday school. Ministers names Brewist, Shepherd and Skelton. Sunday school teachers. My father Wm. Dinsdale, Margaret Scarr’s Uncle: ? Heseltine and ?? Organ played by Miss Wills and her niece and my sister Margaret.


Old Wesleyan Chapel, used in her time as Sunday school, and chapel teas, also the village had teas there and also the Reading Room was used took the billiard table down to use it. Village Hall did  not open until October 1953.


Other shops: (Village Shop & P.O. - Websters) - Grocer


(Prospect House - Teasdales) - Sweets, sugar, hats, draperies run by  Miss Willis and her mother, little toys odds and ends pins, needle and things, ribbons – girls wore ribbons in hair.


Didn’t need to leave Thoralby, for shopping. Did not use train much, because of the long walk to Aysgarth station, as long a journey as road on train.


Meat: came round in a covered horse trap, once or twice a week, Wednesday and Thursday, joint of meat bought on Saturday morning at West Burton (? Brown, butcher, Hartle’s shop) Thompsons, butcher at Aysgarth.


First house being built can remember (Fell View - Wainwrights), 2 old cottages before built just 1913, finished 1914). My great grand parents would live in one of them, you can tell not old houses, no town and country planning then.

Below is a school photograph, Mrs. Beighton, head teacher, courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler, 1936.

Back Row:-

Jack Sayer; Felix Sayer; Albert Heseltine; Matt Percival; Alex Sayer and Harold Dinsdale.

Middle Row:-

Margaret Heseltine; Matt Sayer; Dorothy Percival; Muriel Metcalfe; Grace Hodgson; Alice Willis;


Peggy Ward; Jim Percival and Francis Sayer.

Front Row:-

Margaret Heseltine; Sheila Cottingham; Jack Musgrave; Mary Cottingham; Jean Percival and Nancy Coates.

Below is a school photograph, Mrs. Beighton, head teacher, courtesy of Mattie Furnish, 1937.

Back Row:-

Margaret Heseltine, Swinacote; Albert Heseltine, Swinacote; Felix Sayer, Newbiggin; Peggy Ward, High Green;

Grace Hodgson, Newbigin; Muriel Metcalfe, Old Hall; Harold Dinsdale, Prospect and Dorothy Percival, Forelands.

Middle Row:-

Francis Sayer, Newbiggin; James Furnish, Stanley House; Clifford Heseltine, Littleburn; Mrs Beighton - Teacher;

Sheila Cottingham, Mary Cottingham, Sylvia Heseltine, Dorothy Furnish, and Jean Percival, Forelands.

Front Row:- Jack Musgrave, Newbiggin; Matthew Sayer, Newbiggin; James Musgrave, Newbiggin; Wila Close, Low Green Fm.;


Mattie Furnish,Stanley House; John Heseltine, Swinacote; Arthur Snaith, Holmeside; Harry Snaith, Holmeside;


John Sayer, Newbiggin and Mike Percival, Forelands.

Below is a school photograph, Mrs. Blackett, head teacher, courtesy of Mattie Furnish, 1939.

Back Row:-

Muriel Metcalfe; Nancy Coates; Margaret Heseltine; Grace Hodgson; Frank Sayer; Harold Dinsdale and Harry Snaith.

Middle Row:-

Matthew Sayer; Jack Musgrave; Dorothy Furnish; Margaret Heseltine; Jean Percival; Sylvia Heseltine and Jim Percival.

Front Row:-

John Heseltine; Wila Close; Brenda Sadler; Mattie Furnish and Arthur Snaith.

Below are two photographs of Cross Lanes School Christmas Pantomime, 'Dick Whittington',

outside the teachers house, then known as School house (now Thoral Cottage), courtesy of Mattie Furnish, 1940's. 

Back just inside the door Margaret Heseltine, Sylvia Heseltine and ?

 Mattie Furnish front, left, and Brenda Sadler.

 Far right, front Mattie Furnish, also Margaret Heseltine, Brenda Sadler and Mattie Furnish, 1940s.

Below is a school photograph, Mrs. Blackett, head teacher, courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler, 1940.

Back Row:-

Irene Philips; Jean Percival; Nancy Coates; Margaret Heseltine; Francis Sayer and Dorothy Furnish.

Third Row:-

Pat Roper; Jack Musgrave; Mrs. Blackett; Miss Dorothy Appleton; Matt Sayer and Margaret Heseltine.

Second Row:-

Sheila Blackett; John Ousby; Ronnie Ousby; (2 Evacuees from Gateshead) Pat Iveson;

James Musgrave; Harry Snaith; Jim Percival and John Sayer.

Front Row:-

George Sadler; Arthur Snaith; Mattie Furnish; Brenda Sadler;

John Heseltine; Mike Percival and Bill Iveson

Several evacuees can be seen in the 1939 ID Register for Thoralby, including the Ousby brothers, in the photograph above, who were at Town Head Farm, with Walter and Mary Sayer.

During the Second World War several children were evacuated to the countryside from the large cities and towns of the North East. In September 1939?, the children arrived by train at Askrigg station and from there, they were allocated to their billets, a number of children were evacuated to Thoralby and Newbiggin and consequently attend Cross Lanes School.

The following children were evacuated to Thoralby and Newbiggin and as such would have attended Cross Lanes School:

Town Head Farm, Thoralby: Brothers, from Gateshead, 13-year-old Ronald Ousby ,and his brother John, aged 10. 

The Grange, Thoralby: from Sunderland, 13-year-old Malcolm Marks.

Heaning Hall Farm, Thoralby: from Sunderland, 13-year-old Norman Albrow.

Thoral Cottage, Thoralby: from Sunderland, 13-year-old, Henry E. Poulton.

Prospect House, Thoralby: from Gateshead, 11-year-old Edward St. George.

East Lane House, Newbiggin: Brothers, from Gateshead, 12-year-old, Matthew Moody and his brother Thomas Moody aged 6.

All the children mentioned above can be seen in the 1939 ID Register for Thoralby or the 1939 ID Register for Newbiggin, living with their respective families.

In addition to those children, there was Jill Armstrong, from Hull aged only 5, living at Prospect House, Thoralby with Mrs. Mary Furnish, widower and her children 13-year-old son, James and sister Martha known as Mattie who was 8 years old. The following 2 postcards were sent to Jill Armstrong from her Mum, ? Armstrong, and Aunt Janet. As Jill is still living her name has not been released on the 1939 ID Register and the following two postcards, are courtesy of her niece, Jennifer Armstrong.

The postcard is date stamped 4th September 1940 and is addressed to Miss J. Armstrong, c/o Mrs. Furnish, Stanley House, Thoralby, Leyburn, Yorks. The message is as follows: "My dear Jill, I am so pleased you are having such a happy time dear. I think your letter was very nice, Warwick is very well and sends his love. Daddy will write to you tonight. Heaps of Love from Mummy XXX.

Warwick was her baby brother who was at home in Hull and he and his mum would hide under the stairs during the many bombing raids on Hull, or the odd 'surprise attack', when the bombers made their journey home, disposing of any left-over bombs from the city raids on England.

The postcard is date stamped 10th September 1940 and is addressed to Miss J. Armstrong, c/o Mrs. Furnish, Stanley House, Thoralby, Leyburn, Yorks. The message is as follows: "Hope you are having a good holiday and plenty of sunshine. Heaps of Love Auntie Janet XXXXXXX."

The family were obviously trying to make Jill believe she was having a holiday, to try an reassure her on having to leave her mum and younger brother at home.

Memories: Heather Percival (1938-2007); née Atkinson. Attended Cross Lanes School: 1941- 1949, lived at Gayle-Ing and walked to school each day, however, when she left Cross Lanes to start at Yorebridge she lodged with her grand-parents at High Green Farm, Thoralby during the week. 


Milk was delivered in ½ pint bottles from Frank Snaith, Holmeside Farm, Thoralby. The Cooks were Mattie Furnish, Thoralby; Doreen Bell, Newbiggin; Miss Hammond, Newbiggin (relief cook and attendant). Rev. John Benson came Tuesday mornings from Aysgarth to give R.I. (Religious Instruction).


Doreen Bells father, Steve had the shop in Newbiggin where we used to go for sweets for the class. The School gardens were on the verge of the Bishopdale Road, between road and school. On the piece of land opposite the school we did maypole dancing (see 1960s photograph). Bill Douglas from the George and Dragon, Aysgarth did the school taxi. The Mudd children (Sheila and Agnes) from Cote Bottom, also had a long walk to school each day, and Heather would call for them on her journey across the fields from Gayle-Ing. In good weather they wood walk across the top of the mill dam, using it as a short cut on her long walk to school from Gayle Ing Farm to Cross Lanes School. It is not surprising they were often 'told off' by the teacher for being late, or for having muddy shoes. Their teacher probably had little idea how far they had walked (1½ miles), nor the nature of their journey, across rough and steep terrain.  Heather attended Cross Lanes from 1943-1949. See for the O.S. map for the location of Gayle-Ing and Cote Bottom.

Below a less formal school photograph, c.1953 with Headteacher Mrs. Dinah Knifton, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.

Back Row:- 

Ruth Spensley, Agnes Mudd, Eileen Mitchell, Hilton Raine,Derek Heseltine,


Robert Webster, Dinah Knifton, head teacher and ?, ?, ?

Middle Row:- 

Cynthia Yong, Alan Tunstall, Mary Tunstall and David Percival


Front Row:-

Michael John Heseltine, Hilary Shaw, Judith Heseltine,


Elizabeth Kilburn, Jean Hartley, John Young and Michael Jeffles

Below is Newspaper clipping from The Darlington & Stockton Times, courtesy of Linda Cooper (née Atkinson), c. 1953. Cross Lanes School annual trip to Morecambe, funded by the people pf Thoralby, Newbiggin and Aysgarth, when the children went carol singing.

Below is a school photograph, Mrs. Dinah Knifton, head teacher,courtesy of DCM, November 1954.

Back Row:- 

?, Cynthia Young, Alan Tunstall, Eileen Mitchell, Hilton Raine,


Brian McGregor, Robert Webster and Dinah Knifton, head teacher

Middle Row:- 

John Young, Mary Tunstall, Barry Smailes, Michael John Heseltine, David Percival, Michael Jeffles, Hilary Shaw,

Jean Hartley, Elizabeth Kilburn, Judith Heseltine, Hazel Tunstall and Christine McGregor

Front Row:-

Elizabeth Routh, Dorothy Percival, Janet Shepherd, Sally Hartley,  Maureen Jeffles,


Linda Atkinson, Kenneth Bell and David Raine

Below is a newspaper cutting from The Darlington & Stockton Times, courtesy of Liz Martin (née Scarr), c.1957

The same photograph, below, Mrs. Dinah Knifton, head teacher,and pupils, c.1957, courtesy of Liz Scott, née Kilburn.

The Newspaper compares the 78 scholars of 1899 (1886), with the school roll of today of 28, 23 are pictured above they are:


Back Row:-


Mrs. McCubbins (teacher), Hilary Shaw, Brian McGregor, Robert Webster, Eileen Mitchell,

Cynthia Young, Judith Heseltine and Mrs. Dinah Knifton (Head teacher)


Middle Row:-

Elizabeth Kilburn, John Young, Kenneth Bell, Kenneth Jeffles, Barry Smailes, Elizabeth Routh,

Hazel Tunstall, Mary Tunstall and Michael John Heseltine


Front Row:-


Christine McGregor, Dorothy Percival, Maureen Jeffles, Janet Shepherd, David Raine, Linda Atkinson,

Sally Hartley and Michael Webster.


Below is a newspaper cutting from The Darlington & Stockton Times, courtesy of Liz Martin (née Scarr), 1958, on the occasion  of the much loved and well respected Headmistress, Dinah Knifton's leaving the school.

FAREWELL GIFTS. Mrs. D. Knifton, headmistress of Cross Lanes School, Aysgarth, has completed her duties there and is to leave the district. She received gifts from the school managers, present and former pupils and staff and a number of friends. In the large picture the senior girl, Carole Mudd, presents Mrs. Dinah Knifton with a barometer, a purse and a memo pad from the staff and pupils.

In the large photograph the pupils are:

Brian McGregor, Michael Webster, Carole Mudd, Linda Atkinson, John and Edith Heseltine, Beryl and Jean Andrew,

Brian and Mervin Mudd, David Raine, Christine McGregor, Dorothy Percival, Hazel Tunstall, Hilary Shaw, Barry Smailes, John Young, Sally and Jean Hartley, Janet Shepherd, Judith Heseltine, Elizabeth Kilburn,

Jean and Sally Hartley and Kathryn Routh. Plus some unknown names.


A similar smaller picture of the presentation to Mrs. Dinah Knifton is shown below, courtesy of Mattie Furnish, 1958.

In the group from the left are, Rev. John Benson, Mrs. A. Lancaster, [Trustee], Mrs. Hilda Hedley, [Trustee], Miss D. Bell, (school cook), Mrs. Dinah Knifton, headteacher, Miss. Mattie Furnish, [Trustee], Carole Mudd, [senior girl], Mr. Frank Snaith, [Trustee] and Miss E. Raine, assistant teacher.

Mattie Furnish and my grandparents, Frank and Martha Snaith, remained lifelong friends with the Knifton's, despite them leaving the area, visiting each other on an annual/regular basis.

Dinah Knifton (headteacher at Cross Lanes School), and her dog in the School house garden (now Thoral cottage), 1950's. Courtesy of Mattie Furnish.

Dinah Knifton holding her cat, her dog is sat in the School house garden. The house behind to the right is Holmeside Farm, home of my grandparents, Frank and Martha Snaith, and to the left is Stanley cottage. Courtesy of Mattie Furnish.

Below is a newspaper: Darlington & Stockton Times, 6th March 1959, highlighting the difficulty in employing a school caretaker.

Transcript of above newspaper report:



Bishopdale school may close if

cleaning problem is unsolved


CROSS Lanes School in Bishopdale stands where the road from Thoralby to Newbiggin crosses the main road through the valley to Kettlewell. It has a history of a good 80 years; but it is bright and modern school for all that, with its fresh green paint, its new heating stoves, its roomy kitchen with refrigerator and electric cooker where Miss D. Bell, of Newbiggin, was cooking lunch for the 37 pupils, aged five to 15.

Miss Martha Furnish, during her three years as caretaker, has kept the school spotlessly clean; her mother kept it spotlessly clean for 17 years before that.

But now Miss Furnish, for personal reasons is giving up her post as caretaker; and the Vicar of Aysgarth and the school managers have been unable to find anyone in the area to take on the job.

On Wednesday night, the managers met parents and villagers to see if a temporary rota could be arranged until a caretaker was found.

One man offered to light the fires each day; but there were no volunteers for cleaning.

Facing closure 

And so the matter has now passed to the county authority; this could mean that when Miss Furnish (who has stayed on an extra fortnight) leaves in ten days’ time, the county, if  it cannot arrange for the school’s cleaning might have to close it and spread the pupils among other schools of the area.

The pupils are naturally not keen on that prospect.

After all, they have gone to school together for some time; and the school has had its successes – four of the present pupils have just passed the first part of the exam to enter Yorebridge Grammar School.

In their spare time recently pupils have been making soft toys and decorating egg cups, for a bring-and-buy sale after Easter, the aim being to buy a record-player for their school.

Nineteen of the pupils come each day in a small bus from Aysgarth, the Aysgarth school having been closed a few years ago. Eighteen pupils are from the Newbiggin and Thoralby areas. Soon the elder ones will be transferred in any case to the Leyburn Secondary Modern School when it is completed: but this will not greatly affect numbers, as several young children will be joining.

By tractor to school

Five children, from Gayling, begin their morning journey to Cross Lanes by tractor. [Carole, Sheila, Brian, Mervyn and Rita Mudd children?]

The head teacher, Mrs. C.H. Faith, lives fairly handy for the school, at Thoralby. But her assistant Miss. E.O. Raine, who takes the smaller children has to travel from Nappa Scar. Miss. Raine’s father takes her to the bus at Worton, then she goes by bus to West Burton: and from there she has a 1¼ mile walk.

This illustrates the school’s chief difficulty in finding a new caretaker: transport. There are not as many people living in Thoralby and Newbiggin as there were in the past. (In the early 1900’s, the school had 78 pupils and in 1907, seven people applied for the post of caretaker).

Someone from outside who took the job, which is only two hours daily, would probably have to spend just as long getting there and back.

The vicar of Aysgarth (the Rev. John Benson) has in fact had eight applications for the post from outside the dale, one from as far as Newcastle.


But there is no suitable house to offer: and a man coming into the dale would need another job beside the part-time one at the school.

What the school needs is a local caretaker; if one of the eight applicants could find a job with a house locally the problem might be solved. Or perhaps a local caretaker will yet come forward.

Darlington & Stockton Times, 6th March 1959


Following Mrs Kniton's, departure, Mrs. Mary J. Foster of Worton, became headteacher, having a daughter of her own who attended the school. 


The school photograph below is, when Mrs. Mary J. Foster, head teacher, courtesy Mary Atkinson, c. 1961.

Back Row L – R

Ken Bell, Christine McGregor, Beryl Andrews, Hazel Tunstall, Elizabeth Kilburn, Sally Hartley, Elizabeth Routh,


Hazel Mudd and John Heseltine.

Middle Row L –R

Linda Atkinson, Ronnie Hartley, Brian Mudd, Stephen Coltman, Michael Webster, Elizabeth Scarr,


Linda Heseltine, Kathleen Nottingham and Janet Shepherd

Front Row L – R

Rita Mudd, Mervyn Mudd, Mary Nottingham, Kathryn Routh, Edith Heseltine, David Spence,

Stephen Porter, Kathryn Harker, Jean Andrews and Hazel Hartley

The school photograph below is of May pole dancing, courtesy of DCM, Hawes. The date is unknown, but it is probably c. 1962, because there are nine girls in photograph.

The girls Maypole dancing on the grass verge apposite the school are:

Rita Mudd, Mary Heseltine and Jean Andrew.

Susan Pounder, Linda Cockburn and Josephine Foster.

Mary Nottingham, Edith Heseltine and Kathryn Routh.

Below is a school photograph, in 1964, Mrs. Marie Teasdale, assistant teacher, who lived at Prospect House, Thoralby.

Mrs Teasdale also had two daughters who attended the school,

courtesy of Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes.


Back Row:-

Mary Nottingham, Jean Andrews, Kathryn Routh, Rita Mudd, Susan Pounder and Martin Bethell.

Front Row:-

Billy Bell, Andrew Sayer, Josephine Foster, Susan and Karen Teasdale, Stephen Crawford and Mary Heseltine.

The same photograph below, in colour is courtesy of Dales Countryside Museum, 1964.


Back Row:-

Mary Nottingham, Jean Andrews, Kathryn Routh, Rita Mudd, Susan Pounder and Martin Bethell.

Front Row:-

Billy Bell?, Andrew Sayer, Josephine Foster, Susan and Karen Teasdale, Stephen Crawford and Mary Heseltine

The school playground photograph below is courtesy of Dales Countryside Museum, 1964.

Pupils, Mary Nottingham of Aysgarth, Katherine Routh


and Jean Andrews


in the playground at Cross Lanes.

The school trip photograph to Flamingo Park, below is courtesy of Dales Countryside Museum, 1964.

School trip to Flamingo park in the photograph are:


Rita Mudd (Thoralby),


José Foster, (Worton) and headteacher, Mrs. Mary J. Foster

Below is the photograph of a presentation to Mrs. Mary J. Foster leaving the school, on its closure, courtesy of DCM, Hawes, 1964. Mrs. Marie Teasdale transferred to West Burton and was one of my teachers there. The majority of the local children transferred to the newly built school at Bainbridge, because my Great Aunt Margaret lived at West Burton, I commenced school there, as there was 'family' close by should an emergency occur!

L-R  Rev. John Benson, Mrs Mary J. Foster, Headteacher, John Hedley (Trustee), Alice Hammond, cook,


Ada Lancaster (Trustee), Isobel Pounder, cook, and teacher Mrs. Marie Teasdale, assistant teacher.

Finally, a newspaper clipping of the school's closure in 1964, after serving the community for 222 years, courtesy of DCM, Hawes.

 Back Row: - 

Mary Nottingham, Rita Mudd, Jean Andrew, Kathryn Routh, Edith Heseltine, Mervyn Mudd,

Martin Bethell, Susan Pounder.

Front Row: - 

Andrew Sayer, Stephen Crawford, Susan and Karen Teasdale, Angela Alderson, Linda Cockburn and Mary Heseltine.

Notable events at Cross Lanes School - From the School Manager’ minute book 1903-1965

Below is a synopsis of the School Manager’ minute book 1903-1965:

  • 1903 - Oct - Strengthening of the staff, to appoint an assistant teacher, on a salary of £50, Miss Mary Eleanor Mason appointed.

  • 1903 - Oct - Assistant teacher Annie Rider has given 3 months’ notice, decision made to appoint an additional assistant teacher. Next Friday Leyburn Fair and  24, 25 ,26 November Thoralby Feast, to be holidays.

  • 1903 - Dec – A paper of instructions for the caretaker was adopted. It was decided that 30/- should be asked for cleaning the offices each year.

  • 1904 – Feb – Mr Hill accused of striking a girl on the wrist, Mr Hill denied the attack calling the girl a liar. After hearing both conflicting parties, Mr Hill was asked to apologise for calling the girl a liar, no further action was taken.

  • 1904 - Mar - Assistant teacher Harriet Heseltine, Newbiggin appointed.

  • 1904 - Sept - Resignation of Harriet Heseltine accepted.

  • 1904 -  Sept - Chairman: Rev. Fenwick William Stow’s, death, George Gould temporary chair until new vicar appointed.

  • 1904 - Sept - Proposed that 2 new ventilators be placed in the roof, and a new stove be asked for and an estimate for new fire guards for school and classroom by Mr. M. Willis & Sons be accepted.

  • 1905 – Mar – Thos. Heseltine to give an estimate for the colouring of the walls and washing of the ceiling and other repairs to the interior of the school.

  • 1905 - May - Rev. D.H. Moore, new vicar of Aysgarth and chairman.

  • 1905 - Sept - Write to the C.C. and ask if they will supply two  buckets, for the latrines, the old ones being worn out.

  • 1905 – Sept – The matter of instructing the children in gardening was discussed.

  • 1905 – Sept – Mr Hill, the headmaster had asked for an increase in salary of £5 per annum was agreed, as the master had extra work with the dispensing of one teacher.

  • 1906 – Jan – Education Committee declined an advance in the head teacher’s salary.

  • 1906 – Jan – An application by Mrs Sarginson, the Caretaker, of 6d. per week was discussed, and granted.

  • 1906 – Mar – The Report of H.M. Inspectorate, was considered vert satisfactory. An advance in the salary of M.E. Mason was favourably considered and forward to Northallerton.

  • 1906 – Mar – Proposed that Mr. T. Heseltine is asked to clean and disinfect the school, assisted by the caretaker.

  • 1906 – Aug – Annie Thwaite is to be employed, as an assistant teacher.

  • 1907 – Jan – An increase in the salary of Mr. Hill was approved and forwarded to Northallerton.

  • 1907 – Jan – Mrs E. Metcalfe was elected Caretaker.

  • 1908 – Feb – Write to the attendance officer (Mr Blades) as to why Annie Hemsley had attended school so badly in the last nine months. Ask for fire guard for small class room and grate to be repaired – Stove in classroom wants and iron girth and repaired, all work can be done by local men. A new cupboard be asked for to keep books, needlework etc. in.

  • 1909 – Apr – A new stove and a new chair for the school mistress were applied for.

  • 1909 – Sep – The Education Committee, believe the replacement of the stove is the Foundation Managers responsibility, they think otherwise. Mr Purchas resigns as School Foundation Manager, replacement sort.

  • 1909 – Nov – Owing to an outbreak of measles the school was closed from Nov 8th – Nov 29th.  Rev. D.H. Moore was accepted as chairman.

  • 1909 – Ventilation of roof be deferred, application by Mr. Hill for increase in salary, be forwarded to Education Committee for consideration. That Septimus Webster of Heaning Hall be recommended as County Council Manager.

  • 1910 – Aug – Mr John Sayer be appointed Foundation Manager in place of Mr Purchas, resigned. Appoint Mr Webster as Manager and also Mr J. Heseltine as Manager.

  • 1910 - Application by Mr. Hill for increase in salary at this moment refused. That the decoration of the school be deferred.

  • 1911 – Mar – That a ventilator be placed in the roof of the classroom, similar to that in the large classroom.

  • 1911 -  Mar 9th – School closed for Whopping Cough. Re-opened Mar 20th, 1911. Death of 2 children: Father, William Thomas Bell, of Thoralby – [Children: Joseph Moore Bell age 9 and sister, Mary Ellen Bell age 2. Letter of condolence to be sent to the family.

  • 1911 - Account for ventilator and decoration of outside of building to be paid from the managers’ fund. Letter from Mr Hill asking the school managers to support his application to the Education Committee for an increase in his salary.  

  • 1911 – New prayer and hymn books bought.

  • 1911 - Widening of road near school.

  • 1912 – Jul – Resignation of Mr Hill, accepted.

  • 1912 – Jul – That the highly commendatory account in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post of the school’s exhibit at the Royal Show, Doncaster be cut out and pasted in the Log Book.

Below is a copy of the Newspaper Article in the Yorkshire Post, July 3 1920, page 9.

  • 1912 - Jul – The Education Committee The Education Committee state that a school the size of Cross Lanes, must have a mistress be appointed, in succession to Mr Hill, however the Managers feel that a head mistress would not be suitable, and that if a mistress was  unsuccessful in the matters of discipline then they would revert the custom and replace the mistress with a master.

  • 1911 – Miss Walker appointed as Headmistress.

  • 1912 – Oct – Resignation of Mrs Hammond, formerly Miss Mason.

  • 1913 – Feb – Rev. W.K. Wyley, elected new chairman.

  • 1913 – Appointment of Foundation Managers: John William Lodge [The Rookery, Bishopdale], Mr George Gould, [Thoralby] and John Sayer [Newbiggin?].

  • 1913 ? – Diocesan Religious Inspection: 5 Classes – ‘excellent’, 2 ‘good’ and 3 ‘fair'. Ask Education Committee to appoint a properly qualified assistant teacher, at an adequate salary, to replace the loss of Mrs Hammond. Miss Thwaite, a local girl, to be appointed on best salary obtainable and that appointment of Mr Ralph Hemsley’s daughter as a Pupil Teacher be persevered with.

  • 1913 – Oct - New school furniture to be ordered, that the gallery in the classroom be removed, the floor made level and that the front porch be spouted on both sides, and a rail be fixed onto which to hang drawings. That the universal closets be repaired.

  • 1913 - Nov – Chairman of Thoralby and Newbiggin Parish meeting be approached to try and form a cookery class.

  • 1914 – Dec -  That 25/- be paid towards cost of post and wire to school field. The school room be granted for Rifle range, subject to oversight of Mr John Sayer [This continued throughout WW1, and a silver cigarette case awarded to Vic Sadler, see WW1 - Biographies Q-Z and memorabilia]. Photograph of Silver cigarette case below. Vic was a former pupil of the school.

  • 1915 – Sep – Miss Walker had sent Michael Heseltine home for answering back, the Managers supported her decision and demanded an apology for impertinence.

  • 1915 – Nov – The caretaker had complained about having to light 3 fires, 3 should only be lit when necessary.  A letter had been received from Mr. J.L. Haw [Thoralby] re the punishment of his son. The Managers having heard from Miss Walker, decided the punishment had not been irregular or excessive.

  • 1919 - Jan – Premises recommended to be renovated. A Manager be appointed in place of Mr. S. Webster, having resigned. An application be made or an increase in the salary of the caretaker, also a new stove be asked for, also new cheeks for the playground doorway.

  • 1919 – Jul - William Dinsdale (Thoralby) – [My great grandfather] be appointed Foundation Manager.

  • 1920 – Jan – A letter of condolences be written to the parents of the late Miss C.M. Walker, who has been Head Teacher at the school for over 6 years. An advertisement for Head Mistress be inserted in Darlington & Stockton Times & Yorkshire Post.

  • 1920 – Jul - A new door for the playground and boy’s lavatory be kept locked. The children to enter and to leave by the front porch door.

  • 1921 – Sep – That all outside woodwork, spouts, ventilators and windows be given 2 coats of paint, also door leading into boys W.C. be repaired or a new one at discretion of joiner. Miss Nellie Shannon appointed, supplementary teacher.

  • 1921 – Jun – That the Education Committee be asked to be colour school premises and if they refuse, to ask that it be washed down. Write to caretaker and ask for an improvement in cleaning or must advertise for another. Glazing to be paid for by Managers.

  • 1922 - Dec – Miss Margaret K. [earton] Dinsdale [My Great Aunt], recommended as supplementary teacher. That fire guard in playground be repaired for open fire place in large room. Photograph of Miss Dinsdale below, a former pupil at the school.

  • 1924 – Oct – Report of H.M. Inspector, decided that work should be done according to the report. Repairs: 1st spouting to be repaired, 2nd slates om Classroom, Porch and coal house, 3rd length of fall pipe adjoining road, 4th Front step into boys lavatory, 5th lock on playground and boys closet door, 6th front porch door repaired, 7th two window panes and coal house door repaired, 8th playground wall repaired.

  • 1925 – Jun – That school premises be coloured and painted inside, also that Mr M. Hammond be asked to repair playground wall damaged by wood wagons.  

  • 1926 – Mar – That a similar heating apparatus be asked for to the one at West Burton, for heating large room as it would be more cleanly and comfortable, also a small clock be asked for.

  • 1929 – May – Proposed that the school premises be decorated and painted inside, also ask for a new stove. To write to Mr Thomas Sayer with a request to purchase quarter of an acre of land for enlargement of playground.

  • 1929 – Sep – Steps and threshold into girls lavatories repaired, invitation asked to remove front porch door to north side, present doorway to be walled up and window fixed. Boys closets to be concreted.   

  • 1930 – Dec – Request made for a store in large room. Inspector reported of insufficiency of present heating. Ceiling in classroom to be repaired and water be stopped from coming in as S.W. corner and over fireplace. An estimate be presented at the next meeting for frames of galvanised steel for six large windows adjoining road.

  • 1931 – Jan – Tender for protecting six large windows was considered and deferred, tenders for alterations to front were considered and decide work should be done as arranged Messrs Willis woodwork £2-10-0, Heseltine mason work £4-0-0. The chairman offering to bear the cost of the mason work, for which he was thanked. Tenders considered for school cleaners, Dorothy Heseltine appointed on a salary of about £20 per year, and also sanitary work at 30/- per year.

  • 1933 – May – Rev. J.H. McCubbin, new chairman. Support for request by Mrs John Sayer that her daughter Priscilla, be allowed to leave school at end of summer, rather than end of September. Write to surveyor requesting that road material be removed from end of school as it was stopping up ventilators and a source of danger to windows.

  • 1933 – Aug – Price be submitted for roofing coalhouse and W.C.s with good zinc corrugated sheeting and repairing school and classroom with slates removed.  

  • 1933 – Sep – Arrange with Mr G. Willis for repairs to wood work and outside painting. Water closets to be installed in place of earth pans. Coal house and closets be covered with zinc sheeting and repairs be done to school room and class room roofs.

  • 1934 – Feb – Mr J. Heseltine’s acc. for mason work was considered and passed, also Mr. G. Willis for outside painting. Mr Thomas Heseltine be allowed £1 towards cost of fencing school field (posts and bars).

  • 1934 – Oct – Mr John Sayer, Newbiggin first attendance as manager. Mrs Hoare’s resignation reluctantly accepted, a letter of appreciation for her services for over fourteen years, be sent to her and hope that her health may be restored and a happy future. Education Committee be informed of her resignation and particulars for appointing a successor.

  • 1934 – Nov - With the absence of the vicar Mr William Dinsdale voted to the chair. Of the (9) applicants for Head Teacher, 3 invited for interview, remainder thanked.

  • 1934 – Dec – Mrs Beighton appointed as the new Head Teacher. Education Committee be asked to provide a clock for the school.

  • 1936 – Nov – Vote of sympathy passed to Mrs John Sayer, Aysgarth. Mr William Metcalfe elected in the place of the late, John Sayer as manager. To write to Mr. Barraclough to help install electric light.

  • 1937 – Aug – Letter be sent to Mrs Beighton, thanking her for her services as school mistress. Miss Peirsons application to be accepted as head.

  • 1937 – Nov – Proposed that half of playground complained by the building Inspector be taken up and relayed, as soon as possible and other part repaired. To find the cost of water closets, instead of earth closets and to see if the Education Committee would help in the cost. That 10/- a year be given to Mrs McCubbins for the Diocesan Application Fee.  Request for Education Committee to supply piano. Welcome given to Mr J.A. Heseltine on his first attendance.

  • 1938 – Dec – Write to Education Committee with regard to what insurance and liability the managers had. Cost of water closets to be submitted to Sanitary Authority. Resignation of Dorothy Heseltine [cleaner] accepted, advertise for a successor.

  • 1938 - Dec – Several applications were received for school cleaner, but a decision o whom to appoint could not be decided, so it was deferred until next meeting. John Heseltine fix water closets to replace earth closets for the sum of £13.15.0. Aysgarth Rural District Council to pay half.

  • 1939 – Jan – Mrs John (Priscilla) Sayer was appointed school cleaner.

  • 1939 – Oct – It was discussed about darkening the school windows (“WW2 - Blackout regulations required that all windows and doors should be covered at night with suitable material such as heavy curtains, cardboard or paint, to prevent the escape of any glimmer of light that might aid enemy aircraft”.) It was proposed that 50/- be spent on the job. Miss Peirson appointed as Head Teacher and Miss Appleton assistant.

  • 1940 – Oct – Mrs Hedley in attendance for the first time. The lighting of the school fires to be done by half past seven for the present. It was decided that three protection curtains be made for the doorways, only one was made which was really useful. The wood from the harmonium be re-used.

  • 1941 – Jan – Write to Stockton on Tees about a fireplace. Mrs Sayer (cleaner) be given a months notice. Proposed a larger basin be put in the girls lavatory.

  • 1943 – Oct – Education Committee proposed the installation of a solid fuel range and new sink and drains in the small classroom for the provision of cooked dinners for the children. If the Managers were unable to bear the cost of the alterations, the Education Committee would be prepared to carry out the work. The offer of the Education Committee was accepted on condition the drain meet, the drain from the lavatories in the neighbouring field, rather than into the sceptic tank in the playground.

  • 1944 – Jun - Miss Dinah Widdas (Mrs Knifton) appointed head teacher, following the resignation of Mrs Blackett.

  • 1945 – Oct – Messrs J.E. Coates tender for painting the exterior for £8-7-0, was accepted. The radio – wireless batteries to be re-charged at School Managers expense. The old stove be repaired rather than a new one purchased. Alleged disorders at dances held in the school and the stock cupboard being left open. Agreed that cupboard should not be open and dances not to take place on a Saturday evening, if the school was to be open the following Monday. Blackout curtains put in storage (for cinematic use later).

  • 1945 – Dec – The children and teacher are raising money for a new stove.

  • 1946 – Feb – A charge of 10/- to be made for the use of both rooms, when used for concerts, dance etc.

  • 1946 – Apr – Mr. Hawkins appointed manager.

  • 1946 – Sep – Rev. E.D. Deane and T. Heseltine appointed Foundation Managers.

  • 1947 – Nov – Cook, Mrs Furnish hours to be in regulation with LEA.

  • 1948 – Jun – See Mr Hemsley about repairs to the roof and concreting the remainder of the playground. In concurrence with the Diocesan to become a controlled school, with reluctance but the Managers felt compelled to agree to this.

  • 1949 – Feb – Mrs Hedley and Mr T. Heseltine be recommended as Foundation Managers.

  • 1949 – Oct – Rev. John Benson, chairman. A fee of 5/- be charged to the WI [Formation of WI] for fire, light and caretaker once a month. New gate, posts and wire for school field be obtained.

  • 1953 – Electric Radiators sited and working, previously stove.

  • 1953 – New piano on wheels – jointly owned with Reading Room, milk.

  • 1954 - Jul – F. [rank] Snaith [my grandfather] welcomed to board of school managers.

  • 1956 – Mrs Knifton now had to teach 28 children on her own, recommends 11+ scholars be transferred to another school.

  • 1956 – Mrs M. [ary] Furnish, retires as caretaker and her daughter Mattie takes over.

  • 1958 – Ada Lancaster welcomed as new committee member.

  • 1959 – Mattie retires as caretaker, replacement difficult to find, may be forced to close school.

  • 1964 - Aug – School closed, due to fall in number on roll.

' V.A. Sadler, Presented from

Cross Lanes Rifle Club


Silver cigarette case

(courtesy of G.V. & A. Sadler)

My Great Aunt: 

Margaret Kearton Dinsdale (1903-1998)

Supplementary teacher at

Cross Lanes School 1922-1923.

(courtesy of Margaret Kearton Dinsdale)

Dinah Knifton (1919-1994), head teacher of Cross Lanes School for 14 years 1944-1958.

At her home 'School House', Thoralby now known as 'Thoral Cottage', courtesy of Mattie Furnish.

Below is a table of teachers at Cross Lanes School, the first mentioned in each case is the headteacher, and when known the number of pupils is given in the final column.

Below is a photograph of the former School in 2003, now used as a bunkhouse.

The building has changed little from the opening photograph taken in 1955.

Following the closure of the school, the building was used by West Yorkshire Education Services as an Educational facility for children from the towns. It was later used as a field study centre and hill walking centre and is now a bunk house.


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