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Walden School 1908-1930

From 1908 to 1930, a small school operated in Walden (North), about three miles from West Burton. It was in a roadside building which was an active chapel until 1963 and which still bears the names of its original benefactors on stones around its base. When Eleanor Coulthard opened the school on November 1908, nine children attended, six of whom had not been to school before and the others being very backward. Attendance was never greater than 13 but according to the inspectors, the children were always kept happily occupied. Early on, Miss Coulthard had to deal with one unusual problem. In June 1909, she had to write a letter to Mr. Henry Guy asking him to remove the bull from the pasture in which the school stood because it was not safe for the children to pass through.

The teachers changed often. There were 17 in 22 years, only one staying for more than four years and most for less than a year. Nevertheless, official reports continued to note, “The school is conducted on homely lines and fair progress is being made”. Walden School’s most exciting day was perhaps in 1928 when two senior boys were sent by the headmistress to her lodgings at Chapel Green to fetch her wireless set as the children “had not seen or heard wireless before”. They all listened to the dinnertime programme.

One reason for the closure of Walden School in 1930 was the availability of motor transport to West Burton School. For many years Mr Meggison, who ran one of the shops in the village, drove the school car or bus. Yet the Walden children missed many days of school when the roads were impassable, or when Mr. Meggison’s car broke down, or when he had no petrol.


This history of West Burton & Walden is based on the booklet written by Julian Bharier & Marianne V. Thompson (ISBN 0 9525905 1 4). Their acknowledgements included: Margaret Ritchie, Jean Kington, Mary Brown, Dorothy Davison, Jean Dobbing, John Miller, Sally Stone, John & Mary Piper, Brigadier and Mrs Wilfrid Ponsonby, Stephen Moorhouse, staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Mrs A Johnson, Mrs K. Deighton, H.E.Moody, Mr. D. Nottage and James Hogg.

Before they died Julian & Marianne kindly gave permission for us to use their booklet as a basis for a revision. We have edited, updated and added to their text.

Jane Ritchie and Sally Stone 2020

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