Educational Annex to Todmorden Schools
1954 to 1994
The old Centre Vale School was still known as Fielden School of Art, although it had not been in use as such since the start of the World War II, during which it was requisitioned for use as a First-Aid Station. A telephone was installed and Volunteers slept there on camp beds, though were apparently never needed for war-related incidents. The building was transferred to West Riding County Council on 1st April 1945, as a result of the Butler Education Act of 1944. It is assumed that it then stood unused for some years.
Satellite School and Annex
In 1954 the old art school became overflow classrooms for Roomfield Secondary School. Due to overcrowding there, pupils attended classes at satellite schools at Castle Hill, Lumbutts, Cornholme and Fielden School of Art. One former pupil recalls walking from Roomfield to Lumbutts for woodwork lessons. Another remembers craft and sewing lessons at Fielden in the 50s and 60s when Ewood Lane was still a dirt track.
In 1957 the newly built Secondary Modern School opened at Scaitcliffe, on Ewood Lane. The other satellite schools were no longer needed, but the former art school building continued to be used as an Annex.
On 1st April 1974 all the schools were transferred to the new Calderdale MBC, as a result of Local Government reorganisation.
In 1978 the Secondary Modern School and Todmorden Grammar School merged to create Todmorden High School on the Scaitcliffe site. Former pupils from that era confirm that at least one Portakabin was there as a classroom in the grounds.
In 1970 the building was operating as Fielden Remedial School under the Headship of Marion Lyne. Corinne Davis worked at the school from around 1970 to 1982/3. The dates are open to confirmation; another person who worked there in an administrative capacity confirms that it was operating as a remedial school by 1970.
Corinne recalls about 30-40 children with a wide range of learning difficulties, or behavioural or emotional problems at the school, referred by all the Todmorden schools. Marion Lyne sounds to have been an effective Headteacher who believed in what Corrine Davis described as “freedom of ideas” for teaching; maybe what we would refer to as progressive now?
This view is corroborated by Tony Greenwood who, as a young teacher at Shade, recollects that some children were sent there to have intensive reading tuition. Intensive tuition was balanced by plenty of physical activity, creativity and tree climbing. Tony describes “a happy, productive and nurturing environment”, where teachers spoke “fondly” of Miss Lyne. He was influenced by this child friendly but focused philosophy in his 30 years as Headteacher at Colden School.
Other teachers were Alec Smith and Mary Blatt. All the staff are remembered as ‘lovely people’ – what a pleasing memory.
In 1980, a fourth – and final – teacher, Judith Heath, was appointed to Fielden Remedial School, in addition to the Headteacher, by then Mr. Amos, and the two class teachers. At this time, Corinne Davis was still working at the school and Judith was appointed to teach the middle years class. At that time, there were approximately 45 children in total, covering all primary year groups. Pupils remained on the roll of the school from which they were referred, but were taught entirely at Fielden Remedial School. It acted as an independent educational establishment.
The layout of the main hall was considerably different from the present day. It was divided in two by folding doors, forming a classroom at one end and a space where lunch was served or PE lessons took place at the other. Also on the ground floor were an office, staff room and toilets. Upstairs were two further classrooms, situated on either side of the stairs.
At the front of the building was the playground, with a Portakabin used by the High School.
Judith Heath enjoyed teaching at the Fielden Remedial School. She remembers a very generous budget contributing to a well-equipped school with, for example, lots of new art materials. The emphasis was on taking full advantage of these and other materials, providing a wide range of experiences for the children; not just in formal lessons but in making good use of the beautiful setting with frequent visits to the Park and further afield. She recalled an enjoyable outing to the opening of the Lobb Mill picnic site, indicative of the ways in which the pupils’ experiences contributed to their growth as learners and as individuals.
In 1983, in preparation for the requirement for pupils with learning difficulties to be taught in mainstream schools where possible, the school moved to different premises. It did not close completely until 1984.
High School Annex again
After the closure of Fielden Remedial School, from 1984 to 1992 both the building and the Portakabin were used for overflow and occasional lessons by pupils from the High School. There are many former pupils around who remember those days; for instance, there are memories of history classes in the Masters House and more history (how appropriate!) in the Portakabin. It was apparently known as ‘The History Hut’. One teacher who taught there had the nickname Worzel, because he was supposed to look like Worzel Gummidge.
A former pupil confirms that towards the end of this period, both the classrooms in the main hall and one upstairs were in use, but the Portakabin was not, due to its dilapidated condition. He also comments that the interior of the school itself was deteriorating badly.
One of the most intriguing snippets of information is that “everyone said that Fielden was haunted!”