Sunday, 11 May 2008

St. Chad's Church Schools, Derby, 1895

This class photograph at St. Chad's Church School, Derby in 1895 was another fairly recent eBay purchase. I added it a few months ago to my profile and portfolio of the Derby and Nottingham studio of Gervase Gibson & Sons, but have decided it could do with an airing here as well.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

The photograph measures 200 x 135 mm and is mounted on thick buff coloured (probably off-white originally) card with rounded corners measuring 216 x 164 mm. The name of the school, location and year, "St. Chad's Church Schools, Derby, 1895," are printed in a bold Gothic-style typeface above the photographic print, and the name and location of the studio in a simple, small, italic typeface below the print. It seems likely that Gibson & Sons, who had only recently opened a branch at 30 St Peter's Street in Derby that year, were commissioned to take portraits of the entire school. Perhaps they offered very favourable rates to introduce themselves to the Derby clientele.

The photograph and front of the mount have nothing which indicates who any of the people might be. There is a small "x" handwritten in blue ink (perhaps ball point) on the photograph, directly below the feet of a boy seated in the front row, fourth from the right - presumably a family member of a previous owner of the photo - but no clue as to his identity. The reverse of the mount is likewise blank, but appears to have been previously glued into an album.

According to Kelly's 1895 trade directory, St Chad's School in Gordon Road, Normanton, Derby was a mixed school erected in 1888 for 450 boys and girls, and 230 infants. By 1895 it had an average attendance of 600. Thomas George Seymour (b. 1865-) was master, while Mrs. Ada Sarah Atherley (b. 1860) was the infants' mistress. The 37 boys shown in this photo only include a small proportion of the total boys in the school at that time (presumably about 300, if we assume that the school was roughly half boys and half girls). Unfortunately there is no indication which class or classes are represented. It is possible that the gentleman standing at left is Mr. Seymour, and that the lady on the right is Mrs. Atherley, although there were undoubtedly other teachers at the school. The 1901 Census shows several other members of the teaching profession living within two or three blocks of the school, any of whom could be in the photo.

- Mary Byrne, School Teacher, 4 Mount Carmel Street
- Joseph B. Ashcroft, School Master, 6 Mount Carmel Street
- Agnes Wakefield, School Teacher, 11 Mount Carmel Street
- Mabel E. Head, High School Mistress, 17 Mount Carmel Street
- Gertrude Moore, School Teacher, 17 Mount Carmel Street
- Agnes M. Braine, School Teacher, 17 Mount Carmel Street
- Thomas G. Seymour, School Master, 20 Mount Carmel Street
- Alice Ridley, Teacher in Elementary School, 26 Mount Carmel Street
- Catherine S. Brown, School Mistress, 5 Breedon Hill Road
- Sarah E. Brown, Assistant School Mistress, 5 Breedon Hill Road
- Mary L. Cox, Pupil Teacher, 25 Breedon Hill Road
- William Creswell, Instructor of Pupil Teachers, 41 Breedon Hill Road
- Sarah Julia Fowke, School Teacher, 51 Breedon Hill Road
- James W. Hougham, School Master, 59 Breedon Hill Road
- Emma J. Smith, School Mistress, 4 Breedon Hill Road
- Sarah L. Allen, School Teacher, 4 Breedon Hill Road
- Millicent Platts, School Mistress, 16 St Chad's Road
- Mary L. Thompson, School Mistress, 20 St Chad's Road
- Arthur C. Townsend, School Master, 22 St Chad's Road
- Gertrude M. Hubbard, School Teacher, 38 St Chad's Road
- Daisy S. Eggleston, Pupil Teacher, 52 St Chad's Road

Many Victorian school enrolment registers have survived and deposited in the Derbyshire County Records Office at Matlock. It would be interesting to know whether those for St Chad's are among them. The boys look to be aged between about 6 and 10 years, and were therefore born between c. 1885 and 1889.

View Larger Map

From the GoogleMaps satellite image of Gordon Road, it appears that the school still exists, and that the class portrait was probably taken against the right hand end of the south-west facade of the building.

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