National School, Meltham
The former National School is the oldest surviving school building in Meltham. It later served as the premises for the Meltham Conservative Club for over a century.
The first school on the site was reportedly built of wood supplied by Benjamin Armytage of Thickhollins in 1737. However, as the Rev. Hughes noted in his history of Meltham, the parish registers recorded the death of "William Ripley, school master of Meltham" (buried on 17 October 1734) and that "Matthew Lockwood by will dated the 23rd of May, 1715, directed the interest of £20 to be paid to a school-master for teaching children in the town of Meltham, English or Latin."
By 1747 the school master was William Hinchliffe.
The present stone building was built in 1823 at a cost of £266 16s 3d, paid for by public subscription and a loan of £100 from James Brook. It was enlarged ("so far as the limits of the site would admit") in 1844-5 at a cost of £315 10s.
By the 1860s, the school was becoming overcrowded and a new National School was erected nearby on Greens End Road, opening in 1868. The "Old Town's School" was then used as an Infants School until around 1895.
The infants school opened on Monday 13 January 1868 under the management Miss Walker. On the first, over 50 children attended and, by the end of the week, nearly 100 were in attendance.
Meltham Conservative Club
By the start of 1895, the building had been acquired by the Meltham Conservative Club. Fundraising events to help renovate the building took place in early 1899 and it seems likely that the surviving distinctive stained glass windows date from this period.
The Yorkshire Post (27/Sep/1935) reported that the Conservative Club's then president, Mr. Charles Firth (aged 79), had attended the former National School as a child.
On the evening of 6 April 1945, Huddersfield Corporation Water Board employee Herbert Tasker was drinking in the club with his son when his daughter-in-law telephoned to tell him an American bomber had crashed on the moors near West Nab. Tasker then organised the initial rescue effort from the club and within around 3 hours of the crash all five crew members were brought down to safety.
The club was advertised for sale by Michael Steed & Co. in 2012:
The property comprises a former school dating from 1823 constructed with stone walls and stone slate roof and more recently used as the Meltham Conservative Club.
The property has been fitted out as a bar and lounge with full size snooker table area together with toilet facilities, offices and kitchen.
The bar area has a suspended ceiling, central heating radiators and carpeting throughout. There is a WC at ground floor level and then stairs down to ladies and gents toilet facilities, kitchen and office. Behind the bar area there is a hatch with stairs down to the beer cellar and store. The former entrance vestibule to the premises is currently a small store.
Notes and References
- The History of the Township of Meltham, Near Huddersfield (1866) by Rev. Joseph Hughes, chapter 10.
- The History of the Township of Meltham, Near Huddersfield (1866) by Rev. Joseph Hughes, page 168.
- The History of the Township of Meltham, Near Huddersfield (1866) by Rev. Joseph Hughes, pages 187-191.
- The Story of Meltham (1977) by Richard Orton, chapter 14.
- "Meltham: The New Infant School" in Huddersfield Chronicle (18/Jan/1868).
- "Local District Councils: Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (11/Jan/1895).
- The Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Feb/1899) reported that "in connection with the Meltham Conservative Club's new premises a sewing tea was held [...] the proceeds of which are to be devoted to the building fund."
- Kirklees Council Planning Applications (reference: 2014/62/91270/W). Two documents in particular are of interest (#491524 & #491525) as they show plans of the building before and after conversion to a restaurant (they have been archived without permission here).
- "Restaurant Review: Quirky Corner in Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (25/Apr/2014) and "Restaurant Review: Quirky Corner in Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (10/Apr/2015).