Stretton National School was built through the vision and energy of the then vicar, Reverend Richard Greenall, in 1838.  Although only a small rural community, Stretton was considered eligible for a grant from the National Society, the local subscriptions necessary to match this grant being substantially helped by the Greenall family and Thomas Lyon of Appleton. It was situated in Stretton Road, with the school house next door on just one-ninth of an acres site. It was thought that the school should accommodate 60 five to 14 year olds.  The school was “for the education of youth in the principles of the true Protestant faith, and for otherwise promoting the worship of Almighty God.”

The first schoolmaster was Charles Smith, and the school mistress was Elizabeth Hatton, the sister of Phoebe Hatton from the Beehive Stores. The census of 1841 identifies Charles Smith as school master which is confirmed by the tithes map of 1846 showing the school, house and land owned by Rev. Greenall as incumbent of Stretton and occupied by Charles Smith. In the 1850s Isaac Walton arrived and he was joined by certified schoolmistress, Miss Fanny Wilson Shawcross. The teachers were appointed by the vicar and were obliged to teach in the Sunday School as well, however it was “forbidden for writing or arithmetic to be taught on a Sunday.”

Thanks for Dave Cooper for providing this photograph of Fanny Wilson Shawcross and for the information in her biography:

Fanny Wilson Shawcross
Fanny Wilson Shawcross

It began life as a small single storey building divided by a wooden partition to separate the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools.  In January 1880 the two schools came together as a mixed school for the first time.  Improvements were made over the years with small extensions added.  Outside toilets were built just after the turn of the century.

When Mr Walton retired, Mr John Ellison was appointed by Rev Greenall as May Bower who grew up at Walls Pit House recalled: My grandfather, Canon Whitley, Rector of Wargrave, was rather noted for his very good young teachers in his church schools, and when Mr Walton retired, the incumbent, Archdeacon Greenall, who was a great friend of my grandfather – they were at Cambridge together – enquired if Grandfather could supply a suitable head master for Stretton schools. So Mr J. Ellison, one of the teachers from Wargrave C.E. schools, was appointed. During Mr Ellison’s headship, the schools flourished. The children were famed for their perfect manners and general deportment. Christian religion was well taught, and, from those scholars, some very interesting and clever personalities arose. Most have done very well in life.

In 1914 there was accommodation for 117 children, but only an average attendance of 85. The Roll Books found at Cheshire Archives show daily life at the school and how closely school life reflected wider events outside the village.  Some of these records have been transcribed. In 1923 Mr Ernest William Boulton was headmaster and his assistants were Miss Ellison and Miss Lewis. In the early 1940s the two assistants to Mr Boulton were Mrs Griffiths (in the Infants) and Miss Holden in the Middle classroom.

The centenary of the School was celebrated in December 1938 by a display of the children’s work, and demonstrations of PT., dramatisation and singing; a much broader curriculum than the reading, writing and accounts of 1838, but with strong links with the Church continuing throughout.

Jack Billington has kindly provided his memories of Stretton School in the 1940s: In those days Stretton School was an elementary school and catered for pupils from 5 to 14, which was the school leaving age in the 1940s. A few passed the Scholarship Exam at 11 and went to Lymm or Northwich Grammar School.  There was a wooden notice board in the 3rd classroom, (Mr Boulton’s room), with the names of successful scholars who went to grammar school. Many from the village and local farms only ever went to one school. After the 1944 Education Act, plans were made for secondary education for all. A new Secondary Modern School was built in 1948-1949 period for Stockton Heath and surrounding villages in Cheshire, including Stretton. So the old Stretton School became a Primary School.

David Scragg, who was at school with Jack, recalls the Roll of Honour as a big black board which hung over the fire place in Mr Boulton’s room. One of the names at the top of the board was George Carman who lived at Mosswood Hall Cottages along Stretton Road. George was a scout master who ran a troop in Warrington. David recalls cycling there on the Mounfield’s grocery delivery bike. Others on the roll of honour included Barbara Dean and Harry Winstanley, the latter from from Dorothy Farm.

If anyone knows what happened to the board, please do get in touch.

Other memories of school days were of the impact of the Second World War: at the back of the schoolyard over by the hedge, and all along the length of the yard, to the field of Mr Brocklehurst, (now the cricket pitch), were two air raid shelters covered in earth and sand. Very occasionally the pupils had to go in single file from the classrooms down some steps and inside them as a practice in case of air raids:  It was dark but we had to sit down on benches facing each other, helped by the teachers’ torches. It was a bit wet underfoot but our shoes were kept dry by some duck boards just like the pictures of World War I. The boiler for the school heating was in the middle classroom and extra coke for it, was sometimes added by one of the boys who was I think the son of the lady school caretaker.

The school was reorganised as a primary school in 1950, its status changing to “C. of E. Controlled” in the same year.  Throughout the 1950s there were proposals and approvals for a new school, and again in 1973 it was included in the design list for the following year, but it wasn’t until 1977 when an application was successfully made for a new C. of E. Voluntary Aided School to be constructed on land to the east of the Church.  Until then the school had remained at its original location for 143 years and at the time was the oldest school in Cheshire. Building work commenced in April 1980 and in May 1981 the new school building was opened with 115 pupils and four teachers.  The school population remained quite stable until increased urban development put pressure on the existing accommodation.

The present-day school consists of 210 children.

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