Thringstone School

(Founded 1844)

Written for Junior pupils of Thringstone School

The present Thringstone School off Hensons Lane was opened in 1967 to replace the old one on Main Street.

The first Thringstone School was built in 1844, thanks to the efforts of the Reverend Francis Merewether. Mr Merewether was Vicar of Whitwick for forty-five years, until he died in 1864. At that time, Thringstone was part of the parish of Whitwick and had no church of its own. Mr Merewether was keen to see both a church and school built in this part of his parish, especially because of the great increase in population brought about by the boom in the local coal-mining industry.


Francis Mereweather MA (1784 - 1864)

Mr Merewether was also very concerned about the growth of Roman Catholicism in the district, a cause backed zealously by Ambrose de Lisle of Gracedieu Manor. In 1843, Mr de Lisle had opened the school of Saint Aloysius, near Thringstone, at a spot known locally as 'Turry Log' (now a private house on Carr Hill Road), and this caused Mr Merewether to step up his campaign for a Church of England school in the village.

Merewether had no such wealthy supporter as Mr de Lisle on his side, but he wrote to the National Society in London, an organization which awarded grants to enable the setting up of schools to teach children of the poor in the traditions of the Established Church. In one letter, Mr Merewether claimed that children who attended Mr de Lisle's school were given clothes which became their own if they attended his chapel at Gracedieu regularly, for six months.

Mr Merewether's application for funding was successful, and land for the school was given by Edward Mortimer Green, a local land-owner. The school was also used for religious services on Sundays, until Mr Merewether was successful in getting the church of Saint Andrew built here in 1862, two years before his death at the then grand old age of eighty.

Mr Merewether's school still stands on Main Street, and is now used as a residential home for young adults with learning disabilities. A stone cross can still be seen above the entrance which bears the inscription, "SOUTH THRINGSTONE NATIONAL SCHOOL. FEAR GOD, HONOUR THE KING. A.D.1844"

Theophilus Jones

An interesting headmaster was Theophilus Jones, who came to the village from West Hartlepool in 1913. Mr Jones was a young man who quickly became popular among his pupils. He was also given the job of church choirmaster, and in his spare time he enjoyed playing for the Coalville Rugby Club.

But his time at Thringstone was cut short when, with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he volunteered for service and signed up as a private soldier with the Durham Light Infantry. Before leaving the village, his pupils presented him with a prayer book, and Mr Jones then kept in touch by sending cheerful letters to the vicar of Thringstone, Mr Shrewsbury, from his army training base in Durham.

Sadly, Mr Jones had been gone for little more than two months when a telegram message arrived at Thringstone Vicarage. The news was terrible - whilst on duty guarding a gun in his home town of West Hartlepool, Mr Jones had been hit and killed by fragments of shell fired from a German warship. On the same day, Wednesday 16th December 1914, more than one hundred other men were killed in this terrible attack, known as the Bombardment of the Hartlepools, and these casualties were the first casualties of the First World War on British soil. Mr Jones has the unfortunate distinction of having been the first soldier to die in action on home soil for nearly two centuries.

In the breast pocket of his tunic, Mr Jones had been carrying the prayer book that he had been given before leaving Thringstone. A fragment of iron shell was found to have pierced the book almost all the way through, and also pinned firmly to the book was a piece of cloth torn from the tunic. The book was brought to Thringstone and shown to a packed congregation at Thringstone Church by the vicar at a special memorial service held in his honour on Sunday, 20th December 1914. The book was then sent back to Mr Jones' mother in West Hartlepool.

Today the name of Theophilus Jones can still be found in Thringstone, on the war memorial tablet in Saint Andrews Church and also on a framed Roll of Honour which hangs in the bar lounge of Thringstone Community Centre.

In 1950, the school ceased to be Church of England controlled and passed into the hands of the County Council. At this time, the headmaster of twenty years - Mr Keen - was required to step down due to not having the qualifications stipulated by the Local Authority. Mr Keen is remembered rather unaffectionately by various former pupils as having been a particularly harsh disciplinarian. One of the first headmasters under the new regime was Leonard Sealey, who became a successful author of mathematics textbooks for Junior children from 1961. His successor, Don Hambleton was in charge of the school at the time of its relocation from Main Street to Hensons Lane, and held this position for well over twenty years. Genteel and softly spoken (yet always able to maintain order), he is remembered chiefly as having been a talented musician, who built up a flourishing orchestra at the school.

The New School

New School, 1967

Thringstone County Primary School: brand new and 'ultra modern', in 1967.

Above: Postcard view from the main drive off Hensons Lane.
Below: Seen from the playing field (scanned from Opening Souvenir Pamphlet).

From opening souvenir brochure, 1967

The new Thringstone County Primary School was officially opened on October 30th 1967 by thr Rt Hon Alice Bacon CBE,MP, Minister of State for Education and Science. The school was designed by the County Architect, T A Collins, and the building work carried out by W J Simms, Son and Cooke, of Nottingham.

The Coalville Times of October 27th 1967 reported, "The focal point of the new school, opened for its first pupils last Easter, is its magnificent assembly hall. Ultra-modern in design, the hall is spacious and light and has a colour scheme chosen by the Director of Education for Leicestershire."

An interesting feature of the assembly hall is the "bubbled glass" sculpture by Antony Hollaway (1928-2000). Hollaway is most famous for his stained glass windows in Manchester Cathedral, which span the whole of the west wall.*

The new school had classrooms for 280 pupils, laid out in open plan, with no doors between any of the teaching blocks - the idea being to encourage teachers and pupils to work together in teams. Noise problems were virtually eliminated by the use of sound insulation in ceilings and floors, and the school was set in nine acres of green field, specially laid out by students at the Brooksby Hall Agricultural College.

Head Teachers of Thringstone School (from 1900)

*A photograph of Hollaway's sculpture in Thringstone School appears on the cover of a 1970 book, "In Our Experience", by Stewart Mason. The photo also shows five children appeciating the work.


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SNB, pupil, 1972-78