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.
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
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"
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
Thringstone County Primary School: brand new and 'ultra modern', in
Above: Postcard view from the main drive off Hensons Lane.
Below: Seen from the playing field (scanned from Opening Souvenir Pamphlet).
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
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
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
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)
- Samuel Phillips May, died 14.10.1905 (Also landlord, the
Railway Hotel, Whitwick)
- Edgar Stanley Boulter, 1905 - 1913
- Theophilus Jones, 1913 - 1914 (Killed on active service,
- James Lester, 1915 - 1928
- Bertram Alfred Keen, 1929 - 1949
- Robert H Jones, 1950 - 1953
- Leonard G W Sealey
- Donald G Hambleton
- John K George
- David Maksymiw
- E McGovern
- Veronica Stapleton
*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.