School Speech Day – Wirksworth Grammar School, 1919

School Speech Day – Wirksworth Grammar School, 1919


Many Wirksworthians will remember Roy Pearce, Headmaster of Anthony Gell for many years. Here he has spotted details of the School Speech Day from 1919.


From the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal Saturday 06 December 1919.




RP’s introduction.  This is a long extract from a very long report in the ‘local’ paper (1919, so the first post war Speech Day), covering several columns.  Oddly I found myself typing this piece on 6thDecember 2018.  You will find the first and last parts formal and boring, though interesting of their time.  But in the middle is a gem. It begins with the needs of individual pupils and develops into a cry (in bold) for the value of the arts in education: I am sure this section, with its passion and fluency would have been inserted by Celia H,B., the Headmaster’s wife.  She was a remarkable woman (her school plays were famous!) and I yelled aloud at her rousing contribution.  I wonder what her Wirksworth audience made of her plea. 


The HEADMASTER (Rev. L. Hansen Bay) then read his report.


I have the honour to present to you my eleventh annual report on the work of the School for the year ending July 31st, 1919. The influenza epidemic in the earlier part of the school year was responsible for much irregular attendance, but I am thankful to say that the number of cases was not large enough to warrant my temporarily closing the school. Examinations were held, as usual, in July.


I was very sorry, and the school was very sorry, to sever our long connection with the Oxford Local Examinations in whose lists the name of the school has figured so honourably in recent years. For the first time our Vlth form took the examination of the Joint Matriculation Board of the Northern Universities, examination, which is taken by many of the leading secondary schools in Derbyshire. The regulations of the Board, under which they pay the cost of the examinations, demand that the whole of the Vlth form shall be entered as a form. Our Vlth form was therefore entered. The results are appended and are better than I anticipated. The pupils are to be congratulated on their success. The middle and lower school were examined by myself and the staff.   There is evidence of good earnest work, and on the whole I was satisfied with the results. I am glad to report that sound progress has been made all round and that arithmetic and English seem especially good. The only other outside examinations for which pupils were entered was the Derbyshire Bible examination open all boys and girls of Derbyshire. Our candidates were again very successful, carrying off four first prizes in the different classes, one second prize, one third, and two fourths. Five pupils this year were awarded C.C. Intermediate Scholarships, their merits being considered sufficiently good and advanced enough to gain them such an honour.


I have much pleasure in recommending to the special notice of the governors the following pupils of the Vlth form who gained the full school leaving certificate of the Northern Universities Exam.: W L. Land (distinction in mathematics). Annie E. Goodwin. Ida M. Pattin, Marian Fell. Katherine L. Hatchett, and for good work in other forms—Vivian Wood. Lucy Doxey, Dorothy Nyalssy, and Haworth, all awarded C.C. Inter. Schol.; iv.. Dorothy Ruddock. Gwendoline Williams, and Kathleen H. Bay; lii.. Constance Saunders. Hurt 1.; ii.. Elizabeth Potts. Wadsworth ii.



We have renewed our social activities. Our sports day once more resumed its pre-war characteristics and proved a great success. Our games and our societies are once more flourishing. My wife and I again desire to express an appreciation of the work and co-operation of the staff. We were glad to welcome J. R. Hatchett to help us for two terms. We owe a debt gratitude to Stanley Coulson D.F.C., for the very kind and efficient help gave us with the cadet corps.


(NOW FOLLOWS A HEADMAGISTERIAL RANT RP))   One hears a great deal from time to time about different systems of education. One after another educational enthusiasts devise a system which (expressed in learned words of many syllables) sounds impressive as well as attractive. It has been so throughout the ages. A man (or maybe a woman) of genius develops a method of education which combats some existing evil and meets some obvious need: the system is highly successful in the hands of an enthusiastic and gifted teacher, and nowadays it becomes labelled as the system, the High School System, the “Montessori”  system or whatever it may be. And as the science of education becomes more fully understood each system passes away into comparative obscurity, because the good of the system has been assimilated into the common stock, and the weak points have had time to show themselves and to cause the rejection of the particular system as a whole. Each is good, but in some way not perfect.


The wise enthusiast, it seems to me. should be guided by one rule only, and that seems a very humble one—the rule of common sense.  Common sense in education includes a continued and profound study of the psychology of  the pupil; it connotes nice calculation of the means best adapted to suit the needs of each boy or girl’s particular nature and circumstances (a pupil who has no library at  home for instance, requires more inducement to read widely and wisely than the child of studious parents).  Common sense endeavours to teach co-operation and to discipline the character through work and play without unduly repressing the individuality; it encourages the pupil to explore the vast realms of art and science which lie open him and to enjoy with delicate appreciation and a thankful heart all that is beautiful and delightful in life. It encourages a child to express the thoughts that arise in him by any means most appropriate – by rhythmic movements, song, by painting, writing, creating models of machinery, etc.: mere common sense—undignified by any finer name—covers all this. It endeavours to meet the needs life at every age and stage of development.


It does not neglect to punish the pupil with the accumulated experiences of others in the form of history, and the accumulated mental experiences of others again in the form of literature. Common sense provides the pupil with a set of simple rules for virtuous living which must not be deviated from at any time in his career if he is to walk safely and usefully through life. Above all it teaches him to realise something of the smallness of the material and temporary things as compared with spiritual and eternal things; and (lest the young soul should overwhelmed by the vastness the universe) common sense reveals God to the child as his strong and loving and allwise Father; a God to be served not grudgingly nor of necessity but with zealous devotion. Such a system, if we can but work upon it, can never be out of date or superseded.



Please vote for Wirksworth charities here!!

Please vote for Wirksworth charities here!!

Three brilliant Wirksworth charities would like your support to help in their bids for funding from Aviva Community Fund.

There is a short registration, & then you can vote for your favourite project.


Each email address gets an allowance of 10 votes, so choose wisely:

Click on the following links to support our Wirksworth projects – we need all the help we can get, as we are up against nationwide competition.

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Click here for the Wellspring Annexe

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Many thanks!


Wirksworth Tarmac Liaison Group

Wirksworth Tarmac Liaison Group

Following the successful drop in event, Wirksworth Tarmac Liaison Group have submitted the following to the Town Council and District Council

Submission to Derbyshire Dales District Council
The Middleton Road Planning Application Submission by Tarmac
Planning Reference: 18/00741/OUT

This is a very important development for the town which will alter the community we represent. We are determined that if the development proceeds the it should be the best possible development and should bring as much benefit as possible to our town and its people.
The Town Council recognises that this is an outline planning application as such the applicant is asking for determination of
• the area to be developed for residential use and a for employment use, as illustrated by the parameters plan.
• the principle that the site will provide up to 151 dwellings, 4,291 sq. m of mixed employment space ( B1, B2 & B8)
• the access points into the site on Middleton Road and Cromford Road
In preparing this response the Town Council has been supported by an Advisory Group comprising of representatives of the Town Council, the Neighbourhood Plan group, the Civic Society and local residents. This group has appointed an independent chair, Jonathan Jenkin who is a planning consultant.
This group subsequently organised consultation with the people of Wirksworth inviting their comments and concerns about the proposals. A ‘Drop In’ event was held on Saturday 1st September. This was attended by about 100 people 92 of whom made written submissions. Some other submissions were made electronically. The submissions are available and a chart giving a summary of the concerns expressed is enclosed. These comments and concerns have informed this submission by the Town Council.
Our submission is to
• Respectfully recommend two conditions to be attached to any permission granted.
• List our further concerns about the development for consideration by the District Council

Affordable Housing Requirements must be adhered to and community benefits should be provided
The applicant claims that the remediation costs of the site are such that it is not feasible to provide affordable housing. We appreciate that is part of the Planning Authority’s responsibility to test this claim.
The lack of affordable homes is a major concern to the Town Council, this was reflected in the concerns of local people. 61 of the 92 people making representations complained that this was not included.
We would point out that it is contrary to the policies of the District council to provide no affordable housing. If none is to be provided because of viability, this permission could be refused and other more viable sites be used to provide the housing required in the District.
We stress that some affordable housing should be provided even if it is less than the usual 30%. If this is deemed to be impossible then at the very least a parcel of clean land should be made available for affordable housing to Wirksworth Transition Community Land Trust. The Trust constituted and working to provide zero carbon affordable homes for local people.
We would also insist that some community benefits should be forthcoming from the development and made conditions of any permission granted. These should include funding for leisure in the town, particularly a contribution towards the rebuilding of the skate park.
It is understood that conditions can be introduced to any permission that the viability study should be revised and reviewed at intervals during the development of the site. It is impossible to know what changes will occur in, for example, the housing market which could impact on the ongoing viability of the site. A ‘revision clause’ would be a safeguard.

The development should pay close regard to the Wirksworth Neighbourhood plan
The Wirksworth Neighbourhood Plan was instigated and approved by the Town Council. It was approved by a large majority in a town referendum in 2015 and subsequently adopted by the District Council. The Plan is therefore material in planning terms and should form the main plank of the response to this application.
Neighbourhood Plan Design
The neighbourhood plan anticipated development of this site. It offers clear guidance on the development of this site, in particular the plan includes a Concept Statement .
This should be used to inform the detailed design of layout and in the development of design of the units. The indicative plans submitted with the application do not follow this design statement. This plan, showing layout and house design is not acceptable for the site.

This point has been made clearly by the Civic Society who point out the danger of implying any acceptance of this indicative layout. The eventual layout must be the subject of a further application.

The plan also sets out aspirations for good pedestrian and cycling routes. We would urge that routes for public services such as buses should also be considered and shown in future detail applications

Plan Principles
The Plan also set principles to be used on any development which are relevant to this site.
It is most important that four of the principles in the Neighbourhood plan should be included as conditions in any permission granted. This will set the parameters for the development’s future design and marketing.
The neighbourhood plan sets out:-
• Space standards for dwellings
• That the development should meet ‘Building for life’ standards. It should score more than 12? on this measure
• Allowing only primary residences – writing into planning permissions that none of the homes provided should be second homes or holiday lets.
• Reducing carbon foot print of homes –requiring that homes provided reach a higher standard in terms of energy efficiency than is required by building regulations.
The use and implementation of the Neighbourhood Plan will address many of the concerns held by the people of the town.


DDDC Local Plan includes development of 650 homes on the large quarry site neighbouring this development. We appreciate that this application has to be judged on its merits but would urge that it is seen in the context of the larger possible development of Middle Peak. This would impact on the transport and highways issues.

The plans include for the provision of three new access points, two on Cromford Road, one on Middleton Road. The Town Council understands that officers in the Highways department at the County Council will make comment on the proposed layout and positioning of these. We will not comment in detail on these but would bullet point our concerns andthose made to us for consideration.
• The increase in traffic resulting from this development is a concern to many. The impact of more traffic in the narrow streets of the town centre is particularly concerning.
• “Rush Hour” from 8.30 to 9.30 and 3.30 to 5 already creates high levels of congestion in the town – we would like to see some clear estimation of traffic with the extra 150 houses
• Air pollution levels are a concern, as they are already high.

Town Centre and Parking
The development is likely to increase the demand for short term parking in the town centre which is already in short supply.
• The Town Council is working on plans to improve parking provision in the town and would ask the District Council to give this some priority if this permission is granted.

Cromford Road
This is a major route into and out of the town. The footpath on the eastern side of the road is very narrow at about only 600mm. The proposals include a pedestrian crossing at this narrow point. While this could help move pedestrians onto the wider footpath on the western side of the road it will take pedestrians on to this dangerous narrow stretch.

Currently the speed limit is 30mph but this is frequently exceeded due to the width of the carriageway. Existing pavements are inadequate particularly on the eastern side of Cromford Road where it is only about 600mm wide. This is dangerous and unsafe for pedestrians particularly children.
The plans show that ultimately there will be eight vehicle accesses onto Cromford Road between Middleton Road junction and the railway bridge. (Two new ones to the development, Spring Close and four which give access to terraces of cottages to the east and west of Cromford Road).
• This stretch of road should become more pedestrian friendly than it is at present.
• Consideration should be given to realigning and narrowing the carriage way close to the railway bridge to reduce speeding
• This is an opportunity to realign the road at its narrow point between the new access and old lane so that the carriageway is moved westwards allowing for a full size footpath on both sides . This would require the high stone wall to be moved westwards.
• Pedestrian crossings should be provided over Middleton Road at the Limekiln pub and over Cromford Road at this point.
• Further pedestrian crossings should be introduced as planned between Old Lane and the railway bridge

Middleton Road

This road is subject to subsidence and consequently is sometimes in a poor state of repair. An access is planned onto this road opposite the entrance to Middle Peak Quarry which is also designated in the local plan for housing. The use of these access points for the two developments would mean that the nature of Middleton road would change significantly.
• We would ask if this road would required complete re-engineering to cope with the level of traffic
• Will the Highways authority consider the reduction of the speed limit on this road following the introduction of the access point?
The access road shown off Middleton road appears to be wide and capable of taking heavier traffic than anticipated for this access. It can be seen that this road could be extended through to the Ravenstor Industrial area. This could be seen as an alternative route for remediation and construction traffic for Middle peak.
• While this is supposition, we would ask if this possibility causes the planning and highways authorities any concerns.
• We would ask that the Highways Authority considers traffic issues in the light of the Cromford Road and Middlepeak Quarry Site – it would seem that Tarmac are predicating the Routing Strategy for this 2nd site, and this should be considered and agreed by the Town.

Limekiln Corner
This junction of Middleton Road and Cromford Road is presently dangerous as there is limited visibility. The volume of traffic will inevitably increase with this development. The corner is particularly bad for pedestrians. As it is close to the infant school it is used frequently by parents with small children.
• We would ask that the highway authority pay special attention to this junction and how it can be improved. While the application brings this to attention we would ask that this is examined as a matter of urgency.
Traffic Movement in the employment area
We trust that adequate parking and turning spaces for large vehicles will form part of the detailed proposals. The indicative plans show relatively small space for lorries turning within the site.

Remediation and Construction Traffic
We appreciate that if this site is to be developed it will require considerable remediation work prior to a lengthy period for construction. There is considerable local concern about this.
• We would ask that remediation and construction traffic enters the site from the Middleton road access thereby minimising disruption to Cromford Road,its role as a main entrance to the town and its residents.
We note that reports go into great detail but thereis a holding objection from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. There is local concern about the loss of this green space, its wildflowers and trees.
• We would ask if the ecology of the area is adequately addressed and that the objections from Derbyshire Wildlife trust should be taken into account.

We note Historic England has not objected but there is local concern. The County Archaeologist is looking for more information. The submission by Bill Bevan explores and underlines concerns about the historic value of the site, we particularly commend this.

• Is the ancient monument (Nether Ratchwood and Rantor) mines adequately protected?
• Is the archaeology of the area adequately addressed, particularly has the fact that further sites are being considered for scheduling by historic England been taken into account?

Open Spaces and access routes
There are open spaces shown on the indicative plan. While it is understood these are indicative there will be open spaces in any future design and layout, Old Lane is to be retained as a footpath/bridleway. We are particularly concerned that there should not be further maintenance obligations which will make future demands on public funds.
• How will open spaces and access routes be managed and maintained? Can and will the Planning Authority require management plans for this?


There is concern about the impact on local sewerage. While it is understood this is not usually a planning matter, this impact should be taken into account and provided for if possible.

• Can and will the planning authority press for plans to cope with the drainage of this site, especially given the present poor state of sewage disposal and the impact it is having on the residents of nearby Spring Close

Proposed extension to Cromford Road /Old Lane car park

• Possible extension of Cromford Road car park – will the land be gifted and if so to whom?
• There is no Japanese knotweed identified in the reports but there is some reported to be on site, particularly in the area to form extra car parking on Old lane. – should this be taken into account by the planners?

Wirksworth and Middleton Remember – A unique commemoration of the end of WW1.

Wirksworth and Middleton Remember –

A unique commemoration of the end of WW1.


Volunteers in Wirksworth, Middleton by Wirksworth and on The Steeple Grange Light Railway have been busy for over a year preparing for a unique commemoration to mark the ending of WW1; a commemoration that will recreate events that happened almost 100 years ago.

Then, over 120,000 headstones made from Hopton Wood stone, were engraved in Middleton before being taken down what is now The Steeple Grange Light Railway on their way to cemeteries in Belgium and France. This year, on November 11th, three replica headstones, identical in shape and size to the earlier ones, will be carried in a reconstructed Hopton Wood wagon on the first part of that journey. The stones will be engraved by Middleton mason Colin Julien whose great grandfather engraved some of the original ones.

One stone will be erected at Steeple House Station while a second will be carried in a horse drawn carriage down Cromford Road to Wirksworth. Once in Wirksworth the stone will be placed in St Mary`s Church for the Remembrance Service before being taken in procession to a permanent site in The Memorial Gardens. The third stone will be taken to Middleton for the afternoon service in Holy Trinity Church and installed in the village.

The idea for this poignant commemoration came from Martin Smith, Chairman of the Steeple Grange Light Railway, who wanted to mark the role of the railway in transporting the stones and to honour the thousands of railway employees who gave their lives. For Middleton and Wirksworth  the stones will commemorate the loss and suffering in these communities.

The project, organized by The Steeple Grange Light Railway, Wirksworth WW1 Group , Middleton Parish Council and Village Green Committee, is funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund ,  Better Derbyshire Dales Fund, Derbyshire County and Derbyshire Dales District Councillors, Wirksworth Rotary, Wirksworth Town Council, Wirksworth WW1 Group, Wirksworth Hidden Gardens and Courtyards, Middleton Parish Council.


Timetable for this day long commemoration is:

9.30 Headstones carried by rail from  Middleton to Steeple House Station

10.00 Headstone taken in horse drawn  carriage to Wirksworth

10.50 Remembrance Day service at St Mary`s Church

11.45 Procession from St Mary`s to Memorial Gardens for installation of the Wirksworth


14.15 Third stone taken to Middleton for

14:30 Remembrance Service at Holy Trinity Church and later installation of stone.

Future Train Service Disruption – Derwent Valley Line

Major disruption between 22 July and 7 October at Derby – people should look online for the details.

There are forthcoming changes at Derby Station were explained by National Rail and East Midlands Trains people.  The specific subject of the meeting was the Derwent Valley line to Matlock.

Firstly – and less importantly just now – is that the May railway timetable changes  ( will lead to the 20.26 train from St Pancras no longer giving a connection in Derby to the last train to Matlock. Instead people will have to catch an earlier train from St Pancras. A recent meeting suggested that the last train one could catch from London would be the one at about 20.00 but looking online it looks as though there will be no train to Matlock from Derby after about 2050, meaning that the 19.00 train will be the last train should you want to come on to Cromford or Matlock that evening.

Secondly – and much more important – is the disruption that will take place while engineering work goes on at Derby this summer. The effect of this will be that there will be no through trains to Nottingham from Matlock between 30 July and 24 August. From 25 August to 7 October, there will be no trains between Matlock and Derby: instead there will be a bus and coach replacement service: this will travel down the A6 so will not go to Cromford Station but will stop on the A6 (which will be better for people from Wirksworth but will put pressure on car parking in Cromford). In addition, on the London line there will be no trains between Derby and London from 13-19 August ( a bus service will operate to East Midlands Parkway). From 30 July to 2 September there will be no trains from Derby to Sheffield – there will be buses from Derby to Chesterfield. Cross Country trains will not visit Derby from 30 July to 2 September. East Midlands trains will not operate between Sheffield and Derby from 30 July to 7 October. You can find the details of this at From 30 July to 7 October, there will be just one train per hour in each direction between Derby and St Pancras, though these will start and terminate at Derby and not go through to Sheffield.

This is going to cause major headaches for many train users – and of course over the weekend of the Festival, there will be no trains on the Derwent Valley line, nor will there be East Midland trains between Chesterfield and Derby that weekend though Cross Country trains will operate between Sheffield, Chesterfield and Derby.

Major disruption between 22 July and 7 October at Derby – people should look online for the details.