Website of the Laceby History Group

Mr George Smith - Headmaster

How interes t ing to turn a few pages of the first school log book, especially when it is 120 years old.

Mr. George Smith was Headmaster of Laceby Stanford School from 1859-1899 and his daily diary makes fascinating reading today. No parson or squire has thought to leave us such a document, so together with the Stanford Minute Books which are in Lincoln Archives, they provide a unique history of Laceby School of that time.

On March 10th 1863, Miss Brooks visited the school to distribute medals to the children on the occasion of the Prince of Wales' wedding. Mrs. E. H. Knight came too and presented them all with buns. I guess the buns would soon disappear but have any of the medals survived? May 15th of the same year he noted 'attendance rather thinner being Grimsby Statute Day'. Three days later he
writes 'Yearly meeting of School Trustees. Prizes were distributed to the most deserving. Each presented with a penny at the close of the church service'.

This is the first recorded Penny Day by a Headmaster.

On Oct ober 22nd Miss Brooks arrived again, this time "with flannel petticoats for the poorer children". A bit awkward for the boys to wear'.

Examinations were held in November but he did show his soft side occasionally. On 23rd February he "let the children go to Grimsby t o visit a Panorama" for which he had received and distributed advertising leaflets the day before. He certainly liked amazing the children. Turning another page we find, 'Had a man show the children the wonders of the microscope'.

In June 1864 yet more practical education. 'A Coventry weaver explained the manufacture of silk, showing also a model of a silk
loom'.

Then he would suddenly show his sterner side. In the days when children took school pence, we read in terse one line entries
"Told two boys to bring additional penny for non attendance'.
(That was 13th June 1865).

14th June - They absented themselves
15th June - Made enquiries regarding them
16th June - Found they were singling turnips'.

I wonder if world shattering events, such as the assassination of President Lincoln i n 1865 or the Crimean War were mentioned
in class during Laceby Stanford School's History or Geography lessons . They' re not noted in the Log Book. More mundane events occupied Mr. George Smith during the years 1859 - 1899 while he was Headmaster at Laceby School.

He writes in 1864 'Horace Watson sent along 3/4 lb. of ink'. Good for him'. Well he was a printer and did live in the same street -
at the Post Office.

Trouble for Mr. Smith was, getting in the 'school pence'. He writes 'Sent Elizabeth Grant home for not bringing her school
money'. She never came back but went to the Methodist School across the road which was free at that time but later was also to
charge 'school pence'.

As a punishment, or perhaps to keep them warm in winter, he gave his pupils a marching lesson. Perhaps with the knowledge of
the r cent war in the Crimea he was preparing the boys for a service life.

Excitement came to school one day in March 1965 when he let them stay out longer at playtime to watch Wombwell's Menagerie pass, with camels and a dromedary.

Did election fever hit Laceby in 1865? George Smith again let his pupils out 'to see 2 bands, one red, one blue'. Imagine the
shouts, whistles and posturing by the children as the bands passed'.

In 1869, the arts make a not untimely appearance in the classroom in the form of music. The Log is written as follows;-

11th February - Teaching the boys to sing 'Those Eternal Bowers'
12th February - Headache'.

Mr. Smith had a difficult time in the Laceby School classrooms, teaching for the most part unwilling pupils. There were many
absences due to wet weather, with children not having suitable clothes for wet days, lots of illness and epidemics in the winter, local fairs and statutes in the summer and harvesting and potato picking later on in the year.

Yet somehow his determination comes through in the terse words of the Log Book. He was sometimes it appears, a man ahead of his time.

Brenda Anderson