The “new Schools”, in what we now know as High Street, but was earlier known as Horsefair Street and then Coventry Street, consisted of two large classrooms, one for boys and one for girls (nearest the Church) with the Master’s house in the centre. The Architect dated his work in a very novel manner. Carvings were made on the stone terminals of the moulded Architrave of each of the two large pointed windows of the heads of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who had married in 1840. Even after the rebuilding of the schools in 1845 we still know very little about them until the early 1870’s when it became compulsory for Head teachers to keep Log Books. In this respect Bedworth has been lucky in that almost without exception, the Log Books from the Schools, supported by the Trust, are still in the possession of the NCSF.
The two schools could provide education for 500 children although average attendance in 1873 was recorded at 320. The new schools were run by Stephen and Emma Cooke appointed in 1845. The Schools were generally run by husbands and wives although in 1851 and breaking with tradition, John Tansley from St. Peter’s School, Hillfields became Headmaster of the boys School and Mary A. Edgington, headmistress of the girls school. Leonard Bosworth took over the boys school in 1941 and saw it through to its final closure in 1957.
The Schools and the Schoolhouse were to be under one roof. In around 1845 Bedworth Hall, the old schools and the Almshouses were demolished to make way for the building of the new Central Schools. These were followed by schools in Collycroft, Woodlands, Hob Lane and Bulkington Lane and provided education for most, of not quite all, the children of the town.
Major changes happened in 1952 when the two schools merged to become a Junior school after senior pupils were transferred to the newly built Nicholas Chamberlaine Comprehensive School in Bulkington Road, Bedworth.
The old school finally closed its doors in 1957 when the younger pupils moved to new buildings in Derwent Road, Bedworth and became known as Canon Evans Infant School and Canon Maggs Primary School. The two Schools are now merged and simply known as The Canons.
In the early days of the Charity the boys were supplied with a jacket and waistcoat of dark grey cloth with blue collar and cuffs. This was a very similar design and colour to the men’s coats with round brass buttons about the size of a ten pence coin and bearing the words Nicholas Chamberlaine’s Charity around their edge. The name Bedworth was pressed into the centre and the boys wore a Tam O’Shanter cap in the same material with a blue top-knot. The girls wore a blue print dress.
For weekdays and every Monday morning they had to take their Sunday suit and leave it at School, collecting it again on Friday for Sunday wear. The supply of clothing to the children came to an end in 1864 with the retirement of the Rector Canon Henry Bellairs.
The Girls School made garments for the Almshouse residence. Whether they made all, is not clear from the entries in the school logbooks. They also mention the making of surplice for the Church choir. In this way the charity would purchase the materials and the young children would be taught the stitches on the small pieces left over after the cutting out. As they progressed they would work from the small items until they were good enough to make the most important garments. The standard of work must have been very high, as it is not likely that the Rev. E.J. Howman or the Rev. F.R. Evans would accept garments for the Church choir which were not as good as the work done by the ladies of the Church.
In this way the girls were taught how to make garments, a skill that would be very useful to them in later life, In the 1800's families lived from hand to mouth and they would not have been able to purchase material for their children to learn how to sew.
The petticoats for the Hospital began on Wednesday.
As is usual at Whitsuntide the gratis Needlework of the School (which consists of 56 garments for the old people in the Almshouses) has been sent in. As a consequence the specimens for the Inspector will be - very meagre.
The needlework done by the children for the Hospital was laid out in the Hall for inspection by their parents.
Children finished the needlework, which they have had to make for old people in the Almshouses.