Hitchin schools museum celebrates bicentenary

A MUSEUM is marking the 200th anniversary of the opening of the town s first elementary school with a little history of its own. Next month the British Schools Museum in Hitchin will commemorate the opening of Dead Street Monitorial School in 1810 with a

A MUSEUM is marking the 200th anniversary of the opening of the town's first elementary school with a little history of its own.

Next month the British Schools Museum in Hitchin will commemorate the opening of Dead Street Monitorial School in 1810 with a re-enactment of the events that led up to the historic occasion.

Educationalist Joseph Lancaster, whose teaching practices were used at the school, will tour the town in a horse-drawn carriage. While onlookers can also see philanthropists William Wilshere and Thomas Brand (Lord Dacre) who were instrumental in the creation of the school and first school master Thomas Dimsey.

The museum, which stands on the old school site in Queen Street, has invited Lance Dimsey, the great great great great grandson of Thomas Dimsey, to join in the celebrations along with his son Andrew. The pair will be travelling all the way from Australia.

Pupils from Wilshere Dacre School, named after the founders have also been asked to play their part by representing the first pupils at the school.

"We wanted to create something memorable to tell the story of when the first school opened." Museum manager Terry Ransome said. "It gave poor children, who had nothing, the chance to learn to read and write."

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Derrick Ashley, North Herts District councillor for Hitchin South has allocated �450 funding from his locality budget to help mark the anniversary.

The celebrations begin in the town centre at 11am on March 20, before continuing at the museum, where admission will be free.

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