Can you help find Hitchin's historical school log books?

Walsworth School Log book - 1873-1906

Walsworth School Log book - 1873-1906 - Credit: Hitchin Historical Society

Simon Walker of Hitchin Historical Society is asking for help in tracking down school log books which were in use from the 1850s into the 20th century.

Simon Walker, who edited Hitchin - Glimpses of the Past and The Hitchin Journal

Simon Walker, of Hitchin Historical Society, is attempting to track down the missing log books - Credit: Hitchin Historical Society

Back in the 1850s Mary and William Exton founded a school on the British Schools system. The land was given by William Wilshere, and other locals gave money towards the cost of buildings.

At that time Walsworth was a rural hamlet, and the school was intended to benefit local children.

Sadly, William died before the project was completed, but Mary and the other subscribers saw it through, and Walsworth School opened as Hitchin's second British School.

Nineteen children attended on the first day, and it remained in use as a school until 1957, when the last pupils were moved to Highover School. The old school log books were given to the new school for safekeeping; but somewhere along the line they seem to have gone missing.

All enquiries seem to hit a brick wall. We know they were still at Highover School well into the 21st century, but since then the school has lost track of them.

Fortunately we have some transcriptions that give a flavour of how important they are as part of the history of Walsworth, for example of its rural nature, and the fear that a Zeppelin bombing raid caused during the First World War:

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September 9, 1878: School open today. Very poor attendance owing to the fact that gleaning is not nearly over. All the elder children still being employed in the harvest fields.

July 28, 1893: Closed school for harvest holidays about a fortnight earlier than in previous years because the gleaning has commenced.

October 22, 1917: The Children very much upset on account of the Air raid and the dropping of bombs in the village on Friday night. Several panes of glass in the School windows were smashed.

March 22 1918: The children were very much disturbed at their lessons; because of the number of Aeroplanes passing over the School.

If you know where the log books are, please get in touch – if nothing else, I would very much like to photograph them in order to preserve the information they contain.

History is a bit like some supermarket slogans: WHEN IT'S GONE, IT'S GONE…

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