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The Welney Website

William Marshall Primary School

page created February 2005, amended/updated Wednesday, 31 May 2017
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On the far side of Main Street is the creeper-covered Lamb and Flag Inn.

At the school gates, Meadow Lane turns 90°and runs between the school perimeter wall and the Old Post House (with roof lights) to Bedford Bank West.

During 2008-9 there was a protracted squabble about rights of way along that section.

From 1848 to late 2015, Welney had its own junior school for children aged 4-11 years, situated off Main Street (the A1101). The catchment area includes Lakes End and the Norfolk part of Tipps End.
The photo below taken in June 2005 is a rear view looking east; the school is the T-shaped group of buildings in the bottom-right quarter of the photo. 2005 aerial view The grey-tiled part was the old Shool House where the headmaster and his family lived. Access to the blue school gates is via a slip road off Main Street then a short section of Meadow Lane.

At the bottom of the photo the three houses are (left to right) Laburnum Cottages, The Old Post House, and Croft House with its three workshops behind.
The slip road serving those properties and the lane to the school is seperated from Main Street by a grass bank.
The T-shaped road at top right is Taymor Place.

Below is a front view of the school, school house and garden, and the playground looking west, taken in the early 1970s. 1970s front Part of the field beyond the school rear perimeter wall was acquired in 1977 by Marshall's Charity for use as a school playing field.
 The Old Post House was the Post Office until 1960.

Croft House was a shop (various sorts) which at one time also sold petrol.

The yellow and white objects on the edge of the front garden are fuel pumps (Shell-Mex ?).

The requirements set by the Trustees (of Marshall's Charity) for the Schoolmaster were:
"shall be capable of teaching Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, and be a married man of good reputation and a member of the Church of England and shall be engaged for life".
The school owed its existence to Welney's greatest benefactor, William Marshall. His story, and that of the charity he created more than 340 years ago, is told elsewhere on this web site (see links bottom right). His connection with the school goes back only 200 years though, to 1805 when the then Trustees of the Charity wanted to establish a school. To do so they had to apply to the Court of Chancery for permission to change the use of some of the income from the land William Marshall bequeathed. The process lasted 14 years until 1819 when a revised scheme was finally approved allowing surplus funds from some of the charitable works to be invested until sufficient to establish a "Free School" for the children of Welney.

By 1827 enough money had been accumulated to establish a school, but not sufficient to acquire land or erect a building. The school therefore began in the vestry of the (then) C of E Chapel. By 1843 the funds had increased to an extent that the Trustees were able to commission plans to build a school and schoolmaster's house. They were greatly helped by another benefactor, the Rev. William Gale Townley, Rector of Upwell-with-Welney, who donated land for the school (and also for a new Chapel and Almshouses, described elsewhere). In 1844 John C. Buckler was appointed Architect and he prepared designs and estimated the cost would be £710. In 1847 the project was approved by the Court of Chancery, tenders for the works were sought, and Jeremiah Andrews was awarded the contract. Construction began that same year, and the rector's wife Mrs W.G.Townley laid the cornerstone. The buildings were completed a year later in 1848 at a cost of nearly double the original estimate.

Over the years, pupil numbers ranged from 25 to 120. In 1875 there were 90 children enrolled, and three years later it had risen to 102. In 1890 there were 120 children, and  in 1912 104 were enrolled, although average attendance was only 94. During the 1920's the figure dropped to the mid 70's, but in 1927 the Mission School at Hundred Foot Bank (built in 1874, also by Marshall's Charity) closed and 43 pupils were transferred to Welney taking the enrolment to 118.

In 1935 the numbers were down to 107, but the figures dropped dramatically a few years later when children living at Hundred Foot Bank were transferred to the school at Ten Mile Bank in 1938, and a year later children over the age of 11 were sent to the newly opened High School in Upwell. That left just 46 pupils remaining at Welney in 1939.

In 1948 the numbers had dropped still further to 34, and in 1976 it was down to just 26 children. The numbers doubled the following year, 1977 when the Lakes End school closed and 26 children were transferred to Welney taking enrolment to 52. in 1985 the figure dropped slightly to 48, and then numbers gradually dwindled to the mid 20's, well below the viable minimum. Without the continued support of William Marshall's Charity, the school would not have survived.

The numbers increased for a while; in 2000 there were 31 pupils, in 2005 37 pupils, and 36 in 2008; but they fell again and in 2015 the education authority, Norfolk County Council, considered it was no longer viable. After a short battle by parents (see link at page bottom) it closed and children are now bussed to Upwell.

In 2017 William Marshall Charity sold the building and site and at the time of this update an application has been made to convert the premises to a Christian retreat. See Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council planning dept, ref: 17/00701/F.

The original school was to be called
"The Charity School of William Marshall".

Pupils were to be
 boys between 6 and 14 years old
and girls from 6 to 13 years old.


In a recent book "Downham Mkt & Around", Chistopher Shaw points out that the 1901 census shows Mr Bearcock was unmarried and assisted in the school by his 32 yr old niece Ann Bearcock. She had been listed in the 1891 census as housekeeper and sewing mistress.
His unmarried satus appears contrary to the requirements of the trust as noted above.
The school has had some long-serving schoolmasters, remembered for very different reasons.

The record belongs to Walter Bearcock with 38 years from 1883 to 1919, a much disliked and feared master.
Charles Ray served 25 years from 1925 to 1948 (and was apparently in the Welney Home Guard, possibly as a Captain, and Welney Civil Defence unit in WW2).
Bryan Turner's 28 years from 1957 to 1985 are very fondly remembered by several generations of current Welneyites. He was very popular, and became involved in virtually all aspects of life in Welney, - see link at bottom right.

Since 2004 the school has shared a headteacher with Upwell Community Primary School. There is however a full-time 'teacher-in-charge' (assistant head), Miss Lynne Radford, also since 2004.

In 2010 there were also a full-time and a part-time teacher and 4 teaching assistants.

1833-1858Mr Christopher Green
1858- ?Mr Henry Perkins
1875-1878Mr John R Sharman
1879-1883Mr William Gleave
1883-1919Mr Walter Bearcock
1919-1921several temporaries
1921-1925Mr Bertam Topham
1925-1948Mr Charles Ray
1948-1957Mr Charles Brotherton
1957-1985Mr Bryan Turner
1985-1987Mr John Van Dyke (acting)
1987-2002Mrs Jasmine Golson
2002-2004Mr Mike Coates (LEA)
2004-200?Mrs Fiona Rickard
200?-2010Mrs Lyn Chatwin
2010-To be announced
  The school qas fortunate to have not only the benefit of finance from Marshall's Charity for major capital projects, but also an active Friends of the School group which stages interesting and entertaining events that also raise funds for smaller works and equipment. (March 2011 update: The Friends have sadly closed down)
ChairMiss Heidi Cowles
TreasurerJo Reader
Most people know that schools are inspected every few years to assess the management of the school and standard of pupil education.
The findings are published as an 'OFSTED' report.

But did you know that this school is also inspected to assess performance regarding Christian ethos & practice?
These are SIAS reports.

Links to OFSTED and SIAS reports
are at bottom right of page

The school was governed under the the terms of an order by Norfolk County Council on 7th April 2006, by a Board of Governors comprising nine members: 3 parent governors, 1 LEA governor, 2 staff governors, 1 community governor, and 2 foundation governors.

Foundation governors were appointed by the Ely Diocesan Board of Education and Training. The rector of St Mary’s Welney was a foundation governor ex-officio; but if unable or unwilling to serve or if there was a vacancy in the office, a substitute could be appointed by the Archdeacon.

School ethos: Recognising its historic foundation, the school will preserve and develop its religious character in accordance with the principles of the Church of England and in partnership with the Church at parish and diocesan level.

The school's aim was to serve its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice. It encouraged an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith, and promoted Christian values through the experience it offered to all its pupils.
Chair &
LEA gov'r
Dr Susan Dobson
Vice-chair &
foundation gov'r
Mrs Moss-Eccardt
teacher-gov'rMiss Lynne Radford
community gov'rMr Peter Wood
foundation gov'rMrs K. Bone
parent gov'rMrs Claire Freer
parent gov'rMrs T. Christon
parent gov'rMrs K. Hopkin
ClerkMrs A. Pollard
August 2010 - Mrs Moss Eccardt has decided to stand down.
Mrs Shephard unveiling the new sign

Mrs Shephard cutting cake
In 1998 the school celebrated the 150th anniversary of the building with a big party. Our then MP, Mrs Gillian Shephard, was guest-of-honour, and unveiled the new school sign on the front of the building (left and right).
Mrs Shephard also toured the school, speaking to staff, parents and pupils, and cut the celebratory cake.

The new sign said the school was founded in 1848, the year the building was erected, but the records suggest the foundation was actually in 1827 as decribed above.

The school had a variety of names, including Welney Mixed School and Welney Old School. In 1969 the name officially adopted was The William Marshall School, Welney. That too changed, the name on the new sign being William Marshall Primary School. Various abbreviations have been incorporated - CE or C of E (i.e. Church of England) and VC (i.e.Voluntary Controlled). However, William Marshall's name remained foremost.
The old sign, right, was retained on the front gate and was used as the logo on the school's own official website except the background colour was blue not green.
school sign on building

school sign on gate
the old school sign on the front gate.
Text based largely on research by the late Ken Sorensen, 1997-1999.
Old photos from our archives.
2005 aerial shot courtesy Dick Fiske
New ones by Peter Cox, 2008-2010.
The school building is still essentially the 1848 construction - but with modern improvements! Electric lighting was installed in 1951, a kitchen added in 1953 and in 1970 new floors, a false ceiling and fluorescent lighting were installed. In 1971 the old coke-fired boiler was replaced by an oil-fired one, and in 1973 indoor toilets were provided.

In 2002 (?) the school house was converted into an extension of the school, again with the help of Marshall's Charity. The ground floor of the old school house was used for 5 half-day sessions per week by the Welney Cygnets (later disbanded) and by the school the rest of the time.

The school was well equipped with IT and musical facilities. Read more about todays school, the staff and activities, at the school's own website.

In the spring of 2015, the threat of closure of the school by Norfolk CC surprised and shocked parents, the Welney Parish Counci and many residents. See link on right for a very detailed report for and against the proposal.

Despite the protests, the school closed at the end of 2015 and the children transferred to Upwell.

In 2017 William Marshall Charity sold the building and site and at the time of this update an application has been made to convert the premises to a Christian retreat. See Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council planning dept, ref: 17/00701/F.

more Wm Marshall school pages
CLOSURE possible Aug '15
Photo archives
Ofsted reports
Related pages on this website
William Marshall
Marshall's Charity
Bryan Turner
Mission School, 100 Foot Bank
Lakes End School
Related pages on other websites
the School's own site.
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