Hebden Township Historical Data

Hebden School Head Teachers

This is a list of the known head teachers at Hebden school. When both the Year From and the Year to fields are provided, it is known that those were the start and end years. When just the Year From field is provided, then it is only known who the head teacher was for that year. A question mark indicates that the head teacher was there that year.

Year From Year to Teacher Notes
1874 1876 John Brown ? (1810-1878) was schoolmaster in 1871. Ex lead ore smelter
1877 1901 William John Mason (1854-1943). Left to become head master of Burnsall School
1902 1905 Fred Senior (1853-1926). Came from Cracoe school
1906 1915 Miss Jane Dawson (1848-1929). Lived at High Dene
1916 Miss Gill Salary £90 per annum
1922 Miss Mary G. Bentham
1927 Miss Alice Elizabeth Nettleton (1886-1980). Married Richard Edgar Stockdale in 1929
1931 1941? Miss Annie Edith Smith (1889-1964). Married James T Sunderland 1941
1946? 1950? Miss Janet Mary Cole (b. 1904). Married Richard Dinsdale in 1950
1950 1983 Miss Gwendoline Parker (1923-2013). Married Albert Hawkins in 1953

John Brown

John Brown was very much a local man. According to Thomas Hammmond he started his working life as a smelter in the Grassington Moor mines, but when the fumes affected the joints of his legs and he required sticks to assist him to walk, the Duke of Devonshire's mining agent persuaded him to start a day school. This was to allow the boys who worked in the mines to spend time at school when the winter weather prevented them from working. In the 1841 Census he was working as a lead ore smelter, and in the 1851 census as a "School master and Clark".

The school at this time was in a converted malting kiln on Low Green, below where the current school is. According to Hammond: "Mr. Brown was a very good penman but not clever with figures I have been told, so that a Mr. Horner gave him lessons in arithmetic, mensuration, and algebra, and it was not many years before Mr. Brown was equally, if not more, a master of figures as his tutor. History, grammar, and geography he knew very little about, and never pretended to teach these subjects. In reading and writing he turned out some good scholars. Some were very adept at figures. His remuneration was 3d a week - when he could get it."

In the 1861 Census, John Brown was still the "schoolmaster and Church Clerk", but his family were very much embedded in the local industries. Two of his daughters worked in the textile mill, one son was a lead ore dresser, and a second son was an "excavator".

It is assumed that John Brown continued as school master when the new school was opened in 1874, but he died two years later in 1876.

William John Mason

William John Mason was the longest serving teacher at Hebden School. He was born in Bourton, near Banbury, in Oxfordshire. His father Thomas was a blacksmith, and his mother Emma (née Robins) was a straw bonnet maker. In 1871 Mason was still living in Bourton working as a pupil teacher. In 1877, at the age of 23, he replaced John Brown as the schoolmaster at Hebden School, and we know that in 1881 he was boarding in Belmont House.

Photograph of William John Mason (1854-1946)
William John Mason (1854-1946)

The school accounts for the year ending 30th April 1883 indicate that Mason was being paid a salary of £87 8s 6d, the equivalent of about £12,000 in 2021. The accounts also indicate that an assistant was being paid £8 per annum. This may have been Eden Helen Harker, who was to become his wife three years later. Eden Harker was born in Helensburgh Scotland in 1862, and in the 1881 census her father, mother, herself, and her younger sister were all recorded as being teachers. Her mother died so after, and the family moved to Grassington, from where her father originated. It is possible that she had got a post at Hebden School on her return to the area.

William and Eden married in 1886, and in 1891 they were living in Belmont with two young daughters, with Eden working as a 'sewing mistress'.

William did his bit for the village. From the early 1880s he was looking after the day-to-day running of the village Local Penny Savings Bank, and from 1890 at least, he looked after the Sunday School at St. Peter's. He was also the village registrar of births from 1889, and Clerk to the Parish Council from 1898 to 1901.

He left the post in Hebden in 1901 to become the head teacher at Burnsall School, where he was in 1911. In 1939 he and Eden were living in retirement in Burnsall. William died in 1943, and Eden died in 1946.

Jane Dawson

Jane Dawson was in her mid-50s when she succeeded Fred Senior as the Head Teacher of Hebden School in 1906. She was born in 1848, the daughter of George Dawson, a master plumber and gas fitter from Leeds, and had two brothers and four sisters. In 1871 she was living with her elder sister Mary Ann, who was also a plumber and gas fitter(!), and her younger brother George - also a plumber. Jane was working as a Governess. In 1881 she was a Certified School Mistress, boarding with her widowed brother-in-law, Henry Roebuck. Ten years later, she was still living with him, but as a Housekeeper. He died in early 1892, and in 1901 she was working as a school teacher in Louth in Lincolnshire. By this time, she had a young girl called Violet living with her. Violet was one of six children of Jane's brother George, and it is likely that she took on Violet as an act of charity. Violet was to stay with her until Jane's death.

Jane and Violet moved to Hebden in 1906, initially living in Sunny Nook, but in 1907 moving to Prospect House, which she later renamed High Dene. Her brother George died in Hebden in 1906, but whether he was visiting or living with her in Hebden is not known. He was interred in the graveyard. When she took over as Head Teacher she also took responsibility for the Church of England Sunday School, and she played the organ. By 1913, Violet was serving as her teaching assistant.

Jane retired in 1914,when she was 65. She continued to live at High Dene until her death in 1929. The house was left to Violet who lived there until her death in 1973. George, Violet, and Jane Dawson were all interred in St. Peter's old churchyard where there is a family memorial. This also commemorates Lewis Dawson, Violet's brother, who died at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

The inscription on the Dawson memorial in Hebden church yard
Photograph: Craven’s Part in the Great War website
Memorial to members of the Dawson family in Hebden churchyard, before it was restored in 2018

Gwendoline Hawkins (née Parker)

Gwendoline Hawkins was the second longest-serving teacher at Hebden School. Born in 1923 and originally from the Rotherham area, Gwendoline Parker trained in Derby and taught in Dagenham and Sussex before accepting the post of Head Teacher at Hebden in 1950. She married local man Albert Hawkins in 1953. In 1974 she presided over the school's centenary celebrations. She remained in the post until she retired in 1983, when the school closed with just 16 pupils.

Photograph of Gwen Hawkins (1923-1983)
Gwen Hawkins (1923-2013)

She contributed much to village life, being a member of the Parochial Council, the Parish Council, a trustee of the Fountains Trust, and she sang in the choirs of both Hebden and Linton churches. Albert died in 1989, and soon after she moved to Grassington. She died in 2013.