Tuesday 21 October 2014

Ashford, Middlesex, National Schools 1908

Ashford, Middlesex, National Schools 1908. It is interesting that an idyllic scene such as this can sometimes conceal a nasty secret. The postcard below (post dated 1908 on the back) shows the National Schools in Ashford, Middlesex (Ashford is now in the county of Surrey). The school was erected in 1868 and as you can see from the Google Street View, it still survives today as the Ashford Church of England Primary School. It has been enlarged but the original buildings survive. The postcard shows a group of girls on the left and boys on the right. On the left of the girls is a woman, probably a teacher. Behind the girls is a man. He may well be the schoolmaster, Cyril Neaves. Neaves was convicted in September 1909 of a vicious beating of a pupil at the school and was fined five pounds - quite a lot of money back then. The story was reported nationally and was even discussed in the Houses of Parliament (NB, the Hansard website OCR has got Neaves' name wrong). The Sheffield Evening Telegraph for 7th September 1909 reported the case as follows:

Heavy Penalty on Charge of Assault.
A Boy's Punishment.
For an alleged assault on Albert Darling, aged 10, one of his pupils, Cyril Neaves, the headmaster of Ashford (Middlesex) National Schools was fined £5 yesterday.
According to the evidence the headmaster, on August 30th, placed the boy over a desk, where he was held by an assistant master, and thrashed him with a cane until it broke in two.
The boy, who lives at Park Road, Ashford, told the Bench that the headmaster asked him to bring his drawing, and, after looking at it, said: "Stand aside and I will deal with you in a minute." He was flogged for about five minutes. He cried from the pain, and when he sat down the headmaster said, "I'll give you some more if you don't sit still."
Mrs Darling said that her son was covered with bruises, and his flesh was red and inflamed, "almost like jelly". She counted thirteen marks on his body. She had complained to the headmaster before about thrashing the boy, and he then said that he would serve him the same tomorrow if he would not do his work.
The defendant denied, in his evidence, that he struck the boy more than four times. When he called him out he loitered, shuffled his feet, and muttered under his breath. The witness gave him two strokes of the cane, and as he muttered again he gave him two more.
The bench unanimously decided to impose the maximum penalty.

It is possible that Neaves is the man in the photo and that poor Albert Darling may be one of the boys. A sorry tale.
Postcard by Young & Co of Teddington. Click the postcard to enlarge.

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  1. I've come across some horrible stories of how teachers or the pupil teachers used to treat some of the children in school. Good that Mr Neaves didn't get away with it, sometimes they did. It makes you understand why perhaps parents didn't always send their children to school.
    Good to see you posting again.

  2. This makes a very compelling photo with the addition of the story and date. The abuse and violence used against children is part of the dark side of history, especially in the so-called civilized world. Some of the schools I attended used to advertise punishment with a paddle by prominently hanging one in the principal's office, but I never knew of a teacher allowed to use it. Thankfully it is rare today to see it American schools.
    On a different note the Google Streetview has a very dramatic sky!

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