May 1966 heralded the Elland Festival of Music. For the first time children from the six primary schools and the lower school of Elland Grammar School came together to make music. A choir of 300 children performed in the packed main hall of the Grammar School. The press report states that the junior choir were exuberant and sang ‘The Blacksmith’, ‘The Jolly Waggoner’, ‘El Vito’ and other pieces. There was some confusion, given the children’s excitement, as to when exactly the choir was supposed to sit down or stand up. The senior choir were almost subdued in comparison but acquitted themselves very well. Between the choir items, the Northern Brass Ensemble, a group formed of visiting teachers of instrumental music, played everything from ‘pop’ to Bach. Bouquets were presented to those who had made the festival possible especially Miss Gertrude Marsh, head of the lower school, who did all the organising. Mr Lester, headmaster, said that the audience had seen and heard the children enjoying themselves making music – and that alone was justification for an event of that kind.
Another school tale but many years earlier. Mr John Moore who left Elland for America returned for a visit in the summer of 1899. He brought four live alligators as gifts for the South End and West Vale schools. The creatures were young and measured about 18 inches in length. The two alligators at South End were housed in an aquarium in the girls’ school. They were of much interest to the scholars and teachers. There is no record as to what happened to the alligators.
The Boy Jesus and the Lamb
A much safer offering is the sculpture of ‘The Boy Jesus and the Lamb’ at Cross Lane School, Elland. This piece was executed by Miss Jocelyn Horner of Halifax in 1954. It cost £150 and was the first sculpture to be incorporated in the design of a school since the war. The sculpture, in bronze and a pale green colour, was displayed at an artists’ exhibition in Leeds before its transfer to Cross Lane in 1955. A spokesman, on behalf of the West Riding Education Department, said that it was not policy to commission sculptures for every new school but if funds allowed the committee would consider artwork to alleviate austere design.
Sadly the West Riding Education Committee was less enlightened before the war. Bowling Green School had been presented with a 23 guinea radiogram set but there was a ban on schools listening to the wireless in the West Riding. The gramophone part of the set could be used. The school approached Elland UDC for support as the teachers were keen that the children should listen to broadcasts especially nature talks. The council agreed permission for one term pending county council approval.
David J. Glanfield
Greater Elland Historical Society