The School Room
The Schoolroom was originally an annexe to the Bourne School and was known as The Tin Hut. It had been in use from 1909 until it was replaced by a new main school extension in the summer of 2004. The teachers were reluctant to see an 'old friend' scrapped and the building came to us in 2005 – it is made of timber and corrugated iron. We were fortunate to get a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £47,000 towards the cost of moving it to the museum, where it remains in educational use by visiting schools groups. Other donations from well-wishers helped with the cost and the museum's Rustics gave their time and expertise freely.
The building was manufactured by T. W. Palmer & Co. of Merton Abbey Ironworks, Wimbledon, in 1909. Some stalwarts of the museum were educated in the building – Henry Jackson studied woodwork there before WWII and Eric Kinge recalls doing science experiments there. In later years it was mainly used as a science laboratory, and we have retained some of the fittings from that time.
Someone who remembered it well was Ron Smith, of Farnham, who recalled the days when school leaving-age was 14 and the schools taught woodwork and cookery, horticulture and needlework, often in specialist classrooms suited to the purpose. The Castle Street Institute in Farnham was one of these and the girls were taught cookery and house-craft on the ground floor, the first floor being for boys to learn woodwork. Ron remembered the difficulties many pupils had with dovetail joints, working with various types of wood and the horrors of the glue-pot!
The school-room is now in regular use again in its new location at the Rural Life Centre. Many visiting schoolchildren will have experienced the teaching techniques from the days when the cane was used to keep discipline and children learned multiplication tables off by heart; up to 'twelve times' to cope with the pence in a shilling. Today, the discipline by caning is gone and calculators are in everyday use, but the regular visits by schools show those children who attend how things have changed.