Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy

14/6/2006

Schoolbook that provides history lesson

Famous ‘old boys’ include the world’s first black international football captain and a Grand Slam winning rugby player. Andrew Robinson reports on one of Yorkshire’s best-known grammars, the subject of a new work which looks back on over four centuries of educational achievement.

HE was the world’s first black international football player, was capped three times for Scotland between 1881 and 1882 – including captaining them to a 6-1 victory over England – and was educated in Halifax.
Andrew Watson, who was born in Demerara in British Guiana, was the son of wealthy Scottish sugar planter Peter Miller and a local girl, Rose Watson.
He was admitted to Heath Grammar School, Halifax, in August 1866, may have lived at Crossley Orphan Home, and went onto Glasgow University and later signed for Queen’s Park, then Britain’s biggest football team.
Outside his football exploits, little more is known about Watson, other than the fact that he married, emigrated to Australia and is buried in Sydney.
In 1926, renowned sportswriter JAH Catton, of the Athletic News, named Watson as left back in his all-time Scotland team.
Watson isn’t the only famous old boy celebrated in the book Crossley Heath School, which traces its origins back 420 years.
Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), author of Tristram Shandy, was sent to a “school in Halifax” where he learnt Latin and Greek – although it is not clear which school he went to. The book’s authors – themselves all old boys – note: “Heath cannot claim beyond doubt that Laurence Sterne attended Heath, for such a claim would be disputed by Hipperholme Grammar School, Halifax. Dr Cox (a former headmaster) even ponders the possibility that Sterne may have attended both schools.”
More recent old boys and girls are easier to name with confidence. Rugby international Brian Moore attended Crossley and Porter School, as it was then known, from 1973 to 1980, captaining the school rugby team in every year apart from his first.
Later he went on to play for Harlequins and was a member of England’s Grand Slam winning side in 1991, eventually breaking the record for England caps as a hooker.
Success on the sports field runs through the history of the school. Among the other notables is international judo player Sophie Cox who was ranked seventh in the world last year.
She left Crossley Heath School in 2000.
Modern-day pupils ought to read the book to realise how lucky they are.
“It is documented that in 1612 school began at 6am and finished at 5pm with a break from 11am to 1pm and Sunday was free… Saturday morning was given over to religious instruction.
Whilst in school they spoke only in Latin, not English.
Teaching staff could also be pretty severe, especially at the Orphan Home and School for Boys and Girls, founded by the Crossley brothers in the 1860s.
One master, a Mr Pocklington, was described him as “of a swarthy, forbidding aspect” and “cynical and cutting both with cane and tongue”.
Nowadays Crossley Heath School has around 1,000 pupils and recently acquired Language College status.
n Crossley Heath School is published by Tempus Publishing, priced £12.99. It is available from the school on 01422 360272.
andrew.robinson@ypn.co.uk

source-Yorkshire Post

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