A CHAPTER of school history closed at Darfield last term as Foulstone School pupils chattered along its corridors for the final time.
Sadness was mixed with excitement for pupils and staff, who now look forward to a new era linked with pupils from the former Wombwell High School at the Netherwood ALC.
Many events marked the final term, but the school’s history was recounted by Chair of Governors Bert Beaumont at a special leaving assembly.
Mr Beaumont told how the school was built by West Riding County Council during the second world war with its first intake of boys and girls in 1941.
One pupil was 12-year old Owen Markham, now 83 years of age and living at Schofield Place. Owen remembers the transfer to Foulstone from the Church School, which was “very old fashioned and heated by an open coal fire.”
The new school had specialist rooms, with centrally heated classrooms, a gymnasium and a school hall. Externally it resembled an ocean liner.
Mr Beaumont told how the school was opened in 1943 by RA Butler, the Minister of Education and was to become part of the new Secondary system brought in by the 1944 Education Act. It was named after its first Chair of Governors, County Alderman Thomas Foulstone. Its first headmaster was R.A.Martin.
The first boy school captain was John Short, who went on to play football for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the first division, and later for Barnsley FC. The first girl school captain is thought to have been Eunice Turner.
On June 1 1942, 13 year-old Owen lost his older brother named Young John Markham in a plane crash while serving in the RAF. His name is on the Cenotaph next to Darfield Library, and every year Owen places a wreath there on Remembrance Sunday.
In September 1942 - his last term, Owen became school captain. His girl counterpart was Edith Chambers, who left school at 14 having never missed a single day.
Owen too, left at 14, and went to work at Houghton Main Colliery. He lived in East Street and walked to work for 20 years until he got a second hand Ford Zodiac in 1963.
Edith got a job in the Co-op shop in Barnsley and was paid 18s and 6 pence (92.5p) per week. Later she earned £4-10s per week, making parts for Lancaster Bombers at Guiseley.
A hostel at Horsforth took 30 shillings from her weekly wages. She met and married Edmond Zdrenka, and had children Ann and David. Ann’s children Sharon and Colin Moore attended Foulstone from the mid 1980s.
In 1957 the Munich air disaster, involving the young Manchester United football team, touched the school as former pupil Mark Jones was among those who were killed. Mark’s grave is in Wombwell cemetery, and a brass plate memorial is in the Foulstone school entrance.
In the 1960s Foulstone became a Comprehensive school and the school leaving age was raised to 16.
Owen served for 12 years on Darfield Urban District Council until it became part of Barnsley Council in 1973. He worked at Houghton Main Colliery for 43 years.
One of the best known and well-loved Foulstone teachers was the late music teacher, Holin Hammerton, said Mr Beaumont. He gave boys and girls the opportunity to play music in his bands throughout England, France and Germany. His Dearne Big Band plays on, mainly with ex-Foulstone students.
Mr Beaumont concluded: “Thousands of children and hundreds of teachers have walked down Foulstone’s corridors. None have done better than those who have taken the school through its final years.
“Be proud that you have helped steer the Foulstone ship safely into its final port, with the best external examination results ever and its best pupil progress data.
“Take a photograph of your old school because soon the building will be gone, fortunately your memories should stay with you all your life.”