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The Rushden Echo, 12th October 1928, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Formal Opening of The New
Technical Institute at Rushden

Speech by The President of The Board of Education

Lord Eustace Percy on Technical Instruction and Commerce

High Compliment Tto Local Manufacturers and Employees  

The New Technical Institute formerly the Central Machinery Company premises.

  The Right Hon. Lord Eustace Percy, M.P. (President of the Board of Education), visited Rushden on Saturday last for the purpose of formally opening the new County School of Boot and Shoe Manufacture, a full description of which has already appeared in The Rushden Echo. Lord Eustace was motored from London to Rushden by Sir Edward Penton. K.B.E.

  The work of transforming the premises, formerly occupied by the Central Machinery Company, into a technical institute was satisfactorily carried out by Messrs. William Packwood and Sons, builders, Rushden, and Messrs. Whittington and Tomlin, carpenters and joiners, or Rushden.

The Right Hon. Lord Eustace Percy, M.P.

Official Visit to Rushden - Character Sketch of The Minister of Education

  In point of years the “baby” of the Cabinet, yet admitted by competent judges to be one of the most brilliant members of the Cabinet – such is Lord Eustace Percy, M.P., the Minister of Education, who opened the new School of Boot and Shoe Manufacture at Rushden last Saturday.

  All matters concerning education have from his earliest years gripped the attention of Lord Eustace. Both at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, he gave ample evidence of his keen interest in educational problems, and subsequently, to extend his knowledge, he entered the diplomatic service.

  Well equipped with information which years of intensive study had furnished him, Lord Eustace made in 1919 his first attempt to enter the House of  Commons at Central Hull, fighting a memorable contest against Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy, also the son of a peer, and then a Liberal, but now to be found in the ranks of the Labour Party.  Unsuccessful there, he was two years later returned for Hastings, which constituency he has since uninterruptedly represented.  Lord Eustace Percy’s Ministerial career commenced in 1923, when he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education – a post for which his early training and life-long predilections rendered him particularly suitable.

Lord Eustace Percy
Representing his Department in the House of Commons, it was not long before he gave evidence, not only of an intimate knowledge of the educational problems of the day, but of possessing the gift of lucid explanations.  It at once became clear that he had what is described as the “Parliamentary manner” as well as debating attributes of no mean order.  On the formation of the present Government no surprise was felt when Mr. Baldwin selected his brilliant young colleague to be President of the Board of Education.

  As such Lord Eustace Percy has, it is admitted by all, irrespective of party politics, done remarkably well.  From the outset he threw himself wholeheartedly into tackling the educational problems of the day in the broadest spirit.  That he lives for his Department is a truism;  nothing is too much trouble, no journey too long or too tiring, for Lord Eustace to undertake, if by his presence the cause of education can be advanced.

  In the work of his Department he has the assistance of another educational enthusiast, in the person of the Duchess of Atholl – the first woman to hold office in a Conservative Administration.  Together they make an ideal combination, both imbued with the desire of making the educational system of the country the most effective and the most progressive in the world.


  Lord Eustace was the guest of the Rushden and District Boot and Shoe Manufacturers’ Association to luncheon at the Queen Victoria Hotel, and the catering of Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Evans was perfect. Mr. F.J. Sharwood (president of the Rushden Shoe Manufacturers’ Association) presided. The following is a list of the guests invited to meet his lordship:

  Sir Arthur R. de Capell Brooke, Bart., D.L. (chairman of the Northamptonshire County Council), Mr. Abraham Allebone, J.P.(vice-chairman), Mr. S.J. Lloyd, C.C. (chairman of the County Education Committee).

  Members of the Governing Body of the County Boot and Shoe Manufacture, Rushden, Messrs. J. Adams, C.A., J.P., Arthur Allebone, C.C., E. Batchelor, C. Bates, H.C. Bryant, W.F. Corby, C.C., C. Cross, C.C., A. E. Elkington, C.C., C. Faulkner, J.W. Hall, C.W. Horrell, C.A., Owen Parker, C.B.E.,C.C., L Perkins, B,sc., and F.J. Sharwood, Dr. W.W. Robb, J.P., C.C.

  Mr. F. Walker, J.P. (Mayor Higham Ferrers), Mr. T. Swindall (chairman of the Rushden Urban Council), Mr. A. Comozzi (chairman of the Raunds Urban Council), Mr. G. S. Mason (Clerk to the Rushden Urban Council), Mr. B. Vorley (chairman of the Rushden District Education Sub-Committee), the Rev. P. E. Robson (chairman of the Rushden Council School Managers), Mr. C. W. Clarke (chairman of the Governing Body, Boot and Shoe School, Kettering), Mr. H. C. Roberts (chairman of the Governing Body, Boot and Shoe School, Wellingborough).

  Members of the County Sub-Committee for Boot and Shoe Instruction, Mr. A. B. Crowsley, Mr. S. Bonner, Mr. A. H. Hollister, J.P., C.C., Sir E. Penton, K.B.E. (London), Mr. L. P. Poole.

  Miss Ruth Tomlinson (secretary of the Boot and Shoe Manufacturers’ Federation), Mr. T. F. Richards (general president of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives), Mr. V. Mobbs (Messrs. Mobbs and Lewis, Kettering), Mr. C. C. Hardwick (British American Last Works, Northampton), Mr. C. W. Phipps (Messrs. Phipps and Sons, Northampton), Mr. H. Bradley (Director of Boot Trades Research Association), Mr. J. L. Holland, B.A. (County Secretary for Education), Mr. R. H. Brookes (Superintendent of Boot and Shoe Instruction), Mr. F. P. Wootton (Assistant Superintendent of Boot and Shoe Instruction), Mr. G. H. Lewis (Education Surveyor), Mr. J. Perkins (Assistant Surveyor).

  Apologies for absence were received from Mr. H. Butlin, C.C. (ex-chairman of the County Sub-Committee for Boot and Shoe Instruction), Mr. J. Austin and Mr. J. Tompkins (members of the Governing Body of the County School of Boot and Shoe Manufacture, Rushden), Major F. J. Simpson (Town Clerk of Higham Ferrers), Mr. A. C. Allen and Mr. G. Chester (members of the County Sub-Committee for Boot and Shoe Instruction), Mr. G. Pocock (president of the Boot and Shoe Manufacturers’ Federation), Mr. C. Bennion (British United Shoe Machinery Company, Leicester), Mr. H. Samuel (Singer Sewing Machine Company, Leicester), Mr. H. A. Millington, O.B.E. (Clerk of the County Council), and Mr. E. L. Poulton, O.B.E. (general secretary of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives).

  Many local boot and shoe manufacturers were among the company. The toast of “The King” proposed by the chairman, having been honoured, Sir Edward Penton gave the toast of “The President of the Board of Education,” and Lord Eustace Percy responded. The toast of “Our Hosts,” proposed by Mr. A.E. Elkington, C.C., was acknowledged by Mr. C.W. Horrell, C.A.

The Formal Opening

  A large company assembled outside the new school in anticipation of the formal opening. The proceedings were exceedingly brief. Mr. Owen Parker (chairman of the Governors) asked Lord Eustace to open the door, whereupon the County Education Surveyor (Mr. Lewin) handed to his lordship a silver key. With this his lordship formally unlocked the door, and he made the first entry in the school log-book. Selected students were at work in each department, and Lord Eustace watched the various operations with marked interest. Accompanying the Minister for Education were the Governors of the school and a number of distinguished visitors. Later the school was open to the public for inspection.

Public Meeting

  Open to the public, a largely attended meeting was held at 3.30 in the Windmill Hall. Mr. Owen Parker, C.B.E., J.P., presided, and on the platform were Lord Eustace Percy, Sir Arthur Brooke, Mr. Abraham Allebone, C.C., Sir Edward Penton, Mr. T. Swindall (chairman of the Rushden Urban Council), Mr. F. Walker, J.P.(Mayor of Higham Ferrers), Messrs. John Adams, C.A., Arthur Allebone, C.C., E. Batchelor, C. Bates, H.C. Bryant, W.F. Corby, C.C., C. Cross, C.C., A.E. Elkington, C.C., C. Faulkner, J. W. Hall, C. W. Horrell, C.A., L. Perkins, B.Sc., F. J. Sharwood, and J. Tompkins and Dr. Robb, C.C. (Governors of the school), Mr. S. J. Lloyd (chairman of the County Education Committee), Mr. C. W. Clarke, C.C. (Kettering), Mr. H. C. Roberts (Wellingborough), Mr. J. L. Holland, B.A. (County Secretary for Education), and Mr. R. H. Brookes (Superintendent of Boot and Shoe Instruction).

Sir Arthur Brooke

  Welcoming the Minister for Education to the county, Sir Arthur Brooke said that Rushden had the distinction of having the first official visit of Lord Eustace to the county.  The proud record of Rushden was largely due to its craftsmen.  The industry had to deal with fierce competition, and they desired that the young people should have the opportunity of improving their position. (Hear, hear.)  The school opened that day was a thing of which the county could be proud.  Thanks were due to the boot manufacturers, whose liberality was well known to him.  The taxpayers and ratepayers had also done their fair share.  He thanked all for the trouble they had taken, and he was sure they would be proud to have taken that trouble.  They were satisfied from past experience that the staff and pupils would make the school a great success.  Lord Eustace Percy had put the crowning touch on their endeavours.  They all knew of his services to education and of his eagerness to give equal opportunity to the children of the rich and the poor to enable them to face the battle of life fearlessly and well. (Hear, hear.)  Education during his regime had been a record of steady progress, and they knew the health of the children had been studied more carefully than ever before.  The teachers had been loyal and were fully equipped for their duties and were satisfied with their improved position.  They owed a great deal to Lord Eustace and sincerely thanked him for the sympathetic attitude he had shown towards education during the past four years.  (Applause.)

Rushden's 'Mayor'

  As chairman of the Rushden Urban Council Mr. T. Swindall, J.P., welcomed Lord Eustace to Rushden, and said they felt highly honoured, not only because Lord Eustace was connected with His Majesty’s Government, but because he held a high and honourable position as President of the Board of Education. They in Rushden could not boast of their history and of their historic buildings, but they did boast of their modern things and their activities of recent years. They could lay claim to have one of the of the best water supplies in the country, and the sanitary condition of Rushden was equal to any town of its size in the country. The only historic building they had was the good old church of St. Mary. They had some beautiful schools, and most of all they had a large number of well-equipped factories governed by captains of industry who were out every time to gain the world’s markets wherever possible. They were greatly indebted to the County Council for placing such a splendid school in Rushden.  They had been very persistent in their demands to the County Council for a number of years, and they had to show patience, but with regard to the school they were very grateful.  (Hear, hear.)  They had many more demands to make and would continue to be persistent.  (Laughter and Hear, hear)

Mr. Owen Parker

  As chairman of the Governors of the school Mr. Owen Parker welcomed Lord Eustace, and said this was a very great day in the history of Rushden, for they had surmounted many obstacles. 

Although that was the third school of its kind in the county, they claimed it was the best, and it was up to the Governors and the staff to see it remained the best.  (Applause.)  He was perfectly certain that the spacious building would not long suffice to serve the needs of the determined and intellectual company of students.  (Applause.)  Some of those present remembered the time when the industry was a pure handicraft;  now it was a highly scientific mechanised industry.  It was for them to see that the efforts made on behalf of technical instruction were not wasted.  The thanks of those who were responsible for carrying on the school were due to the County Council for the energy with which they took up the matter;  to the manufacturers, who helped so much to secure it;  to Mr. Bennion, of British United Shoe Machinery Co., Ltd., who provided machinery which would have cost some thousands of pounds free of charge;  to the Singer Sewing Machine Company for again providing a complete bench of machines;  to Messrs. Phipps and Son, Northampton, for clicking equipment;  to Messrs. Mobbs and Lewis, Kettering, for English and American leather, and to Messrs. Whitney and Westley, Burton Latimer, for patterns.

The Minister for Education

In a speech addressed through the Press to the country at large Lord Eustace Percy thanked the manufacturers of Rushden for the opportunity of coming to Rushden, because he seemed to have strayed straight into the millennium! (Laughter.)  He had heard two prominent manufacturers, one at lunch and one at the meeting, paying the highest of tributes to a teacher, the late Mr. E. Swaysland, a great pioneer who had helped industry to greater efficiency. (Hear,hear.) They had in that part of the world, culminating with that afternoon’s spectacle, the spectacle of the industry, as it were, taking the County Council by the throat – not, indeed, an unwilling County Council – and saying : “We want certain additional educational facilities. We want educational facilities of a particular kind. We are prepared to spend more money on the equipment of the school to give the education we want to give.”  The County Council, anxious, as far as finance would permit, to extend the general system of education, found one industry pressing in season and out of season for further provision for technical education on a wide basis.  That was

No Unique Phenomenon

in their country;  it happened more in industrial areas than many people realised.  In these days they could not get a great educational movement in healthy running order until they had made the nation conscious of what the needs and demands of industry were, and the capacity of teachers and schools.  They had got to realise that on a national basis.  That was one of the first things he realised when he took the office he now held. It was impossible four years ago to know what the national and industrial opinion was of their educational system.  There was a great deal of rather needless and carping criticism about the schools.  There was a general feeling that the schools were not doing what industry wanted.  It was felt that they were producing a lot of black-coated workers but not turning out the kind of men and women that the country needed in the crisis after war.  He thought they had been able in the last four years to clear up a lot of vague misunderstandings. (Applause.)  The Malcolm Committee had gone into the matter of

Juvenile Employees

and generally into the relations between their system of education and the industrial need.  There would always be discussion as to what was the best curriculum to give to children, and, while parents would never admit that their children were given the education they ought to have had, the Malcolm Committee’s report showed that responsible people had no general criticism to make regarding the working of their elementary and secondary schools.  They realised that the education given there was just as good as and probably superior to the general elementary and secondary education given in any other country in the world.  (Hear, hear.)  That was good, but it was not enough.  The trouble was very largely that a boy in the elementary school had only one practically recognised means of following a connected course of study from the primary school up to manhood – the elementary school, the secondary school, and the University.  If a child left the elementary school at 14 or a little later, that boy or girl now had opportunities of further education in evening classes, and eventually

An Advanced Course

in the technical institutes.  But until recently there was no real connection, or far too little connection, between the elementary school and the technical school.  So long as they had only one type of secondary school of the academic type leading to the University, they could not provide the opportunity of continuous study right up to manhood.  They could only get a complete educational system if, in addition to the University, they had the technical institute, which gave access to higher education in the fullest sense of the word.  The technical institute must be a place for higher education, not merely a place where they taught certain specialised subjects.  The new senior and central schools gave a general continuous class which led up to the senior and advanced school, just as the secondary and higher schools led to the University.  They must really enable young boys and girls to enter on a definite stage of intermediate education between ten years and 16 years – a

New Stage of Education

which was not elementary, but a stage which led up to technical instruction. They needed co-operation between industry and the school, which meant co-operation within the industry, both employers and employed. Such a co-operation had for long been practised in certain local areas, and no co-operation could have been closer than that of the boot and shoe industry and the local education authority. It had been co-operation on the basis of personal touch between the local principal of the technical collage, the local Education Committee, and the local principals of business. It had required a good deal of canvassing to get that co-operation. But they were no longer dealing with local industry now, for industry was no longer local. The Board of Education were trying to find a solution of a national character.  They were making a series of inquiries into the educational needs of industry and setting up Committees of Inquiry on “salesmanship” and “engineering.”  (Hear, hear.)  To get the needs of the industry they must do more than get a number of manufacturers round the table – it was a thing for research by the industry itself.  It needed much careful thought and explanation.

Rushden’s Example

  The main reason – he proceeded – why we are keen on technical education is that no industry can keep afloat except by continual invention and adaptation and the constant looking out for new materials, new processes, and so on, and that needs continuous effort and a permanent association.  The boot and shoe industry have got it, and it is that which has enabled you to see clearly that this is a school in which the industry does take, not merely a benevolent interest, but a very positive and active interest;  and it is that kind of organisation which I would appeal to the whole country to set up for every industry in the country.  And this is more necessary for this reason – that it is only if an industry sets up its own organisation to consider its problems that you will get employers and employees working the thing out together in the initial stage.  You will put the Board of Education in an impossible position if you expect the Government to collect separately the views of employers and workers in an industry.  The industry has got to have a policy of its own – workers and employers – and that is what you have done. I congratulate you.  I think that here you have set a really good example to the country, and I hope that the nation will take a lesson from what you have done locally and from the existence of your National Institute of the Boot and Shoe Industry set up to inquire into educational problems.  (Applause.)


  Mr. S. J. Lloyd, proposing a vote of thanks to Lord Eustace, said that the Education Committee was the most economical body in the county.  Its critics urged it to do so-and-so but on the other hand were often saying, “Why are you spending money?”  The Rushden school would not have been established if the manufacturers had not put their hands into their pockets and shown that they really meant business.

  Alderman C. W. Horrell seconded, and said that after the statesmanlike speech they had heard, Lord Eustace could look forward to Rushden’s support in any of his movements.

  Lord Eustace responded.

This fine photograph of their president, Owen Parker, C.B.E., had a label affixed to the frame:

Presented by the Northamptonshire Boot &
Shoe Students’ Association
President - 1906-1929

(Probably given to the Boot & Shoe School)

  Mr. Abraham Allebone, J.P., proposed a vote of thanks to the chairman, and said that with such a man as Mr. Owen Parker as chairman of the Governors they could look with every confidence to the school’s success.  They always looked upon Rushden as an educational centre;  it had some of the finest schools in the county and a splendid central school second to none in the country.

  Mr. C.W. Clarke seconded, and said that for 21 years Mr. Owen Parker was president of the Northamptonshire Technical Students Association.

  The proposition having been carried, Mr. Parker said that Rushden would be proud of the circumstances under which the school had been opened.

  Tea was served in the Windmill Hall for the boot and shoe students in the county.

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