History of Cambo First School

Cambo’s History

The First School in Cambo was built about 1739. The present school was built in 1885. Charles Trevelyan from Wallington built the school.


Previous to the schools being built on Wallington Estate there lived on the fells what were called ‘hedge school masters’. Sometimes they moved from one farmhouse to another  and held their classes there. One such was at Chartners at the foot of Simonside. A Mr. Brown lived at Greenleighton and eked out his meagre living by making besomes, bee skeps and baskets. Another kept school in a cottage at Forestburn Gate and had seven pupils. ‘ The farmers on the fells were good to him and when he wasn’t in school he was in the public house’ [quoted from The Troublesome Times].

The early school was in Cambo Village, probably a school room with an adjoining cottage. The cottage used to be occupied by the caretaker. The room was extended first by Sir George Otto Trevelyan and again by Sir Charles P. Trevelyan to form a spactious community centre with a dance floor and billiard room. Although no longer a school this still remains the case e.g. village hall caretaker lives in the adjoining house.

Though the Northern area of the district was already provided for to a certain extent by a good stone built school and house at Rothley, built by Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan in 1881, in 1885 he decided that the area would be better served by the erection of a new school and house about 200 yards North of Cambo Village.  This is the present school and it commenced to function in May 1886. The school at Rothley closed in 1930, the twelve children then attending were transported to Cambo School via bus.  Toilet facilities at the school consisted of a tap in the yard [which was frozen in Winter] and earth closets. [with a two seater for the head teacher], but in 1952 a flush system was installed, still out of doors, of course, with consequent  headaches of freezing up in Winter! The children had their meals in the old school [village hall]. seated around the billiard table, covered with a heavy board. The journey to and from the hall on wet days resulted in staff and children having to dry their clothes in front of  the open fire in the classroom – a decidedly unhealthy practice!

Until 1959  Cambo School was an all -standard school with children occasionally being admitted either to Bellingham Camp School or to the Secondary Modern School there and sometimes to Marton Boarding School in Cheshire Also, those who qualified went to Grammar Schools.  Since 1959 all children over 11 years have attended the Chantry middle [deemed Secondary in 59] in Morpeth and then on to the Grammar [KEVI] now.

The Head teacher appointed in 1928 was Molly  Thompson. When appointed she noted that the only instrument was a s small creaking harmonium but soon a jumble sale was held and they were able to raise half the sum required by the L.E.A. for a new piano which was still in use in 1964. I am none to sure whether this is the piano we still have today?

In 1964 the school building was improved by the addition of a school kitchen and a hall for PE and meals. The former junior classroom was converted into a staff room , come medical room and indoor toilets and basins were finally installed. Cloakrooms for the children were also installed, along with a private cloak room for staff.  Some much needed storage space was gained and more importantly the head teacher gained a secretary to support with admin jobs and a telephone was also installed. [In 2012, space is still and issue in school, there is never enough of it, especially with reference to storage!]


A list of headteachers still hangs in the corridor of Cambo First School listing everyone who has been headteacher of the school since 1739. From Mr. Thomas Castle to my predecessor Mrs. Hazel Holliday.



To the village school came it’s most famous pupil Lancelot Brown  [Capability Brown] from Kirkharle.  The headmaster at the time was Mr. Gastle. Under his guidance Lancelot continued his schooling until he was 16 years of age. He probably had his first lessons at Kirkharle where the Parish Clerk taught the younger pupils, but when he grew older the Squire, Sir William Loraine, sent him to Cambo School and ‘since the school was of good standing there was no foundation for the gives which jealous rivals were later to make at Lancelot’s lack of education.’ [quoted from Dorothy Stroud ] Sir Walter Blackett at this time had succeeded  to Wallington [1728] and immediately began  to create the estate with which we are familiar today. There can be little doubt that young Lancelot, wending his way homeward when lessons were over , paused to watch the labourers at their various jobs of tree-planting and road and bridge building and notice the silvery Wansbeck take on a new loveliness as its surroundings gradually changed with order. This no doubt , gave him the visions which helped him to lay out such estates as Chatsworth and Stowe etc.  He left school in 1732 and became a gardener on the Kirkharle Estate where he stayed for seven years and at some time he must have had contact with Sir Walter Blackett for the Lake at Rothley House was planned by him.

Cambo School was maintained by the Squires of Wallington and called Cambo British School, but school pence varying form 2d to 6d per week, were paid.  Children sometimes swept paths and did odd jobs for the squire or master to earn these pence or were helped by the Hartburn Scholarship. In 1890 pence were abolished and education became free in keeping with the State Schools [1870].

In 1929 Cambo School was handed over to Northumberland L.E.A. by Sir Charles Trevelyan of Wallington who was the President of the Board of Education then, as he had been previously in 1924 and so it became Wallington Demesne Cambo County Primary School. Sir Charles’ son, Geoffrey, attended the school at that time and this fact aroused great interest amongst the Press and His Majesty’s Inspectors.


William Robson headteacher from 1772-1807 was nicknamed the Rhyming School Master. When he was about to leave the school  he prepared a record in the form of a  booklet , backed with a piece of brown paper with 25 pages of fine but legible writing, in which he inserted alphabetically the names of all those belonging to the village and neighborhood who attended the school.  776 pupils in total over 24 years. Each name had a mark beside it to mark down the disposition and capacity for learning etc. This document in 1964 was held by the head teacher of the school however in 2012 it cannot be found anywhere.

Quotation from the booklet:

‘Mongst all the pupils of my taws there’s but one index placed. And my first pupil Master Laws Is with that honour graced. The names distinguished by a star, Were the most docible by far, And those with equi-distant strokes, Were second handed sort of folks . But where you find the letter B, A humdrum booby you will see, And where an Exclamation’s set, The rascals  went away in debt.’


In 1939 a Local Refugee Committee was formed and the village adopted two  Czech boys  -David and Josef Placzek. David had a little English but Josef had to start from scratch.  At the end of the war David returned to Prague to find that his parents and all but one of his relatives had perished in the gas chamber. Josef also finally joined his grandmother in Israel.


A school was evacuated in Elswick Newcastle and the children and teachers lived in Wallington. To Cambo School came teachers and students from Wallsend, who joined in our school life and from both of these school visitors have come back time and time again retracing their history. Prior to the war the only people to visit the school were members of the Trevelyan Family or the vicar, to whom the girls curtseyed and the boys pulled their forelocks.

School gardening was well established in 1928 and ‘Rural Science’ went along with it with experiments in soils study. Later, outdoor studies increased and the children compiled books with studies of the animals, trees and plants of the district and the occupations associated e.g . hedge layering.

Transport for early outings  was the Wallington Estate lorry, but later luxury hired buses were used with the support of the L.E.A.  and school funds.Visits to the Norman Church at Hartburn and the Saxon church at Bolam became possible. Every year the school had one special outing e.g. Newcastle, Berwick or Cullercoats etc. Sometimes the children had their lunch out… It took them along time to get used to the idea of queuing! They just hadn’t done it before, or had to to do it before! It caused quite a stir at the coast the first time it happened!