13 May 1917 was a grand day in the history of the Burston Strike School as it marked the official opening of the Strike School. The date was chosen at a meeting held in the Crown Inn the previous August; undoubtedly on reassurances from the builder that its construction would be completed. But thanks to the war effort, it wasn’t; the building was shell without glass in the windows or the woodwork painted. Yet the opening ceremony was still undertaken.
A charter train has been organised from London, and bought along some 250 men of the National Union of Railwaymen, and luminaries like Sylvia Pankhurst, and John Scurr, the Labour politician and trade union official. They were to join and estimated 1200 people for a procession, and public meeting on the Green to witness the school declared open.
After addresses given by members of the Agricultural Labourers’ Union, Tom and Annie Higdon, Sylvia Pankhurst and a number of other supports; Violet Potter (the now grown up leader of the children who went out on strike) stepped forward to open Burston’s new school. She had prepared her words the night before: ‘With joy and thankfulness I declare this school open. To be forever a school of freedom.’
What few people realise is that the Strike School was not actually completed and used as a school until the spring of 1918; but on Saturday (13 May 217), the niece of Violet Potter and Trustees of the Strike School came together to raise a toast to the living monument to rural democracy and working class education, on its curious centenary birthday.
- Posted by BurstonStrikeSchool
- On May 14, 2017