THE CLOSURE of Saddleworth’s last remaining bank has unlocked a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past and of a Victorian legacy that continues to benefit local youngsters.
Documents linked to the formation and continued deliverance of the Hawkyard and Whitehead Education Foundation was found in the vaults of the NatWest bank on Uppermill High Street.
The Foundation, founded from bequests by Ralph Hawkyard and William Whitehead, was set up in 1886 shortly after the closure of the rarely remembered Wharmton Grammar School.
The money provided scholarships and funding for all children living and attending all schools in Saddleworth from poorer families.
Since then there have been unbroken, twice annual payments of grants through to the present day.
Now discovery of the ancient paperwork has prompted Foundation trustees to contact the Independent to help raise awareness of the availability of funding.
Alma McInnes is one of 10 trustees and wife of Ian McInnes, a former chair of Saddleworth Parish Council.
“We consider applications for grants every six months,” she explained.
“The stipulations are children are aged eight to 16 and live in Saddleworth and go to school in Saddleworth.
“Grants, for example, can be used to purchase sports equipment, musical instruments or trips of educational value. Every application is treated in the strictest of confidence.
“But we do want to spread the word that funding is available. Last year we only received two applications and so far in 2017 we have only had one.”
To see if your youngster qualifies for a grant contact Alma on 01457 876425.
Ralph Hawkyard junior was a bachelor, aged 39, when he died, bequeathing £200 to be used for the setting up of a schoolhouse and employment of a schoolmaster.
The result of his generosity was Wharmton Grammar School, founded in 1729 on wasteland on what is now Streethouse Lane in Dobcross.
Further sums of £20 and £110 to be used to provide free education for Saddleworth children were added to the bequest after the deaths of his sister and half brother.
Another £500 was later added from the will of Dobcross villager William Whitehead.
The school closed its doors for the final time after a chequered history in 1883.
But Hawkyard and Whitehead’s desire to provide educational help for Saddleworth’s youngsters wasn’t to be forgotten.
Three years later the Hawkyard and Whitehead Educational Foundation was founded.
Thanks to careful management for more than 130 years, the original investment continues to provide for the educational needs of Saddleworth’s school population.