The origins of this local charity go back into the mists of time. In 1807 under provisions of the Shelley Inclosures Act (1803) some parcels of land were to be allotted to 4 ladies of the manor of Shelley until such time as a school could be built on one of these plots at Townend Hill (the land where the Village Hall is now). The other plots were the Bridle field, between Far Bank and Near Bank, and an allotment of land on Long Moor. These were given for the benefit of trustees to use for income, from renting, as a salary for a schoolmaster, though until such an appointment was made the income was to be used for the benefit of the poor of the township of Shelley.
The vicar of Kirkburton, the Shelley churchwarden, the Constable of Shelley and Overseers of the Poor of Shelley were the trustees and were directed to erect a school house and appoint a school master. They instituted a subscription foundation (The Shelley National School Trust) whereby “churchmen” subscribed to provide the funds for a school. The first school house being built in 1808. It was extended in 1828 by further subscription and rebuilt in 1858 and considerably extended again in 1868 by the vicar of the newly built church in Shelley. All the monies coming from subscription of the “churchmen” of Shelley.
The trustees were responsible for appointing managers to the school. This caused a lot of controversy over a number of years as the only people that could be appointed had to be subscribers to the School Trust. Not only that but to vote in this election a minimum subscription of £1 per year was required and for each 10 shillings subscribed an extra vote could be purchased (up to a maximum of 6). The controversy surrounding this involved churchmen on one side and “dissenters” on the other. It also meant that the vicar had control of the nature of religious education at the school which was also designated as a Sunday school. This argument was partially alleviated when a second school was built in the village.
Following the 1877 Education Act the school became a Public Elementary School and received government grants but still relied on the subscriptions and even then in 1894 was losing money.
In 1880 the large allotment on Long Moor was sold for £211, leaving just the land around the school and the Bridle field. This field generated in 1904 an annual income of £3. By this time the School Trust no longer seemed to have any responsibility for the running of the school and for the first part of the 20th century the rental income just accrued in the bank. Occasionally money had to be expended on maintaining the boundary fences and wall to the field. In the 1920’s there is evidence of support for the school in helping the schoolmaster to take children to a Shakespeare play in Huddersfield and also in the purchase of a magic lantern. The main tenant over these years was a Mr Mosley who often seemed from minuted accounts reluctant to pay the rent. In 1933 the School Trust was reformed by local people, and the Charity Commission, as Shelley Education Foundation. Because, historically, the old National School Trust had been involved in education of children the new charity was also designated to help those, under the age of 25, in the parish, with education. Although the Bridle continued to be rented the income did not allow for much support to children. During the war some of the land was rented for raising poultry and poultry houses were built on the flatter part of the land.
In 1990 the charity was again reformed into its present state and by selling a plot of land immediately adjacent to the old school (now the Village Hall) for building, the charity was able to invest a considerable amount of money which annually generates an income which is used in dispersing grants to students in the parish of Shelley. The bridle field is no longer rented and some maintenance is carried out by a group of volunteers (Shelley Conservation Group).
Written by Stephen Hughes