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George Morell, 1841-1930

Forty five years as a Saltaire teacher

George Morrell arrived in Saltaire in 1960 as a young assistant teacher at the Factory School provided by Salts Mill. By the early 1870s he was the headmaster, later moving to be head of the nearby Shipley Central School.

He finally retired after 45 years of service. He was obviously fondly thought of and well respected. A magnificent illuminated presentation book was given to him on retirement, paid for by public subscription and to which Sir James Roberts and many eminent past-students contributed.

Arrival in Saltaire

According to the Shipley Times & Express of the  22 October 1920, George Morrell came to Saltaire in 1860 to take up the post of assistant teacher in the Salt Factory School.

In the days before the Education Act of 1870, only those working-class children who worked part-time received any education, as employers of such children were obliged to provide some form of education.

Originally based in the Dining Hall, at the side of Saltaire railway station, in 1868 the Salt Factory School moved up Victoria Road to the building that later became the Salts High School.

E1b-125: Salt High School building
E1b-125: Salt High School building

Becoming headmaster

C2b-172 Photograph of Victoria Hall taken from the Salts School
C2b-172 Photograph of Victoria Hall taken from the Salts School

After gaining further qualifications in London, George was appointed headmaster of the Saltaire Factory School.

Following the introduction of the 1870 Education Act, the subsequent increase in student numbers and the reorganisation of the Salt Factory School, George’s school moved across the road to the Saltaire Institute for a short time.

Later, following the building of a new Central School in Saltaire Road, he was appointed Headmaster of the ‘Shipley Central Boys Council School’. He remained there until his retirement in November 1905.

Saltaire Congregational Church and the Temperance Movement

George was a member of the Saltaire Congregational Church. He served as Superintendent of the Sunday School for 23 years, and manager of that school’s Band of Hope, an organisation promoting alcoholic abstinence among school children.

Though he himself was a total abstainer, George was a supporter of the Temperance Movement. He seems to have promoted Sir Titus Salt’s practice of responsible drinking, as opposed to that of Total Abstinence, promoted by other non-conformists. As a supporter of this movement, George was one of the founders of the Shipley Temperance Union in 1892, and he became President in 1902.

PAR76: George Morrell in 1902 as President of the Shipley Temperance Society
PAR76: George Morrell in 1902 as President of the Shipley Temperance Society


E1a-022: George Morrell's Presentation Book, page 5
E1a-022: George Morrell's Presentation Book, page 5

As George approached retirement, his friends organised a public subscription to raise money for an illuminated address and a ‘purse’ (a collection of money). Among the contributors was the owner of Salts Mill, James Roberts (£20) and a former student at the Factory School, the eminent Oxford University Professor of  Philology, Joseph Wright (£2-2s). George had once given the impoverished student Wright a pair of trousers.

The illuminated address was presented to him in December 1905. It was the work of Arthur Fry, an old student of George’s, and the eldest son of another important Saltaire educationalist, William Fry.

Many Shipley businessmen in attendance at the presentation had started their education at the Factory School, and recorded their great appreciation of George’s teaching skills.

The illuminated address is a prized item in the Saltaire Collection.

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