A battle and after …

By the 1890s many people, led by the vicar of St Botolph’s, The Reverend Robert Haddon, thought that Sir John Cass’s Foundation was a very rich charity that was not using its resources well enough. This group wanted the trustees to be forced to hand over control of the Foundation, and for the money to be used to provide a college for poor students in Hackney.


The disagreement became a battle lasting several years, and the two parties were headed by the Rev’d Haddon and Alfred Lyon, the chairman of the Cass Trustees. The two came to hate each other, and there were several bitter and very public quarrels. In addition, the Rev’d Haddon published a number of articles and then a book giving his side of the story.


Haddon and his friends believed they were fighting corruption and looking to make sure that resources were used for the young people who really needed them. The trustees believed they were doing a good job and following the wishes of Sir John Cass. They agreed to open a college using part of the Foundation’s money, and fought to keep the school open as well. Several hundred local people, including the parents of some pupils, signed a petition at this time to keep the school open.


In a way, both sides won, as the school stayed open and so did the college. And it is certain that children at the school began to receive a much better education. Much of the credit for this should go to the new headmaster appointed in 1896, Alan Farthing. He was 33 years old, energetic and full of new ideas. He did much to raise standards at the school, and to insist that pupils, both boys and girls, should have the chance to go on to jobs of all kinds. When the headmistress retired he persuaded the trustees that he should take on responsibility for the girls as well as the boys, and several assistant teachers were appointed, including some with specialist skills.


The new school building


It was during Farthing’s time as headmaster that the school moved to its current building.


The school was regularly inspected at this time, and most of the comments are positive. And the minute books begin to record that the trustees were making grants to leavers who wanted to do on to further education.