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Happily the infirm mistress was granted one of the comfortable almshouses, and “Fiddler Henry” found another occupation more congenial to his taste.
By great effort on the part of his people, and unabashed canvassing on their minister's part, a large sum was collected, and the upper room was superadded, reached by a winding staircase, constructed in a quaint-looking tower to the front, which served as entrance to both the boys' and girls' departments. On the tablet, the following addition was made to the previous inscription of 1789
“By like VOLUNTARY EFFORTS to the above The Upper Room, Turret, and other parts were
added in 1862: Teachers of better training were appointed, and the two compartments were well attended by scholars. The Hollis School renewed its former reputation under old Joseph Ramsbottom, Ebenezer Elliott's “Druid," and, being afterwards placed under Government Inspection, and with still better teachers, became one of the best Elementary Schools of the town. As stated in the Charity Commissioners' Report, 1895, “ The position of the school in September, 1884, was as follows :—The master received as his emoluments the school pence
and the Government grant, less the expenses of management; the mistress a salary of £70. The average attendance was, boys 57 ; girls, 61 ; and the total fees paid in the previous year amounted to £93 Os. 8d.” The Hollis School became afterwards much more successful. The two departments were qualified to hold 72 scholars each, total 144, and a greater number was recorded on the rolls, but, it took several years, to enforce regular school-attendance, even after the necessary legal enactments.
The gradual acquirement, by the congregation, of portions of Mrs. Fisher's Bequest enabled assistance to be given to the Day as well as to the Sunday Schools, so that, when free education under the Rotherham School Board, of which the Rev. Wm. Blazeby was one of the original members, was granted, the Hollis School was enabled to partake of the greater educational provisions. The successive masters and mistresses and assistants proved greatly helpful in the Sunday School
and chapel choir. When, at length, the Government Inspector required further additions and improvements, entailing a cost of some £300 or more, the trustees found it desirable to allow the School Board to take over the Hollis School, with its teaching staff, including Mr. W. H. Jessop and Miss Ruth Gilbody, and the assistants. These excellently qualified teachers were, afterwards, appointed to the chief charge of two of the large School Boards, and continue to hold their superior appointments.
MEMBER OF THE SCHOOL BOARD. Mr. Blazeby, on the invitation of the School Board, was appointed, pro tem., Hon. Secretary, and entrusted with the responsible charge of selecting a suitable collection of prayers and hymns for use in the Board Schools. He has always been in favor of distinct Christian instruction in both the Voluntary and Board Schools. He was, at one election, placed at the head of the poll, presenting himself as the work. ingmen's candidate, while always maintaining an independent position. He continued on the Board for fifteen years, acting as Chairman of the Finance Committee, and displaying greatest interest in popular education, and, needless to say, his speeches often filling long columns of the Advertiser." His election also on the Rotherham Board of Guardians gave him all the greater experience and influence in educational, charitable, and other local affairs, while his honourable position, as ViceChairman of the Liberal Association, tended the more to advance his local reputation. It may be pardonable to repeat an anecdote, told by one of the Government Inspectors. When he was once examining the children of the Rotherham Church Schools, he asked the scholars to name some of the principal persons they ever heard of. One lad responded “ Wellington, Nelson, Gladstone, and Mr. Blazeby." Now, did ever a Unitarian parson receive a greater honor ?
ANOTHER PICTURE. But alas ! there came a change of fate. The erstwhile popular leader, who was wont to address, with accompanying applause, the thousands in the College Yard, on electoral, and other public occasions, must take upon himself to oppose Mr. Gladstone's Irish “ Home Rule” Bill. He had to pay the dire penalty. Such was the bitter resentment, that the Radical majority, on the proposal, alas! of his old friend, Dr. Falding, removed him from the vice-chair of the Liberal Association; and the opposition went so far, as for one year. to keep him off the Board of Guardians. Churchmen and Conservatives, however, now rallied round the daring political offender, and his position on the School Board was thereby assured. To Mr. Blazeby himself, it was an acutely painful and disheartening experience to find himself, though as conscientious and faithful in his public services as ever, shouted down on his last attempt to address a public meeting, by those who had formerly applauded him !
“ A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn." In one public sphere, to his utmost gratification, he was never disturbed, and that was, as member of the weekly Board of the Hospital and Dispensary. Of the latter institution, the Dispensary, established by Rev. Dr. Warwick, Mr. Blazeby had been appointed a member of the committee, soon after he settled in Rotherham. In unbroken succession of years, he was elected to the weekly Board of the Hospital, ultimately being appointed chairman, after the removal from the town of Canon Quirk, so greatly esteemed as Vicar, member of the School Board, and Chairman of the Hospital Weekly Board. Mr. Blazeby compiled, and read at the Annual Meetings, several of the yearly reports of the institution.