Kents Bank School World War 2 Memorial
[C L I C K on picture for more photos]

The school was founded in 1675 by an amalgamation of various
legacies of an earlier date together with subscriptions taken then.
Its motto was Sic Luceat Lux Vestra - "Let your light shine forth."
After re-organisation moved as the Buxton Endowed School to
new premises, opened on 27 September 1881, built on land off
Green Lane. The new building was designed by William Pollard
of Manchester.

By 1900 there were nearly 100 boys of whom 60 were boarders.
By 1910 there were still over 70 boys but the number of boarders
had dropped to 26 and the position of the school was precarious.
After the War, in 1923, the School joined the state sector as a
Grammar School.

The 1911 Census Return (RG 14/21237) shows the School staffed by Harry Sackville Lawson (Headmaster), with his wife and young son; a Matron, Helen Theodore Fox Harvey; four School Masters, living in, including English and History teacher, Robert Edward Knight; 12 boarding pupils and 5 female Servants - i.e. Cook, Nurse and Housemaids. This was down from 46 boarders and 9 Domestic Staff 10 years earlier. [1901 Census RG 13/3270]

Both Harry Sackville Lawson and Robert Edward Knight were subsequently to lose their lives during the War and are commemorated on this site. Virtually all of the boys attending the School listed on that Census were probably too young to enlist, but reference to earlier School records show that many of Buxton's War dead attended the School in earlier years. In addition, of course, as boarders came from all over the Country, others may well be commemorated on their home Memorials.

One of the most notable 'Old Boys' was Captain William Howard Lister, D.S.O., M.C. [2 Bars], Royal Army Medical Corps, killed in action 9th August 1918, who left in The College in 1905. He is without doubt one of the bravest men commemorated on this site. 2/Lt. James Ashwell Howe and Pt Bernard Harrison were other 'old boys' of the School, as was Paymaster-Lt. Louis Needham, D.S.C.


As far as is known the School erected no individual Memorial to its War Dead from World War 1. However, at the end of the Second World War a Plaque was erected in the School Hall, by "Old Buxtonians", "In memory of their comrades who gave their lives in War, 1939-45".

This Plaque listed the names of 33 Old Boys who made the Supreme Sacrifice and was mounted in the School Hall. However, when the School was re-organised in 1990 by merging with the local girls' School to become Buxton Community School, internal renovations meant the Plaque was removed and placed into storage.

After research by Scott Allsop - then a pupil at the School - now administrator of this website - the Plaque was found, and reinstated in its rightful place. The Buxton Advertiser carried the story, which can be read by clicking the photo below right.

[N.B. After reading History at Cambridge, Scott now teaches and runs the very popular History Revision website -


The introduction of the Elementary Education Act 1870, commonly known as Forster's Education Act, created the concept of compulsory education for children under thirteen, although it only required the provision for education of children up to 10 years of age.

The Elementary Education Act 1880 insisted on compulsory attendance from 510 years. Children under the age of 13 who were employed were required to have a certificate to show they had reached the educational standard. An Act brought into force 13 years later went under the name of the Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act 1893, which raised the minimum leaving age to 11. This act was later amended in 1899 to raise the school leaving age up to 12 years of age.

The Education Act 1902, also known as the Balfour Act, abolished School Boards and replaced with Local Education Authorities, which are still in use, by  and large, today [2014]. It was not until after The Great War that the Education Act 1918, commonly also known as the Fisher Act, introduced compulsory education from 5 14 years.


As a result of the The Education Act 1902, compulsory education had to be provided
for children aged from 5 14 years. In the outlying villages, such as Fairfield, Burbage
and Harpur Hill, this was still being provided by local 'Church' Schools, some of which
may have been incorporated into the Local Authority [LEA] system. It is without doubt
that many of the War dead from these villages would have attended their local School
as a child.

In Buxton town itself there were still the provisions provided for both boys and girls by
the former 'Board Schools', and in addition the town had a number of Independent,
Private Schools, for both boys and girls - many of the former being linked to acceptance
into Public Schools and on into the Armed Forces.

The Principle boys' Schools at the time may be summarised as under, although it is unclear whether the LEA boys' School was known as 'Kents Bank' then, or this name was attributed later. There was another Junior School at Hardwick Square, Buxton, which had opened in 1875. The other three Schools listed were all Independent and Private.

The Village School, Fairfield

As stated above - and as with the local Village Schools, such as Fairfield, Harpur Hill and Burbage - it is most probable that many of the Buxton men who subsequently enlisted attended, at some time, the local 'Board School' located on Kent's Bank Road, Buxton, prior to its re-organisation in 1902. Hardwick Square Junior School, which exists on the same site today [2014] was opened in 1875 and was for boys and girls.

The School, which later became 'Kent's Bank Boys' School' and now houses Buxton Library and certain Council Offices, has no Memorial for its World War 1 casualties. It does, however, have a Memorial for World War 2 dead, as an engraved stone insert into outside end wall of former main school hall.

Kents Bank School World War 2 Memorial Names
[All also appear on the Town Memorial on The Slopes]
Pt. 40926 George MITCHELL, 1st Battalion, Leicester Regiment, was killed in action on the 11th September 1917. George was employed as a 'Library Assistant - Public', and although the Library was not in its present location at that time, a Plaque in his honour can now be found inside the current building.

[See: Pt. George MITCHELL's page on this site for more information about his life and service.]
CLICK on above image to read the full Buxton Advertiser Article

The School was founded in 1877, initially as a Preparatory School, moving
to full boarding for boys, with many pupils from overseas. From 1962 until
1975 Normanton School was the home of Buxton Sea Cadets, with
members coming from the school, as well as the town and surrounding
villages. " At this time, the Unit could put on a guard of very tall lads and
so was popular, often travelling to Sheffield, Stockport, Manchester and
Chesterfield. At the front of the school were a flagpole and a small boat,
referred to as the Whaler".

The only man on the Buxton Memorial known to have attended the School
before going to Oundle School, was Private Guy Stevenson HEWITT, of
the Artists' Rifles, who "At the age of 17 he was nominated for Sandhurst,
but did not take his commission on entering the Army". Guy was killed in
action on the 8th March 1918.

With the Schools' military links and tradition of preparing boys for Public
Schools (often on to Sandhurst), it is most unlikely that he was the only
former pupil not to have gone into Military Service, both in the First and
Second World Wars. [Similar to Holmleigh School - see below.]

In latter times the School concentrated on taking pupils (co-educational from
1987) from Service families, and many followed their fathers into the Army,
Navy and Air Force. Old Boys of the School served with distinction in the First
and Second Gulf Wars and in the Balkans conflict.

[N.B. The Author of this site, Graham E. Conway, was Headmaster of Normanton School from 1986 to 1997, when the School closed.

After the closure, Graham moved to Derby University to lecture in Earth Sciences.]
Normanton School, Buxton, c. 1975

Situated on Devonshire Road, Buxton, Holmleigh was described in its
Prospectus as a: "Preparatory School for Public Schools and for the
Royal Navy"

The School Prospectus also claimed:
"Nowhere is the air purer or more bracing : water supply good and soft.
Health is the first consideration. The standard of work ensures entry into
Public Schools. Games are systematically taught."

At the end of the Great War a Memorial to the former pupils of School who
were among the fallen was placed in St Johns Church, Buxton.

Situated on the west wall of the nave, to the right of the Chapel of St Michael
and St George (also known as the Lady Chapel), the Memorial consists of an
oak wall plaque containing silver plates, each engraved with the name and
Regiment of each of the School's War dead.

The upper section carries 25 such plates around a 'Winged Angel' and the
Latin inscription - 'Per Rege at Patria' ('For King and Country'). The lower
portion contains a further 21 plates for those killed 1939 - 45.

The School closed and was demolished in 1961.

[CLICK the photo on the right for a transcript of the names on the Memorial.]

Five of the 'old boys' named are also included on the Buxton Town Memorial.

All moved from Holmleigh to Public Schools, from where they entered Military
service as Officers. These five are:

Capt. E.H. Brittain, M.C. - 11th Bn., Sherwood Foresters Regt.,
                                          k.i.a. 15 June 1918
Lt. C.A. Brown - 6th Bn., Sherwood Foresters Regt., k.i.a. 23 April 1917
2/Lt. W.L. Brown - 6th Bn., Sherwood Foresters Regt., k.i.a. 25 Sept. 1915
2/Lt. J.K. Garnett - 3rd Bn., East Lancs Regt., died 6 Nov. 1915
Capt. T.P. Gibbons - 1st Bn., Hereford Regt., k.i.a. 22 May 1918.

At the end of World War 2 the Memorial was added to with the names of
those who fell in that conflict. [See: photo - below right]

In more recent times Scott Gregory Taylor joined the Marines in September 2007, aged 18, after completing his GCSEs and A-levels at Buxton Community School. Scott died in an explosion on Sunday 30th May 2010 while on foot patrol near Sangin with Alpha Company, 40 Commando. 

He was brought home and buried with full Military Honours. Thousands of local residents lined the route of his cortege and Scott now lies in Buxton Cemetery, with the War Dead from earlier conflicts.
For a full list of names on the School Memorial -
CLICK on the picture
Holmleigh School Memorial
[CLICK photo for details of names]
For the purposes of this analysis - and discounting the girls' only Schools - Buxton Schools have been divided into four Centres:

1: Buxton College - an independent School for boys;

2: Buxton Junior Schools - Borough or Village, and Church Schools, complying with the requirements for compulsory age education;

3: Normanton School - an Independent School for boys, and

4: Holmleigh School - another Independent School for boys,
The Pediment and Dedication of Holmleigh School Memorial
Holmleigh School Second World War Memorial
· I am grateful to Richard [Derbyshire War Memorials] for the photos of Holmleigh Memorial from St John's Church, Buxton
The postcard above dates from c. 1910
The original Normanton School Building on Park Road