The History of Education in Malhamdale Lee Gate & Bordley Schools c1891-1928

Malham Moor township is very large, mainly centred around Malham Tarn but on the eastern side there is an elongated narrow section which includes Lee Gate and New House Farm, which adjoins Bordley township.  Lee Gate is 3 miles from Kirkby Malham United School, 4 miles from Malham Tarn School and about 5 miles from Threshfield and Cracoe Schools.

Some of the Carr family children from Park House had been attending Kirkby Malham United School since April 1885 but it is recorded in the School Log Book that the children were absent for many weeks in winter.  From the Log Book:

Nov 4th 1886, Mr Carr, Park House, Bordley, wrote requesting his children to be loosened from school at 3.30 each day owing to the long distance and it being dark before they arrived home – if not granted he would be obliged to keep them at home during the Winter.”

When attending Kirkby Malham the older Carr children travelled each day taking turns to ride a pony.  The younger children stayed in Malham Monday to Friday with Maggie Hurtley at Cherry Tree Cottage.  The Log Book of 1891 records:

“Oct 30th 1891.  I hear that a school is about to commenced at Bordley Moor, consequently we shall lose 4 children.”

Nov 3rd 1891.  Removed the names of Ethel, Jane and Frank Carr from the register, John Carr has returned to school.”

The school was fee paying and held in the front room of Lee Gate, the teacher being Miss Bridges who lived with the Nelson family at Lee Gate.  The children attending at the beginning were:

Jane Nelson (Lee Gate) born 1883  John Nelson (Lee gate) born 1884

Annie Nelson (Lee Gate) born 1886 Ethel May Carr (Park House) born 1880

Bessie Carr (Park House) born 1881 Frank Carr (Park House) born 1883

Jane Duckett Carr (Park House) born 1884 They were soon joined by the elder children of the Horner family from Bordley House. It would appear that this arrangement had failed around 1904/5 from this item in the Manchester Courier 31 January 1905:

Yorkshire has now two “school strikes” on a small scale.  Bordley Moor children have to go three miles to Cracoe and Winterburn children have a sililar distance to Gargrave.  The parents have refused to allow their children to tramp the heavy roads to & from school. This may have prompted the LEA to act as they wrote to the Board of Education in 1905:

“The local landowners have under consideration the question of a permanent school and it is quite likely they will undertake to erect a suitable building on a site not far from Bordley Hall.”

In 1905 the school moved to a room at Bordley Hall, the home of the Robinson family and a teacher was provided by the LEA, a Miss Green.  However this arrangement only lasted two years due to the ill health of Mrs Robinson.  So in 1907 another location was found, at Bordley House, the home of the Horner family using their sitting room.  Miss Green left on 31st May 1907.

However,  by 1911 the school returned to Bordley Hall.  This may have been created due to the Horner family leaving Bordley House.  They were replaced by the Foster family from Beckermonds.  Their children Florence & Winifrid both attended the school. 

The photograph below shows both teacher and children c1911.  It includes the Banks children, the family had been living at Park House since around 1898.

C1911 Teacher – Miss Elsie Simons, Children Foster & Nancy Nelson; Lily & Elsie Proctor, Charles, Eleanor, Mary, William & Laura Horner; Maggie & Mercy Banks

A later photograph shows the children with Miss Poacher about 1921.  Unfortunatley Miss Poacher suffered an accident as reported in the Daily Mail 27th December:

A Craven Dales schoolmistress lies in a serious condition in the Skipton & District Hospital after been lost on the moor and exposed to the weather for the whole night.

Only about 15 scholars attend the Bordley School, in one of the most outlandish parts of Craven and the school is really a portiuon of Bordley Hall Farm, the nearest dwelling being quite half a mile away.

The mistress, Mrs Martha Poucher, an elderly lady, came from Horncastle, Lincolnshire, in January of this year.  She was found at the bottom of a ravine and suffered fractured ribs and an injured wrist.

Teacher Miss Poacher, Children Jim Dinsdale, Matt Dinsdale, John Nelson, Williy Nelson, Nellie Thompson, Evelyn Thompson, Tony Thompson, George Robinson, Hilda Banks, Lucy Nelson, Elsie Nelson, James Nelson, John Foster, Ted Nelson, Norman Robinson, Annie Foster.

Bordley Hall School closed on 12th June 1928.  The last teacher being Miss Jane Green, who travelled from Thorlby on a motorcycle.  The children were transferred to Gargrave School.

Much of this content was taken from the Malhamdale Local History Group site,, and is reprinted here with their kind permission.

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