The land for the Girls’ School on Kirkgate in Sherburn in Elmet came from the estate of Lady Ashtown, formerly Elizabeth Gascoigne, and her husband Frederick Mason Trench. The Gascoignes have had a long presence in local history and were noted for their charitable works and commitment to education. In 1874, a School Board of five members was formed for the school district of Sherburn in Elmet, with the aspiration of providing a school for girls and infants.
Through the generosity of the Gascoigne sisters, Mary Isabella and Elizabeth, a plot of land was provided for building the Girls school in Sherburn. The project was taken on by the Sherburn School Board and tenders for the building of the school on that land were issued by Wm Ellis, Architect, on Sat 18 September 1875.
The school was opened in 1876 at a cost of £2,000. It had a capacity for 268 pupils; a large number for the size of the village at that time.
It continued to serve the village as a first-class educational establishment, educating many of the older residents of the village, until the new Hungate school opened and the old school closed in 1978.
Latterly, the building, taken on by the successor local education authority, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), was used as offices for social services. NYCC vacated the premises at the end of 2013 and the property was put on the open market.
In early 2013, a number of local residents came together and decided to create a group called ‘Friends Old Girls’ School’ (FOGS) to try and preserve and protect the facility for the community.
The group have been very active in garnering local community support and holding events, creating a substantial petition and undertaking and promoting survey work to support the case for securing the building for community use. They have also worked tirelessly to secure the funding to refurbish the building.
Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust was formed in 2016 with two objectives:
At that time North Yorkshire County Council had decided that Sherburn library would become community managed by April 2017 and had ceased to use the Old Girls' School as offices, leaving the building empty, unloved and increasingly forlorn.
The Trust negotiated leases for both buildings by April 2017. The library successfully became community run following a fantastic response as 71 local people volunteered to fulfill all the roles needed to run it as a community facility and develop it towards becoming a community information hub.
The Friends of the Old Girls' School now moved forward with drawing up proposals and fund raising to convert the building into a community centre and tearooms. The Trust made a number of applications for grant funding using its strength as a community-wide group to support its case and was rewarded with early success with a grant from Tesco Bags of Help to develop the garden area at the front of the building. Meanwhile a former outbuilding at the rear was leased out and developed as a Childrens Nursery, thus bringing in some much needed income.
In the Autumn of 2017 we received the great news that we had been awarded National Lottery funding for the refurbishment of the building and also to enable us to run the community centre for 3 years with paid staff so that we will not have to rely entirely on volunteers. Additional funding was also obtained from Selby District Council.
On the 1st September 2018 the Old Girls' School Community Centre and Tearoom became fully operational. A new Management Group, to be known as MOGS, has been set up to provide Operational Management into the future. The Friends Group (FOGS) will continue to provide support and fund raising activities.