Leeds nostalgia: Sporting shield gives up its history

SPORTING CHANCE: Reporter Neil Hudson with pupils Kerry-Louise Starbuck and Scott Adams.
SPORTING CHANCE: Reporter Neil Hudson with pupils Kerry-Louise Starbuck and Scott Adams.
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When two pupils, Kerry-Louise Starbuck and Scott Adams, wrote to Times Past asking if we could help them find out more about their historic school shield and how it came to be at their school, we were more than happy to help.

Scott said: “Do any of your readers know about the Scatcherd Shield? Or did anyone go to Peel Street School and do they remember seeingit.

Kerry-Louise said: “I would like to know how many schools it went to, where it was made and what is it made of and why does it have an angel on the top?”

Emily Hollingworth, eight, said: “The shield was started by the Mayor of Morley, I think it’s a good shield to have. We have all made our own individual shields and we want to start the tradition up again.”

The shield has been with the school for over 50 years, since 1962, and is now mounted in a cabinet and hung on a wall. It has an inset picture of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and written across the top it says ‘Morley Elementary School Challenge Trophy for Athletic Sports.’ An angel stands above a crest directly above the picture of Queen Victoria, while below a relief of boys and girls can be seen taking part in various sporting activities, including running, cycling and jumping.

In the centre and directly below the image of the Queen is a miniature plaque which carries the words ‘Oliver Scatcherd, Morley, AD 1900, being the second year of his mayorality of the borough. On the occasion of his founding an annual athletics competition, with the desire it may help to foster and encourage healthy and beneficial athletic exercise.’

The former mayor was, by all accounts, quite a character.

In fact, the Scatcherd family has a long association with Morley but Oliver was the last of his line to live in the town.

He was born at Morley House in 1833 and was the sixth youngest child of Norrison, a local historian. He worked as a solicitor and had a passion for sport, especially cricket, being the founding member of Morley Nelson Cricket Club. In 1862 and 1863, he helped organise a visit by the All England Eleven to Morley and he was one of the 22 who played against them.

He also helped form the northern branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and for the first seven years of its existence, was its secretary.

He married Alice Smith, who was both talented and wealthy and had a reputation as a vociferous supporter of the equal rights movement. He first became a councillor in 1886 and served as one until his death almost 20 years later.

“He was mayor in 1898 and 1899, a period characterised by his and his wife’s passion to improve the lives of schoolchildren. The inter-school shield was first won in 1900 by St Peter’s and was keenly contested each year thereafter.” Clive McManus, chair of Morley Local History Society, visited the school to tell children more about the shield, along with Coun Shirley Varley, a former pupil at Peel Street Girls who recalls taking part in some of the events as a child.

Mr McManus said: “Some of the events were quite fun. There was a three-legged race, an egg and spoon race, a potato race, which involved children running a distance and having to pick up potatoes, then run back. There was also a sack race, a wheelbarrow race, cycling, skipping, an event where you had to knock wickets down.

“There were five elementary schools in Morley in 1900, catering for four-12 year-olds.”

Coun Varley said: “I remember us going up to the cricket club as part of the annual sport event. I was one of the fastest girls and I ran the 100yds in 12.1 seconds, a record which stood for some years.

“School was different in those days, boys and girls were taught separately and there were different events for the boys and different ones for the girls.”

However, the last time the shield was presented was in 1962 to Peel Street School (now Seven Hills Primary).

The investigation into the Scatcherd Shield has given Times Past an idea, to begin an occasional series called History in Schools. We would like to hear from any other schools who would like help either with a historical puzzle or have an interesting historical tale to tell. Contact us at the usual address.