School History

About the School

On February 5, 1894, the then called ‘Smithy Houses School’ was opened. The school was built by local voluntary effort to accommodate 150 students. 123 students enrolled and two teachers had been appointed to educate them: Mr James Calder Nicol (the Head Teacher) and Mrs Clara Grace Nicol (Assistant Teacher)

On February 14 Mr Nicol attended a meeting of the School Managers and asked for two more Assistants to enable me to conduct the school efficiency. The Managers agreed to advertise immediately for one Assistant Teacher at a salary of £35 per annum! The beleaguered Headteacher was attacked by a hostile parent on the following day when a Mrs Sivinson, mother of Frank, assaulted me with blows in the face and scratches. Two days later, somewhat wearily, Mr Nicol recorded in the school log book.

At the beginning of March some essential stock arrived for the new school. The delivery included three coal scuttles, three pairs of tongs, one fireguard and a picture of a cocoa plant.

However, the school struggled to make progress in the opening months, finding it impossible to recruit sufficient teaching staff and suffering from lack of the necessary apparatus. By the end of June Mr & Mrs Nichol had given up the fight and had been replaced by a new teacher. Mr G W Baldon and a new assistant, Mrs Baldon. At the end of the school’s first year of existence an inspector made the following observation:

The school’s circumstances in the earlier months appear not to have been favourable. At present the instruction is being given carefully and order is good, but in some respect the attainments are backward.

Weakness in mental arithmetic, written arithmetic and spelling were cited. Reading recitation and needlework were fairly good. Grammar moderate and music fair. The final sentence of the report stated: H.M. Inspector reports that the school is insufficiently warmed. Perhaps the pre-occupation of teaching 85 children at a time had caused the Headteacher to overlook his new coal scuttle, tongs and fireguard and he had let the fire go out!

In 1975 there was a strong possibility that Denby John Flamsteed School, as it was known, would be closed.

An Action Group, consisting mainly of parents supported by Councillors, Teachers, Members of Parliament and others, worked to propose that the school be developed into a fully comprehensive secondary school for 11 to 16 year olds.

Exact from Derby Evening Telegraph 1975 The outcome was the opening in 1981 of the present JOHN FLAMSTEED COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Who was John Flamsteed?

John Flamsteed was born in 1646 probably at Crowtrees in Flamsteed Lane, about 500 yards South East of Denby Church, in a house which was demolished between the years 1866 and 1880. He was educated at the Free School in St Peter’s Churchyard, Derby, then at Jesus College Cambridge where he obtained a degree in 1674. He thought initially of entering the Church, but instead his interest in the observation and measurement of heavenly bodies attracted him to the career which led him to be installed as the first Astronomer Royal in 1675, and to become the man for whom the Greenwich Observatory was built.

Flamsteed provided Isaac Newton with data which supported the theory and calculations presented in the latter’s Principia Mathematica. This book, according to Steven Hawking was surely the most influential book ever written in physics, was the key to Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century, which in turn became the main basis of the technological achievements and world view of our contemporary society.

So John Flamsteed not only gave his name to our school. He also helped determine the content of the curriculum and provided an example of academic excellence for our students to emulate.

Read more about John Flamsteed on Wikipedia