Headmaster of Clifton House School,
Queen Parade & Stray Road, Harrogate

Page updated 5 June,2007

During the 1890s James Walter was living in Spotland, Rochdale, with his wife Maria and daughter Olive, who was born in 1895; then at some date during this time, the family moved to Harrogate and James Walter established his own school - as will be described below.

On Saturday, 16 April,1898, Gordon William Geoge Cass was born at 3 Westbourne Park1, Scarborough

1901 Census,
on the night of Sunday of 31 March

By the time of the 1901 Census 67 James, at 39, is now School Master of his own school - in Harrogate. Unfortunately the name of the school is not included in the Census but it is at no.6 Queen Parade, a road leading off York Place just before it becomes Knaresborough Rd. His wife Maria is included as is their daughter Olive who is six. A photograph of the Clifton Scouts and Cubs appears on another page and there is reference to Miss Nuttall as the Leader of the Wolf Cub Pack, probably meaning Olive Nuttall.

The 1901 Census did not include the name of the school, only the street number, no.6. But in the previous Census of 1891, the name of the house was ................yes!     "Clifton House"! The house was shown as 'Unoccupied'.

extract from 1891 Census

So it was that simple! James Walter Nuttall named his school just by giving it the name of the house he moved into - Clifton!

The house would have been lit by gas since Harrogate's Gas Works was established as early as 1847 - the year before the railway arrived (almost) in town. The first electricity supply in Harrogate was in 1897 but this would not have been widespread until much later and so Clifton House was unlikely to have had a supply laid on during Walter's occupancy (to 1906). Despite the familiarity of gas lighting, it must nevertheless, have been a constant worry to Walter and his staff with having the boarders in the school.

The Census records those living in the building (or, at least, those present on the night the Census was conducted):

a School Master, A E Russell, age 29, as being an employee
      Arthur E Russell was born in Northam, Devon, (near Appledore) in
      1872 and the 1891 Census 70 records that he was a 19 year old
      Assistant Schoolmaster living at 5 Victoria Rd in Northam.
M Hughill(?), 24, was a Domestic Housemaid
and Sarah Ann Phillips, 25, a Domestic Cook.

Additionally, the Census records the ten pupils of the school, all Boarders, and these were:

G D Williams, 11; a British Subject, born in Spain
Ernisto Bartroli, 14; a Spanish Subject, born in Spain
Jos Nixon Bensher, 14; born in Cumberland
William Wright, 15
Alfred L Wright, 14
Henry C Wright, 13
Harrold N Wright 11: born in Arkendale, Yorkshire;
      presumably four brothers. Were they referred to in the
      to in the usual fashion of the day? Wright I, II, III and IV?
Hy(?) Williamson, 11 ; born in Maryport, Cumberland (Walter's wife,
      Maria, had been born here)
Jos H Marsson, 10; born in Marston Moor, Yorkshire
Alec S Hutchinson, 10; born in Rochdale, Lancashire
The adjacent house, no.8 Queen Parade, was occupied by four ladies who were all domestic staff suggesting that they worked for James Walter in his school. It is also possible that this house also provided some of the classrooms etc.
Hannah Warmlinghton, 40, Cook
Nellie Brown, 17, Kitchen Maid
Jane Wood, 40, Housemaid
Alice Dover,21, Housemaid
In the closing years of the reign of Queen Victoria Harrogate was largely as we would know it today (2007) with most of the large buildings in the centre of town
well and truly established. Postcards had been arround since the closing years of the 1800s but it was in 1903 that publishers were allowed to print the "divided back" which gave space for the address AND a message. From that moment on postcards were bought, sent and collected in their tens of millions. The views of street scenes were, however, a mixture of current and older ones so whilst a postmark could say "Harrogate, 1904", the picture could well have been taken up to 15 years or more earlier. The examples included here would represent Harrogate in about 1900 reasonably well.

This comtemporary
postcard shows
Prospect Place before the construction of
the Cenotaph in
Prospect Gardens
after the First World War.
The view was from one of the upper floors of Betty's cafe. Note that the Prospect Hotel still has its tower - in later years more floors were added reducing the visual impact of the tower.
And this is the opposite view with Betty's on the left and the gardens of Prospect Square on the right. Parliament Street stretches away from this

The next postcard shows the Kursaal that would later be renamed the Royal

These are the views that would be everyday things to James Walter and his pupils.

A busy afternoon tea at the Winter Gardens at the Royal Baths.

An orbituary written in 1917 on Second Lieutenant Claude L Bentley, said that he was a former pupil of "Clifton House School, Harrogate"; assuming he was in his very early 20s when he died, this suggests that he attended Clifton up to about the last years of the 1890s. As Walter's school was still in Queen Parade at the time of the 1901 Census, it confirms the name of the school when it was in Queeen Parade and suggests that Walter established his school in the 1890s.

Walter moved his school from the house in Queen Parade in 1906 into newly-built premises in Stray Road, on the development constructed by Alderman Isaac Pickard. An article in the Harrogate Advertiser in 2005 confirmed this.

In February,2007, the son of an ex-pupil of Clifton very kindly provided a school Prospectus and this dates from 1910 or even earlier. The Prospectus shows J Walter Nuttall as the Principal of the school and its address as Tewit Park. The new location would have required a new or revised Prospectus and this may have been the first edition, probably co-inciding with the 1906 move. That relocation could have been precipitated by any number of reason - unsuitability of the Queen Parade house, need for more accommodation for more pupils, etc. The Queen Parade premises would, most likely have been lit by gas - the Stray Road Prospectus made a point of saying "the School Buildings are lighted throughout by electricity." and at that time this was definitely something to boast about!

It may be significant that the Prospectus had his name as 'J Walter Nuttall' suggesting that he preferred Walter, rather than James, as his name.

Also kindly provided is a copy of the 1913 "School Sports" programme - Mr Nuttall is Principal and a boy with the same surname, though no initial or forename shown, is included in the programme.

The following article appeared in the Harrogate Herald of 1st December,1915; perhaps Joseph Vincent had been a pupil at Clifton?

Monsieur Joseph Vincent, now a Corporal, of the Belgian Army, was in Knaresborough Hospital last year some time, and has many friends there and in Harrogate who will be interested to read of his success. The extracts have been forwarded to us by Mrs M A Nuttall, who received the original letter
The full text can be see here.
In 1923, Charlie Cass applied for a teaching post at Clifton House School and was appointed as Science and Geography master; he worked at Clifton until early in 1936 when he left to set up his own school, Norwood College. The Harrogate Adveriser reported that Charlie Cass worked at Clifton under Mr Nuttall so it is certain that he, Walter Nuttall, had not retired until at least 1924 - and possibly much later. Walter Nuttall would have reached age 65 in 1926.

Jmaes Walter died at the beginning of 1928. The Register of Deaths 92, Knaresborough, includes a James W Nuttall, age 66, in the March Quarter of 1928. (Knaresborough is the place of Registration - not the place of death).

The following article from the Harrogate Herald of 17th April,1929, suggests that Miss V M S Nuttall could have been a daughter of Walter:

Miss V M S Nuttall, of Clifton House School, and a well-know Scoutmaster, and the Rev Basil M Challenor, of Sutton-on-Hull, and formerly of Pateley Bridge, who were married at Christ Church, Harrogate, on Tuesday.

By 1939 the Kelly's Directory of that year shows that W H Colton was the Principal; the telephone number was Harrogate 2361.

The history of Clifton House is provided on another page.


14. Harrogate Advertiser, 12 January,1972
67. 1901 National Census, RG13 4054 , District 22,
Folio 98, Page 3 Household sch no.19
70. 1891 National Census, RG12 1774, District 11,
Folio 82, Page 35, Household Sch no.246
92. England & Wales, Civil Registration Deaths Index: 1837 - 1983.
District Knaresborough, Vol.9a: page 146, March Quarter,1928

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