December 5 2013 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Monday, June 25, 2012
The tiny bronzed chair sitting in the corner of a Norfolk village museum may look ordinary, but the wooden seat no more than a couple of feet high was witness to historic events when a school became part of the longest strike in British trade union history.
In 1914, pupils at Burston’s Church of England school went on strike in protest at the sacking of teachers Annie and Tom Higdon after a dispute with the school’s area management committee.
The schoolchildren never returned to the village school and marched round the village waving banners as the authorities arrived to take over.
The Higdons started an alternative school, which became known as Burston Strike School, to teach 66 of the 72 pupils, and continued to operate until 1939, becoming the longest strike in British history.
The chair was discovered by sculptor Louise Richardson at an art school and she restored the artefact to be handed over to the strike school museum, which occupies the school’s old building on Diss Road, by Aude Gotto, former owner of King of Hearts Gallery in Norwich on Saturday.
Both Mrs Gotto and the sculptor were present for the unveiling along with Anne May, oldest daughter of strike school pupil Tom Potter and niece of Violet Potter, who led the 1914 demonstration and declared the strike school open.
She presented the museum with a signed photo of the late Tom Mann MP, a trade unionist involved with the school and a rare booklet called The Burston School Strike, published by the Independent Labour Party.
Mrs Gotto said the school stood for those who were prepared to stand up for themselves and not be dictated to by authority.
“Until after I bought this chair I knew nothing about Burston Strike School, but this really touched my heart because I felt this is what we should do. We should recognise ordinary people doing ordinary things. This is what makes life continue,” she added.