Mr Winser was the first Master of Highfield C.E. Primary School when it first opened in 1849 as ‘The South Stoneham & Portswood National School’. They were paid £60 and residence with coals during those months when the committee shall think proper to keep fires in the Schools. The School premises originally consisted of the Master’s house and ‘two schools’. The main school building was divided between a girls’ school and a boys’ school each with their own entrance and playground – the girls’ playground being the current reception playground and the boys the much larger main playground. At a meeting held in the Vestry of Christ Church, Portswood (Highfield Church) on Boxing Day, December 26 1848 the Committee ‘resolved the election of Mr & Mrs Winser as Master and Mistress’, their employment to date from 1 January 1849.
Archer Flux’s notes show that Mr Winser was considered to be a disciplinarian and a draughtsman.
The Manager’s Minute Books record that the rules for the conduct of the school pupils and masters were still being decided even as the school opened. Jan 23 1849: Also it was resolved that the Master and Mistress with the children be required to attend Divine Service on such festivals and other occasions of special observances as shall fall in those days when the schools are open. Also it was resolved that an advance of salary to the amount of fourteen pounds (in addition to a former sum of ten pounds advanced) be made to Mr Winser to enable him to procure furniture and the requisites for his residence, the said total amount of £24 to be deducted from his salary at the rate of two pounds per month until the whole is paid. Also it was resolved that a form of Agreement between the Committee and Mr & Mrs Winser be prepared on the basis of that published in the Minutes of the Committee of Council on Education, requiring three months advice on either side before terminating the engagement, such three months to date from the next quarter-day is this Mar 21 Jun 21 etc after the notice is given; with the addition of a special clause empowering the Committee, provided they are unanimous in their acts, to dispense with such notice and proceed to instant dismissal of the Master or Mistress in the case of and gross immorality or other flagrant offence proved against either party; with a clause also of restriction as to lodgers, none being allowed to reside in the School house without the approval of the Committee.
May 4 1849: The Deed of Agreement between the Committee and the Master of the School was signed by several members of the Committee then and there present and by Mr Winser on behalf of himself and his wife.
The 1851 census shows that Thomas Winser had been born 35 yrs ago in Sussex and his 32 yr old wife was from Kent. As well as their two children; Thomas aged 11 and John, 8, Thomas’ 26 yr old sister was living with them. There were also two apprentice teachers John Collins from Wimborne Dorset and Frederick Lowman from Nursling, Hampshire and Sarah Chalcroft, a 5 yr old visiting scholar from Southampton. (and there was a clause in their contract about restriction as to lodgers!)
It appears that the apprenticeship of Collins did not run as smoothly as might have been hoped. July 13 1852 it is recorded “that in circumstance of John Walter Collins the pupil teacher having left the School without leave on Friday the 9th was brought before the Committee and it was resolved that Mr Winser be cautioned to abstain from applying corporal punishment to the pupil-teachers and that Mr Harrison should write to the mother of Collins stating the opinion of the Committee that J.W. Collins had been guilty of disrespectful conduct towards Mr Winser: & that he could only be received back upon his making an apology to the Master, and promising to avoid similar conduct for the future, and to apply himself with more diligence and duties in the School”.
However, just 6 weeks later, the minutes for a meeting August 24th show that the necessary
authority to enable Mr Winser to put an end to Collins’ indentures was defined by the Committee .
January 31 1855 the Committee decided that they would not be able to comply with a request that Mr Winser should be allowed to be absent from the School during the morning school.
June 23 1856 The state of Mr Winser’s health was taken into consideration by the Committee, & it was agreed that he should be allowed to absent himself from his duties in the School until the Autumn holidays: & in case he should not be sufficiently recovered to resume his duties by the end of them that the matter should be again brought before the notice of the Committee. That a Communication should be made to the Committee in Council laying before them the state of the Master’s health, & of the length of his services and also intimating the intention of resuming the evening School in the Autumn: & requesting that the Grant of a Stipend for an Assistant Master, promised last year but not taken advantage of should be conceded for a year to commence from the time of the application thus to be made, or as soon as an Assistant Master can be obtained.
July 18 1857 Mr Winser stated to the Committee that he had a prospect of obtaining a more
advantageous situation as a School-Master, than that which he now held, & requested the
Committee to accept his resignation & to allow him to terminate his engagement at Michaelmas as the situation could not be kept open longer than that for him – The Committee acceded to Mr Winser’s request, for the reasons assigned by him.
On the 1861 Census they appear to be living in Paynes Road, Shirley and his occupation is still given as Schoolmaster
Notes on the History of Highfield School written by Archer T Flux
Diary of a School – compiled by Jo Ladkin & Isobel White