Burston School strike

Annie Higdon was headmistress of Burston village school, near Diss, Norfolk and her husband Tom was also a teacher there. Tom, a PM local preacher, gained election to the parish council along with other working men. They displaced all but one of the previous assortment of landowners, farmers and the Rector himself, who was chairman of the school managers. This combination of Methodism and socialism was more than the local establishment could stomach. The school managers retaliated by sacking both Higdons from their jobs. The result was a feud that demonstrated intransigence on both sides.

On 1 April 1914, all but eight of the school's 70-odd pupils came out on strike. They were taught first in the open air, moving into homes in the bad weather. Many villagers boycotted the parish church. Then a carpenter's shop became the classroom. A purpose-built 'Strike School' was opened near the village green in 1917, with funds raised by a nation-wide campaign. Through the 1920s and 30s, annual trade union rallies were held on Burston Green.The school closed in 1939, soon after Tom Higdon's death. What has been described as 'the longest strike in history' had lasted 25 years.

  • Betka Zamoyska, 'The Burston Rebellion', London, 1985
  • Norma Virgoe, in Wesley Historical Society, East Anglia District Society, Autumn 2009, pp.11-13
  • Methodist Recorder, 5 August 1999, 3 October 2014

Entry written by: GDS
Category: Subject
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