Clearly a frequent visitor to the village, Clark left a portion of his estate for the purpose of “the erecting of a school at Wigglesworth…”. He also left money in trust to provide an annual income to the school “to purchase Books for poor Children…to and for the Benefit of a Schoolmaster…for teaching Children without Expence to their Parents at Wigglesworth aforesaid…”.
Whilst he may have been an early – and enlightened – philanthropist, Clark also had on eye on personal legacy: “It is my Will that the said School shall be for ever called Clarks Free School for the Children of Wigglesworth”.
Having been given a piece of “wasteland” at the edge of the village by the local manor and landholders, the school’s original trustees agreed on 23 December 1797: “…to front the School towards the Road…that the School shall be nine yards long within the Walls and six yards wide, Oak Timber for Roof, Deal floor, six yards high from the Threshold…Windows to be about four feet high…”.
Robert Silverwood (“of Giggleswick, Mason”) and William Wildman were appointed to build the school in April 1798 and work seems to have progressed speedily, as Robert Silverwood paid bills across the spring and summer for work undertaken. The total costs in 1798 came to £157/0/4 paid by Robert Silverwood, plus £48/14/6 incurred as his own costs.
On 28 December 1798, the trustees “having viewed and examined the school” unanimously approved the building.
Between May and November the school hours were from 7.30am until 11.30am and from 1.30pm until 5.30pm. Between November and May, the hours were from 8.00am until 12.00 midday and from 1.00pm until 5.00pm.
Thomas Wildman was paid his first salary instalment in November 1799, and, as the lists of pupils are recorded in mid-November and mid-May, it is logical to assume that the School opened in its new building in November 1799.
Free education for the children of Wigglesworth continued in the same premises until the school was closed around 1962.
When the school closed, its trustees retained control of the premises, and received the agreement of the Charity Commissioners so that “Clarks Old School” should continue be used for the benefit of all the children and residents of Wigglesworth. From when the school closed until the early 2000s, the Old School offered a simple community base. Following village celebrations for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the millennium, it was felt that the building needed fully renovating, and the possibility of extending and improving facilities was discussed. Following hard work by many people this ambition was achieved, and the Old School became Wigglesworth Community Centre.