I first went to Sunday School well before the First World War at the Mission in Charles Street, near the church, when Captain Barker who actually lived at the Mission, was in charge.
One of my clearest memories of the Mission is of the little gifts that the children were each given at Christmas – a little stocking containing sweets and a little toy (a little doll for the girls). I think Captain Barker left a few years before the war broke out in 1914 and he was succeeded by one or two others in succession, including Mr Dawson who started a Boy’s Brigade branch at the Mission.
While I was still of Sunday School age, the Mission was closed and we went to St James’ Sunday School which was held in church on Sunday afternoons. The boys sat on one side and the girls on the other and my teacher was Miss Williamson. Canon Hartley was in charge and took the register and if he couldn’t mark you present, he would be round to your house early in the week to see why.
We had an annual prize-giving, of course, and our annual Sunday School trip to St Bees (big treat!) which took place on a Friday afternoon, but one of the biggest occasions of our time at Sunday School was our examination for the prizes of a Lord Wharton Bible and a Prayer Book. We used to be examined on the Catechism for this and it was not enough to know it from beginning to end, for Canon Hartley would start you off at the end and you had to know it backwards!
I can remember some of my age who missed getting their Bibles and Prayer Books at the first try because of this. Canon Hartley was very thorough and strict and kept a keen eye on us all, missing very little that we got up to. But he was conscientious and kindly and we could certainly say that he took an interest in us.