William Price Charitable Trust

(This first appeared in St Peter & Paul's Church Magazine 1996)

Cmdr. J. A. Bagg - Clerk to the Trust

William Price drew up his Will in 1721 leaving lands, buildings and money to found a charity school for 30 in number poor boys and girls from the parish of Fareham. When he died four years later the school was established as a "Blue-coat" school in his house in West Street to teach the children to "read in the English Bible and otherwise be instructed in the Doctrine and Principles of the Church of England". During the 18th and 19th centuries the only major change was for the school to become boys only, mainly due it seems to the lack of a needlework teacher for girls. It finally closed in 1901, when schooling had become available for all, and transferred its pupils to the National School.

The William Price Charity then founded a new school for 100 boys, which was opened on the site in Park Lane in 1908. Initially Hampshire County Council provided a grant towards maintenance but otherwise the Charity was responsible for the finance of the school. This financing became increasingly difficult, particularly from 1934 onwards when new buildings were needed for a much larger number of pupils. After the war the school failed to make Direct Grant status and in 1957 it became Voluntary Controlled, which meant that total financial responsibility for the running of the school passed to Hampshire County Council, although the Charity remained the landowner of the site. During this period the Trustees of the Charity became separated from the Governors of the school, but with overlapping membership.

From 1977 onwards the school was gradually converted into a sixth form college, once again for boys and girls. At the time the Charity Commission expressed some concern that the ages of the students (16 - 18) were not in accord with the intentions of William Price, but in the event the college was permitted as the educational element of the Charity. However, when in 1982 Price's Sixth Form College was merged with the Fareham Technical College to establish a Tertiary College, with a strong element of adult education, the Charity Commission no longer considered that this was in line with William Price's Will. The land and buildings therefore reverted to the Charity with rent being paid for their use until the Tertiary College (now Fareham College) put up a new building at Bishopsfield Road and moved out from Park Lane.

As there was no longer a requirement for a school the charity had to be re-formed and in 1989 the Charity Commission established the William Price Charitable Trust as a grant-making charity. Its major asset was the land at Park Lane and, in accordance with the Fareham Borough Council's plans, outline planning permission was obtained for housing and in 1994 the land was sold for development. The proceeds of the sale have been invested and the income is now available to the Trust.

Close to the wishes of the original benefactor, the Trust has as its objects the promotion of education amongst persons under the age of 25 who are resident in the old parish of Fareham, a parish that is now split into those of St. Peter & St. Paul, Holy Trinity with St. Columba and St. John the Evangelist. The types of grants permitted are established by the Charity Commission and are wide-ranging. Schools in the area can be provided with educational benefits not normally provided by the education authority, individuals can be assisted with fees, travel, outfits, clothing, books, etc., and there is provision to promote education in the doctrines of the Church of England. As William Price also made provision in his will for the "poor widows", the Fareham Welfare Trust also receives an annual grant.

The Trust has 19 trustees, many of whom are concerned with education, who meet on a regular basis to decide how much money is available and to whom it should be given. During 1995 the Trust disbursed £91,950 in grants, of which over £12,000 went to some 95 individuals. Fareham Welfare Trust received £6,388 and the Churches received £10,000 to assist with the Christian education of the young. The remainder was divided between those schools which applied for assistance.

At present many of the individual grants go to assist educational visits by those whose families are in financial need. These can vary from assisting a youngster to go with a school outing to the "Battlefields of Europe" to more major assistance, for example with a drama project to Beijing. However there are other applications, for example some children need help with school uniform and even shoes. As far as possible the schools are left to make the assessment of need and then to apply to the Trust if necessary.

Grants to schools are more wide-ranging in nature, although inevitably in this day and age computers are a frequent request. A major requirement for many headteachers has been the need to improve their play areas, emphasising the importance of good outdoor areas as part of education. You may recently have seen that Fareham Park Infant School have had to provide locks and alarms for their playhouse which had been vandalised - what may not have been mentioned was that the Trust provided the grant for them to buy the playhouse!

The Trust has also assisted with the conversion of spaces to provide libraries and books to go in those libraries. Ramps have been provided for the disabled and the Hearing Impaired Unit attached to one school was given equipment to check hearing aids, thus enabling deaf children to take full advantage of their lessons.

William Price wished to provide for the education of the young in Fareham, both boys and girls, and the work that the trust is now doing is close to his original wishes. It is of course early days for the William Price Charitable Trust but the trustees are determined to keep it as an effective force for education in the area for well into the foreseeable future.