A SMALL community rallied round Captain Shaw primary school to protect it from closure during difficult times, the Mail reported in 1999.

The dramas at the small village school started to unfold in 1990 when the first closure threat was announced.

The community came out in force and managed to starve off the closure threat.

However, eight years later, the school was delivered a second body blow.

Inspectors announced the school was not providing an acceptable standard of education.

Special measures were imposed, and teachers had to concentrate on improving standards to keep the tightly knit school open.

Former St James' Junior School deputy headteacher in Barrow Carol Whiteley was drafted in as action head teacher following the resignation of Captain Shaw headteacher Cath Sweeney in July 1988.

Mrs Whiteley hardly had time to put her feet under the desk before consultation papers were posted to the school saying Cumbria County Council was considering closing the school.

The announcement saw the community club together for a second time to fight for the school.

Mrs Whiteley said: "It has been very, very challenging at times.

"The parents are so supportive here and it has made it a lot easier. Being a teaching head, it had been difficulty. Sometimes I felt it was very hard work.

"When you take on a small school that is one of the things you have to tackle but we all really do work as a team here."

The school saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel in 1999 when teachers discovered the special measures had been lifted.

The government then announced it would allocate £250,000 to bring the school into the 21st century.

The school still had many of the features from when it was built in 1830. These have been retained including the exterior brickwork.

Children used to trudge down an old stone staircase and across a yard to get to their weather-beaten toilet block with the West Cumbrian winds and rain lashing out around the playground.