– the new school photographs and plans in 1936 with reminiscences of former pupils from the 1940’s to 1990’s
Built in 1936 on a five-acre site in Middle Road, Kingston, where the recreation ground is now but then in land that had largely been used as fruit orchards and nurseries by the Cook’s Jam Factory in Dolphin Road. Initially opened as a boys’ senior elementary school for 360 pupils it included a number of unusual features (for those days) in both design and construction. It was built of reinforced concrete and flat roofs to allow for future extensions to be placed on top of the ground floor building and enabled wider spans for rooms that, with the large Crittall windows also installed gave pupils and teachers a bright and spacious environment.
Covered open-air walkways were also a feature and it was planned to incorporate a health centre for the children in the district including medical and dental services with further possible use as a maternity and ante-natal clinic but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of it being used as such since the war. Flooring was covered with ‘Ruboleum’ tiles – then an innovative type of surface.
The building was intended to serve the new housing estates that were planned which would eventually surround the new school. An assembly hall also served as the gymnasium subsequently equipped with wall bars, climbing ropes etc., was provided with a proscenium and platform to the rear of which was a sliding partition that opened on to an art room that had large windows for better light and was approached from the main staircase. This art room was on the same level as the platform and the whole arrangement also provided a large stage area.
Classrooms were in a continuous line on the south side with large 20 feet long windows providing good daylight overlooking the four acres of playing fields and tarmac playgrounds. The Geography room had a continuous window around its rounded corner on the south-west of the building and at the eastern end was the dining-room and kitchen. Between the assembly hall and the classrooms was a grassed quadrangle edged by two blocks of buildings – metalwork and woodworking classrooms on the west, cloakrooms and lavatories on the east. A circular, rubber floored staircase led to the first floor containing the staff room, headmaster’s room and science laboratory.
Not so very long after its completion war broke out but the teaching continued and, shortly after, Gerald White a pupil at that time recalls the school, its teachers and pupils:-
Soon after the war the building became the Middle Road Secondary School for boys aged between 11 and 15 from Shoreham and Southwick. I attended the school from 1948 to 1952 in classes, 1 to 4A. My Form teachers were Messrs Parker, Smith, Hansford and Osborne. A large tarmac surface playground was in a square shape. Cycle sheds were provided and outside toilets near the playground avoided having to go into school during play or break periods. Two prefabricated classrooms, had been added after the leaving age was extended from 14 to 15 years.
About ten air raid shelters from the war period still existed on the west of the playing field which were used for storage by the school caretaker. These were removed in 1950 and an extra playing field for football matches became available. To help make the surface safe for playing on the whole school was encouraged to pick up the stones that remained following the shelters’ demolition. One major problem of the time however was the close proximity to the Eversheds soap factory in Dolphin road. The sickening stenches from there were dreadful and caused many to gag with nausea
The school uniform was a wine coloured cap, blazer and tie, white shirt, grey shorts, and knee length socks. Long trousers was a privilege for 4th year pupils only – a rule that was strictly enforced. Satchels were optional but most had one as homework in form 4a was compulsory. The uniform was available from Luckings outfitters in East Street, Shoreham. The boys were divided into three streams – A, B, and C. with approximately 35 pupils in each class making 12 classes in all. Miss Davis taught a special class X for those two or three pupils with learning difficulties. For gym and sport each class had four houses, St David, St George, St Patrick, and St Andrew with yellow, red, green and blue ribbons worn by the pupils to denote which house they belonged to.
The headmaster when I joined was Mr Jeavons who was replaced in 1949 by Mr A Childs and the secretary was Mr Wills. The remainder of the teaching staff included Mr Osborne, who was the senior or head teacher for year 4A. Mr. Childs the headmaster was a very smart man, every inch the ex Royal Naval Officer that he was who would not accept bad behavior in any form at all. Mr Osborne was from Penzance, proud of his Cornish origin, and spoke with a Cornish accent. I remember that as a class project with Mr Osborne we followed (on the radio) a Wynford Vaughan Thomas journey around the world a la Jules Verne – it was an interesting way of improving our knowledge of geographical locations
Mr. Binns taught French but only to the A stream – he had been in the Special Operations during the war and under cover fought the Germans on the streets of Paris. Mr. Smith the English teacher had a volatile temper and would not tolerate talking in the corridor, he once hit a complete class on the buttocks with a shoe. We had to bend over at the door and then ‘whack’…. he was a spiteful person. Mr. Liddell taught Mathematics, Mr. Campbell, Hygiene and Mr. Parker Science. Mr. Davies, Physical Exercise, was always dressed in dark blue athlete’s trousers and a white T- shirt. He selected the school football and cricket teams, and refereed the Masters V Boys annual football match. Mr. Edwards, Woodwork, was a quiet man who often took morning prayers and gave readings from the bible. Mr. Jones, Metalwork, had a very strong Welsh accent, and if the talk in his class, became loud, he would take a metal rod, crack it down on an anvil and shout ‘Now then, if you Boyos don’t shut up you’ll get some of this’ as he waved the metal rod at them.
Mr. Parrot the Art teacher was very Bohemian in the dress he wore – sandals with no socks, unfashionable long hair, unpressed corduroy jackets and trousers. Mr. Flooder and Mr. Nutter were additional teachers. The school had a successful choir that took part in competitions against other school choirs held annually in the Brighton Dome and won the shield and cup in 1952. Mr. Hansford, an excellent music teacher, was choirmaster and accompanied on the piano. He even instilled sufficient enthusiasm for me to recall even now something of the lives of Mozart, Handel, Haydn and others from the world of classical music.
The class register was called each morning and the pupils for my class included Bryan Akehurst, Ronald Baker, Colin Brown, Alan Bennett, Ronald Redford, Bernard Crowhurst, David Boardman, James Dunn, Brian Emery, Michael Guile, Anthony Gratwick, Ivor Harrington, Ronald Hunt Rodney Jackson, Peter Law, John Luxton, John Luchford, Colin Moody, Derek Norris, ? Perrott, Brian Robinson, Brian Bedson, Richard Suter, Roy Stevens, ? Strevens, Alan Still, ? Skinner, Gerald White, Alan White, Colin Walder, David White, David Winter. Charles Tazewell, Kenneth Russell, Terence Wells and Ronald Hill.
Despite the relative newness of the building there were no showers in the gym changing rooms that were adjacent to the toilets. The original concept of a health centre within the school seems to have been discontinued by the 1940’s and like other schools dental checks were made by visiting school dentists (the one for the Shoreham area used a caravan) and the only other health check I recall was the nit nurse who examined the pupils’ hair in the corridor by the toilets whilst another nurse took down the findings of each examination.
Although the school catered for those boys who had failed their eleven plus exams many of them went on to follow professional careers. Some joined the Armed Forces and on leaving school in 1953 most members of my class 4A followed apprenticeships in the building trades. I personally served a five year apprenticeship as a wood machinist with White & Co Shoreham Timber merchants and attended Brighton Technical College before pursuing a 23 year career in the Royal Air Force.
Colin Wadey attended Middle Road in the 1940’s. He recounts:
I remember the large Art room. It was used for Arts and Craft, the craft being “Lino cuts”. Lino cuts were pieces of lino about 3 or 4 inches square on which you drew something and then used a very sharp tool to cut out the surrounding lino and by inking what was left you would have a printing block of what was drawn. I think this was stopped because too many boys were cutting themselves with the tools. Both my sons said they had never heard of lino cuts at school.
I seem to remember Mr. Campbell (class 2A) and Miss Penfold (class 1A) got married after I left school. I do not remember a music room but do the metal working room and science room. Of the teachers Mr. Osborne (class 3A) was my favourite, he had the patience of a saint and was always pleased to go over something which one or more didn’t quite understand. Mr. Campbell could be quite funny at times but was also very strict as was Mr. Parker. (science teacher). Mr. Jones (metal work teacher) was very good but you had to pay attention or he would throw things at you or bang something on a bench to make a loud noise.
At times the smell from the Chemical company (in Bungalow town) or the Glue factory meant the windows had to be closed (in the Summer), at other times there was a very sweet smell coming from the Jam factory.
My first school was the Fishersgate Infants school (no longer a school but still standing), my second the Green school (that was at Southwick Green) and finally Middle Road school. I didn’t enjoy school but managed to stay in the “A” classes and made a point of taking further education classes when in the RAF. Thinking of the above has brought back many happy memories of a very happy childhood.
Peter Tillett sent in this photograph from his time in 1946 of the Middle Road teaching and dinner Staff. His recollection of the names is below.
Another ex-pupil records in the 1960’s:-
I never got it (the cane) from Mr Childs only from John West for pulling a face at my cousin in English and from Beak Edwards for playing football in the cycle racks. I got six for that and because he only had one eye the blows would land anywhere between the forearm and the tips of the fingers. Ouch!
And then there was Spud Little. He was very handy with the slipper on bare bottoms in the changing room and known for running through the showers lashing out. I also remember Lenny Jenkins leaving an uncomplimentary note about Spud in the top of the straws (for milk) box. That occasioned the class spending a whole PE period doing chin ups in the Gym but nobody ratted on Lenny!
I remember going up stairs to Len Smith for music on the left going up and on the first floor Mr. Poland for English, Mr. Creccy for French (an experiment that lasted two lessons and was discontinued) and Mr. Slim for Technical Drawing. Don’t recall it was a spiral staircase though. Ah well, lot of water and grey cells gone under the bridge since then!
Old Fanny Barnett was there doing metalwork and I never forget when he was demonstrating flattening a piece of pipe end in the forge. It was a piece of galvanised pipe and he withdrew it white hot from the forge, put it on the anvil and gave it a mighty blow. Whereupon a great flake of galvanize detached itself, flew up in the air landed on his head and set his hair on fire! Priceless. The other Metalwork teacher was Mr Jones a Welsh nutter. I was daydreaming whilst he was addressing the class on the mightiness of the Little John lathe and he noticed this. ‘So boyo where do you engage the back gear on a Little John’……… ‘Ummmm’ I mumbled then ducked as he threw a ball pein hammer at me. Bonkers!
… another from the 1970’s that reveals some changes in the layout of the school, its rooms and the teaching staff:-
In my day there was an infill to the original building that robbed it of its airiness and there was no longer a playground in the centre. There was a very wide spiral staircase that led to Mrs. DeLacey‘s English classroom half way up – a huge room that must have been something like a gym in a previous time – and then at the top were 2 or 3 classes – one was a history classroom I recall.
Downstairs was the gym that may originally have been the Hall (by 1979 there was a huge wood framed hall on the far west of the original building). The changing rooms were right in the middle – next to a closed courtyard… I guess it used to access the playground. The library was two classrooms knocked into one in the middle of the southern terrace of single storey classes. Mr. Slims’ Technical Drawing classroom was the corner class with curved windows on the SW corner.
There were some old wooden sheds /garages on the far east side, including one locked garage that had a very old black saloon from the mid 50’s era. From memory the metalwork and woodwork classes were to the east. Mr. Barnett ( our metalwork teacher) would bellow “Carry on London” – his catchphrase.
… and one from the 1980’s:-
The school building had various bolted on rooms by then and was surrounded by additional classroom huts. The tower was a spiral staircase to the first floor as I recall.
By the 1980’s the education system was changing. Separate boys and girls schools were no longer deemed necessary added to which the flat roofs of Middle Road school, originally intended to allow for expansion, now required constant repair which, with other deteriorating aspects of a 50 year-old building, sealed its fate and it was demolished around 1992 in favour of King’s Manor school in Kingston Lane.
Paul Osborne (additional material)
Martin Brown (demolition photography)
Shoreham April 2012
Illustrations from ‘The Builder’ of 4th December 1936, 1980’s photos courtesy of Martin Brown