My sources for the information contained in this article come primarily from three sources:
·The Hemel Hempstead Gazette
·The school log books
·The booklet: Leverstock Green Primary School 1840 ~1985, produced by the school to commemorate the school as it closed in Pancake Lane and was transferred to Green Lane.
In addition I have been lucky enough to be given the use of numerous photographs taken or collected at the time. In order to ensure that the reader knows precisely from whence my information came, and to safeguard the copyright of the respected author's & photographers concerned I shall use the following colours for particular text as follows:
·Text quoted from any edition of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette will be printed in navy.
·Text quoted from Leverstock Green Primary School 1840 ~ 1985 will be printed in green, with, where known, the name of the author of a particular article or poem.
·Text quoted from the school log books or title deeds to the land in Pancake Woodswill be in orange, and
·Text written by myself, though possibly using one of the above sources for the information, will be in red.
The first documented mention of the possibility of Leverstock Green School moving to Pancake Lane was made on the 11th February 1928, when The Hemel Hempstead Gazette carried an extremely long article headed as follows:
LEVERSTOCK GREEN WANTS £4000
FOR NEW CHURCH SCHOOL
Earl of Verulam gives site
AN ENCOURAGING START
The first part of the report was as follows:
The Church school in Leverstock Green has been left behind in the march of Time. It is overcrowded, it is not in good condition, it has been condemned. The cost of the new school will be £4000 and the church folk in the parish are determined to raise that sum and thus retain the Church of England School in preference to a County Council School, and the great effort to realise that colossal sum for so small a village has commenced. Services with a special bearing on the subject were held on Sunday when the Rev Shilleto of the National Society for helping church school was the preacher. The ball was set rolling in real earnest, hoverer, on Tuesday night when there was a public meeting held at the Parish Hall which was well filled.
The Vicar, the R A D who presided explained that the meeting had been called to arouse interest and secure help for the erection of new buildings for the village schools. There was a great need for a new school, the present building was overcrowded, and there was no means of enlarging it satisfactorily. The village was now given the opportunity of securing a school, excellent and up to date in every way the cost of that would be rather considerable, amounting to no less than £4000. It was a very difficult sum to get, but he felt that it was not impossible because they would have the help of the whole of the Diocese. all the parishes were pledged to help. And they also expected some assistance Diocesan Educational Committee and the National Soc who would help all they could They were encouraged by the kindly action of the Earl of Verulam who at once gave them as much ground as was necessary at the corner of Pancake Wood. Which would make
A most excellent site
HE THOUGHT TOO, THAT THERE WAS NO DOUBT THAT some of the larger and richer factories in the district would help, and although they realised it was a gigantic task they meant to go on courageously to raise eth necessary funds.
The Rev Shorting said that at Leverstock Green they had a very valuable school which had done years and years years of good work. That was one of the great troubles with their school buildings at this time, they had been rendering service to God King & Country for many years, but no building could last forever. Their school was now old and too small. What was the value of a denominational school?
Canon Shorting told a very interesting story and a unique way by which he hoped to raise funds. While a curate in Furness he met a C of E clergyman who had met the Vicar of Leverstock Green. They became firm friends and he learned of the affection their late vicar had for the parishes. In their church was a stained glass window erected by him.
The Gazette went on to report that C Shorting had written to the son of a past vicar ( - from the description it would appear to have been the Rev Helme) who had promised to give £10 and C Shorting promised to write to other member of the family to see if he could obtain more in the way of funds. - Various other speeches, all going over much the same ground were also reported and the meeting closed with Rev Durrant saying they had nothing but encouragement on every hand.
This was the start if a campaign which eventually came to fruition in October 1930 when the foundation stone was laid with the school eventually officially opening in May 1931.
At the beginning of the following year, 1930, and general plea for funds to help build the school was published in the Gazette, and is reported below. The residents of Leverstock Green were obviously having trouble raising the amount concerned, which is hardly surprising considering the modern equivalent of the sum needed. Leverstock Green Village Association's annual fete makes approximately £1,500 a year profit at the beginning of the 21st century, and toady's Leverstock Green Primary School's Christmas fair makes something in the region of £3000 - a sum shared with Holy Trinity Church; yet in order to build the school required, the Leverstock Green community succeeded in raising the present day equivalent of well over £200,000 in just two years! This was done by a number of means, not least of which meant the local residents (and the village had a population of only 804 according to the official census of 1931) putting their hands in their own pockets. It seems likely that local firms such as Dickinsons may well have helped out quite a bit, but nevertheless it represented a remarkable achievement. Read the various press articles below for further information.
The deeds officially transferring the land for the school were dated 21st July 1930, and the front cover and accompanying map are shown to the left and below.
SOME RELATIVE VALUES
£210428.87 in the year 2001 has the same "purchase power" as £4400, 0s, 0d in the year 1930.
£184125.26 in the year 2001 has the same "purchase power" as £3850, 0s, 0d in the year 1930
£43042.27 in the year 2001 has the same "purchase power" as £900, 0s, 0d in the year 1930
£239.12 in the year 2001 has the same "purchase power" as £5, 0s, 0d in the year1930.
£6217.22 in the year 2001 has the same "purchase power" as £130, 0s, 0d in the year 1930.
This is approximately the same as each adult present at the dedication ceremony giving between £8-£10 in today's money - with the vicar putting in the equivalent of virtually £240 - and this on top of the money they have already raised.
On 11th Jan 1930 the Gazette printed an appeal for funds:
LEVERSTOCK GREEN'S EFFORTS
THE NEW CHURCH SCHOOL
THE NEED FOR FUNDS
A year or so ago the Leverstock Green elementary school buildings were condemned and the necessity of the provision of a new school became a matter of urgency.
A public meeting was called and pledged itself to support an effort to raise the necessary funds. But Leverstock Green is a small place and one that, being largely agricultural, is not in anyway overblessed with worldly wealth. The parish has done admirably and have earned by their efforts the attention and practical support of others. A sum of £4,600 is required, and it is proving too much for the little community, and therefore now an urgent appeal is made for outside help.
The schools, which date back 70 years, are now too small for the population of the parish which is 722, and the number of pupils on the books is 120. The buildings cannot be repaired or extended to meet the requirements of the Board of Education, as the site is too small and the buildings are not worth repairing. It is therefore proposed to erect new buildings to accommodate 160 children on a new site, which has been very kindly given the Earl of Verulam, and is exactly what is required, being close to the village and away from motor traffic and large enough for ample playgrounds for boys and girls. A sum of £4,600 is required to carry out the building of the new schools.
The scheme is strongly supported by the Bishop of St. Albans, The Diocesan Education Committee and by the NationalSociety for helping to maintain the Church Schools.
The appeal is made very especially for help from the large business firms in our neighbourhood, who are naturally interested in the education and moral character of their workpeople. Donations may be sent to:
THE REV ARTHUR DURRANT,
LEVERSTOCK GREEN VICARAGE,
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, Herts.
Tel; Boxmoor 411x
[Gazette 11th Jan 1930]
Despite the fact that not quite all of the huge sum necessary was collected, by the autumn sufficient monies were received to enable the building project to begin, and the official stone-laying ceremony took place on 11th October 1930.
NEW CHURCH SCHOOLS
CULMINATION OF LEVERSTOCK
Saturday was the day chosen for the laying of the foundation stone of the much-delayed Leverstock Green new Church School, and the ceremony which was favoured with mild, sunny weather, attracted a large proportion of Holy Trinity Church people of the parish and a number of friends. In Holy Trinity Church absence of the Bishop of St. Albans, who was conducting the funeral of the R101 heroes at Cardington; the Archdeacon (Ven the Hon Kenneth G Gibbs) officiated.
There were also present The Rev. A.L. Harkness (St. Paul's), The Rev Power (Hammerfield, St. Francis. Rev A.C. Jeffries (Chipperfield), the Rev A. Durrant (Leverstock Green)
The cost of the school building is £4,400 of which, prior to Saturday's ceremony, £600 was required to complete payment. Congratulations are due to the way in which the Leverstock Green Parish have raised this gigantic figure. By dint of much hard work in the way of organising of dances, concerts, rummage sales, etc. and the generous help of a number of friends, they have reached within £600 of the desired goal. £4,400 must have been awe inspiring to the parishioners, but they set about the raising of it in a determined manner, and now they have the satisfaction of seeing the walls of the new school slowly going up, which to them is ample reward for their services. The foundation stone bears the inscription:
"Holy Trinity Leverstock Green Church School. This stone was laid by Michael, Lord Bishop of St, Albans, on October XI, A.D. MDCCCCXXX."
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF DEED OF CONVEYANCE MADE 21ST JULY 1930 RE LAND AT LEVERSTOCK GREEN
AS A SITE FOR A CHURCH OF ENGLAND SCHOOL.
This Conveyance is made the twenty-first day of July One Thousand nine hundred and thirty Between The Right Honourable James Walter Fourth Earl of Verulum of the first part ...........................The Parochial Church Council of the Parish of Leverstock Green in the County of Hertford in the diocese of St. Albans of the third part................... and the ST. Albans Diocesan Board of Finance..of the fourth part ......................................................... Release to the Authority ALL that piece or parcel of land containing one acre or thereabouts situate in and having frontage to Pancake Lane Leverstock Green in the Parish of St. Michaels St. Albans.........................................being part of the wood known as Pancake Wood and more particularly being delineated in the plan drawn hereon and coloured pink Together with the appurtenances all the estate right title and interest in. ...................................And it is hereby agreed .......................................... The said piece of land shall be held for the purposes of the said Acts and . The said piece of land and all buildings to be and all buildings to be erected thereon shall be forever hereafter appropriated and used as a site for a School for the Education of Children and adults or Children only of the labouring manufacturing and other poorer class in the Parishes of Hemel Hempstead and St. Michaels St. Albans and Abbots Langley. ........................................... And or as a residence for the teacher or teachers of the said school shall always be in union with and conducted upon the principles and in furtherance of the ends and designs of the Incorporated National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales..................................
Just after three o'clock the clergy donned their robes in the Church, and headed by the school children, the choir, the Cross Bearer and a few Boys Scouts and Girl Guides, they filed in procession down the lane to the site in the Old Pancake Wood. Here a low platform had been erected and upon this the Archdeacon and the Rev. A. Durrant, Vicar of Leverstock Green took their place with the rest of the clergy standing round.
The Rev Durrant thanked the Archdeacon for his great kindness in coming to them that afternoon to lay the foundation stone in place of the Bishop. He had received a letter from the Bishop which he read as follows:
"With the greatest regret, I find myself unable to fulfil my promise to lay the foundation stone. The funeral service of the gallant men who so tragically lost their lives in the air-ship is to take place at Cardington at the same hour...
...and in the circumstance, I feel that there was no course open to me but to accept, and I ask you to release me from my engagement and feel sure that your people will understand and forgive me" The Bishop's letter went on to say "The future of Christianity within this country laid with the rising generation. It was surely for those who were old enough to realise something of the debt they owed those who first gave them their faith, and those, who in each generation, had kept it alive, to see to it that the rising generation of today had the best opportunity of learning."
The Archdeacon then laid the foundation stone, and the song; Loving Shepherd of thy Sheep was sung.
The Rev. Power read the lesson from the 40th verse of the 2nd chapter of St. Luke, and then followed prayers, during which the Archdeacon prayed for the souls of the R101's dead, those present then standing in silence for a few minutes.
The Archdeacon in an interesting address said that they might be sure that no light reason would have kept the Bishop away that afternoon from laying the foundation stone. There was no one ion England who was keener about the Church schools, and who had watched with the utmost sympathy, and he might say great admiration, the efforts that they in Leverstock Green had made to preserve their Church School. There was one other thing about the Bishop and that was that they saw the inscription on the stone said that it had been laid by the Bishop.
Well he was not there as the Archdeacon, he was there as the Bishop representative or commissary, and what he said, the Bishop said. There was an old saying, "A man who does something for someone else, really does it himself." He wanted them to consider that when he laid the stone it was the Bishop laying it by his hand and therefore in his judgement the inscription might stand. He (the Archdeacon) felt great admiration for the way in which that small parish tackled the immense difficulty of building a new church school. The parish, he thought, was not 800 people, and it cost them something like £5,000. He thanked them on behalf of the Diocese, and speaking on behalf of the Bishop, he offered his warm congratulations to them. It was a great achievement to have already raised over £3,850 , and he congratulated them on it. The Bishop had stated that they had £600, but he had understated it. They wanted £600 for the actual building, but there were the very well deserved fees of the architect to consider, and what they wanted was not £600 but £900 . He hoped that they would wipe off a considerable amount of that debt that afternoon, he was going to ask them to hand their offerings to him sp that he could lay them on the stone. They were going to see the stone a good many times in future years and he would like them to be able to look it comfortably in the face. They all knew that religious education was given in the school and they might say "Why Trouble about Church Schools". However there were limitations in the provided schools and also in choosing a teacher for a Church school, they cold make sure that he was a churchman, and a Christian, but if it was for the provided school, they may make any amount of enquiries and then have no guarantee that the man was a Christian. He hoped they would be able to write off their debt so that they might say to people who said that they cannot keep their church schools, "Go and have a look at Leverstock Green ".
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the hymn "Once in Royal David's City", and the plates were then passed round. The Rev. Durrant announced that those who wished could send their offerings to the Bishop, and he himself started the ball rolling with £5. As a result of this appeal a total of £130 was received. [Gazette 18th October 1930]
The foundation stone was removed from the school building in Pancake Lane when it closed in 1985, and is now to be found in the central courtyard of the Present Leverstock Green Primary School in Green Lane.
It was to be a further six moths before the new school building was to be finished and the children were able to move in. Walter Ayre recorded in the school log book:
14th April 1931 - "The School should have reopened this a.m. but permission was given to use the remainder of the week for removing books and apparatus to the New School lBuilding. The Teachers and volunteers from among the children assembled each day and removed all the things.." [S73]
20th April 1931 - Pancake Lane School was first used. Walter Ayre, who had been Headmaster at the old school, continued as Headmaster at Pancake Lane School. He was Headmaster at the school for 35 years, and his children and grandchildren attended the school. There were about 120 village children on the school's registers, aged from 5 - 14. Only two other staff helped Mr. Ayre at the time of the school's opening, Miss Biggerstaffe and Miss Herbert. The entry in the school log book for this occasion read as follows:
"The New Building was used for the first time this morning. The Vicar held a short service of Thanksgiving & Blessing in the Large Room. Miss L. Durrant and Mrs. Ayre were also present. Although a very cold day, the heating arrangement worked very satisfactorily. Owing to the playgrounds not being ready, the Veranda has to be used for Assembling into lines. Class I Girls commenced Cookery Instruction in the Parish Hall, Miss Lines as Instructress." [S73]
May 2nd 1931 - Pancake Lane School was officially opened. The school log book records the event as follows: "The School was officially opened this afternoon in very fine weather, by the Lord Bishop of St. Albans. A good company of Clergy and People was present. Much satisfaction was expressed at the pleasing atmosphere of the School." [S73]
The Gazette had a long write-up about the event the following week:
LEVERSTOCK GREEN SCHOOL
OPENED BY BISHOP OF ST ALBANS
On Saturday afternoon the new Church school at Leverstock Green was dedicated and opened by the Bishop of St. Albans. A service was first held in the village church, following which a procession, headed by the cross-bearer and surpliced choir and including the clergy, school children, and teachers was formed to the new school in Pancake Lane.
The clergy present were the Bishop of St. Albans, the Rev Canon Frederick Halsey Rural Dean and vicar of Shenley, the Rev. A Durrant, vicar of (Leverstock Green), the Rev Canon Parkes (director of education for the Diocese of St. Albans), the Rev W.J Gallop (of Wigginton). The Rev. Baird Smith (of Wheathamstead), the Rev. A.E, power (of St. Francis, Hammerfield), and the Rev S. Sewell (of St. John's Boxmoor.
On the way to the school the children and members of the choir sang the hymn "All things bright and beautiful". On arrival at the school a square was formed in the courtyard and the Rev Durrant conducted a brief service, during which the Bishop, opening the door of the school said "In the faith of Jesus Christ, we dedicate this school in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" The service included other dedicatory prayers on behalf of those who will learn and those who will teach in the new school. The hymn "Now thank we all our God" was sung at the beginning of the service, and the concluding hymn was "All people that on earth do dwell." During of singing of the last hymn a collection was taken and various gifts of money were also handed to the Bishop. As a result the Bishop announced that he had received cheques for £33 10s, £20, £5, £10 10s., and also in the plate two £5 notes and numerous £1 & 10s notes. Later it was announced that the results of the collection totalled £77.
Following the dedication everyone present made a tour of inspection of the new school, and it must be said that the work had been very well carried out, and the design leaves nothing to be desired for the comfort and health of the children who will be taught there. There is a special contrivance in the roof by which the sunshine is bottled, and gives an enhanced amount of light and heat. After a tour of inspection the Bishop addressed the gathering in the courtyard. He said he could not let the occasion pass without expressing his real thanks to those, both of the parish and outside the parish, who had helped to make possible the building of the new school. It was a real happiness for him to be there, and real encouragement for those who were not only trying to preserve their church schools, but also where possible. To extend their old one or to build new ones. He was glad to be there that day because he had been unable to attend their ceremony of the foundation stone laying. Although he observed he would always have the credit for that as the stone that was just behind him recorded that it was laid by the Bishop of St. Albans. However it was impossible for him to be there on that day, and for that reason he was especially glad to be with them that afternoon. The encouragement that they received from the opening of the school that day was that they had triumphed because of three things. First team work, secondly faith & courage and thirdly recognition of the inherent soundness of the church schools. That parish had done remarkably well, but they would not have done what they had done if it had not been for the help that had been extended to them from sources outside. Every parish in the diocese and even further afield beyond the diocese. It was an example of teamwork that was in evidence throughout the diocese, because there were some people who had helped the funds for the building of that school who had never heard before of Leverstock Green and who did not know where it was. But they had heard that Leverstock Green was in need of proper Church schools, and because of that need and because of their desire to help the work in the diocese they had done what they could. There were all sorts of things which they could not do alone but which they could and which seemed easy to do when they got together. They in that parish had got together and things had begun to happen when they sent out their S.O.S. They had set themselves a hard task, but they would do it, and they had done it, and he did not know from his experience of one project which had been started on behalf of the Christian church and had not in the end been accomplished. The Bishop acknowledged the help of Cannon Parkes and, continuing said that the basis of all Christian education was the injunction "Go ye and teach all things." And he did think that was what they wanted today was a more simple more childlike faith that if they carried out that wish of our Lord He would see them through. They were proud of their church schools; they were the most glorious thing that England had; and he asked the children there to be proud of their school and be proud of their Church, It was an excellent school, a school of which they should be proud. It was a substantially built school, and he himself had butted against the wall and failed to make any impression. There was a contrivance in the roof which he was told was for the purpose of bottling the sunshine. He would like to express his thanks to the architects for what they had done and for making the school such an excellent one from the health point of view. Now their duty was to push on and to clear off the debt. There was £750 owing and he had received £75, that was about 10% of it and he asked them to do their best to see that before very long the debt was cleared right off.
Before the Bishop had finished speaking he was handed some more notes and humorously remarked that he thought if he stayed there all night he would get the required sum, He then made another calculation and announced that £77 had been collected.
At the conclusion, on the call of Mr. Ayres the Headmaster, who had made admirable arrangements for the ceremony, the school children gave the school thanks, which was a loud "Thank you very much." [Gazette 9th May 1931]
This photo was one of the earliest to be taken outside the new school and shows Walter Ayre, the Headmaster, on the right.
Next but one to Mr Ayre is Doris Peddar (long dark hair) and in front of her her sister Florence Peddar (long fair hair).
It also shows clearly the wonderful glass windows which formed such a major feature of the school's architecture, bringing the surrounding wood right into the classrooms. CAN YOU ADD TO MORE OF THE NAMES? If so please contact me.
Ena Ayre, Walter Ayre's daughter, reminisced about the school's early days for the booklet produced in 1985.
Ena Ayre remembers
The moving to a new school building was an experience for all concerned. The actual move was one of 'help yourself'. The only aid came from borrowed prams, trucks, hand carts and wheel barrows. If you were 8 or over, the first day of the summer term was spent carrying books, pictures, visual aids, papers, desks, tables, chairs, blackboards, easels and even the paraffin lamps. Although the building was wired for electricity it was not connected to the supply.
The second day, the most wide-eyed were the under 8's. They were to see their new rooms for the first time. They met in the playground, which although not made up with asphalt was 'huge'. 'He' became the favourite game with the stumps of the trees as home. After this enjoyment they were ready to line up and file into the school. All children were directed first of all to the cloakroom. There they found wash basins and hot water. Everyone wanted to wash yet the call of the new room was strong. The reason for this was that one wall was completely made of glass. This was very different from the old high window.
The first assembly of the whole school meant that the partition between classes 2 and 3 was pulled back. In came Mr. Ayre the headmaster, with the top class, next Miss Biggerstaff with the Infants. Miss Herbert played the piano. Miss Fowler made sure that all were seated 3 or 4 to a two-seater desk. All was ready to start.
The Bluebell Wood lived up to its name. In the spring despite the mounds of earth and rubble left by the builders it was still a wood full of bluebells. The birds and animals were fearless coming quite close to the French doors. Often lessons just stopped to watch a squirrel, a grass snake, a deer as well as pheasants or partridges.
The top class boys cultivated their vegetable plots in the vicarage garden. Soon, with Mrs. Ayre's help, flower gardens bloomed in the quadrangle. The quadrangle edged the verandah on the lane side.
The wild cherry, native of the wood, became the host to grafts of various kinds of fruits. Not all the children's grafts took. After several years, fruit of very fair quality was produced.
The improvements were decidedly of the 'help yourself kind'. The school was always warm. The boiler fires provided this heat. The heat itself came from the ceiling. The clinker from the boiler formed the hard core to fill up the holes left when the tree stumps were removed.
Brocks Firework Company started a branch of their factory on the Redbourn Road. An estate was built for their skilled workers who were moved from Sutton. This presented a wonderful opportunity. Firstly, the pupils were able to study at first hand the locally made bricks. Secondly, the dimensions of footings, walls, doors and so on, provided material for endless calculations with scale drawings. This was practical arithmetic. Soon came practical public relations. The children from these houses joined the school. Sadly, it took some time before they were accepted by the locals. Happily many lasting friendships were made as 'they' became villagers.
Another opportunity for practical Maths and Science came with the planting of hundreds of trees. They were very tiny. The plantations were made in different parts of the widely spread Gorhambury Estate. The children borrowed bicycles, many of which were far too large. They cycled with the headmaster to see this planting. Pupils collected information on numbers of trees, distances apart, etc., and armed with this data returned for many calculations. Despite all these sums, the enjoyment and basic knowledge gained still lingers with some of those pupils.
A ploughing match was held at a farm on Watling Street. Pupils cycled the 3 miles to the farm. Single and double plough shares were pulled in competition by one horse and also by two horses. The exhibition was of tractor drawn ploughing. This was something new.
Sheep shearing meant just a walk down Chambersbury Lane or up Green Lane.
A visit to the Science Museum in London took place. To get there meant a bus to the Plough, one went every two hours; next came a walk across the Moor to Boxmoor Station to catch the train. The whole days' visit and return journey was capped by the walk back across the Moor. The reason for this was the glow worms in the chestnut trees. They lit the pathway.
Singing was a much encouraged part of school life but more music making was needed. Bamboo was acquired from many sources and corks collected. In no time a recorder group was formed with treble and tenor recorders. These were made and played by the pupils themselves.
The Hertfordshire Rural Music Society for schools started group violin classes. Only pennies were involved as fees.
Country and Maypole dancing were a regular feature of school life. Demonstrations were frequently given at village functions.
The making of raffia table mats was going out of fashion. Mrs. Ayre taught the girls to spin wool instead. The boys made the spindles, some from flat tins, others from discs of wood. The first raw wool was collected from the hedgerows. This was spun in its natural state. When a fleece was given by a local farmer there was enough wool to experiment with dyeing. Berries, twigs, fruits all were used to form natural dyes. The quality of the thread improved and with it the need for the skill of weaving. Looms were made from wooden butter boxes. Mrs. Ayre taught many types of weaving including tablet and Norwegian braid. The greatest honour of all was to spin on the spinning wheel and produce a fine thread which could be knitted.
From this necessarily brief account, it is clear that the move to the new school building not only gave light, warm and airy surroundings, but also provided opportunities for a considerable widening of interests in the curriculum.
25th April 1932 - Part of the Report of the HMI on Leverstock Green School read as follows:
"The Managers are to be congratulated on the provision of the new school buildings which were opened just over a year ago. The four classrooms prove ample accommodation for the 126 children now on the roll. The Headmaster and the elder boys have put a great deal of hard work in an endeavour to make the outside of the premises more suitable for recreation and physical Training, but the task has proved too heavy and difficult. The space in front of the school has been covered with clinkers, but the surface is loos and dangerous and several tree stumps protrude some inches above the ground level. At the back of the school there is a partially cleared copse unsuitable for any purpose in wet weather and the approaches to the school from the road are gaps in the hedges.
It is clear from the accounts of the school in the 1930's that the education received was somewhat idylic and that the new premises greatly enriched the lives of the children, and no doubt their teachers as well.
25th April 1932 - Part of the Report of the HMI on Leverstock Green School read as follows:
"The Managers are to be congratulated on the provision of the new school buildings which were opened just over a year ago. The four classrooms prove ample accommodation for the 126 children now on the roll. The Headmaster and the elder boys have put a great deal of hard work in an endeavour to make the outside of the premises more suitable for recreation and physical Training, but the task has proved too heavy and difficult. The space in front of the school has been covered with clinkers, but the surface is loos and dangerous and several tree stumps protrude some inches above the ground level. At the back of the school there is a partially cleared copse unsuitable for any purpose in wet weather and the approaches to the school from the road are gaps in the hedges."
From these early, almost idyllic years in the new school, until its eventual closure in 1985 there were many innovations and changes, and several different head teachers. The extracts below from the school booklet produced in 1985 give an excellent flavour of the interviening years.
A Former Pupil Recalls:
Since my first memories of Leverstock Green School, nearly 35 years ago,(i.e. about 1950) the school building has undergone one or two major alterations whilst the village surrounding it has almost changed beyond recognition. Happily to say, however, the two are still very much intermingled, even in our modern and progressive society. Leverstock Green School still remains very much the "village school".
For many years Walter Ayre was Headmaster and to many people his dedication to the school and village life in general were greatly appreciated.
To try and recall an accurate description of school life so many years ago is obviously difficult but some particular instances do remain vividly etched in the memory. One of the highlights of winter life at the school, was when the pond in front of the classrooms eventually froze over. The temptation of frozen water often proved too much for young boys and before long it was a case of, "who dares to walk on the ice?" Needless to say it usually ended up with several pairs of wet feet, including mine. The wood at the back of the school also proved to be a fascination for school children, although climbing trees was strictly forbidden. The saying "boys will be boys" obviously meant that shinning up and down trees without being caught was most exhilarating. Like all good things, however, it would come to an end not with the bending of a branch but the bending of Walter Ayre's cane!
Many of the notable events seemed to be in relation to the boys, although I am sure that whilst these were taking place, the girls were having just as much fun and getting into an equal amount of trouble.
A particular discovery in the corridor outside Walter Ayre's room one day was that of "a bat". I seem to remember that the whole school, class by class, were taken to see this "mouse with wings" and so it became the talking point of the school for many weeks.
The present school hall and additional classrooms have made the school a compact unit for many years but during my few years there the school meals were still being prepared and served in the old village hall which stood at the top of Pancake Lane. This meant, of course, that come rain or shine, pupils and staff alike had to walk the few hundred yards to partake of the traditional "school dinner'. I seem to remember that these meals were always very good and no doubt owed much to the enthusiasm of the kitchen staff who prepared them.
I have said little of the academic nature of the school but I am convinced that during its relatively long history, it has always sought to establish the basics of education within a disciplined framework and under the watchful eye of the Church.
Present and former pupils will no doubt continue to look back with pride on those few formative years spent at Leverstock Green School and I am convinced that even when it moves into its new premises the spirit of the "village school" will live on.
This class photo was taken in the late 1940's. Included in the photo are, front row: Jean Faithful(left); Seated on bench: Nargaret Lumb and Jill Parkins. Boys: Derek Greenfield, Eric Gurney, Joseph Chamberlain, Norman Ivory, James Dunbar, Godfrey Foulder and James Dawkins.
If you know any more of the young persons in this photo please let me know.
Mr. Eric Garbutt, Headteacher 1957 - 1965
Walter Ayre had been the Head of Leverstock Green C.E. Primary School since 1922 to when my appointment was made in 1957; so his was a difficult place to follow. Whilst the catchment area, covering Bedmond and Cupid Green in addition to Leverstock Green, was still largely rural, the New Town had already begun to affect the child population of the school and I believe that parental interest had begun to stir in a different way from that of previous years.
Church interest in the school was still very strong and the annual Whit Monday Fete was a joint effort; funds were still being raised to build the projected hall which had been in mind almost from the time when the 'new' school was opened in 1930. Walter and his wife still occupied the old village school house. Mrs. Ayre took the older girls for needlework on a part-time basis. Mrs. Phyllis Brown was part-time secretary. Mrs. V. Trundle was part-time cleaner/caretaker. She was replaced by Mrs. Henry.
Dining arrangements were located at the Village Hall on the main road and the walk up the lane from school was still very rural in 1957; children tended to snatch a small collection of flowers from the hedgerow; sometimes to the annoyance of Miss Dell, whose bungalow was en route. A class of 2nd and 3rd year children occupied the hall at that time. A large part of the day was consumed in moving up and down the lane; playtime took place there, around the hall and often strayed into the tennis courts which were alongside and actually on the corner of the lane and the main road. Mrs. Brigginshaw was in charge of preparing the lunches, cooked on the premises.
At that time an elderly pensioner gave his time to prepare tables, fetch and carry and help with cleaning up and washing the dishes and utensils. He was Mr. Collins, small, sturdy and reliable with waistcoat and belted trousers - a true survivor of a past age.
Walter had already begun the task of integrating the newcomers to the town and those of their children attending the school. Whilst Paul Stanbridge and Ian Dunbar represented one aspect of rural population, Robert Stockwell and Tony Waites came from the local authority housing built in the street by Bill Skegg's village shop (now clothing and wool) off the main road.
The Biswell girls were probably third generation in the school and I believe it was their grandmother who each year sent for sale at the Fete, kitchen cloths which she had made. She told me that as a young girl - 7 or 8 years old she remembered standing by the gate to a field, with other children, and learning to plait the straw; the plaits of straw then went on to Luton, where they were used for the then straw hat industry. I was at school in Manchester with a boy whose father moved to Denton in the early 20's, to make hats there, as his job in Luton had gone.
School journeys are now an accepted part of the life of most junior schools. Walter had taken children in a charabanc for outings, including, I think, Walton-on-the-Naze. In my time, we included 'Whipsnade, a day in London to visit the Tower, stroll along the Embankment, river trip to the Tower, Hampton Court. We also ran a successful week in the Isle of Wight, visiting Carisbrooke Castle, Osborne House and so on. Jennifer Morgan fell in the water at Cowes; Mr. Alan Howe (a teacher) and I made a colour movie (16 mm) using a Kodak camera loaned to us by Bill Povey from Kodak's on Maylands Avenue, with free film supplied too.
Alan Howe brought his wife and young baby to the Isle of Wight, as did my wife, included in the party too was my son Alan. He was a great pal of Robert Stockwell and Richard Ellis.
One of the New Town families very well known in the school was that of Mrs. Adams from Homefield Road. Her husband was a bricklayer and he had worked on the first of the new houses for the Development Commission. She had bad been honoured by a visit by the Queen at their new home and was also a great supporter of the school, continuing in one aspect to supply us with pupils throughout my seven years there. In addition to her family, she involved herself in various organisations too - a busy body in the best sense of the words.
To help with this integration, and with the great support of Mrs. Florence Wykes and Mrs. Barbara Redlich - the former being the deputy and head of Infants - we ran some parents' and children's evenings in the winter of 1957; namely Beetle Drives and Hotpot Suppers (I couldn't bear the thought of Bingo). Parents gave their support generously and in spite of having no hall to use (the Village Hall, under separate management, was only available for the Christmas Concert) we nevertheless managed in the 'top' classroom and the two middle rooms, where the partition could be folded back - removed in the refurbishing which took place when the new hall was built in 1960. This brought parents together and from this we formed the Parent/Teacher organisation. Their efforts then became a part of the Church and village effort at the Fete and the receipts jumped dramatically from then on-; new blood, new enthusiasm, new ideas. It was not roses all the way, either. One of the 'doubtful' items introduced, I think, by Mr. Pride, father of Roger and Geoffrey, was the Spinner. 2s6d. was the stake - high, in those days, and the prizes, 10s. box of chocolates each 'spin'. It turned out to be a success, but the Vicar, Arthur Le Dieu, had a thin time with some, I think. We wrote to all the local industrialists appealing for funds, to help us build a hall and had a good response. Captain Luby , father of Jonathan, was a director at what is now Lucas factory and in addition to funds, he arranged to make individual tidy boxes for each Infant child. Each box had a sliding lid, was jointed and glued and odd ones may have survived. The representative for E.S.A. saw them and, I understand, introduced them to their range of Infants apparatus in their catalogue. Mrs. Luby was at that time a Manager of the school. Alongside her was the wife of Robert Edwards, editorl,5 deputy at the Daily Express at that time; she was called Laura and her children attended the school too. On the day that Ernest Marples opened the first section of the Ml, we took the whole school down Teddybear Lane (bottom end of Westwick Lane) and out on to the new bridge over the motorway; at that time, there was no building at all between the roundabout and the slip roads. Whilst on the bridge, a photographer appeared and decided he would take a shot of us on this special occasion. Afterwards I learned that he was from the Express newspaper group; in our group of about 130 children, was the daughter of his editor - Helen Edwards.
Mrs. F. Wykes having retired, Mrs. Pat Causer, became Head of Infants and with her we had Miss Watts. Mrs. Redlich had not yet decided to move on (she joined Bill Davies at Broadfield Junior School) and I think Mrs. Wilkinson from down the lane was there too. When Ms. Causer went, Eileen Elson joined us and Mary Dutton had arrived. Muriel Wall came on the staff; Clifford was working I believe in a factory on the estate; he took up his incomplete education again and began a serious career in catering; he is now in the Isle of Man, Head of his catering department in the college there. Muriells father was a colleague, Head of the old Boxmoor School, now closed.
The curriculum had remained virtually unchanged for many years, so the staff and I began a thorough review. We tried to maintain the image which parents seemed to like, of not abandoning the traditional virtues in the basic subjects. It was hard work for everybody - not least the children - but when our first outdoor productions took place, we felt we were winning. The Chairman of the County Education Committee, a Major Woodhouse, came to see our children's gymkhana; the newly arrived P.E. equipment, with all the surrounding small apparatus
work,was used as a feature in an outdoor series of items, set to music, on the field at the rear of the school building; some Country Dancing continued to be taught and Barbara Pedlich's class gave a demonstration on the then front yard.
The girls were becoming adept at netball; the boys at football and cricket; and I bought a Utilabrake (own money!) to escort the children around, as the use of staff's cars was becoming onerous and difficult where insurance was concerned and our teams then had adequate transport for interschool activities. The parents and staff raised cash to purchase either uniform or materials for each team. Great success was enjoyed by netball and the other teams. Vincent Needham became our footballer who inspired the other boys; on a school visit to London - I think the Lord Mayor's Show in the City - we passed Jimmy Hill, then a young up and coming player and Vincent's hero, near the Underground. I quickly chased after him with Vincent and Jimmy kindly spoke words of encouragement to him. Whatever happened to Vin? His greatest supporter and trainer was Barbara Redlich - maybe she knows. The cricket team began to develop with encouragement from parents and staff; Neil Daniel's late father was a keen member of the village team; so were others and the Lever brothers (Keith and Stuart) and David Rogers soon helped to form the core of both cricket and football teams that in their turn won the Divisional cups for the school, small as it was in numbers. Cricket took place on the village green and whites were de riguer. A student from Oxford, David Whittaker, spent two summers with us and his work with the cricketers was very good. He later went on to lecture at Exeter and then returned to Exeter, where the last contacts were made.
The school choir was trained and encouraged particularly by Miss Dutton and with her, using the school vehicle, we made several annual trips to Thame and on to Oxford to visit David's college, which he showed to us.
LEFT:"Market Stalls" in 1963 - the children from Leverstock Green Primary School admire their handiwork.
BELOW: The LG School "Milkman" (click on picture to see enlarged version) and
Watching a play in the hall at Pancake Lane about 1963.
Meanwhile, the Open Days, Parents Evenings, annual Fete and the now established annual P.T.A. Dinner had helped us to achieve what at one time seemed impossible - the new hall, redesigned classrooms and our own kitchen and other ancillary areas. During the period of building, the whole of the school furniture had to be moved out to enable the refurbishing, building and then decorating to take place. Mrs. Henry and her husband spent a long time each holiday scrubbing the oak block floors to clean out the years of school disinfectant which lent its own odour to the then school atmosphere. Sanded and polished after sealing, there was a transformation in the four older classrooms which matched the shining splendour of the ma-le school hall floor. A druggett cover was purchased for the protection of the latter which saved it at that time from the scourge of the fashionable stiletto heels much loved by ladies!
The opening ceremony was a great occasion - Church and others well represented. I think it was Lord Verulam who came - he had been a big help in persuading the L.E.A. that we needed a hall; as did Mr. Moucey from County, who performed minor miracles in finding the finance for re-equipping the school. It is noteworthy that the original foundation stone had to be moved at this time and to recollect that when it was laid in 1930 the then Bishop Suffragan of Bedford was prevented from attending (as the stone says) because he was officiating at the public ceremony for the funeral of the victims of the airship disaster, at Cardington. Was it the R100 or 101? 1 know that at that time, 1929/30 I was a pupil at an elementary school in Manchester and the Head allowed us all into the schoolyard to see one of them passing over on its round the country trip.
For the actual ceremony at Leverstock Green for the opening of the new school, the ceremony was held in the front school yard. Country Dancing, Maypole and readings were given and Mrs. Grimwood was the pianist, I think. There was a school photo in the archives, of that occasion. Mrs. Grimwood was companion to Miss G. Mortimer, on whose land Peter Ayre and 1 built our homes 1959/60; the two ladies concerned lived in a large house which they described as a 'Cottage' and were pillars of the Church and local village society. Both had come from families distinguished in the military field and connected with the Indian Army of the 19th century. They had run a school for horticultural students, the daughter of genteel families. The donkey shed still stood at the end of the cinder track at the side of No. 25 (Chadderton) Pancake Lane
Farmer Wiles had had children and grandchildren at the school (Westwick Farm) and he allowed the school to use a field just beyond Miss Mortimer's, for football, running and the school Sports Day. Tables, chairs and the usual gear was carried to the field and drinks served, latterly by the parents, for the contestants and the spectators. Ice-cream appeared too. The Fielden Shield, given to the school by a Mr. Palmer, was won the first time, I believe, by the team headed by Vincent Nee~.
Parental involvement included for a time, the help of mothers in listening to children read; then not always welcomed. The floods of cakes, sweets, books, toys and many other articles, whenever we held a Jumble Sale or the Fete were a testimony to the interest shown in the school, not only by parents but also the managers and parishioners who gave their support. Throughout, with the normal changes of staff, some to promotion, we enjoyed a level of progress and interest that I believe encouraged the children to believe in their school and their own worth as people. Attending some of their weddings, meeting them as adults has equalled the pleasure my wife, Vera, and 1 derived from our seven years in Leverstock Green. Not always easy, the best memories are those of & friends made and retained.
As mentioned by Mr Garbutt in his reminiscences above, a new school hall was dedicated by Bishop Basil of Bedford. On Saturday November 4th 1961. As Headteacher he reported the event in the school log book:
The Bishop of Bedford in the presence of the Architect, School Managers, D.E.O ., Assistant E.O .for Herts, Heads of Secondary Schools, the P.C.C. ; Staff & childrern of Classes 1 & 2 and 40 parents today dedicatedthe New School Hall and extensions to classrooms 2 & 3. Miss Stenning supervised catering arrangements. A moving and delightful ocassion. It was particularly apt that Mr. W Ayre, Mrs. Ayre, Mrs Wykes and past members of staff were also present. [S73]
This photo was taken about 1965 and includes Peter Flint.
JANUARY 1963 - JULY 1981 (Peggy Buxton - former teacher and Deputy Head)
A snowy night in late November didn't seem to me at the time to be exactly ideal for turning out to go and look round the school to whose teaching staff I had recently been appointed. I had reckoned without the warmth of the welcome that I was to receive from the Headmaster and from the Vicar of that time, Mr. Eric Garbutt and the Rev. Arthur le Dieu. One comment of Mr. Garbutt's that night, summed it all up I think. As true today as it was then. "We are just one big happy family here." he said.
When I took up my appointment in January 1963 there were three other fulltime teachers on the staff who are still remembered by many ex-pupils and parents Mrs. Pat Causer, Miss Mary Dutton and Mrs. Eileen Elson (deputy-Head and later to become Headmistress of Broadfield Infants School). Mrs. Ann Adams came in part-time and shared the teaching of Class III with Mr. Garbutt. No welfare assistants! The first, Mrs. Marjorie Westley, was not appointed until two years later. Mrs. Henry was cleaner-in-charge and the only member of the kitchen staff I clearly remember was Mrs. Brigginshaw, happily still living in the village and now a wonderful old lady in her early nineties.
There were about 150 children in the school, roughly the same as now, though fewer actual "village" children than I had thought there would be. The "Horseshoe" estate provided quite a large number, though that estate was still not complete. Some came from other houses in the village, several from families whose connections with the school went back to the days when it was in the Bedmond Road, and a few came from the New Towns Commission estate which was being developed off Green Lane. "Greenacres" provided some, but "Greenacres" contained only a few older houses then and was still an area which lived up to its name. A grassy place of 'scrub' and marsh that abounded in teasels, thistles, wild flowers and frogs and provided us with some interesting Nature Study. Bartel Close, the newer housing along the Bedmond Road and the top of Chambersbury Lane, the developments in and around Pancake Lane were all in the future. So where did the other children come from? Some were from the Adeyfield area - Vauxhall Road, Ranelagh Road, Briery Way, the "Ritcrofts" - most of whom left when the new Greenhills School opened in January 1964. As now, some from the Tile Kiln Lane area, from Pimlico, and from further afield in the case of those children whose Parents had requested a Church school for them. There was the daily taxi (fares paid by the Education Authority) bringing a group of six or seven children from Cupid Green as there was no school in their area (Grove Hill was still on the drawing-board). The school contained a varied and interesting lot of children from a cross-section of the community covering a wide area but as Hemel Hempstead continued to develop children from the more outlying areas were able to attend new schools nearer their homes and were replaced by children whose parents were coming to live in the rapidly growing Leverstock Green. By the time Mr. Garbutt left and Mr. Harry Berry took over as Headmaster in April 1965 the school's intake was changing. The 11+ selection system was still with us (Hemel Hempstead did not "go" Comprehensive until 1970) but "new" maths, creative writing and topic work backed up by relevant educational visits had become the norm. Elementary French was taught then, as indeed it continued to be in the top Junior Classes for many years to come.
During Mr. Berry's three years as Headmaster plans were put forward for an extension to the school but disappointingly for us all these came to nothing. New methods of teaching were tried in the Infant and Lower Junior classes (I.T.A. and "Colour-Factor" Maths are two I remember) . After fourteen years as Vicar, Mr. Le Dieu left to take charge of four small parishes in Cambridgeshire, and just before that I left to teach, for what turned out to be one brief but happy year, at Hobbs Hill Wood Junior School.
In March 1968 began the school's long and-happy association with the Rev. John Morris as Vicar and Chairman of the School Governors. That Easter Mr. Berry left to become Headmaster of Hammond School in the new Grove Hill area, Mrs. Norris (deputy-Head) was appointed Headmistress of an Infants School in Watford (though sadly she died of cancer only four years later) and other members of staff also left. Many will remember Mary Gibson, who lived in the village and became Mrs. Valpy at that time. She went to live in Kenya but is now teaching (she was widowed many years ago) and lives in Malvern with her 15 year old son, Bruce. So by September 1968 when Mr. Trevor Lightowler took over as Headmaster and I returned as Deputy Head there was no-one on the teaching staff who had been there for more than a year. One or two more staff changes occurred but by the summer of 1969 the school had settled down once more into a happy and purposeful unit with Mr. Lightowler as Headmaster and an entirely newly-appointed but dedicated teaching staff, two of whom, Mrs. Dutton and Mrs. Bennett, are still at the school.
Very soon plans were going ahead, this time successfully, for an extension that was to give the Infants two classrooms and a "purpose-built" play area. The extension was dedicated in a memorable service by the Bishop of Hertford (Rt. Rev. John Trillo) one Saturday afternoon in January 1971. The staff were able to enjoy pleasant surroundings and better facilities in a larger staff-room and Class 1 was able to move back into a classroom after more than two years in the Hall. In fact the whole school benefited as a result of the new extension.
Successive hard-working P.T.A. committees raised money which brought so many extras for the school -cine-projector - colour T.V. - a great deal of apparatus of all kinds books, records and much more. We were - and the school still is fortunate indeed in the support, in every way, of all parents. There were the usual changes in staff and ideas that every school has, over the next years, and the school thrived and continued to go forward.
Now the greatest change of all is about to take place. One, I think, none of us even in our wildest speculations ever envisaged and memories come crowding in. To put them all on to paper would be to write a book. Memories of Choir Festivals, of Maypole dancing at Whit. Monday fetes, of Nativity plays and school concerts, of Open Evenings and visits to the Pavilion for children's orchestral concerts, of the Golden Wedding Day of the school's longest serving Headmaster when he and Mrs. Ayre and the Vicar joined us all for lunch, of cruising down the Thames with a crowd of happy children and school leavers' parties and Mrs. Glenister's "Cordon-bleu" contributions to them each year, of Christmas dinner-dances before discos had shouted their way in and "Gay Gordons", "Hokey-Cokey" and "Lily the Pink" were all such fun! - of valued and supportive governors over the years and the pleasure we all had when they joined us each year for the School Christmas dinner with its traditional turkey and 'plum-pud' and the children's roof-raising singing of " now bring out some figgy pudding"' The list is endless. A rich kaleidoscope of experiences and events that helped to make the school what it was and are now no more than happy memories.
Choir taking part in Christmas Carol concert 1974 or 1975. 1974 (poss. 75). Some of those pictured are: Catherine Mayhew, Amanda Carpenter, Sara Crozier, Rochelle Hall, Michell Goman, Karen Gillan? , Rebecca Lawson - we were all infants.
We had our sadnesses too. The school suffered the loss of very dear friends through the untimely deaths of Margaret Morris, Brenda Gillon, Bernard Field (a loyal and respected Governor for well over twenty years) and then later Robin Gedge, a much loved teacher, and dear Mrs. Henry who had been a part of the school both as pupil and cleaner-in-charge for far longer than I can remember. All deeply missed but the memories of them and of their contributions to the life of the school live on.
Above all the privilege of working all those years with lovely children and people in an atmosphere of Christian tolerance and trust that overcame all difficulties and differences.
Now the school as we have known it ceases. to be when this term ends. Already with very mixed feelings, it has said "Goodbye" to its last Headmaster. Of course there is sadness. There is always sadness when a family has to give up a much-loved family home, and after almost eighteen years of teaching in the school, thirteen of them as Deputy Head, I share in that feeling. But the family will take with it its spirit of friendliness and the Christian ideals that have been so much a part of the years at Pancake Lane. At Westwick they will be uniting with another family, one that has built up its own traditions over the past twenty-three years. With the support and prayers and good-will of all who have loved both schools it will be a good union.
May God bless greatly the new Leverstock Green School.
Finally, the school's last Headmaster gave his memories of the school during the years of his Headship.
In September 1968 the school had a new Head and new Deputy, in myself and Mrs. Peggy Buxton. We were shortly joined by Mrs. Mercia Bennett and Mrs. Barbara Dutton, and this "gang of four" provided the stability the school required for the larger part of this period. There were no staff left who had previously taught I.T.A. reading and spelling (Initial Teaching Alphabet) and so it was phased out gradually, as children were ready to transfer to orthodox reading books and spelling. This transfer was undertaken by Mrs. Jean Shaw, who was later to become a deputy and then Headteacher.
Mrs Bennett's class 1979. Click on picture to enlarge. For additional photographs click here.
Log Book entry for 16th Jan 1971:
Dedication of extension to School by the Rt. Rev. John Trillo, Bishop of Hertford, attended by the D.E.O., Mr. Nice (County), canon Crofts, Archdeacon Snell, Rev. Hughes, the Vicar & Governors, P.C.C. members, Headmaster & Staff, Architect, Builder, parents, and children. The daughter, Christine Ayre, of a past Headmaster read the Prayer of Thanksgiving. Two past Headmasters were present Mr Ayre and Mr Berry. Excellent refreshments were provided in the Village Hall by the School Meals' Organisation, for invited guests.
Click on picture to enlarge.
Class 1, with Mrs. Buxton, occupied the Hall at this time, but when the new extension was built and opened in 1970/71 (a time of expansion) a five-class school became a six-class school, and for a period we tried "family-grouping" in the infants, with classes 5L and 5G, when 4 to 5 year olds were divided equally between the two classes, as they started school. This ended when we were once again reduced to five classes.
Mrs. Buxton and myself taught "En Avant" French to the top two classes for a number of years. Few other schools did, and eventually we let it go. The school choir, under Peggy, made a name for itself, especially at the annual Music Festival, held usually in the Pavilion.
Lots of new materials and books were introduced, particularly the Alpha and Beta maths books.
Miss Hilary Moore taught in the infant department for a number of years before becoming first a deputy and then a Headteacher. The only man appointed by the Governors and myself in these years, Mr. Ron Vacey, brought new enthusiasm on to the football and sports fields and his Youth Hostel expeditions and musical-plays were much appreciated. He and I trained together to become Lay Readers and were licensed at the Abbey in November 1976.
The school enjoyed a very happy relationship with its Governors and with the Vicar, the Rev. John Morris, who was much loved by parents and children. John came in to school every Friday morning to take an Assembly, and the children were taken to Church regularly for Harvest and Nativity Services.
One remembers all those annual Fetes, when the school was turned upside down, and then incredibly put straight again, and much enjoyment was had by all. One remembers many hard-working P.T.A. Committees and some fantastic Chairmen and Lady-Chairman, those lovely summer dances and very happy Christmas Dinner-Dances.
Mrs Dutton's class 1984 with Headmaster Trevor Lightowler on right. Click photo to enlarge. For more photos click here.
I won't forget those trips to the swimming-pool every Monday afternoon, the Sports Days, hot, lazy cricket-matches with St. Michael's, and many delightful day-trips to see canals, Windsor, zoos, concerts, etc., some great football and netball teams - and matches and teachers!
There are many fine teachers who made their contributions to the life of the school - the list is too long to record here. Sorry!
There was the beginning of "the squeeze" and gradual cuts and the years between 1976 and 1979 when I was studying to be ordained, but we all carried on, with great support from Governors and parents.
Mrs. Peggy Buxton's early retirement in July 1981 brought the end of an era. Great changes were just around the corner.
Miss Jane Jerrard quickly established herself and was well received. John Morris moved on, and the Rev. Michael Abbott arrived. "Yours truly" began to feel the call into full-time ministry, which was finally granted after a waiting period of some eighteen months or so. The authority suddenly realized that they were losing two heads in the same area - and talks began'.
Looking back, there were many joys, but also some very sad times. One remembers, with gratitude and affection, the lives of Margaret Morris, Brenda Gillon, Robin Gedge and Mrs. Henry. I remember some very caring Welfare ladies; Pat Stedman, Margaret Woof, E1izabeth Stacey, Diane Warr, and, of course, the secretary, Mrs. Lightowler 16 years in the office!
Finally - the children! One remembers some lovely children - many now grown up, some with their own families. One remembers the joy of hearing how well former pupils had done at Longdean and elsewhere, and at college/ universities, and in various walks of life. Credit is due to everyone for those happy years - not least to some excellent cleaners, dining-room ladies, and kitchen staff, especially Mrs. Glenister - Cook throughout the whole period, who kept us all happy with her fabulous meals, especially the Head Teacher!
Trevor Lightowler recorded the following in the school logbook about his final day at the school:
21st December 1984/ Nativity Service & Carols in church at 9.30.am. Final Assembly before Christmas, included lovely farewell songs from each class to the retiring Head, the Revd. J Trevor Lightowler, and best wishes to him and his wife as they begin their new life in Woodmansterne, Surrey, where he will be assistant Curate at St. Peter's from 1st January. The children each presented baskets to Mr & Mrs Lightowler filled with good things. School closed at 3.00 p.m.
Talks had began in early summer 1984 between the church authorities and Hertfordshire County Council about the possibility of merging the two Primary Schools in Leverstock Green Westwick School in Green Lane and the Church School in Pancake Lane. The Headmaster of Westwick, Mr Stanley Staten had retired at Christmas 1983, and Trevor Lightowler, now ordained, was seeking a curacy. There were at the time 157 children on roll at Pancake Lane and 106 at Westwick. Meetings were called of all parents and governors in June 1984. The proposal to merge both schools was accepted without objection by all parents, governors and the two authorities by mid September 1984. The scheme would save the Education authority around £17,000, and would also free land held by the church for development, so raising additional much needed funds. The Pancake Lane School children would be moved to Green Lane, and the new school thus created would be called Leverstock Green J.M.I. School. The new school would apply for Voluntary Controlled status, and so wouldn't loose its church connection altogether. Up to 510 pupils could be catered for in the new amalgamated school. The County would undertake much needed repairs to the roof at Westwick, and the new Guide Headquarters would be removed from the Pancake Lane site to the Green Lane site.
In January 1985 Miss Jean Jerrard, the deputy Head, took over as Acting Headmistress for the remaining life of the school. The clock had begun its countdown.
The final six months or so of the school at Pancake Lane was a hive of special activity. In particular considerable research was undertaken concerning the history of the school, with the project being launched in April 1985 and culminating in a Victorian Open Day, and the special booklet often quoted in this article. The P.T.A. May Fayre held on 4th May raised £900. There were two trips away, with Class 1 with Miss Jerrard, Mrs Bennett (staff) & two parents, Mr Gamester & Mr Grainge going to Butlins camp in Pwllheli, Wales; and Class 2 going to Cuffley camp from 29th June to 1st July.
Commemorative mugs were ordered to give to each child at the end of term.
The project on the history of the school was looking at the total history of the school, including its 90 years on the original site in Bedmond Road. Numerous past pupils and staff visited the school to talk to the children and give them their reminiscences, and some of these were recorded and incorporated in the booklet which was later produced. The children themselves wrote poems and articles about the history of the school, which were also incorporated in the booklet. Here are a couple of examples.
In the last couple of days of the school at Pancake Lane, the school hosted a VICTORIAN OPEN DAY. Miss Jerrard recorded the Timetable in the school logbook:
This day was tremendous fun and a great success with all the children, the staff & the Vicar and some parents taking part. It was also well reported by the local paper the Hemel Hempstead Gazette. For additional pictures click here.
In the evening there was a further celebration, recorded by Miss Jerrard in the logbook:
8.30.- 10.30.p.m. Cheese & Wine evening attended by past and present Governors and staff included three past Headteachers, Eric Garbutt, Harry Berry & Trevor Lightowler.
The following day, the last day of the school on that site an open-air thanksgiving service was held on the grass at the back of the playground. The school finally closed at 3.30 p.m.
Two years later the land was finally sold for development, and eventually the new cul-de-sac Badgers Croft was built on the site of what had been the village's "ideal" school in Pancake Lane.
A seperate webpage, Pancake Lane Gallery, has many more class and activity photographs from the years Leverstock Green Primary School was at Pancake Lane.If you have additional information, ephemera or photographs concerning this period ( 1930-1985) which you are prepared to share, please e-mail me.
If you were a pupil or member of staff and have memories of Pancake Lane School you are prepared to share, please complete and submit the form below. Click here to read any submissions to date.
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