Longmore School

By Geoff Cordingley

Hertford Grammar School in early 20th Century

Longmore Senior Mixed School

In 1931 there was a re-organisation of Hertford schools.  The 1927 Hadow Report recommended the abolition of  all-through schools (5 -14 years) and the introduction of a two tier system – junior schools for children up to 11 and senior schools for over 11s.   In 1930 Hertford Grammar School moved to a new building on the hill overlooking the town.  The extra building presumably gave the education committee the opportunity to re-organise the Hertford Schools in line with the Hadow report.  It created three senior schools – Cowper Boys’ School (in the school building at the bottom of London Road) under Mr Cyril Stalley; Port Vale Girls’ School (previously a boys school and now Mill Mead JMI) with Miss Kate Davis as mistress; and Longmore Senior Mixed School which was located in the old, original Hertford Grammar School building with Thomas Hunneyball as headteacher.

On 13th December, 1937 there was a meeting attended by the Sub-Committee of the Managers of Hertford Schools (Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Miss Craig and Mr. W.H. Spackman) ; the Chairman of the County Education Committee and the Chief Education Officer at the Education Office, Hertford.  The main topic of discussion was again re-organising Hertford Schools, in particular closing All Saints Senior Boys School (Cowper School) and sending the boys to Longmore.  The girls from Longmore would be sent to Port Vale to create an all boys school at Longmore.  (There were lots of problems with the Cowper School building which had been built in 1840/1.)

This idea was accepted by the County Education Commitee but it considered that this would be a temporary measure as “the accommodation at Longmore and Port Vale Schools was far from what was now considered the minimum.  The ultimate aim of the County Council was to provide a thoroughly good senior school to take all boys and girls together …”1  When this happened “…. Cowbridge School could be done away with and in its place Port Vale School would make an excellent Junior Mixed and Infants School.”1

It was suggested that the most convenient date for closing the Cowper School would be at the end of the Summer Term 1938 and that Mr. Stalley (Head of Cowper School) should be Head of the reorganised Longmore School.  It was further suggested that the County Council should use their influence in obtaining another post for Mr. Hunneyball2 who was the head teacher of Longmore Senior Mixed School.  If he should obtain another post before the end of the Summer Term 1938 then the reorganisation should take place immediately.

Camps Hill and Port Vale were considered the most likely places to build a new secondary school with Port Vale being the preferred location.  The advent of war presumably delayed the creation of  this new school.

Longmore Senior Boys’ School

So in September 1938 the senior schools were reduced from three to two – Longmore Senior Boys’ School and Port Vale Senior Girls’ School.  The Cowper building was used for evening classes.

Len Green, one of the teachers who transferred with the boys from The Cowper School to Longmore describes the accommodation as follows:

“The accommodation was certainly much better than that we had left at the Cowper School.  I was most conveniently placed with a science laboratory and a classroom opposite each other on the top floor of the four-room block; underneath was the wood workroom and another classroom.  In addition to two classrooms in the original building, there were two classrooms in ex-army huts (from the First World War) which had been used by Hertford Grammar School before it moved.”3

“The school could now be organised into two complete streams, and, when all staff were present, Cyril Stalley was free of full time teaching. Assemblies for the whole school could be held comfortably in the hall which was used also for P.E. and other activities.”3

Fund raising was organised to provide lighting, curtains, etc. for the stage, to allow the presentation of plays.  A rummage sale, a Whist drive, and a dance were successful events and “by May 1939, by the combined efforts of boys and staff, the stage was ready for an official opening by the Chairman of the Managers, Mr. Arnold Thomas.  For the occasion three one act plays were performed, the choir sang and there was a gymnastics display.  It is recorded that a profit of £7 4s 8d was made on this evening.  One of the plays performed, “Eldorado”, had in April won the juvenile section a the Hertford Drama Festival.”3

Hertfordshire County Council equipped the school with a radio receiver as well as a Paillard Bolax 16mm silent projector and a back-projection screen.3

Second World War

With the declaration of war on 3rd Spetember 1939 the school, as with all the other schols in Hertford, did not re-open after the summer holiday until 20th September.  In the interim the staff had fitted out the classrooms with black-out on the windows.

Belmont Road School, Tottenham had been evacuated to Hertford and shared the Longmore building with the boys on a shift system – 9am to 1pm or 1:15pm to 5:15pm.  Longmore School had 236 boys on the books including 7 private evacuees, i.e. boys who had been evacuated separately by their parents.

At the end of October the Belmont Boys moved into the Cowper building.

On the night of 11th October 1940 Hertford was bombed and a bomb hit two of the classrooms at Longmore.

Longmore Senior Girls’ School

In 1940 pressure from parents complaining about the lack of air-raid shelters caused the children at Cowbridge JMI School to be moved to share the building at Port Vale where there were air-raid shelters, with the senior girls.  This required a two shift system, Cowbridge children being taught in the morning and Senior Girls in the afternoon and then vica versa the following week.

The reduction in education time was considered very unsatisfactory.  In order to allow the children a full days’ education from 6th January 1942 the first year senior girls were housed in Longmore, using the hall; the second year girls used two classrooms at Port Vale and the third year girls were housed at CAWG3, St Andrew’s Street (part of Rigsby’s Restaurant in 2017.)

From 28th June 1943 all the senior girls were now housed in the Longmore building and the school became known as Longmore Senior Girls’ School.  Miss P.M. Hodges who had been head mistress of Port Vale Girls’ School continued as headmistress until 26th July 1946 when she took up a post in Cambridgeshire.  From the beginning of the autumn term until 3rd November, Mrs Burgess was acting headmistress.

After the 1944 Education Act the school was known as Longmore Girls’ Modern School.

On 8th September 1947 at the beginning of term the school was to be used as headquarters of the Evening Institute & so Mrs. Mead was employed as cleaner to help with the extra work.

It took until 13th April 1948 (nearly eighth years after the bombing!) before Mr. Bowes, from the architects’ department, “came to discuss plans for the two bombed rooms that are to be restored.”4  The assessment of the work required necessitated, on 12th September, 1948 the opening of the drains for the continuation of the bomb damage restoration in the science block.

On 9th December 1948 the demolition of the bombed ruins of the science block was started.

The full HM inspection that was to have taken place in the week beginning 28th November 1949 was cancelled, as Miss Armstrong reported that the presence of builders & electricians in the school made conditions unsuitable.

By 25th January 1949. the installation of electric lighting in the hut classrooms & the office was now complete.  However the lighting in the hut classrooms and the office was not switched on until 9th January 1950.

By this time the restoration of the two bombed rooms in the science block was so far advanced that central heating had been installed in the other two rooms in the block.  One slow combustion stove for each of these rooms was fixed in the huts, which were now satisfactorily heated.

On 27th April 1950 a Hertford Borough official called to look at the school, with a view to increasing the rateable value now that the two restored rooms were in use!

The delayed H.M.Inspection was held from 5th to 8th December 1950 when Mr. Pritchard, Miss Bardsley & Mr. Jones inspected the school. Miss Bardsley & Mr. Jones discussed their findings with the headmistress & reported to the Governors at a special meeting.

Longmore Secondary Modern School

Margery Binks was headmistress from 6th November 1946 until 25th July 1952 when the school was merged with Cowper Boys School to make Longmore Secondary Modern School.  She wrote in the logbook:

“25/7/52. This is my last day at Longmore School & by the kindness of Governors, staff & girls it has been made a very pleasant one for me. I have resigned as from September 1953 but shall spend the school year 1952-53 teaching in Oslo with leave of absence from Hertfordshire. As Longmore School is to be amalgamated with Cowper School, under a new name, this is the last entry that will be made in the girls’ school log.”4

The logbook has the following entry for 8th September, 1952:

“Amalgamation with Cowper Sec. Mod. Boys’ School.

It has been decided by the Governors and agreed by the D.E. [Divisional Education] Committee that
1. The scheme for the amalgamation of these 2 schools be adopted and steps to carry it out be taken at once.
2. That for the interim period Mr Stalley be Headmaster of the 3 schools and that a Senior Mistress be appointed.
No. of admissions 30
No. of leavers
No. on Books 16″4

On 8th September, 1952 Miss S. Rayment commenced duties as Senior Mistress.

On 18th November, 1954 The boiler in the main building sprang a leak at about 3 p.m.  As a consequence of the above, Mrs. Watson’s room could not be used the following day. The hall was reported as very cold.  The heating was restored by 22nd.  Unfortunately the following day another leak in the boiler necessitated another section being replaced.  So on 24th classes amalgamated so that no children have to sit in unheated rooms.

On 27th Apr. 1955 the school was reopened after Easter holiday.  One wall of the hall was being re-plastered, the men still working on it until midday. The effect of one clean wall was apparently very disagreeable.
The school was re-opened after the summer holiday on 11th September 1956 with 196 children on roll.
Mr. Wheatherly & Mrs. Wills had gone to the new school at Balls Park even though it was not yet open. The staff of the new school had to come to Longmore for coffee as they had no power & no toilets there!

On 8th May 1957 The caretaker reported a fire in the boiler house the previous night.  It was apparently caused by a small leak onto the electric motor switch.  Hertfordshire County Council Officials said the damage was £150 – £200.  The old part of the building would have been lost if the fire had not been reported by a passer-by about 11.30 p.m. The fire brigade attended the school for four hours.

It seems to have taken an age for the new school buildings at Balls Park to be completed.  The logbook records:

“June 3rd Stock & equipment is gradually being moved to the new building which is unfortunately not yet ready to receive it.
June 6th The children and staff made farewell gifts to Mr. C.G. Stalley this afternoon. Mr. L. Green presented him with an electric fire and standard lamp on behalf of the staff, some old staff & Canon Bradney, Chairman of the Governors. Jacqueline Clay- Smith and Norton Bardell, Head Girl and Head Boy presented Mr. Stalley with an electric plate warmer and coffee table and Formica kitchen table. The staff had tea afterwards in the domestic science room.”4

On 7th June 1958 the Longmore School was closed and all children were moved to Balls Park Secondary Modern School.

Longmore School Buildings 2017

Longmore Educational Support Centre

In more recent times the building has been used for Longmore Educational Support Centre which supports Key Stage 3 & 4 children who have been permanently excluded from mainstream education.

The building is listed for its special architectural or historic interest under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended, list entry number: 1268919

Notes:

  1. Minutes of HCC Schools Reorganisation Meeting.
  2. Thomas William Hunneyball (5th March 1894 – 1971)  Thomas was born in Stockwell in Surrey the eldest sone of Thomas William and Emma.  Thomas Senior was an LCC Tram Inspector.  Thomas junior served in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in two spells during WW1 so perhaps he was injured at some point.  After the war he was an assistant master at three schools in South London, registering as a teacher on 1st November 1920.  In 1921 he married Bertha G Allum.  Ten years later they came to Hertford where Thomas took up the headship of Longmore Senior Mixed School.  After Longmore became a boys’ school in 1938, Thomas was on the HCC emergency staff until he obtained the headship of Sommerlease Park Senior School in Yeovil, Somerset.  He died in 1972 at the age of 76 in Surrey.
  3.  THE COWPER TESTIMONIAL SCHOOL HERTFORD  A History of the School by Len Green.
  4.  CAWG was Christian Alliance of Women and Girls formed in 1919 by a group of dissident YWCA members who wanted to save souls.  YWCA was becoming a far too modern, socially oriented organisation for these women.
  5.  Port Vale Logbook

 

This page was added on 05/01/2017.

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