A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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In 1630 Elizabeth Hill gave £20 a year charged on land in Buckinghamshire to educate poor girls. After her death the schoolmistress was to live in the donor's house in Isleworth. (fn. 1) This may have stood on the site of the later Blue School in Lower Square, for in 1635 Glover marked a house there as the Free School and Court House, (fn. 2) and in 1670 the feoffees of Elizabeth Hill's gift cased the Town and School House in brick and did other repairs. (fn. 3) It is not known whether this house may have been connected with the piece of waste land on Isleworth Green (probably Lower Square) which the lord of the manor granted to the churchwardens in 1527 or 1528 to build a Church House. (fn. 4) The school later received other endowments. (fn. 5) One, left by will of Ann Oliver (d. 1672), was for educating poor children, and one of 1658 was for apprenticing boys, while Glover's map does not say that the free school was for girls.
William Cave (d. 1713), vicar of Isleworth, left £100 for a charity school to be built, and in 1715 a meeting of prospective subscribers decided to amalgamate the existing funds and charities for schools and set up a new one in the Town House. The Duke of Somerset gave £20 and promised £10 a year, and the vicar and churchwardens were to give a third of the 'sacrament money' each quarter. There were to be 40 boys and 20 girls wearing badges marked 'I.P.', and 36 primers, 24 prayer-books, 24 testaments, and 12 bibles were purchased. In 1729 a new workhouse was built, the master and mistress of which took over the school, and the Town House was let. (fn. 6) Among other inconveniences this arrangement meant that the charity children could not go to school during an epidemic of smallpox in the workhouse, and in 1752 the school moved back to the Town House. Up to 16 workhouse children were still allowed to attend after the move, and the parish paid the trustees 2s. 6d. a week for each of them. (fn. 7) John Robinson (d. 1802) of Wyke House, the politician, gave £150 to buy religious books for the school. (fn. 8) In 1813 the building was enlarged with the help of £80 from the National Society, whose methods were introduced. (fn. 9) Between incorporation with the society and 1819 numbers rose to 100 boys and 60 girls; 40 of each were given clothes and some were occasionally apprenticed. The income was about £320 and was overspent by about £15, which was made up from church collections. The master and mistress lived in the building, which was said to be Elizabeth Hill's old house. (fn. 10) In 1841 it was rebuilt in two brick and stone stories with a battlemented parapet. Part of the ground floor housed the parish fire-engine and part was a playground with open arcades to the street. Above were two schoolrooms and a committee-room. The central clock-turret was presented by Lord Prudhoe (later Duke of Northumberland) on his marriage in 1842. (fn. 11) Fees of 2d.-6d. were first charged when the school came under government inspection in 1855. (fn. 12) Only 30 out of the 140 pupils were given clothes in 1858 and the practice seems to have stopped altogether later in the century, but the name of the Blue School was by then established. (fn. 13) The ground-floor arcades had been filled in by 1858 to enlarge the boys' department and in 1870 the girls' department was moved to North Street (see below). (fn. 14) Between 1883 and 1885 an upper boys' department was founded and, after fees were abolished in the rest of the school under the Act of 1891, this moved first to a temporary home in the old British school (fn. 15) in Worton Road, and in 1896 to a site given by Andrew Pears in St. John's Road. (fn. 16) At first partly under control of the Borough Road College, it came under the county council in 1906. In 1907 58 per cent. of its pupils came from elementary schools. In 1958 it was still a voluntary school, called Isleworth Grammar School. Various enlargements at St. John's Road allowed the numbers to rise to 340, and then in 1939 the school moved to Ridgeway Road. The buildings there have been enlarged since 1957. (fn. 17)
Meanwhile the old building in the Square continued to be used as an elementary boys' school until 1939, when it was given up and most of the pupils were transferred to the former girls' and infants' school in North Street. (fn. 18) The old building was used in 1958 as a factory, and the Blue Schools Foundation used its income to support the North Street School (which is still called the Blue School) and to make awards to former pupils of Isleworth Grammar School or Isleworth Green School, when they went on to further education. (fn. 19)
The Green School originated in a girls' Sunday school started with benefactions of 1794 and 1797. The second of these was given by John Robinson of Wyke House. By 1819 the school was also held on two evenings a week, (fn. 20) and the vicar's wife, Mrs. Glossop, converted it into a day school, probably in 1821. (fn. 21) In 1858 the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland gave the school £100 a year, and in the following year the duke erected a new building at the end of Park Road by the church: before this the school had met in a house belonging to him in Church Street. During the 19th century the educational standard was rather low, with an emphasis on needlework, and the school did not receive grants until 1872. (fn. 22) In 1893 the pupils were said to be such as were turned away from the Blue School, and the atmosphere of an old-fashioned charity school was emphasized by the distinctive free clothing: 40 girls out of 70 were given the green clothes which had first been supplied as a regular practice soon after 1819. (fn. 23) About the turn of the century the character of the school changed. In 1906 a new building, given by the Duke of Northumberland, was opened at Busch Corner. In it the school provided secondary education and the elementary department was closed altogether in 1914. (fn. 24) The new secondary school opened with about 30 girls. Forty per cent. of the pupils came from elementary schools in 1907. (fn. 25) The buildings were much enlarged in 1934 to accommodate 330 pupils but were very badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War. They were repaired and reopened in 1951. (fn. 26)
In 1829 Mrs. Kidd (presumably the wife of the lessee of Isleworth Manor Mill (fn. 27)) who was a Quaker, started an infant school in Isleworth. A building was erected by subscription in 1841 on land belonging to the Duke of Northumberland in North Street. An evening school for boys and young men was also held here, though it was later transferred to the Blue School, and was closed between 1891 and 1893. The school secured a certificated mistress in 1859, and then had about 120 pupils. (fn. 28) In 1870 it was enlarged and a new building was erected next door for the girls' department of the Blue School. (fn. 29) The infant school did not officially become part of the Blue School Foundation until the early 20th century, but its pupils passed into both departments of the Blue School. When the old Blue School building closed in 1939 the North Street Girls' School became a junior mixed school. (fn. 30)
An infant school was started in Brentford End in 1849. It was held in a succession of cottages and received occasional grants from the Isleworth parish charities until 1864, when a building was erected on charity land behind the houses to the south of the road. (fn. 31) In 1862 the school was referred to as a ragged one, and it may be that the better-off children of Brentford End went to the Blue School. The school began to receive government grants in 1870-1. (fn. 32) It was closed in 1936. (fn. 33) A school at Woodlands was started at about the same time as the Brentford End School and came under the care of the incumbent of St. John's when the church was opened. (fn. 34) In 1859 John Farnell added a school building to his benefactions to St. John's. (fn. 35) The school was inspected from 1872, when it had 70 pupils. (fn. 36) By 1906 it took infants only. (fn. 37)
A British school was opened in 1840 and a schoolroom was built for it in 1856 behind the Independent chapel in Worton Lane. It took girls and infants and charged fees of 3d.-4d., or rather more than those of the Church schools in Isleworth at the time. (fn. 38) It had some 70 pupils in 1863, (fn. 39) but about 1887 it 'dwindled and snuffed out', after being under government inspection for some years. (fn. 40)
The first Roman Catholic poor school in Isleworth was the girls' school of St. Mary's, which was started by the nuns of Gumley House in 1841. (fn. 41) A regular building was opened in 1844 and a mixed infants' department in 1889, and in 1922 the school took over another building formerly used by the private convent school. (fn. 42) A Roman Catholic boys' school was opened in 1854 and moved into a new building next to the church at Shrewsbury Place in the following year. (fn. 43) It seems to have received grants from its inception, while the girls' school did not do so until 1881-2. (fn. 44) By then the two schools had 113 pupils between them. (fn. 45) In 1908 the boys' school moved with the church to Twickenham Road. (fn. 46) In 1948 the boys' and girls' departments were united, though the school continued to use buildings on both sides of the road. It still took children of all ages in 1958. (fn. 47)
In Hounslow the inhabitants set up a charity school in 1708. It was closely connected with the chapel and the chief of the nine subscribers was Whitelock Bulstrode. The school apparently consisted of twelve boys. It seems to have been quite independent of any Isleworth foundation, so that there is no evidence that it was closed when the charity school there was reorganized on a subscription basis. (fn. 48) It was still going in 1716 or 1717 but is not heard of again after that, though there was said to be a charity school in the town in 1794. (fn. 49) In 1819 there was only a Sunday school, (fn. 50) and a new subscription school was opened in 1831. It stood in School Road and had 245 pupils, both boys and girls, in 1833. (fn. 51) It was largely supported by Henry Pownall of Spring Grove, whose wife opened an infant school, apparently on the same site, in 1835, and still maintained it by herself in 1840. (fn. 52) Both schools were enlarged at various times, at least once with help from Isleworth charities, and the infant school seems to have been united to the other school later in the century. After fees were abolished the school was said to have become very overcrowded: there were 825 pupils in 1893. (fn. 53) It was soon afterwards transferred to Isleworth School Board as the Hounslow Town School. A part of the buildings, said to be the original infants' school, but possibly in fact the school of 1831, was pulled down in 1945. (fn. 54)
There was no school in Heston before the 19th century but some of the children attended the school founded at Norwood by Elisha Biscoe (d. 1776) of Spring Grove. (fn. 55) There was a Sunday school, apparently for boys only, by 1811, to which Lord Jersey gave £20 a year, and day schools for boys and girls by 1819. (fn. 56) There seem to have been several schools, some of them perhaps short-lived, before 1861. (fn. 57) In 1846-7 a school of 40 boys and 40 girls was supported by the vicar and Lord Jersey, and 15 boys and 6 girls still attended Elisha Biscoe's school. (fn. 58) In 1861 a National school under government inspection was opened in a new building which is now part of Heston Primary School. (fn. 59) It was referred to as a National and industrial school in the 1860's and 1870's. (fn. 60) An inspected National school at Spring Grove was opened in 1860. (fn. 61) An infant school was opened under the same management in 1864 in an existing building in Kingsley Road, but this seems to have closed in the seventies. A Sunday school was opened in North Hyde in 1863 and there was to be a day school in the building in 1866, but this may never have been started. (fn. 62) Another school was built in Martindale Road in 1861: it had opened as a day school by 1865, and was under government inspection from the following year. It was a National school and was transferred to the care of the incumbent of St. Paul's when the parish was formed. (fn. 63)
In 1879 a school board of seven members was formed compulsorily for Heston, with the vicar as the first chairman. There were then about 780 children in the three existing schools (Heston National, Hounslow Heath (St. Paul's) National, and Spring Grove National). The board at once took over the three schools, largely rebuilt Hounslow Heath, and made additions and changes to the others. (fn. 64) By 1902 there were about 1,480 children in the three schools and Heston and Hounslow Heath were both overcrowded. A new building in Thornbury Road was added to Spring Grove in 1903. (fn. 65) By then St. Michael and St. Martin's Roman Catholic School had also opened in the parish. It started in 1886 with 35 pupils, and received 50 more when a school formerly held in the barracks closed in 1887. The barracks school apparently opened again in 1892 but does not seem to have ranked as a public elementary school. (fn. 66) The main building of St. Michael and St. Martin's served as a chapel until 1929. (fn. 67) It was enlarged in 1896, a new infants' department was added in 1904, and further enlargements have been made since 1929. Since 1891 it has been managed by Sisters of Charity of St. Paul. It had pupils of all ages in 1958. (fn. 68)
Isleworth meanwhile managed to avoid having a school board until 1893. (fn. 69) When the board was formed it had nine members, including four ministers of religion. (fn. 70) None of the existing schools was transferred to its care at once, though Hounslow Subscription School was handed over in 1900 or 1901. (fn. 71) In the meantime the board opened schools in Grove Road in 1895 (enlarged 1896) and in Worple Road in 1897 (enlarged 1901). (fn. 72) When the urban district council superseded the two boards in 1902 the three Isleworth board schools had nearly 3,000 pupils and the voluntary schools of the parish had just over 1,200. The total for the whole urban district in voluntary and board schools was 5,167. (fn. 73)
The first council school to be built was the Hounslow Heath school in Martindale Road, of which the original buildings had been burnt down in 1905. New permanent buildings were completed in 1908-9. The first entirely new school was Isleworth Town, in Twickenham Road, which was opened in 1910. The Alexandra School in Hounslow followed in 1915, replacing temporary accommodation nearby. (fn. 74) After this the council built the following schools for juniors and/or infants: Berkeley, in Cranford Lane (opened 1930); Chatsworth, Heath Road (juniors 1932, infants 1937); Wellington, Sutton Lane (1935); Norwood Green (1938); and Springwell, Heston (1938). The Busch House openair school was also opened in 1938. (fn. 75) In 1925 the Thornbury Road building of the Spring Grove School became a central secondary school with a selective entry. (fn. 76) From about 1930 the council reorganized its existing schools to become junior and infant schools only, (fn. 77) and opened the following senior elementary schools: Bulstrode, Holloway Street (opened 1931); Heston (1931); Marlborough (1932); Hounslow Heath, Cambridge Road (1934); and Smallberry Green (1939). (fn. 78)
The Hounslow Polytechnic was taken over by the county council in 1892, having first opened as a workmen's club in the Hanworth Road in 1882. In 1922 it moved to Spring Grove House and in 1956 its name was changed from Spring Grove to Isleworth Polytechnic. (fn. 79) Since 1923 the building has also housed a county secondary school. (fn. 80) The changes and enlargements of the Isleworth Grammar School (originally part of the Blue School) and of the Green School in the 20th century have already been mentioned. In 1920 St. Mary's High School, at Gumley House, was recognized as a voluntary secondary school, and two years later moved into new buildings for 120 girls. There had been a private convent boarding school here since 1841 and the high school had been opened in 1890. The boarding school was closed during the Second World War but reopened after it. (fn. 81)
After the 1944 Act, Spring Grove Central School and the council senior schools became secondary modern schools. The Hounslow Heath secondary school was closed and its buildings were transferred to the neighbouring primary school when the Woodfield secondary modern school was opened in 1954 at the Great South West Road. (fn. 82) The Beavers county primary school was opened in 1951, and junior departments were added to the existing infants' schools at Norwood Green (1954) and Springwell (1957). (fn. 83)
In 1958 the numbers at the voluntary grammar schools were: Isleworth Grammar School, 555 boys; Green School, 357 girls; Gumley House Convent School, 371 girls. The Spring Grove County Grammar School had 604 boys and girls. All the secondary modern schools were county ones: they had 3,535 pupils between them. The Roman Catholic all-age schools, St. Mary's, and St. Michael and St. Martin's, had respectively 401 and 386 pupils. The Blue School and St. John's, both Church of England primary schools, had 311 juniors and infants and 65 infants respectively. The county primary schools had altogether 7,600 pupils. (fn. 84)
There have also been many private schools in the area. Thomas Willis (1582-c. 1660), a grammarian, had a school at the Railshead. (fn. 85) The Porch House, Syon Lodge, Syon Park House, Somerset House, Wyke House, Silver Hall, Albemarle House, Burlington Lodge, and Van Gogh House were among the houses used at one time or another as schools. (fn. 86) Shelley attended the school at Syon Park House (then called Syon House Academy), R. L. Stevenson was at Burlington Lodge Academy (now St. Vincent's), and Vincent Van Gogh taught for a few months in a Methodist school in Van Gogh House. (fn. 87) Albemarle House in Hounslow was a military academy in the early 19th century. (fn. 88) The Society of Friends had a school in the London Road in 1833, which was probably private. (fn. 89) There was a Roman Catholic boys' school in Shrewsbury House in the late 18th century. (fn. 90) The Gumley House Convent school was started in 1841 to give to girls in England the type of Roman Catholic education until then generally obtained abroad. (fn. 91) The granddaughters of Louis Philippe were among its earlier pupils. (fn. 92) Only the preparatory school is now independent. The Sisters of Charity of St. Paul also opened a middleclass convent school about 1909, which has since been closed, and in 1958 the White Fathers had an independent nursery and infant school in Heston. (fn. 93)
Another noteworthy 19th-century school was the London International College which was opened in 1866 as one of three companion schools: the others were at Paris and Bonn. Richard Cobden was one of the initiators of the scheme, which, however, never realized its promoters' hopes. The school lasted for only about 20 years from when the Prince of Wales opened the building in 1867 (see plate facing p. 129). In 1890 the Borough Road Training College took over the building, and is still using it. (fn. 94) The Royal Naval School buildings at St. Margaret's have also passed to a training college, the Maria Grey College. This, however, was because the school moved away from Isleworth during the Second World War. It had been founded in 1840 to educate the daughters of naval officers and had moved to St. Margaret's in 1856. (fn. 95)
In addition to the more select private schools there were, of course, a good many of the dame-school variety, perhaps particularly in Heston, where the public elementary schools were founded later and were less adequate than those of Isleworth. Heston House was used for some 30 years from about 1827 as a school for infant paupers maintained by the parishes of St. Giles-in-the-Fields and St. George, Bloomsbury. (fn. 96) Brentford Union built poor law schools at the workhouse in 1883. (fn. 97) A Roman Catholic orphanage was opened at North Hyde about 1854, and an industrial school at Nazareth House about 1892. (fn. 98) Heston and Chiswick school boards shared a truant school in Van Gogh House for some years. (fn. 99)