Loughton: Schools

Pages 125-127

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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There is said to have been a school in Loughton in about 1751, which had existed for many years. In 1761 the curate, Pierce Dod, obtained subscriptions from local persons and opened a school. Subscriptions soon decreased, however, so that pupils remained few, only 13 in 1766, and teachers were poorly paid. Gradually, with the aid of an annual sermon, the school's position was improved, (fn. 1) and in 1807 it had 20 pupils. These were all taught reading and writing and the girls were also learning housecraft, in accordance with the original rules of 1761. (fn. 2) By this time local interest in the school was increasing. In 1810 James Powell gave £10 to introduce the monitorial system, and a few years later two new schoolrooms and two teachers' houses were built at a total cost of £500. (fn. 3) In 1817 the school was united with the National Society, and the number of pupils increased rapidly to about 100. (fn. 4)

The population of Loughton was growing rapidly at this time and new private schools were being established for children of all classes. The National School also expanded. The number of boys attending it increased from 48 in 1833 to 75 in 1846-7, and of girls from 58 to 85. (fn. 5) This was made possible by the enlargement of the building soon after 1834, (fn. 6) and again in 1842. (fn. 7) At this time the children paid no fees and were sometimes given clothes. In 1838-9 the school received £85 from subscriptions and possibly also part of the £52 paid annually from Anne Whitaker's legacy to the Sunday school, which was administered jointly with the National School. In 1846-7 the master was receiving £50 a year and the mistress £30. (fn. 8) Between 1851 and 1856 the school received grants from the government for training pupil teachers, (fn. 9) but an inspection in 1850 or 1851 revealed a depressing situation. The master, though a decent man, was untrained and in very poor health. The mistress could not work in three figures, so that arithmetic was 'a nullity'. (fn. 10)

In 1863 the school was enlarged at a cost of £1,485. The diocesan board contributed £30, the National Society £75, and local supporters the remainder. The government refused help on the ground that the additional accommodation was unnecessary. National Society officials suspected that its real motive in refusing aid was to protect the position of the local nonconformist school. The school committee was not able to provide as much new accommodation as they had hoped, (fn. 11) but the rapid increase in the number of children attending the school, from 100 in 1862 to 150 in 1864, encouraged the committee to appeal for funds for another classroom. The diocesan board gave £10, the National Society £15, and subscribers some £200. The building was finished in 1866. At this time the committee, with the rector as chairman, was very active. In 1868 it introduced gas-lighting, defraying the cost by entertainments, and in the same year set up an infants' department. In 1871 the school garden was enlarged by a grant of land from the rector. A cricket club was started in 1866, a night school in 1868, and a scholars' bank in 1872. (fn. 12) By 1875 the average attendance was 193. By 1865 the school was receiving an annual government grant. (fn. 13) Additional income came from school fees, local contributions, and, in 1876, the levy of a voluntary rate. Teachers' salaries had been improved. The headmaster, after long service at the school, was in 1879 receiving £155 a year, with a house allowance of £20. In 1883 the mistress and the assistant master each received £40 a year. The educational standard also improved. (fn. 14)

As a result of the Education Act of 1870 a survey was made of the accommodation in Loughton schools. The National School was found to have places for 134 boys, 104 girls, and 42 infants, which, with the 104 places at the British School were declared by the government to be sufficient for local needs. (fn. 15) The continued increase of population, however, soon made further accommodation necessary, and in 1878-9 the government required the National School to provide this, failing which a school board would be set up. This led to a fierce controversy between Anglicans and nonconformists. In March 1879 the Anglicans convened a parish meeting to authorize a voluntary rate for the National School. The meeting does not appear to have been widely publicized except among the Anglicans. The nonconformists, suspecting that this had been deliberately contrived in order to prevent their attendance and probable opposition to the rate, arrived at the meeting in full force, led by C. H. Vivian, the Baptist minister. After a heated debate the voluntary rate was abandoned. (fn. 16) During 1879 £300 was raised by subscription and by 1882 the school enlargement fund stood at £400 out of an estimated £500 required. (fn. 17) By 1886 the school had been extended to provide 342 places. (fn. 18) Even this, however, was insufficient for the growing town, and in 1887 the government insisted on the formation of a school board. In the same year the managers of the National School transferred their building to the board. When the Board School was opened in 1888 the former National School was used for girls and infants, the boys being accommodated in the new school. In 1891 the infants were moved to a new building in Staples Road, the girls remaining at the old school. (fn. 19) In 1904 there were 240 girls, though the accommodation was then estimated at only 210 places. (fn. 20) In 1907 the board resolved to build a new girls' school in Staples Road. When this was completed in 1911 the former National School was apparently no longer used for educational purposes. About 1938-9 it was demolished to provide a site for Ashley Grove flats, which stand on the corner of York Hill and Staples Road. (fn. 21)

The British School was established between 1839 and 1845. It may have originated in a Sunday school which was being held by the Baptists in 1833 and 1839. (fn. 22) A mistress was in charge, apparently until 1865 when a master was appointed. He seems to have done much to improve discipline, attendance, and standards of work, winning the approval of the inspector, Matthew Arnold. The latter reported in 1867 that 87 children had been presented for examination, that the average attendance for the year had been 69 and that the building and staff would need enlargement if the number of pupils continued to grow. (fn. 23) There was some increase in attendance during the next 20 years. (fn. 24) The government grant rose from £40 in 1872 to £62 in 1886. (fn. 25) In 1887 the managers transferred the school to the new school board, which closed the British School in 1888. (fn. 26) The building has subsequently been used for a variety of industrial purposes. It is of red brick, single-storied, and has a slate roof.

In 1887 the new school board built a school at the east end of Staples Road, giving accommodation for 320 boys. The cost was about £6,000. In 1891 a new infants' department was built beside the boys' school, giving a total accommodation of about 540. (fn. 27) In 1899 there was an average attendance of 169 infants and 197 boys. (fn. 28) The infants' department was enlarged in 1906 to provide 360 places. (fn. 29) In 1911 a girls' department was added to the Staples Road buildings, with accommodation for 316. (fn. 30) In that year there was an average attendance of 231 boys, 231 infants, and 181 girls. (fn. 31) A former pupil, Mr. W. R. Francies, has recently recorded that the headmaster at this period, George Pearson, was a man of vivid personality who left the school in 1913 to become one of the earliest film producers. The then second master, Herbert Lebbon, ran a string orchestra at the school, and to encourage this Mr. (later Sir) Joseph Lowrey present three violins to the School every year. (fn. 32)

In 1929 there was an average attendance of 213 boys, 152 infants, and 185 girls. In 1938 the school was reorganized for mixed juniors and infants. (fn. 33) In May 1952 there were 345 children and 8 teachers in the infant school and 594 children and 16 teachers in the junior school. (fn. 34) The buildings are chiefly of red and yellow brick, with tiled roofs. Prefabricated huts have been added recently.

Secondary education for boys was provided after 1902 by means of scholarships to Loughton school, a private school then run by William Vincent (see below). (fn. 35) Since 1938 Loughton boys have gone to Buckhurst Hill County High School (see Chigwell).

Loughton County High School for girls was opened in January 1906 in a house in York Hill. (fn. 36) There were then 29 girls, under a headmistress and one assistant mistress, and there was also a visiting science master. In May 1908 the first part of the present building in Alderton Hill was opened, and in 1912 the average attendance was 118. (fn. 37) Temporary buildings were added in 1917. In 1922 a swimming-bath was added and in 1923 the first part of a new permanent wing was built. By 1929 there was accommodation for 450 girls. (fn. 38) In 1930 a new assembly hall was built and the final part of the new wing added. Playingfield space has been increased from time to time. There are now (1954) approximately 550 pupils and the staff, including the headmistress, numbers 30.

The Loughton County Secondary Modern School, Roding Road, was opened as a senior school in 1938, when it had places for 520. In 1949 huts were added to provide a further 150 places. In May 1952 there were 26 teachers and 485 pupils. (fn. 39)

As a result of the building of the Debden estate since 1945 there have been a number of new schools. The educational programme is still (1953) incomplete. (fn. 40) Fairmead County Secondary Modern School (Mixed), Pyrles Lane, was opened in September 1949. In May 1952 there were 27 teachers and 977 pupils. Lucton County Secondary Modern School (Mixed), Borders Lane, was opened in June 1950. In May 1952 there were 24 teachers and 501 pupils. St. Nicholas County Primary School (Mixed Juniors and Infants), Borders Lane, was opened in February 1948. In May 1952 there were 12 teachers and 428 pupils in the junior school and 13 teachers and 445 pupils in the infant school. Alderton County Primary School (Mixed Juniors and Infants), Alderton Hall Lane, was opened in September 1952. In November 1952 there were 11 teachers and 396 pupils in the junior school and 11 teachers and 355 pupils at the infant school. White Bridge County Primary School (Mixed Juniors and Infants), Greensted Road, was opened in September 1952. In November 1952 there were 7 teachers and 235 children in the junior school and 7 teachers and 278 children in the infant school. Pyrles Lane County Primary School (Mixed Juniors and Infants) is regarded by the Ministry of Education as part of Chingford Forest View Camp School, which was opened in January 1950. In January 1953 the school was temporarily situated in Fairmead Secondary School. Loughton Hall County Primary School (Infants), Rectory Lane, is a temporary school, opened in May 1950. In May 1952 there were 7 teachers and 232 pupils.

There have been many private schools in Loughton. In 1833-9 there seem to have been two private boarding-schools, one or two middle-class day schools, and three or more dame schools. (fn. 41) One of these may have been the school at Algers House which was conducted by the curate, one Rogers. (fn. 42) Between about 1850 and about 1870 a school was run by the Misses Brawn, daughters of Samuel Brawn, the Baptist Minister. (fn. 43) Miss Fanny Hogard kept a girls' school in 1870-4. (fn. 44) In 1878 there was a school for boys kept by J. C. Holloway. (fn. 45) This was known in 1886 as Madras Hall and was 'a middle class school for the sons of gentlemen'. (fn. 46) By 1890, as Madras House School, it had been taken over by William Vincent, who shortly afterwards acquired Loughton School, High Road. (fn. 47)

Loughton School was opened in 1890 under the name of St. John's College, Loughton. Unlike many private schools it was specially built for its purpose. The proprietor and headmaster was the Revd. W. L. Wilson, of St. John's College, Cambridge. The school was planned on ambitious lines. (fn. 48) The Bishop of St. Albans was patron and there was a council which included Col. Lockwood, M.P., of Bishops Hall in Lambourne (q.v.). Among the subjects taught were Latin, Greek, German, French, Science, and Bookkeeping. 'Many pupils take up commercial pursuits and a large number join the ranks of the medical profession, some proceed to the universities, to the naval service and the Indian Civil Service.' There were some pupils from the continent. Soon after its foundation the school was acquired by William Vincent, who remained owner and headmaster until his retirement in 1924. (fn. 49) The school has been recognized as efficient by the Ministry of Education since 1907. There were 140 boys in 1924, 168 in 1952, and 190 in September 1953. There are seven forms, of which the first is for boys of ages 7 to 10. Beside the headmaster there are seven trained and qualified masters and one part-time master. (fn. 50) Other private schools have existed for short periods in Loughton. (fn. 51)


  • 1. Waller, Loughton, i, 102-4, ii, 47.
  • 2. E.R.O., D/AEM 2/4.
  • 3. Waller, op. cit. 102-4; Retns. Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 261 (1819), ix (1).
  • 4. Nat. Soc. Rep. 1820, 1828.
  • 5. Educ. Enquiry Abstr. H.C. 62, p. 282 (1835), xli; E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19; Nat. Soc. Enquiry into Ch. Schs. 1846-7, 12-13.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19.
  • 7. Waller, Loughton, i, 102-4.
  • 8. E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19; Nat. Soc. Enquiry, 1846-7, 12-13.
  • 9. Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1856 [2237], p. 95, H.C. (1857, Sess. 2), xxxiii.
  • 10. Ibid. 1850 [1357], p. 448, H.C. (1851), xliv.
  • 11. Inf. from Nat. Soc.
  • 12. E.R.O., D/P 233/25/1.
  • 13. Ibid.; Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1875 [C. 1513-1], p. 533, H.C. (1876), xxiii.
  • 14. E.R.O., D/P 233/25/1.
  • 15. Chelmsford Chron. 2 Aug. 1872.
  • 16. Woodford Times, 22 Mar. 1879 (E.R.O., T/P 13).
  • 17. E.R.O., T/P 13.
  • 18. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1886 [C. 5123-1], p. 520, H.C. (1887), xxviii.
  • 19. Gazette, 2 June 1911 (E.R.O., E/ML 51/1); Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899); Schs. under Bd. of Educ. 1902 [Cd. 1490], p. 72, H.C. (1903), li.
  • 20. Essex Educ. Cttee. Handbk. 1904, p. 148.
  • 21. Gazette, 2 June 1911; inf. from Mr. William Addison.
  • 22. Educ. Enquiry Abstr. (1835), p. 282; E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1845).
  • 23. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1845, 1862); White's Dir. Essex (1848, 1863), E.R.O., E/ML 51/1.
  • 24. Chelmsford Chron. 2 Aug. 1872; Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1886, p. 520.
  • 25. Ibid.; Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1872 [C. 812], p. 408, H.C. (1873), xxiv.
  • 26. Gazette, 2 June 1911; E.R.O., E/ML 51/2.
  • 27. Min. of Educ. File 13/252.
  • 28. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899).
  • 29. Ibid. (1910).
  • 30. Ibid. (1922).
  • 31. Min. of Educ. File 13/252.
  • 32. 'Staples Road. School', West Essex Gaz. 16 Jan. 1953; inf. from Mr. Francies.
  • 33. Min. of Educ. File 13/252.
  • 34. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 35. West Essex Gaz. 16 Jan. 1953.
  • 36. This account has been supplied by Miss M. E. Heald, headmistress of the school; and see plate facing p. 127.
  • 37. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1912).
  • 38. Ibid. (1929).
  • 39. Inf. from Essex Educ. Cttee.
  • 40. The following account is based on information from the Min. of Educ., Essex Educ. Cttee. and Miss E. A. Phillips, Headmistress of Loughton Staples Road Infant School.
  • 41. Educ. Enquiry. Abstr. (1835), p. 282; E.R.O., D/P 30/28/19.
  • 42. E.R.O., T/P 13 i.
  • 43. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1855, 1862); Bapt. Hist. Soc. Trans. N.S. x, 56.
  • 44. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1870, 1874).
  • 45. Ibid. (1878).
  • 46. Ibid. (1886).
  • 47. Ibid. (1890).
  • 48. E.R.O., Avery Coll. Loughton.
  • 49. Inf. from Mr. D. E. Winkworth, the present Headmaster.
  • 50. Ibid.; School Prospectus.
  • 51. Kelly Dir. Essex, passim.