|BLETCHLEY & FENNY STRATFORD SCHOOLS
High Street Schools - Bletchley Road Schools - Church Green Road Church of England - Dunmore House - Elmers School -Water Eaton School - Bletchley Grammar School - Holne Chase School - Leon Secondary School - Knowles School
late nineteenth century to present day
Dr Browne Willis, the renowned local benefactor, is reported to have maintained schools at his own expense in Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and Whaddon.
The Universal Directory of 1712 lists William Lloyd as schoolmaster, but does not list his school.
The ‘National Society for educating in the principles of the Church’ was founded in October, 1811 and in 1815 contributed £30 towards building a school house in 1817 at Fenny Stratford, to be maintained by the local clergy and gentry.
The daily average attendance in 1819 was 70 to 80, from a register of 107. Annual expenditure was £118; subscriptions amounted to £80. The master was Mr Webb with a salary of £50.
At Easter 1828, Mr H. W. Wynn, the master, reported that the year began with 60 boys. School hours were: Lady Day to Michaelmas 9 to 12 noon and 2 to 5 pm; Michaelmas to Lady Day 9 to 12 noon and 1.30 to 3.30 pm. There were two weeks’ vacation at Christmas and two at Harvest.
Mr Thomas Askew became master at 10s. per week for nominated boys and was allowed to take 20 more at 6d per week. He kept an evening school for his own benefit. In 1830 there were 55 boys and in 1832 only 22 boys, plus 30 paying pupils.
By 1861 Fenny Stratford School House had become unsuitable and a new school was opened in the High Street.
In 1887 the premises were transferred to a School Board, and in 1899 were restored to the Vicar and Churchwardens following the opening of the new schools in Bletchley Road on Friday, 19th November 1897, to which the infants’ and girls’ departments were transferred. The boys’ school continued to use High Street School until Bletchley Road school was extended to accommodate them a few years later. The buildings then saw a variety of uses, once a week being Sunday Schools, on the other days 'everything and anything': bazaars, concerts, dances, drama entertainments, jumble sales, political meetings and Primrose League gatherings. During the war the Royal Engineers of Staple Hall annexed the schools as class rooms of their own and until the Depot was dismantled, only the Military had right of entry to the buildings.
On 19th August 1919 a fire, which broke out about 3.30a.m., completely gutted the building and destroyed the contents of Mr. A. E. Jacobs' garage. Three large motor lorries were destroyed as well as three cars, several motorbikes, a large quantity of tyres, spares and also petrol. The Bletchley Urban Council Fire Brigade was quickly on the scene with their steam fire engine, drawing water from the canal. The building was fairly new and stood on the site of the old National School. This school had later become a branch school under the Simpson & Woughton School Board and remained as such until arrangements were made by the then Fenny Stratford School Board for the Simpson Children living at the town end of the parish to attend the Bletchley Road Schools. The old school building was then sold and became the Paper Coil Factory. This came to an end when the premises burnt down. The site then stood vacant for a while until purchased by the garage company. The old school buildings stood at an elevation considerably above the present level of the High Street, as did the Picture Palace next door. The site was then excavated by the new owner down to the level of the street and a large and commodious garage erected with offices and other accommodation. All this was burned down in the fire.
At the Swan Hotel, Fenny Stratford, on Thursday 20th January 1921, Wallace A. Foll sold by auction the freehold, by the direction of the Vicar and churchwardens of Fenny Stratford parish, of the High Street schools.They stood centrally in the High St., having a frontage of 70ft and a depth of 155 ft. They were substantially built with walls 14in. thick. A large ante room and 5 well-lit classrooms with a floor space of 2700 sq. ft. Included were an outbuilding and yard. The school house stood apart from the school and was suitable for a private residence. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms, a kitchen and offices. Main drainage was featured and also gas and the council water. An ante room, lodge room and store room were let to the St. Martin's Lodge of Freemasons until May 31st 1921, at £12.00 per annum. The school house was in the occupation of Mr. W. R. Cooley, who was due to leave by March 25th 1921. The purchaser was Hedley J. Clarke, at £625.00.
Sources: North Bucks Flying Post, North Bucks Times, Bletchley Road Council Schools’ Souvenir Programme of ‘Education Week - 1834-1934’.
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