The schools in Faringdon moved about and changed name quite frequently during the 20th Century. It might therefore be easier to follow their history if they are categorised according to the road on which the buildings were located rather than by the name of the school.
Stanford Road School
1826-1935. The National School for Boys, 120 boys, age 6+. It became Faringdon Church of England School for Boys, age 11-14. The building, on the far corner of Berners Way has been renovated as a private house.
The National School was opened in1826 in a building in Stanford Road to take about 120 boys. The rules of the school were that children of the poor attaining the age of 6 years and upwards should be allowed to benefit by education and that they should pay 7d per week. They would be taught spelling, reading and the general principles of the Christian religion. Those children who behaved well and showed aptitude would also be taught writing and arithmetic. Stealing, lying, swearing, indecent behaviour and conversation was strictly forbidden. It was required that pupils should have clean hands and faces and their hair cut short. By 1873 the subjects being taught were, Geography, Physiology, Grammar, Table Writing, Numeration, Reading, Religious Instruction, Arithmetic, Science, Dictation, History and Poetry. In 1875 there was a severe outbreak of scarlet fever and many children were not allowed to come to school if the disease was present in their family.
Punishments were severe e.g. 1882 Jesse Jackson, 10 years old, caned for swearing in the street; Joseph Pauling caned for writing filthy words on his slate during lessons, 6 strokes across the desk. 1898: Dear Sir I have sent the boys to the British School but it was not because you caned him for swearing but you beating him about the head, I hear you beat him for every other boy. Yours truly Mrs Perry. Sometimes the notes from parents told a pathetic story – 1890: Please Mr Shirley I must ask you not to overwork Charlie for a time as during the holidays he broke a blood vessel in his head and laid at the point of death for 2 days. The doctor said his head is a long way from right. Mrs Yates. (son Charles aged 7 years). 1893: Dear Sir. Could you let Frank come to school at 10 o’clock mornings as we want him to go on the road with the cows for 2 hours mornings. Will you please send word back tonight. S. Goddard. The school was later to become the Faringdon Church of England School taking in boys from 11 to 14 years of age, and finally closed down in 1935.
London Road School
1833-1943?. The Industrial School for Girls, 125 girls. It became Faringdon Girls’ Council School in 1927.
The school was erected in 1833 in London Road for 125 girls. Mrs Shirley was headmistress from the late 1800’s until 1905 and then Miss Shilleto until the late 1920’s. The school became part of Faringdon Girls’ Council School in 1927. At the outbreak of WWII the building was used as a Drill Hall. It is now Chester House (private) #87 London Street, occupied by Dr. Humphries and his family.
Marlborough Street School
1843-1872. The British School, mixed ages 7-14. It moved to Lechlade Road in 1872 (now the Infants School).
In 1843 a School House was built behind the Meeting House of the Congregational Church in Marlborough Street, now the Roman Catholic Church. The school was known as the British School. The pupils paid 2d per week unless there was more than one child of the family and then each paid 1½d. The aim of the school was to give the children a useful education.
Lechlade Road School
1872. The British School, mixed ages 7-14, moved here from Marlborough Street. By 1896 this building was being used as a Sunday School with an Infant School attached to it on the west side. It became Faringdon Primary School in 1925, then finally Faringdon Infant School in 1964 when the junior pupils were moved out to Southampton Street.
This was a new building erected for the British School in 1872 for 177 boys and girls and was paid for by voluntary subscription. Henry Proctor was the headmaster in the 1910’s.
Southampton Street School
1920s-1937. Girls Secondary School & Infant School. The Infant School was a separate building on the right but the infants moved to the Lechlade Road in 1925 and a main hall was built to join the two sections. It then became Faringdon Secondary Modern School (mixed) in 1937-64 (then it moved to Fernham Road). It then became Faringdon Junior School (moved from Lechlade Road) in 1964-86 (then it moved to The Elms). The buildings were demolished in 1986 and the site cleared to build Willes Close housing estate.
The Elms School, Gloucester Street
1944-1975. Faringdon County Grammar School for Girls. Grammar school boys were bused out to King Alfred’s in Wantage. 1975-1986 It became Faringdon Comprehensive School (11-18 mixed, 87 pupils) then finally Faringdon Junior School since 1986, when the junior school in Southampton Street was demolished. The two buildings fronting on the street are now private flats and the town library. The school is now in buildings behind these.
Fernham Road School
1964. Tollington Secondary Modern School (11-16 mixed), Fernham Road, off Coxwell Road. It became Faringdon Comprehensive School (11-18 mixed) in 1975. In 2001 it was renamed Faringdon Community College and in 2012 it became part of the Faringdon Academy of Schools along with Faringdon Infant School and Faringdon Junior School.
The school was built in 1962/63 on a green-field site, which was right out of town at that time. Houses had been built all along the roads but it was well before any housing estates had been built. All was practically clear to Station Road, the railway line, and beyond to Folly Hill (photo), and all was green fields behind along the Coxwell Road too.
1952-2016. Ferndale independent private school was opened in 1952 by Nancy Reeves at the back of Dunraven House in London Street, which belonged to Mrs Ruth White. The school catered for children between the ages of four and eleven. The six pupils who went to the first session were Michael and Christopher Day, Anna White, Peter Niker, Brenda Blissett, and Carole Hazell. In 1953 the school was expanding and so moved to Chieveley House in Gloucester Street. This was followed in 1956 to the final move to Brockendon House in Bromsgrove (photo). Throughout the 1960’s buildings were added and altered and by the 21st anniversary there were 132 children on roll.
The school celebrated its 25th anniversary in the same year as the Queen celebrated her silver jubilee, 1977. The children of the school sent special greetings to the Queen on a decorative scroll signed by all the pupils and had a special letter of thanks in return (photo). Ferndale School took part in the usual school activities such as sports and concerts, but also took a special interest in the Victoria Home for Crippled Children at Bournemouth and raised money annually for this good cause. The children used to send a card each week to the home from each form in the school. They also had a special interest in raising money for Dr. Barnado’s Charity. Nancy Reeves retired from the school in 1979 and a Mr & Mrs Collinge took over as joint principals. The school was closed after being put into administration on 22nd July 2016 due to financial difficulties.
Text extracted from: The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Book 2 p12-25. By Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications.