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.
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, which is on the far corner with Berners Way, and shown here derelict and up for sale has now been renovated into two private houses.
The National School was opened in 1826 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. It became used as a youth club and in 1983 it was a warehouse for Tucker’s Nurseries. By 1994 it had been renovated into two private houses.
1833-1943?. The Industrial School for Girls, 125 girls. It became Faringdon Church of England Girls’ School as part of 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.
Union (Ferndale) Street
1801-1933 The Poor Law Union Workhouse School. For children of the adults living in the workhouse. The children were cared for by a Foster Mother and Father and were only allowed to see their parents on a Sunday at the compulsory Chapel services and in the afternoon in the dining room. Elementary education had to be provided on the premises and they had to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. There were two separate units, one for boys and one for girls. In the later years the children attended local schools. More…
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. By 1896 this building was being used as a Sunday School with an Infant School attached to it on the west side.
1872. The British School, mixed ages 7-14, moved here from Marlborough Street. There were also extra classrooms in Station Road where the Fire Station is now. The building 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. Newer buildings have since been added behind.
Mr & Mrs Proctor were the Headmaster and Headmistress at the school when they came to Faringdon from Liverpool in 1898. They had six children and as the pay was so poor they had to do extra teaching at night school. These dreadful conditions inspired them to become two of the Founder Members of National Union of Teachers. As the Government Grant to schools depended on the number of pupils attending Mr & Mrs Proctor had to arrange various events such as Christmas Concerts, Maypole Dancing, Country Dancing, Boy Scouts Camps, Girl Guides and all sorts of outside activities in order to attract more pupils. Mr Proctor was in charge of First Aid for the district and he trained many of the nurses who went to France in World War I including Miss Taylor who later became Matron of the Faringdon Cottage Hospital. He was also specially qualified in Science and Archaeology and this was included in the school syllabus. Many of the boys, having left school, returned with specimens from various parts of the world and he had an extensive museum at the 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.
Some photos of Faringdon County Grammar School for Girls during the early 1970s before it became a mixed comprehensive school in 1975.
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 Park Road, the railway line, and over Stanford Road to Folly Hill (photo). 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.
Memories of Schooldays in the 1930’s
“Discipline was tight and punishments were there for the least breach of the rules. Minor punishments were being kept in at playtimes and after school hours. Also writing out lines I must not do this, that and the other. Stiffer penalties was being told to go and stand outside the headmasters door, you’d stand there for an hour or more, prolonging the agony knowing what the outcome was going to be, and that was a caning across the palms of the hands. The worse one was a public flogging that when the whole school mustered in the hall and the offender taken on the stage, told to bend over and receive six of the best. The girls punishment was having to clench their fists and having their knuckles rapped with a wooden ruler – very painful. We never had any homework to do in those days.”
“We had to use pen and ink, the ink being in a small ink-well in a round hole in the desk. You had to make sure you didn’t dip the pen in too deep, or else if you did and your hand shook, or you coughed then a big blob of ink dropped off leaving a ink-blot in your book, and when you started to write all the a b e g and p’s centres filled in creating an unholy mess which I learnt to my cost. You see in those days the school supplied everything, books, pens etc. So the time came when my first writing book became full, so the drill was you went to the head masters room for a new one taking the full one with you. So off I went and knocked on Mr T’s door, he barked come in, in I went, what do you want he roared, a new writing book please sir. He took the old one off me, looked at it, and that’s when he went berserk, completely off his rocker, he grabbed his cane, danced around the room slashing the air making it whistle, he then went to his desk and whacked it half a dozen times, then he turned to me and said very quietly, you see what I’m doing to this desk, I said yes sir, next time you bring a book to me in this state it will not be the desk I’ll be hitting, you know why, no sir and then with a roar like a clap of thunder coming out of a drain pipe he said because your backside will be on the desk and my cane will be descending upon it, now get out. From that moment in time my writing and neatness improved a hundredfold, there was no way I was going to call his bluff.”
Text extracted from: The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Bk 2 p12-25 & Bk 3 p85. By Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications.
Researched by Ian Lee, February 2020.