School plan

A Plan of the School

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School plan

Above is a diagram of the Main School Building about 1961, taken from memory. Originally built in 1914, by 1960 it had not been altered much in terms of its structure. Although the School history reports the Domestic Science unit was created from two merged classrooms, it doesn't state when. The building appears to be built using "Kentish Stocks" which is a yellow brick and not that common in North London buildings. The windows are picked out in London style "Reds", which was the more usual material for the terraced houses in the borough. We understand that today the building is used as a "Special Needs School".

The "Huts" separating the two playgrounds were built in 1949. The southernmost, larger room was the Geography Classroom and later the Art Room. The other, smaller room, prior to 1960(ish), was a drawing office for boys taking "Technical Drawing". Mr Hill presided over it at that time, taking over from Mr Rowe. The DO moved to the lower school taking over the old Art Room. The smaller room in the hut became a normal classroom. See the questions below. The larger room then became the Art Room. It also served as a form room.

The air raid shelter was built, as you would expect, prior to the Second World War, despite the fact that evacuation was to be the order of the day. The gap between the shelter and the south wall provided a "rat run" for pupils, mostly boys, going from one side of the school to another.

The Woodwork Shop was on the top floor of a two storey wooden building situated on the southern side of the boys' playground. If recollections are correct, there was only one entrance and exit, up some stairs, an absolute "No-No" in the light of today's Health and Safety regs. The Needlework Room was next to the Woodwork shop, on the top floor, on the other side of the wood store. It had its own entrance in the Girls' playground, (did it?). The boys in a form did woodwork and the girls did needlework at the same time. It would be interesting to know when this two storey wooden building was constructed. The bottom section was partially empty space accessed from the junior school playground.

The physics and chemistry labs were in the junior (middle) school. There is some confusion regarding the placement of the Chem Lab. Chemistry was, at one time, taught in the big room behind the stage, which we now call the Biology Lab. There are also recollections of a classroom in the middle school being used for Biology.

Questions: No prizes for the answers, just a "mention in dispatches".

  • The room nearest the boys' entrance, the typing room, was this Room G? It was the Library before it was moved. What is the room labelled as the Library on the diagram?

  • The room next to the typing room, midway up the corridor, was it "H"? "H" has been suggested as the smaller room in the huts.

  • What is the classroom off the hall?

  • Room "D", did this become a changing room at some time after 1960?

From David Adamthwaite:

"Just an update on your plan for the school the room that is marked as a store to the left of the headmasters study. In my time it was an unused cloakroom where we used to mix ink from powder and water then go to each class filling inkwells on desks. This was supposed to be a punishment but it could always be used to get back at others in ways and means best left to imagination."

From Ian McNab:

"I was a pupil at Downhills Nursery from aged 3 and a half, the Infants, the Juniors, and the Central. The needlework room was the other half of the woodwork building. Good job we didn't have girls doing woodwork and boys doing needlework because the boys bogs (sorry toilets) were at the foot of the woodwork room (and could be looked down on) and the girls toilets were at the foot of the Needlework Room."

From Ray Hooper:

"I think that room D became the changing rooms later than 1961. It was Gobby Gates maths' classroom (before that).

"On the matter of the Drawing Office, I'm pretty sure that this had moved to the lower school at the beginning of the 1960-61 year and that the Art room had moved from lower school to the Hut at the same time. It must have been 1960 because that was the year of the Lady Chatterly trial - do you remember it? A copy of the book was passed around our class in the Hut. This was Mr McInness's class and he taught history. The book was in the possession of a girl in our class and she suggested that we ( a group of us that is- oh dear this is sounding even worse) should go back into class during the break and have a "butchers" (at the book!). In the end she took to reading selected passages out loud! This came to an abrupt halt when McInness walked in!!

"The playgrounds had quite a slope from North to South. The winter snows provided the opportunity of creating ice-slides down the playground. One winter, they were so good, kids were flying everywhere after falling over. The head decided it was too dangerous and instructed "Dusty" Miller to apply salt to them. Dusty's normal popularity evaporated in an instant, but he was too resilient a character to let that worry him. He responded in his predictably robust fashion, including a few "salty" phrases of his own. (Or were they clauses, as they had a distinctive Anglo-Saxon verb in them).

"Another external feature was the "coal-hole". This was on the lower, East side of the building. The coal fed the boilers. Many a boy was thrown down the coal chute, landing in Dusty's private world. Victims were ejected from the boiler room, covered in coal dust, by a very irate Caretaker, highly miffed at the unwanted intrusion. I was one participant in the ritual."

From Tony Collins:

"One thing I notice about the plan; The room designated Room H was definitely used as a changing room in about the 1954-56 period. I remember it well because at certain times while we boys were queuing to go into the science room we discovered that an application of Sellotape (or the equivalent) to the frosted glass afforded a reasonably clear view into room H when the girls were changing.

"Ah - memories."

From John Cunningham:

"I thought you would like some comments on the plan of the school. From 1952 to 1957 the classroom usage was, to the best of my memory, as follows:

  • "The Flat" -  Used by the Domestic Science teacher as a model for studies in home care, or put another way 'housework'!
  • Domestic Science - Miss Preston
  • Music - Mrs Leech - Shorthand & Typing
  • Biology - 'Taffy' Thomas - General Science
  • H? - Mr Geoff Rowe - Boys Sports Changing Room
  • Typing, Room G? - Can't remember it being used as a classroom. I think it was a Store Room, but not too sure on this point.
  • Boys' Cloaks - Correct
  • Men's Staff Room - Mrs Denman - School Secretary
  • Library - Mr Deighton (Can't remember what he taught, possibly history or English). He left during my period at the school, but cannot recall who replaced him.
  • Mr Davis - History
  • M - Mr Wimbourne - English (I think)
  • F - Mr Rowe - Sports & Maths
  • E - Miss Allison - Sports
  • D - Mrs Henfrey - English (and possibly History) I vaguely remember that Miss Clarke also used the room at some stage and taught French
  • Ladies Staff Room - Men and Ladies Staff Room
  • Girls' Cloaks - Correct
  • J - Mr Hoskins - Maths (My classroom!)
  • K - Mr Baker (Basher) - Maths
  • L - Mrs Martinez - French
  • T? - Miss Davis - English & Music
  • C - Mrs Parker - English
  • A - Mr Gregory - French
  • Store Room - Correct and for mixing inks.
  • Head's Office - Correct - Mr Mercer followed by Mr Fisher
  • In the Hut (big room) was Mr Voss - Geography
  • The Hut (small room) was used by several teachers for R.E. and Technical Drawing (Mr Rowe)
  • On the first floor of the detached timber clad building by the boys' toilets was Mr (Sammy) Cole - Woodwork and Miss ?? Needlework
  • The Art Room was in the Junior School, adjacent to the Boys walk through from Philip Lane and was run by Miss Brooker