The history of Brookmans Park School
by Lilian Caras - First published 1983 (Revised May 2000)
Finally, at the Hertfordshire County Council Education Primary Sub-Committee on 3 October 1949, it was reported that the Minister had agreed to include Brookmans Park Junior & Infants School in the Building Programme 1950. The school was to be built in two instalments consisting of the first Instalment of four Junior classrooms, assembly hall and kitchen followed by the second instalment of three Infant classrooms, a further Junior classroom and dining room.
The estimate for the whole school was £58,672; £51,000 for the buildings and the rest for furniture and fittings, site works, roads, paving, layout of grounds and professional fees. The first instalment was estimated at £32,300 - the cost per head or place being £160.
The site of the new school in Bradmore Way consisted of two rectangular parcels of undeveloped building land. £115 plus fees was paid to Messrs Dearmans Ltd. of Knebworth for one piece totalling 1.15 acres. The second piece of 2.31 acres was bought by a compulsory purchase order from Mr John White of Birmingham (the chief developer of Brookmans Park) for £231 plus fees. The County Council undertook to bear half the cost of making up Peplins Way until it was taken over by the Highway Authority. A vacant plot of land between 35 and 41 Bradmore Way totalling 0.315 acres was purchased as an access strip to the site from the Trustees of the late Mr L E. Collingham for £100 plus fees. The County Council would meet Road charges for the 90-foot frontage in Bradmore Way. A Development Charge of £2,290 was paid to the Central Land Board.
Mr Garrod was the architect responsible for the design of the school under Mr Cuthill, the project architect at County Hall. Building work commenced on 3 July 1950. The materials used in the construction of the school were supplied as follows:
Standard steel frame Messrs Hills (West Bromwich) Ltd.
A tender of £693 submitted by Messrs Doe was accepted for the layout of grounds. Ekins & Co Ltd of Hertford carried out the building work.
The First Staff and Official Opening
When the school first accepted pupils in the autumn of 1951, 110 children aged between 5 and 11 were on the roll, although only 105 ware present on the first day. Mr A W Harris was the first headmaster. He had a staff of four teachers: Mr. C H Clifford, Miss M Raine, Mrs M Clifford and Mrs J Howell. The School, consisting of four classrooms, was officially opened on Saturday 17 May 1952 by Mrs Beryl Maudling, wife of Mr Reginald Maudling, M.P. for Barnet and Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The Second Instalment
By October 1952, the Mid-Herts Divisional Executive Primary Committee was already discussing overcrowding in the new school. A new class of 22 children that term had had to be started in the staff room. The minutes of 15 October 1952 state "Brookmans Park is being steadily developed by Private licence. There is no Rural District Council or Development Corporation building. It will soon no longer be possible to accommodate all the children of the area in this school and by 1955 the position will be acute." The Committee recommended that the final instalment of the school be included in the 1954 building programme.
The building of the second instalment did not go through quickly or smoothly however. On 13 April 1953 the Hertfordshire County Council Education Committee discussed the restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Education on Minor Capital Works, the main Building Programme having already been considerably curtailed. There was to be no early start to the completion of Brookmans Park Primary School, therefore. Instead, the addition of one extra classroom at a cost of £1.500 was approved.
On 1 February 1954 the Education Committee approved a request to accept a single tender to build the new classroom at a cost of £4,000. This tender was submitted by Universal Housing Co Ltd of Rickmansworth. The reason given was that "This building will be a prototype for future major works and will incorporate developments which have taken place in the design and manufacture of the light steel frame, with the object of making it a more flexible unit for planning purposes and of reducing its cost." The company also had the labour available. The work started in December 1953.
The need for the new classroom was obvious by September 1953 when, with 192 on the roll, one class had to be started in the entrance hall. By the summer of 1954 the roll had risen to 233 and a class was held in the assembly hall as well. By the autumn, despite the new classroom being ready for occupation, a class had to be held in a properly curtained-off section of the entrance hall - a situation that was to continue on and off for over ten years.
But good news was at hand. In 1955, the Ministry of Education removed restrictions on the total amount spent by Local Education Authorities on Minor Capital. Works, provided no project exceeded £10,000. £10,000 was allocated for additional classrooms at Brookmans Park School in the 1955-56 Minor Capital Works Programme. But, by January 1956, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked all Local Authorities to review their Capital expenditure. The Hertfordshire County Council Education Committed cut their spending requirements in response to Ministry of Education requests. Fortunately, Brookmans Park's £10,000 allocation remained in the 1955-56 Programme.
Thus Crook Bros. of Ware built the major part of the second instalment of the school, two classrooms and dining room. The work started in 1956.
By this time there were 290 on the roll to be accommodated in five classrooms, the entrance hall and assembly hall - the assembly hall doubling as a dining room for school dinners. This compares today with a similar number of children on the roll, but with twice the number of classrooms plus the dining room. Standards have indeed improved.
Chapter 6 - School extended and swimming pool built
Index - The history of Brookmans Park School