History of Hadleigh School

A Timeline to 2010 Anniversary

New Schools, Hadleigh
A Ton of Memories
C Worpole

1910          The Public Elementary Council School opened on 10th October, with Samuel Collins as the first headmaster. Born in about 1848 at Alverstoke, Gosport in Hampshire, Samuel Collins had previously worked as a school master in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. By 1877 he was working at The Essex Industrial School and home for Destitute Boys at Chelmsford. As a major in the Salvation Army, he became the school master at the colony school at Hadleigh in 1903.

The school opened with Mr. Collins and three teachers and, by the end of the first week, the school roll had risen to 201 ~ 67 infants and 137 juniors and seniors. The school was an elementary school providing education for children aged 5 to 12 years. In those days, children progressed through the school according to ability, not age. Slower children often spent two or more years at the same level. The building consisted of a hall and four classrooms.

1912        Mr. Collins retired at the age of 64 and was replaced by Mr. Henry Albert Davies, born in 1871 at Westbury in Shropshire. Prior to his appointment, Henry Davies had been working as the schoolmaster at the Public Elementary School at Barling in Essex. His wife Amelia was also a teacher.

1913        The school building was enlarged for 318 children, although the average attendance at this time was 250.

1916         Henry Davies resigned as headteacher.

1917         Henry Reginald Tutt took up his duties as headmaster in February. He was born on 21st August 1886 at Lower Halstow in Kent. The son of a labourer, by the age of 24 Henry was working as an assistant teacher and living in lodgings at Croydon. In 1915 he married Ada Corbett at Runcorn in Cheshire. They were to have four children, all of whom were born at Hadleigh. The Tutt family lived in the School House  in The Avenue.

1918        The school leaving age was raised to 14 but, as there were no secondary schools in the area, pupils were educated in the elementary school.

1918        School meals were introduced, with the dining hall at the Salvation Army Colony being used. Nearly 200 children had dinners each day out of 260 children at the school.

1922         The first District Sports was held. About this time, the teachers agreed to a voluntary reduction in salary.

1924          The Church School merged with Hadleigh Public Elementary School in April, resulting in a school roll of 500.

1930         Although the school building was fitted with electric light, there was no other form of electricity.

1939         The outbreak of war led to the Infant School ~ whose headmistress was Miss N. Hersey ~ not opening in the Autumn Term. The children were educated in groups of seven in their houses. The junior and senior pupils were allowed to attend school, even though there were no air raid shelters.

1940         Brick air raid shelters were erected in April on the spare ground opposite the school in Church Road. During the Battle of Britain the children occasionally spent all day in the shelters with lessons continuing.

1940s      In spite of continual raids, there was no serious damage to the building, although a bomb dropped during a night raid damaged some drains and part of the school house. No pupil was injured or killed by bombs, but a member of the Junior School staff was killed by a bomb in Rayleigh. The staff of both schools undertook fire watching duty at the school between the hours of 8pm and 7am.

1946         By this time the school layout was: the Infants School on the south side with an entrance in Church Road, the Juniors in the east wing, with the Senior pupils located in the west wing and in a large wooden annexe in the west playground. This building was mainly used as a woodwork centre. Cookery classes were held by Mrs. Murphy in what later became the school kitchen. The classroom next to the North Hall (later to be Mr. Layram’s classroom in the 1960s) was the science laboratory, equipped with a long bench with two sinks, eight gas-points for bunsen burners and two store cupboards. The two halls were used for assemblies, PE, country dancing and transformed into dining halls at midday. The food was cooked at Thundersley and delivered in metal containers. The playing field in The Avenue had not yet been acquired, so the annual Sports Day was held at the John Burrows Cricket Ground. There were 500 junior and senior pupils and 200 infants.

1949        Mr. E. C. Beaven was appointed headteacher of the school. Following Mr. Beaven’s illness and subsequent death, Miss Winifred Slowe, the deputy head, became acting headmistress. By this time the school ceased to have a senior section, with the opening of the Benfleet Secondary Modern School (later King John School) on 2nd May 1949.

1952         Mr. J. Denton was appointed as headmaster of the Junior School, a post he was to hold until his retirement 20 years later.

1953         Hadleigh Primary School was used to receive flood victims from the Canvey flood. Some 900 Canvey people passed through the school in the days after the flood, with as many as 350 sleeping there overnight.

1972          Retirement of Mr. Denton.

2010         Centenary  

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  • Hi All

    I’m trying to find any information about Albert Sydney Bingham who possibly attended the school in 1923 aged 5.

    He was living with his adoptive mother Isabel Georgina Botton.

    They lived in Hadleigh.

    If anyone has any info on Albert or the Botton family it would be lovely to hear from you.

    Kind regards

    Trish Reese

    By Trish Reese (29/11/2023)
  • This reply is aimed at anyone who was in Miss Bennewith’s class in 1957.
    It was prompted by reading Sandra Wills (Petherick) response and started me thinking about the school and my experience there. I recall being absolutely terrified on my first couple of days and promptly got bullied in the playground by a girl in the year above! That was sorted out pretty quickly. I recall playing football on the grassed area opposite the school in Church Road. Steve Homewood and the Beasley Twins were names I remember.
    My second year of infants I think I had Miss Small and I seem to recall trying not to be noticed as she was pretty strict. I can’t recall whose class I was in for the first year of Primary but it may have been Miss Webb? My second year was with Mrs Rand who I recall being really keen on anything to do with wildlife and nature and years three and four were with Mrs Mathias who came across as really gruff and strict but was in fact just a very good teacher in hindsight. I recall class singing while she played the piano. She used to single out people who weren’t singing in tune and tell them to mime!
    All in all the experience was a good one with marbles on the manhole covers, trading cigarette cards and playing ‘standsy ups’, the conker season and then all of the various ball games which led to multiple scrapes and bruises.
    For my sins I ended up as a teacher myself and moved permanently to Australia in 1993. We live on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

    I think I can recall some 20 names from our class; a sample being Sandra Petherick, Mary Spears, The Green twins Caroline and Mary?, Delia Butler, Moira Adams, Malcolm Adams, Mark Sorrell, Keith Willis, Robert Barber and Robert Kelly.

    I visited the school about ten years ago. It felt so small and the bizarre thing was that it still smelt the same. That strange mixture of pine disinfectant, timber floors and sweaty young people!

    Feel free to email me on burleighlakes@gmail.com if any of this rings a bell.

    Kind regards
    Peter Wilkins

    By Peter Wilkins (07/09/2023)
  • I have just read your post, Gary (O’Brien). My mum worked as a cleaner at the school and she often talked about your mum and dad. We lived in Church Road, Hadleigh, so the school was just down the road from our house. My mum kept in contact with your parents for quite a while. Both of my parents have sadly died. Are either of your parents still alive?

    By Christina Wood (11/06/2022)
  • Many happy times at Hadleigh, but I had to behave, as my Dad was the caretaker, Mr Harry OBrian ,

    By Gary o Brian (01/02/2022)
  • I so enjoyed reading the many memories of Hadleigh council school. I started in the infants there in 1935 altho about 1936 went to a small private school on Leigh Highlands but when they evacuated in 1939 I went back to Hadleigh Juniors and from there took the 11 plus and got a place at Westcliff High. In my last year there I spent a month observing in Miss Bennewith’s class (prior to going to teacher Training College in 1948) back in the same classroom where I had started school!

    I still remember some of the names who were in the Juniors with me; David Lowe, Pat Lawford, Kathleen McNiell, Sheila Chalk, June Hull, Pam Ashby and Audrey Grigg. If they are alive they would be over 90 now as am I.
    I have lived abroad for many years, first in Holland and then in the US.

    PS. The teacher who was killed in the war was Mrs Pickens, a well loved History teacher.
    Their house was hit by a V2 rocket in October 1943, her daughter Alison was my best friend at Westcliff High and she also died; her father and older sister survived.

    By Jean de Jong  (17/10/2021)
  • Hi! I have been reading the archive comments on Hadleigh School which I attended from 1933 to 1937. I am now 95 but have some clear memories of those days which I think you might be interested in.
    I was admitted to what was then called Hadleigh Council School having been at Miss Howship’s Kindergarten in Arcadian Gardens from the age of 6. I moved up through the classes called Standards.  Sports became my main interest and ability and I became a very good sprinter; winning many medals on the sports days held on the cricket ground.   I was nicknamed ‘Crusty’! 

    At play time we had games in the playground flicking cigarette cards and spinning tops with whips. Playing with conkers {in season} was also very popular.  I remember one of the teachers; a Miss Silcocks.  She was very good.  We started every morning  standing in the classroom to say the Lord’s Prayer and another prayer.
    I enjoyed being in the school choir and remember learning the words of the song “Little lamb who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?”.   The headmaster was Mr Tutt JP.   A very strict disciplinarian who used the cane.  We were very scared of him!  Being late for school was punished!

    I hope these thoughts will be of interest.
    With best wishes.
    David Carruthers (Crusty!)

    By David Carruthers (15/10/2021)
  • I was at Hadleigh Primary from 1942 to seniors then on to King John. The cane was used a lot in those days. We came to Hadleigh after being bombed out in London. Lots of local people never liked us in their village. I remember Mr Tutt for his use of the cane, his passion for birds and telling us we were not good enough for the 11 plus. Also he had ill fitting false teeth. I progressed to being an ink monitor with my little can, filling up ink wells. We survived it all.

    By Harry Potter (09/02/2021)
  • I remember being in Miss Bennywith’s class primary 1 in 1949 or 50 – I thought her name was Miss Pennyworth for ages. My only memory of first class was needing to go to the toilet, you had to put your hand up and ask in front of everyone in those days, also if you needed paper you only got one sheet of the tracing-paper style I think was called Bronco. My worst memory was when I needed more than one piece of this, so asked for 3 pieces – the teacher said in front of everyone “Why is it 3 pieces you’re needing?” and to my humiliation I had to explain why……!

    By Jill Campbell (23/01/2021)
  • After Mr Denton the new headteacher was Mr Baker.

    By Sue White (14/07/2020)
  • I had a memorable first two weeks when I started Hadleigh Junior in 1959. On my first day, Mr Denton, the principal, gave me some basic tests in his office and promptly marched me to the lowest level, the “C” stream. Two days later the teacher walked me into another class, had a word with the teacher and left. I lasted in the “B” stream for a week and was finally assigned to the “A” grade teacher, Mrs. Rand. She was firm, organised and never shouted, (although I do remember receiving a surprise slap on the arm for talking on one occasion.)
    There was a lot of experimental teaching in the 50s and 60s. My previous school had no streaming and focused on free play for the first two years. Hadleigh Junior had more formal expectations. Thanks to Mrs. Rand I soon caught up.
    The school seemed to run like a well oiled machine. Assembly and hymns in the morning, the smell of boiled cabbage in the hall before lunch and the segregated playground which once had a beautiful privet hedge softening the length of the playground. At break-time groups of girls would sit in gaps of the hedge to chat or make loops with twigs to capture spider webs filled with ” diamonds” (morning dew.)
    Sadly I left the school with less pleasing memories. Mr. Evans was my teacher for Junior year 3 AND 4. The hands on that black clock on the wall never seemed to move. He would cover every piece of writing in red ink. Creativity had no merit, grammar and spelling were the order of the day. He read out the best and worst piece of work, encouraging the class to laugh at any faux pas. The humiliation was dreadful.
    Mr. Evans also liked to punish the whole class for one child’s misdemeanour. The much awaited Friday afternoon art class was the preferred target and often cancelled. Those last two years with Mr. Evans left a bitter taste.

    By Linda Johnson (30/10/2019)
  • I started at Hadleigh Juniors in 1971 and the first year kids had the small playground on the Church Road side of the school, opposite the girls playground. I remember that summer the girls used to put on shows for the “little” kids, using one of the flat concrete emergency exits from the old air raid shelter in their playground as a makeshift stage and lining up singing and dancing to songs of the time like “Lily The Pink.”

    By Mark Brighton (03/09/2019)
  • I started at Hadleigh Primary in 1957 with Miss Benewith and the sand pit!! I also remember Mrs Mathias. This is where I learnt my netball skills and went on to play for Essex! My sister and I went on to Sweyne from Hadleigh and she eventually taught at Sweyne. My parents took in flood victims from Canvey Island too. Great memories!

    By Sandra Wills (née Petherick) (19/03/2019)
  • Anyone remember Mr Grother the headmaster in the 70s – or Mrs Smith? Fond memories of many teachers – I also remember Mr H Evans and his tooth and gum grin!

    By Phil (18/03/2019)
  • I was at Hadleigh School between 1947 and 1953. I also remember Miss Benewith as a kind reception teacher, and Miss Small being rather scary. Miss Webb, Mrs Rand, Mrs Lambourne and Mr Layram were my Junior school teachers. Mrs Rand was very much into animal welfare and we were encouraged to join an animal charity, don’t remember which one.
    Mr Layram’s cane obviously had a lot of use. I remember his rages, red face and popping eyes, one day he was so cross, he lashed out at a boy, who had the good sense to move, with such force that he broke the cane on the desk.
    When Mr Beaven was ill in the school house, we were not allowed to play in the playground, but had to be in the quadrangle, which was usually forbidden
    Anyone remember rewards for good behaviour? Or is that too modern?
    I used to walk to school from Central Avenue off the Daws Heath Road, unless it was raining. Even then, we sometimes walked and used the bus fare for sweets.

    Barbara Scott ( Cox )

    By Barbara Scott (07/03/2019)
  • I was at Hadleigh School from 1951 – 57. Apart from the unspeakable food it was a good place. I remember the fierce but wonderfully kind Mrs Mathias and the Head of Infants Miss Hersey with real affection. Was often caned for fighting!

    By Nicholas Mills (27/01/2018)
  • I remember Miss Hewitt, Mr Layzell, Mrs Knight & Mr Evans – must have been 1971-74 or thereabouts. I also remember being scared stiff of the deputy head at that time – Miss Mott!!

    By Cathy Piggott (05/07/2017)
  • Hilary, I think it was Mrs Mathyas. I remember her music lessons, I and a few others were ‘ non singers’. We just mimed.

    By David Solomons (12/04/2016)
  • I remember Mr Farrell so well – I thought he was wonderful! I was in his class for two years from 1957 – 1959.

    I also remember the white-haired lady music teacher who told me I could sing and changed my life! I wish I could remember her name!

    By Hilary Smallwood (nee Pitt) (15/03/2016)
  • I have mixed memories of attending Hadleigh School (1949-1955), my first few weeks in the infant class of Miss Beneworth was not a thrill, as being short in stature I was bullied daily until one of my friends, Malcolm Tyrie, put a stop to it. From the friendliness of the welcoming Miss Beneworth, in the first year, to the austere looking Miss Small in the last was, to say the least, a culture shock. My vague memory of her, sitting at the head of the class in a high desk with her hair tied back in a bun resembling a nineteenth century school figure, made me feel uncomfortable and I was glad to get in to the welcoming class of Miss Webb in the first year of the Junior School. I remember this tall lady with dark glasses as being very encouraging and working alongside pupils in a modern way. Unfortunately the next stage was the smoking Pop Stewart who kept two canes for unruly children; the Stinger and the Soother, that he used from time to time, often with a cigarette in his mouth. During my last year of the school Mr Layram was our teacher who when shouting at the class had eyes that would appear to pop out. He was quite a good teacher but also had a cane, that was frequently used. I recall with the help of a friend breaking the cane up into little pieces and leaving it on his desk: not a good idea. It was discovered that I was the perpetrator and reported to Mr Denton, the headmaster who gave me my first caning across the backside. My friend escaped because I would not reveal his name. My parents were notified and for weeks afterward I was in a state of ‘being ashamed’ as it was out of character for my behaviour. A valuable lesson I suppose; do not get dragged into other’s plans without knowing the consequences of your own actions.

    By Ian Brighton (11/08/2015)
  • Yes I was there at the same time. Mr Farrell used to send me to the shop at lunchtime to get his cigs, unbelievable! I started with Miss Bennewith with the sand pit in the classroom and ended with Mr Layram. He had a four foot cane and every week we used to cut an inch off, he ended up with just 12 inches which couldn’t hurt you much, still laugh at that now.

    By Roger Shinn (27/04/2014)
  • I went to Hadleigh Junior School in The Avenue from 1948 until 1952.  I well remember Mr Stewart rapping us across the knuckles with rulers, probably well deserved, but my favourite teacher was Mr Layram who educated me far better than anyone else. My brother Ralph went to both the Infants (first teacher Miss Bennewith) and Junior schools five years after myself. Happy memories!

    By Eileen Acreman (née Aldridge) (24/04/2014)
  • I attended Hadleigh School from 1940 until the end of 1945 when H.R. Tutt J.P. was headmaster.  Some teachers were Charles Skinner, Miss Hadrell, Mrs Davies et. al. I’m drawing a blank on the name of the very nice lady teacher who taught Srs. 2A and who was killed during a raid on Rayleigh. Maybe someone can remind me?

    I remember well the brick shelters and their surrounding allotments but although I remember air raid drills (complete with gas masks) I do not recall any serious use of the shelters during an air raid.  Perhaps the mind only recalls the good things of life.

    I am now retired and live in Georgia, USA and would love to hear from anyone who can add to my recollections.

    By George Sapsford (12/04/2014)
  • My late father Dennis Guy did a lot of work helping flood victims in the floods of 1953. He worked for Dane Dye Works later known as Sketchleys in Hadleigh. He helped with lifting carpets etc, also curtains and other soft furnishings and taking them for cleaning. He helped with getting people from their homes to safety. He did a lot of rescue work on Canvey Island as well as other local areas. The recent floods reminded me of the stories my father had told me. Total devastation!

    By Susan Wells (25/02/2014)
  • My father was a pupil at Hadleigh School during Mr. Tutt’s time as headmaster. My father Dennis Guy and his brother David both went to Hadleigh School. Then years later, my sister and I went to the school during Mr. Denton’s time. Some of the teachers I remember are Miss Beneworth my first teacher when I was 5 years old. Other teachers were Miss Slow, Mr Smitham, Miss Hewitt. I enjoyed my time at Hadleigh School very much. I think Miss Allen was a music teacher at the time.

    By Susan Wells (15/02/2014)
  • Hi Don

    Reginald Tutt is mentioned in the article. He became the headmaster in 1917. I know many people in Hadleigh remember him well.

    By Chris Worpole (14/01/2014)
  • I note Mr. H.R. Tutt is not mentioned as Headmaster. He was certainly HM from my joining in 46/47 until I went to St. Johns as a senior.  I particularly remember the whackings I used to receive from him!

    By Don Thompson (01/01/2014)

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