Building of the New School
According to the Ordnance Survey map of 1873, there was already a National School in existence in Portslade-by-Sea. It was located in the western part of North Street, which in those days was called Western Road. It must have been comparatively small because by 1880 plans were afoot to build a new school for the area in a different location.
The new site fronted Wellington Road, west of Church Road.
The Specification of Works stipulated that the school must be completed by 14 November 1880. Workers were required to:
Dig out and cart away topsoil to an average of three feet
Concrete to be composed thus ‘six of clean beach to one of ground lime’
Coarse and fine mortar to be mixed in proportion of ‘three of sand to one of ground lime’
Walls to be built of ‘good, sound, hard, burnt clamp bricks and flints’
Roofer to use best Port Madoc slates with ridge and hips of black, glazed tiles
Mason to use tooled York stone for the entrance steps
Carpenter to use properly seasoned wood with no large, small or loose knots
Thomas Redford was the contractor but he had £25 deducted from the contract because Mr J. Holes supplied 20,000 bricks from his brickyard. (This brickyard was most probably in the area now covered by Victoria Recreation Ground and Beaconsfield Road once rejoiced in the name of Holes Road named in his honour; but the residents did not like the name).
Due to the increase in population, the school had to be enlarged in 1885 and again in 1895.
In July 1903 the managers’ meeting received a report that an assistant teacher had refused to supervise children kept in as a punishment after school closed for the day. The managers therefore resolved that in future all assistant teachers would be notified on joining the staff that they might have to undertake this duty.
In 1904 Mr Eade Butt offered to sell to the school managers some land in order that the playground might be expanded. Finally, this offer boiled down to an exchange of land between the parties and Mr Eade Butt was expected to fork out for the demolition and re-building of the wall on the west side of the playground. There must have been some sort of hold up because assent for the exchange of deeds involving two separate pieces of land was not given until December 1909. Since St Andrew’s was a Church of England school the people involved were the Revd C.E. Cooper (vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Portslade from 1903 to 1911), the churchwardens and Messrs G.W. & H.A. Butt.
John Eade Butt was a family-run timber merchants established in 1828 at Littlehampton where there was a large timber yard. There was also a timber yard at Baltic Wharf, Wellington Road, Portslade, and their premises there expanded considerably in the 1920s and 1930s.
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The former St Andrew's Infants School building, now the St Peter’s Community Primary School.
In November 1904 the school managers met to consider the HMI’s report on the overcrowding at the infants’ school. In fact the situation was so serious that an entirely new infants’ school was built in St Richard’s Road, Portslade (later called St Peter’s School). It had been hoped to keep it as a church school but this proved to be impossible because a new infants’ school had just been built at Locks Hill. Therefore the school in St Richard’s Road became a council-run school and it was finished by December 1906.
In 1907 the Board of Education recognised that St Andrew’s School could accommodate 254 boys (not 256) and 202 girls (not 212)
In March 1908 the headmaster Mr Miles suggested that in the higher classes ‘some development should be made in the direction of manual training’. He hoped such a course of action would reduce the number of boys leaving school and becoming unskilled labourers.
In December 1908 the managers requested that the right of inflicting corporal punishment should be restricted to the head teacher in each department and that a cane should be used.
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Some of the girls of St Andrew’s School were photographed in around 1912.
In August 1908 strict orders were given to the headmistress of the girls department not to admit scholars from Fishersgate or Hove because of overcrowding.
In 1910 a printed note was sent to parents requesting that all girls with long hair should attend school with their hair in plaits in order to check the spread of vermin. On 2 December 1910 an inspection was carried out and found that only 74 out of 204 girls ‘were in a satisfactory state as to their hair’.
In December 1911 Miss M.E. Bunting became head of the girls’ department in place of Miss Chesney. Miss Bunting had previously been head of Staplefield School.
By January 1910 the school found itself in financial straits. This was because there was an overdraft of £129 and in 1911 Mr Eardley Hall said he was only prepared to guarantee an overdraft of £80.
In 1911 the authorities condemned the school building. In 1912 the managers embarked on a programme of rebuilding the school. There were six school managers, four foundation managers and two selected by the local authority.
The committee of the building fund was as follows:
The Bishop of Lewes
J. Eardley Hall
Revd R.M. Rosseter (vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Portslade 1911 to 1915)
Thomas B. French
John Eardley Hall (1842-1915) became a partner in Hall, West & Bevan, Union Bank, Brighton. He lived at Barrow Hill, Henfield but he continued to take an interest in Portslade where he still owned land. He sold Portslade Council the land on which Victoria Recreation Park was laid out; he donated the land on which the infants’ school at Locks Hill was built; and he was also a school manager at St Nicolas School, Portslade. When he died in 1915 the Revd Leycester-Ward, vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Portslade, from 1915-1929, wrote a letter of condolence to Hall’s sister Mrs Annette Blackburne at Barrow Hill, commiserating on the ‘loss of such a generous and warm hearted friend as your brother was to this parish’.
Walter Hillman was a successful businessman and an advertisement in the 1898 Directory described him as a ‘corn merchant, hay and straw dealer, seedsman and general contractor’. His business premises were dotted around North Street, Camden Place, Chapel Place and Ellen Street (all in Portslade) and there was a depot at Aldrington Basin. He was chairman of Portslade Council for eleven years and a Justice of the Peace for 22 years. He died on 7 July 1926 aged 74 and there is a spectacular gravestone in Portslade Cemetery; there used to be a stained glass window in St Andrew’s Church to his memory too.
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Walter Hillman’s elaborate memorial in Portslade Cemetery,
The ‘Suffer Little Children to come unto Me’ window was in memory of Walter Hillman, this stained glass window was removed from St Andrews Church in 2003 when a section of the Church was converted into South Portslade Community Centre. The window was given to the Worshipful Company of Glaziers in London, a charity which store stained glass windows for further use in another Church in this country or worldwide.
Donations were received from the following:
J. Eardley Hall £500
Brighton & Hove Gas Company £525
Bishop of Chichester’s Fund £400
Two anonymous donations of £500 each
Mrs Dudeney £50
W. Hillman £50
National Society £150
The New St Andrew’s School
On 18 April 1912 the school managers were able to inspect a rough sketch plan of the proposed reconstruction and enlargement drawn up by E.J.L. Barber. There was to be an extension on the east side and the boys would be accommodated on the ground floor while the girls would be taught on the first floor. It was expected there would be enough space for 350 boys and 250 girls.
On 4 October 1912 the managers decided to buy a plot of land from Eade Butt situated between Eardley Hall’s plot and the Star Model Laundry for £265.
On 8 July 1913 the managers considered tenders from fifteen builders. The highest figure quoted was £4,948 and the lowest was £4,196; there were two tenders from Portslade and one from Hove. But H. Baker of Portslade quoted the fourth highest tender. The lowest was from J. Jerram of Plaistow but even this was too high for the cash-strapped managers and savings were made with the result the final bill came to £3,784-5-4d.
Mr Waters of Church Road, Hove, was appointed clerk of the works at a wage of 45/- a week.
The structure was entirely gutted and completely transformed into thirteen well-lighted classrooms.
While all this building work was going on, the children had to be taught in public rooms such as the Assembly Rooms attached to the Clarence Hotel, North Street.
In September 1913 it was remarked that a portion of the school was actually within the parish of Southwick.
In February 1914 Messrs Butt & Co. donated 7 feet to the south-west corner of the playground.
A unique feature of the new school was a rooftop playground for the girls, considered to be ‘useful for open air classes’.
The Board of Education recognised the school could accommodate 600 children although the chairman of the school governors thought there was enough space for 650. But because of the rise in the number of girls, 40 of whom lived in Fishersgate, no more were to be accepted from there.
The Bishop of Chichester re-opened St Andrew’s School on Saturday 25 April 1914. Walter Hillman, vicar’s warden, met the Bishop at Hove Station in his own motor and conveyed his lordship to Portslade.
Schoolchildren provided a guard of honour and small St Andrew’s crosses were much in evidence. A special tea was provided before the opening ceremony took place.
The Brighton Gazette (29 April 1914) stated that Mr Eardley Hall donated £1,000 towards the school’s re-construction plus a piece of ground. The newspaper also stated the total cost of building and fittings came to £5,000. In fact the final total came to £5,377-15-8d and this did not include the 40-foot frontage worth £200 donated by Mr G.W. Eardley Hall.
Remarkably, there was only a debt of £400.
John Miles was still headmaster when the school re-opened. He had a long stint in office because he had been head since the old school opened 32 years previously. He did not retire until 1924, which meant he was at the helm for 40 years.
Not every teacher was as dedicated as he was. In October 1914 there was a serious shortage of teachers. Three hopeful applicants for posts at the school, decided not to accept when they discovered the meagre salary involved and left to pursue higher earnings elsewhere.
| copyright © A. Hill|
This photograph was taken in around 1950
and shows Fred Hill, his wife Helen and son Michael.
Frederick Charles Hill was born in 1910 and attended St Andrew’s School. He remembered Mr Miles well because he was also choirmaster of St Andrew’s Church where young Fred became a star choirboy and sang many solos. The choirboys were paid 2/6d a quarter but if they were naughty, a penny was docked.
One day Fred took part in a Christy Minstrel show and afterwards the choirmaster of St Philip’s Church, Hove approached him and offered double the money if he came to St Philip’s. When Mr Miles heard about the poaching of his star chorister, he was furious and stormed round to the Hill’s home to complain. But Mrs Hill refused to get involved and said it was up to Fred to decide. Fred chose the extra money but he missed all his friends at St Andrew’s.
Fred remembered that some of his contemporaries at school came from poverty stricken homes and arrived at school in worn clothing while others had no shoes on their feet. Mr Hill founded Hill’s Radio, still a flourishing business in Station Road, in 2016.
| copyright © J.Middleton |
The modern-day Hills Sound and Vision in Station Road, Portslade.
| copyright © J. Hayward |
Doug Mepham as a young man wearing
an uncomfortable stiff, white collar
Although John Miles retired in 1924, he still took a great interest in former pupils. He wrote a glowing testimonial for Doug Mepham dated 6 November 1937:
‘Mr Douglas Mepham has been known to me since infancy and during seven years was a scholar under my care at St Andrew’s School, Portslade-by-Sea, where he passed through the various classes with perfect credit to himself. Since leaving he has vigorously pursued his education by attending Technical Schools etc. and has sought progress in every way open to him. Of his personal character I cannot speak too highly.’
Doug Mepham was a Portslade ‘Gassie’ for 51 years, starting at the age of fourteen and staying on at Portslade Gas Works until his retirement in 1968.
In July 1914 the children of St Andrew’s School were taken to Hove to see a remarkable sight. There, anchored offshore was the 1st Battle Squadron of the British Fleet. It was a magnificent sight and drew crowds of onlookers to the shore, some of them hiring boats or boarding the paddle steamer for a closer inspection.
In October 1914 the school was closed because of an epidemic of influenza during which two pupils died.
In June 1915 it was stated that St Andrew’s boys had the best attendance rate in the district with an average of 95.6%.
In September 1915 evening school was held from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. for those wishing to learn shorthand and typing. Some 65 pupils attended.
In 1917 the average attendance for boys was 300 and for girls 270.
During the war the teachers were nearly all female; this must be because men had gone off to fight. For instance, in 1914 Mr I. Duffield, Reginald Figgins and William Grey taught there. By 1917 the staffing was as follows:
Mrs Maria McConnochie
Miss E. Lockyer
Wilfrid E. Lockyer
Miss Bunting, headmistress
Miss W. Curd
In June 1918 there was a holiday to celebrate the feat of Old Boy Gordon Miles who had escaped from a prisoner of war camp.
In 1918 George Steele wanted to leave school and he applied for the Labour Examination, which you could do so long as you had reached standard six. An inspector came to the school and tested him in reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography. He passed. Meanwhile, his father had no inkling of what his son was doing and when he was informed, he put his foot down and insisted his son stayed on at school until he was thirteen and a half.
After the War
In 1928 nine boys from the orphanage at Loxdale became pupils at the school.
In 1929 St Andrew’s School numbered the following:
Headmaster and 8 teachers
Headmistress and 5 teachers
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St Andrew’s School was still celebrating Empire Day in 1924, which officially fell on 25 May.
Note the figure of Britannia in a central position.
In 1929 there was a re-organisation of schools in Portslade. The St Andrew’s buildings became St Andrew’s Senior Girls’ School while the boys went to a senior boys school on the west side of Locks Hill.
The 1930s and Problems with Grit and Noise
In April 1930 there were complaints about smuts emanating from the Power Station and Portslade Council said they would make careful observations and tests. One of the tests involved the placing of white sheets of paper on the windowsills, which were changed daily. Portslade Council wrote to Brighton Council, who owned the works, asking for information, especially the following:
Particulars of the boilers in use
The nature of the fuel used
What steps could be taken to avoid the nuisance
The use of pulverised fuel was supposed to have been entirely discontinued by that time. But the complaints continued and in January 1931 the amount of dirt became a serious hazard.
In February 1931 Brighton Council announced they had installed a new type of apparatus at the Power Station, which it was hoped would eliminate the source of complaints.
But the problem was not solved. In July 1936 the headmistress of St Andrew’s Junior School (later called St Peter’s School) complained about having to extract pieces of grit from the eyes of no less than 65 schoolchildren, which caused them considerable pain. She remarked tartly that she was employed to teach children and not to get grit out of their eyes.
Mr F.G. Miles reported that when he had a piece of grit in his eye, three chemists were unable to dislodge it and it was two hours later that a doctor managed to perform the task.
There was also the problem of industrial noise from the harbour to contend with. In August 1930 there were complaints about the noise of drills being used in the course of constructing oil tanks opposite the school.
On 8 March 1937 the managers of St Andrew’s Senior Girls’ Church of England School gave notice that they intended to close the school in September 1938. Presumably, the church authorities had run out of funds because a letter dated 8 June 1938 from East Sussex County Council told Portslade Council that they had taken over the school.
East Sussex County Council then had to acquire some land at short notice on which to build a new school. A site south of Chalky Road was purchased at a cost of £400 an acre, which was the going rate at the time. The site was well away from the industrial activity in Portslade-by-Sea while new house building in Mile Oak was still in its early days.
By 1940 St Andrew’s School also had to contend with German bombing raids on Shoreham Harbour. In fact the situation was considered to be so serious that in October 1940 the Director of Education ordered the school to be closed at once.
This meant that the senior girls had to move into their new premises in Chalky Road while they were still being decorated.
The famous diamond-cutting firm of A. Monnickendam Ltd. took over the old school building; they made some alterations in 1945 and an extension in 1948. Monnickendam Ltd moved to Medina House Hove in the 1950s.
By 1949 the building belonged to Bondor Ltd who became Kayser Bondor in around 1956. The firm built a new factory on the site.
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The former Kayser Bondor factory, now a car-breakers yard, occupy the site of the former St Andrew's School.
Thanks to the following people for allowing the reproduction of photographs
Robert Jeeves of Step Back in Time, 36 Queen’s Road, Brighton
Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Mrs J. Hayward
Mr and Mrs George Steele
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Middleton, Judy Portslade & Hove Memories (2004)
Middleton, Judy Portslade in Old Photographs (1997)
Copyright © J.Middleton 2016
page layout by D.Sharp