The Twickenham Museum
Places : Twickenham

St Mary's School, Twickenham, part 2
further re-organisation

Following the re-organisation initiated by the Vestry meeting in 1809, and in line with educational developments throughout the country, the school thrived so that by 1860 it had outgrown the premises in School Alley. The Parish Council decided that new schools should be built. A site was identified on the corner of Shews Lane (now Amyand Park Road) and Arragon Road. A Trust Deed dated 6 June 1861 was prepared listing the following to whom the land was assigned, as joint tenants, their heirs and assigns, as Trustees: 1. The Revd George Streynsham Master (Clerk, Vicar of Twickenham 1859-65) 2. Francis Henry Newland Glossop Esquire 3. Thomas George Gardiner Esquire 4. George Powell (Draper & Churchwarden) 5. William Withers (Butcher & Churchwarden) 6. John Bowyer (Corn Merchant) They paid Charles Manship Corben £820 for the site. Corben was a coachbuilder whose family had opened their coachworks on the corner of Oak Lane and Richmond Road in 1852. The School House (now 22 Amyand Park Road) already existed and was shown on the plan attached to the Deed. Francis Newland Glossop, J P was brother of the Revd George Glossop who became Vicar of Twickenham on the departure of Streynsham Master in 1865 (they exchanged Livings). The Glossops lived in Amyand House, moving to a new house in its garden, facing Oak Lane, in 1871. When Francis died in 1886 this house was named after him: Newland House. Thomas Gardiner (1793-1872) also represented the gentry. Brother-in-law of Field-Marshall Sir Edward Blakeney at Richmond House, he lived on Riverside with his unmarried sister who provided R S Cobbett with much information from her long residence in Twickenham for his Memorials of Twickenham.G & E Powell, Silk Mercers, Drapers and Hosiers, operating also as undertakers, had their business in Church Street 'opposite the church'. William Withers was also the first secretary of the Twickenham Cricket Club whose early matches are thought to have been played in a field he owned along the Hampton Road. John Bowyer was of a family prominent during the 19th century who lived along Riverside. In 1862 he gave the land for the Mission Hall, now the Mary Wallace Theatre, to be built.

The new schools

Three schools were built, to house Infants, Boys and Girls to educate “the labouring and other poorer classes within the parish of Twickenham” and they opened on 31 December 1862.

In 1870 W.E. Forster's Elementary Education Act was passed which gave free basic education to all children, but this caused fresh problems. There was a provision for School Boards, which the local council vigorously opposed, fearing that this would considerably increase the parish rate. With the support of the four local schools (St Mary's, Archdeacon Cambridge, St Stephens & Montpelier) they held out against the new regime, but were forced to receive School Inspectors from the Education Department. St Mary's, barely ten years old, was held to be inadequate and a further £600 had to be spent to bring the building up to date. Montpelier School was obliged to close; the pupils transferred to St Stephens.

Twickenham became an Urban District Council in 1895 and, following the A J Balfour Education Act of 1902, an Education Committee was set up with all schools appointing “Managers”. St Mary's, being a Voluntary Aided School, continued to have a Manager until the late 1970s when, falling in line with education in general, Governors were appointed.

Further re-organisation

Until 1930, the children were educated up to the school-leaving age of 14. It was decided in that year to rebuild and remodel the schools as an Infant School and a Junior Mixed School for boys and girls up to the age of eleven. Provision was made for 192 infant places and 410 junior places. By today's standards this was extremely cramped with about 50 pupils in a class.

In 1951 further building improvements were made and in 1953, with the opening of Chase Bridge Primary School it was possible to reduce St Mary's to a one-form entry school.

In 1972 the Infant and Junior Mixed Schools were combined under one head teacher, George Mellett.

The School in the 21st Century
Further accommodation was still needed and successive head teachers and Boards of Governors tried to find a suitable site within the parish to rebuild the School. There was no progress until it emerged that the Local Education Authority were proposing to build a one-form entry Primary School on a piece of land adjacent to Orleans Park School. The Chairman of the Governors, Revd Alun Glyn-Jones, with the backing of the Head Teacher Mary Collins, the Trustees and the Board of Governors made a counterproposal to make St Mary's into a two-form entry school on a split site. This was finally agreed and the new junior department opened in 2003.

The infant department re-opened in the refurbished Amyand Park Road buildings in the following year.

(text contributed by Paul Kershaw)

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