SHENE COUNTY SCHOOL FOR BOYS
A County Grammar School serving mainly the Boroughs of Richmond and Barnes in the County of Surrey.
In 1957, Richmond and East Sheen County Grammar School for Boys became known simply as Shene County School for Boys in official circles.
The name ‘Shene’ was given to the first settlement of present day Richmond in Anglo-Saxon times to explain the beauties of the Thames and the countryside around the village.
Richmond is a town, rich in historical detail and the first royal connection with early Shene was a manor house erected by Henry I. The growth of the Royal Manor House at Shene into one of the principal royal palaces naturally in turn encouraged the growth of a small town, and by the close of the Tudor period, there was quite a flourishing settlement around the Palace and The Green. The advent of royalty to Shene must be explained: firstly, the village was sufficiently near to London by water, yet sufficiently far away to make it a most desirable and secluded summer residence. Situated within the loop of the first major southern bend in the Thames and away from both the Bath and Portsmouth Roads, Shene was in a unique position to suit the needs of the sovereign - approximately eleven miles from Westminster.
King Henry VII changed the name of his favourite residence to Richmond after his Dukedom in Yorkshire, and thus the adoption of the name ‘Shene’ to the present Grammar School invokes the rich historical past of this town in Surrey. The Tudor period marked a period of expansion and prosperity in Richmond. With the Royal Court centred here for most of the period, many titled people, together with courtiers and servants, made their homes in the village or nearby: consequently from Tudor times until the advent of the railway in 1846 the population of the village was predominantly upper class.
Under the Commonwealth rule of Oliver Cromwell, Richmondsuffered enormously but the Hanoverians and Queen Victoria’s reign brought happy days once again. George III lived for much of his life in Richmond and Kew to the benefit of both places and later in the nineteenth century, the Borough of Richmond was graced by the presence and hospitality of the Duke and Duchess of Teck.
Richmondand East Sheen County (Grammar) School is itself a product of the past: the name dates from 1939 when theEastSheenCountySchool for Boys, founded in 1927, was amalgamated with the much olderRichmondCountySchool, founded in 1896. The amalgamated school was housed in the buildings of the East Sheen school but much of this thesis is concerned with the Richmond School, whose Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1956.
RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOL — THE BEGINNING, 1896-1912
With the advent of the railway toRichmondin 1846 the proportion of royalty and titled people in the town began to decline as the town increased rapidly in population. The new residents were mainly those of the middle classes to whomRichmondhad that royal attraction and who thought it only right and proper that they should settle in such a town. The population rose from 7,760 in 1841 to 15,113 in 1871 and to 25,577 in 1901.
Education was an important factor in the lives of the new residents and in 1867, Hiscoke wrote ‘there are schools of’every degree’, National, Parochial, Infant, District andSundaySchools, academies for young gentlemen and genteel seminaries for their sisters’ — such was the need for education that many of these private schools sprang up in the neighbourhood. However, there was a deficiency in this system, for there was no reasonable secondary education for miles around except for those who could afford private tuition or send their children many miles to school.
General primary education was in the hands of the churches and after this education, no opportunities were open to the pupil for further education. Boys from elementary schools, who gained scholarships, were obliged to hold them atKingstonwhere school accommodation was already severely taxed by the numbers in attendance. If a straight line was drawn from Wandsworth toKingston, an area of about fifteen square miles would be included between this line and theThames, and in this district, containing aSurreypopulation of 150,000, there was not a single public secondary school. Parents with limited means in the most populous areas of Surrey, namely Sutton, Wimbledon and Richmond, anxious to do the best for their boys, yet unable to pay rail fares in addition to school fees, were obliged to be content to give them an education either strictly elementary or Art, Manual Work and Commercial Subjects during the day for about 350 to 400 scholars, and to serve all the purposes of a Polytechnic including women’s classes in the evening. The school was to be one of a series of new Technical Buildings erected or being erected by the County Council in the seven principal towns of the County.’
The school was completed in two stages: the first stage, the major part of the school in 1896, and the second stage, the new south wing in 1901. In 1895, the cost of the school was estimated at £6,467 but with the actual completion in 1901, the cost amounted to £l4,457
The cost of the school can be analysed as follows:
1) Surrey County Council
Purchase of site 1,577
First origina1 contribution 4,000
Stage Grant towards fencing,fitting etc. 2,853
Grant towards new south wing 2,650
Amount repaid to Science and Arts Dept. 127 11,207
2) Richmond Borough Council
Contribution to original building 1,250
Contribution to new wing 1,250 2,500
3) Private Subscription 250 250
4) Science and Arts Department,Kensington
Building grant less £127 repaid
by S.C.C. 500 500
TOTAL COST £14,457
The County Council grants were always on condition that the Town Council paid their share, but the latter assembly would never have finally given the money if it had not been for the continual prompting and untiring efforts ofGeorgeCave. The Town Council was generally apathetic to the whole scheme. This can be explained as theRichmondgentry saw no reason for the school to be built because all the upper classes and titled people could afford to send their children to the innumerable private schools scattered throughout the county: the building of the school would not be to their benefit. By 1901, the school had proved its worth by the academic standard it had set itself: many upper class children were thus transferred to the local grammar school in preference to the usually inferior private schools. Support for the new extension south wing was thus strong in contrast, and the council gave the County Council its whole hearted support. A second drawback to the new school was the need to raise £250 by local contributions as laid down by the County Council towards alterations needed in the plan of theArtRoom. At the time of opening in 1896, only £160 of this sum had been raised. The people who could afford to subscribe to the fund were those same people who were apathetic to the idea of a grammar school, and thus it was only natural to find such a poor public response. The buildings opened in 1896 were built by J.W. Brooking, the architect being F.W. Fryer ofChurch Road,Richmond.
Surrey County Council also undertook to endow the school with grants in aid of Science, Modern Language and Shorthand teaching, Apparatus and Scholarships to an amount close upon £500 a year. Fifteen free scholarships were provided for boys attending elementary schools inRichmondand ten for boys outsideRichmond.
TheRichmondCountySchooland Technical Institute was opened on22nd July 1896by the Lord Lieutenant ofSurrey, Lord Middleton. He outlined, at the opening, the events leading to the erection of the school and emphasised the grammar school part of the scheme. He stressed the need for educated technicians and men of commerce in an age of competition in world trade whenFranceandGermanywere becoming dangerous rivals.
Th. fees charged at the School were nominal and were stabilised soon after the opening of the school as follows:
All Surreyboys and nearby Middlesex boys : £6 a year
Boys from further away: £10 a year
An entrance fee of £1 was payable on admission to the school and £1.10.0d. payable per year for stationery, apparatus and equipment, chemical and physical laboratories, an Art school, carpentry, carving and plumbing rooms were all included in the new building.
The first Chairman of the Governors,GeorgeCave, later Lord Chancellor, said at the opening that the programme of subjects was a comprehensive one and it supplied all that boys up to 15/16 were likely to want. It appears that science was to be made the prominent subject at the school as considerable attention was given to fitting out the laboratories. The following subjects were available to pupils throughout the school:
Religious instruction, English grammar, composition and literature, English history and geography, mathematics, French and German, chemistry, physics and mechanics, drawing, shorthand and book keeping, vocal music, drill and manual training and the use of tools. Latin could be taken as an optional subject, alternative to shorthand and geography. It can be clearly seen that there was a great technical bias in the curriculum, mainly to allow for the provision of the school under the aforementioned Act and not for any special technical skills needed in the neighbourhood.
Nine years later in 1905, the prospectus of the school gave the following subjects as taught:
Religious knowledge, English, grammar, composition and literature, geography and English history, mathematics, French and German, Latin, chemistry, physics and mechanics, drawing, shorthand and commercial subjects, vocal music, drill and manual training and the use of tools. Latin has here been included as a major subject, book-keeping has disappeared and the study of only English History is significant of the time. The German taught was mainly in the matriculation form and was most probably for scientific purposes. There is a gradual shift towards the basic grammar school curriculum and away from the technical bias of the first few years. As a dormitory suburban area with no industries before the First World War, it was quite natural for this process to develop and reach its completion in the early 1920’s.
The first Headmaster was Mr A.E. Buckhurst M.A. (Oxon), a scholar in science and mathematics: his staff to start with was small, and in 1900 consisted of five assistant masters and three visiting masters. The number of pupils rose rapidly and this occasioned the building of the new south wing. The plans were prepared by Mr G. Hamlin Fox and the wing opened in 1901. Between 1900 and 1914 the numbers in the school were fairly constant around 200. In 1900, 75% of the boys were resident in the Borough of Richmond, 14% lived in the rest ofSurreyand 11% came from Middlesex. The completed school, however, could have catered for 300 boys should the need have arisen.
A governing body was constituted consisting of twenty one persons and approved by Surrey County Council. It consisted of four ex-officio governors — the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Surrey County Council, the Mayor and Vicar of Richmond; and seventeen Representative Governors — eight appointed by S.C.C., five by Richmond Town Council and one each by City and Guilds of London Institute, Kings College, University College and the Incorporated Association of Headmasters. The first chairman in 1896 wasGeorgeCavewho was the guiding light in the foundation of the school.
As a result of the 1902 Education Act, Surrey County Council agreed that Richmond Borough Education Committee should exercise and carry out the powers of the Governors as above. This Act legalised the founding of Grammar Schools by the County from public funds.
The examinations taken by the school’s scholars were those set by theUniversityofLondonand remain so to the present day. The first major school successes were quick in fruition: H,A, Timpany gained the school’s first County Major Scholarship for University study in 1898, two more were added in 1899, one in 1900 and another in 1901.
These successes established the school as one of high academic achievement and, thus consolidated, the school turned to initiating more leisurely pursuits. The first Athletic sports were held in Richmond Athletic Ground in 1903, a meeting marked by the many handicap races — obviously it was not right for the fastest boy to win the laurels! The same year, the swimming sports were started and again, handicapping was a common feature.
School Speech Days were a feature from the very first year, but in 1912 dramatics were first introduced to give an added interest to the occasion. The first school society recorded was founded in 1912, namely the Debating Society, and this was restricted to boys in theUpperSchool.
OnFebruary 7th 1911King Manuel ofPortugalvisited the school accompanied by the Mayor of Richmond, A1derman C.B. Edgar. The Cadet Corps of the school formed a guard of honour and after the visit, the school had the rest of the day as a holiday. The King toured the school buildings under the guidance of Mr Buckhurst and Mr Palmer, the second master.
Unfortunately for the school, Mr Buckhurst died suddenly in 1912 at the age of 48. As a remembrance to the first headmaster, the old boys of the school subscribed to a fund in order to present a prize as a memorial to Mr Buckhurst at each Speech Day; this became known as the Buckhurst Memorial Prize and is still given for outstanding work at Mr Buckhurst’s main subject, mathematics.
Later in 1912, the new headmaster, Mr T.W. Beasley, M.A. (Oxon), a scholar in classics and modern languages, came to the school and thus ended the first phase in the history of the school.
Mr Buckhurst’s sixteen years as headmaster did much to mark theRichmondschool as one of high academic achievement, a reputation the school and its successors were to enjoy throughout its history. School clubs and societies were hardly in existence by 1912 and the ‘house system’ was not in operation: however these points are purely subsidiary to the basic achievement of Mr Buckhurst: it remained for Mr Beasley and his staff to consolidate this initial start and to broaden the school activities beyond academic work.
RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOL THE CONSOLIDATION 1912-1939
Mr Beasley remained headmaster from 1912 until the amalgamation withEastSheenCountySchoolin 1939, in which year he also retired. It is the policy of the author in this span of twenty seven years to take each aspect of school life as a coherent whole throughout the period.
References must first be made to the cadet corps which was founded on25th June 1900by Capt. A.E. Buckhurst MA., who had as his Second-in-Command Lieutenant T. Batcheldor B.A., the initial complement was forty boys and this was probably the first of such organisations inSurrey. In 1913 the Corps became seventy strong; it held its own camps and held many rifle-shooting records and cups. The Drill Instructor to the Corps for many years since its foundation was Sergeant-Instructor H.C. Banks. In the November edition, 1913, of the School Magazine, reference is made to life aboard H.M.S. Worcester, theThamesNauticalTrainingCollegemoored off Greenhithe inKent. Some of the cadets attended courses at the college whose purpose was that of educating youths who intended to become officers in the Mercantile Marine. The First World War stimulated recruitment and the Cadet Corps numbers soared to 90: many boys won commissions with the East Surrey Regiment and others during the war, and at its close, the complement returned to a norm between forty and fifty. In 1931, the Cadet Corps was disbanded with the withdrawal of official recognition, but it had served a very useful purpose in its early years to instil a sense of responsibility and discipline into the school.
Two main aspects stand out during Mr Beasley’s tenure of office as headmaster: firstly the great rise in school activities and societies, and secondly the rise of the House System as an inherent part of the school in all functions.
The most important school activity after the advent of Mr Beasley was undoubtedly the foundation of the school magazine, the first issue of which was dated 1913. The Debating Society flourished since its inaugural meeting in 1912: it is of interest to note that in 1916 the house passed a motion ‘that English Railways be nationalised’.
In 1919, physical jerks were initiated by the Headmaster, taking place before school, half-an-hour before prayers: doubtless, it may be added, the whole idea was abandoned after one term.
Another stalwart society, the Chess Club, was founded in 1920 at the instigation of Mr Jeffs. This club expanded considerably and in the 1930’s took part in tournaments and the local chess league: the results were always of the highest standard and undoubtedly increased the powers of concentration of club members.
In 1920 tennis matches were started withRichmondCountySchoolfor Girls, and later in the same decade swimming matches were started but during the 1930’s these competitive games faded away.
The 1920’s and 1930’s marked a great upsurge in out-of –school activities; a Rowing Club was formed in 1922, Stamp Club 1924, Photographic Club 1926, Art Club 1930, Rifle Club 1931 and Boat Club 1931. The Rifle Club was formed to accommodate the former Cadets, whose Corps was disbanded in that year. It is of interest to note that a School Scout Troup was also formed in 1931 and the Group became known as the 23rdRichmond. The Boat Club was formed to provide occupation for members of theUpperSchoolto whom football and cricket did not appeal. The School Tuck Shop may also be included in this section as it was opened in 1926.
With the arrival of Mr Beasley, boys were distributed into four houses .. North, South, East and West - ofRichmond, one presumes — with house Captains and House Prefects. In sport, the school followed the traditions of the country at large and thus sporting interest was mainly directed towards cricket and football, our two national sports. Matches were soon arranged with other schools in the area and this increased the sporting standard of the choo1. In 1912, House Championships took place in cricket, football and athletics, and in 191k, the swimming sports were organised on the same basis. A late addition to the sporting activities, of the school, boxing, was also competed for as a house championship in 1933 but this was short-lived.
In 1916, the school magazine noted that the house element was growing. At the beginning of the term, masters were appointed to houses and the Cadet Corps divided into house sections. It was hoped that these arrangements would make the boys keener and also prouder of their houses. A gymnastics competition was started in 1916 on an individual as well as house basis whilst a cross country championship is mentioned in 1924 but there seems to be no system by which the champion house of the school year is proclaimed.
In 1926 House matches in football were played on a league basis as opposed to a knock-out competition and this was extended to cricket in 1928. Democracy, however, was on the wane in 1929, when it was decided that all school captains should not be elected by the masses at the beginning of term. The magazine states.. ‘the need for such a reform has been evident for some time’.
There were no playing fields belonging to the school: cricket and football matches took place in the Old Deer Park and the athletic sports at Richmond Athletic Ground. Later in the 1930’s the school at last obtained extensive playing fields at Pesthouse Common,Richmond, in Queen’s Road.
The staff did not increase greatly during this period. In 1912, the headmaster had nine assistant masters and two visiting masters, whilst in 1939, thirteen assistant masters were employed. The school roll, too, did not vary considerably from Mr Buckhurst’s period; except for a bulge after the war when numbers rose to 280, the school roll was fairly constant around 220. Continuously throughout its existence,RichmondCountySchoolremained a two-stream school.
The curriculum during the period 1912-1939 changed greatly to accommodate itself to the fierce competition for scholarships with other secondary schools. The main aim of every grammar school became the winning of scholarships and thus the Richmondschool had no further need to follow any technical course. The early 1920’s marked the introduction of the mixed arts and science course of the standard grammar school. In 1919, Modern European History took its place together with English History in the curriculum. Shorthand was dropped from the school course and relegated to the Technical Institute.
The examinations set by theUniversityofLondonfor secondary schools and the County requirements for the award of major scholarships had great effects upon the matriculation and post-matriculation forms atRichmondCountySchool. Before 1918, the County required a pass in the senior school Examination of theUniversityofLondonof not more than six subjects. From 1918 until 1923, the awards were granted on a special examination taken after a year’s work following matriculation in the General School Examination: this tended to lengthen the life of a schoolboy by one year. It is interesting to note that no scholarships were won by the school in this period because firstly the school must have found it difficult to adapt itself to the new arrangements, and secondly the scholarships were opened to the son of any Surrey ratepayer without regard to school: but in 1924, the County requirements changed again, stating that awards would be granted on results in the Higher School Examination which took place generally two years after matriculation in the General School Examination. This requirement led to the foundation of the two year sixth form course as we know it today, and, as it stated that the award would be granted on ‘main subjects in a selected group’, the appropriate designations ‘Arts’ and ‘Science’ were used to distinguish between the two groups in the Sixth Form. The matriculation examination was thus in l924 commenced in the fifth year, and in 1927, the new arrangements bore fruit when the school gained its first County Major Scholarship since 1915.
Before l924 the Sixth Form was divided into post matriculation and future matriculation sections, The former were divided into Arts and Science students known as VIA and they worked for the special examination mentioned above. The latter were in a form known as VIB and in 1920 were ten in number, whilst VIA had seven students. In 1923 twenty boys were in VIB working for their matriculation, and of these, fifteen matriculated and twenty reached General School Standard.
Some explanation of matriculation is perhaps needed: from the General School Examination three varieties of certificate could be awarded. Firstly, candidates reaching a pass standard in at least six subjects were awarded their General School Certificate. Secondly, candidates who reached a higher standard ‘CREDIT’ in five of these subjects were awarded the Matriculation Certificate and this excluded them from matriculation examinations for entrance to theUniversity ofLondon. Thirdly, candidates who passed the General Schoo1 Certificate at a still higher ‘DISTINCTION’ standard in at least three subjects were given the Honours General Certificate.
It is interesting to dissect a curriculum in the late 1920’s leading to matriculation in the fifth form and in some cases the sixth form as well :
ALTERNATIVE WITH LATIN 6
ALTERNATIVE WITH LATIN 5
The choice between Drawing and Latin was not a free choice: any boy showing promise in Latin in the third form was made to take it in the fourth year. The General School Certificate in this period was taken by the School in the following subjects:
English, mathematics, French, geography, history, chemistry, mechanics (physics), magnetism and electricity (physics), Latin and Drawing, The technical subjects were fast disappearing from importance. The withdrawal of shorthand has already been noted; woodwork has, in the 1920’s, been relegated as a junior school subject whilst drawing remains in the Fifth Form as a poor option for those unable to comprehend Latin.
Finally in this section, it is necessary to outline the general historical background of Mr Beasley’s headship. The First World War had a great effect upon the school as many masters and Old Boys joined up with their colours. 298 Old Boys and masters were with the colours during the war and of this number, fifty were officers. The Roll of Honour bears witness to the fact that eighty lost their lives. The effect of the war and return to peace together with the changes in the examinations led to a reappraisal of the whole grammar school curriculum and syllabus and in turn, this paved the way to future academic success from 1927, without a break to the present day.
In 1921 the Old Boys’ Association was set up and their first annual dinner was held in 1924.
An annual general knowledge paper seems to have been the tradition of the school, but in 1924 the paper was scrapped, as was a new prize presented at Speech Day for elocution.
Discipline was generally administered by the staff but a detention system was also in operation. However, with the arrival of Mr Retter in 1925, he and Mr Boulton succeeded in changing the system into the ‘Credit and Debit System’. This system abolished detentions and gave forms extra half days holidays if they had amassed a certain number of credits over a given period. As Mr Retter formerly lived inExeter, no doubt he copied the old established credit and debit system of Eels’s School,Exeter.
In the same year, the school was graced by the presence of the Lord Chancellor,LordCave, at Speech Day and he recalled his efforts in accomplishing the foundation of the school.
In 1926, Saturday morning school was abandoned for a term during the coal strike: this reduced the number of days the heating system had to be used. The school hours since the foundation had been little changed when the school amalgamated with East Sheen in 1939. Morning school was from9 amuntil12.30 pmwhilst afternoon school was from2 p.m.until4.30 pmThere was school on Saturday morning but Wednesday afternoon was generally a games afternoon.
There was much heart-rending with the final decision to amalgamate the two schools of Richmondand East Sheen. The decision to build a new secondary school at Barnes was referred to by Mr Beasley at Speech Day in 1925 when he outlined the difficulties of the school at Richmond— ‘The new BarnesSchoolwould relieve the school of any difficulty in finding accommodation. More serious problems are those arising from our position on the main artery of traffic’. Since there had been an enormous increase in motor traffic, the expenditure of effort required in teaching had increased beyond all possible provision in the school. At Speech Day in 1926,LordCave said, ‘every institution which is a success, grows and becomes too big for its shoes, and that has happened toRichmondCountySchool for Boys and the time has come to consider the provision of a better building.’ The accommodation atRichmond became more and more unsuitable for grammar work, until it was decided in 1939 to amalgamate theRichmond and East Sheen County Schoo1s and to house the augmented school in the two school buildings at East Sheen. There was an urgent need to resite the new school in 1926 and the further events leading to the amalgamation will be discussed in full in the next chapter.
Mr Beasley conveniently retired in 1939 and Mr Harries ofRichmondwas appointed second master to Mr Shephard of East Sheen. In its last issue, the Richmond School Magazine suggested that the house systems of both schools should be abolished and new houses instituted; but this was not to be so: it mentioned the glittering array of cups caused by the pooling of resources and wished the new school, masters and pupils a very successful beginning. The oldRichmondbuildings remained to house only the evening Technical Institute.
With the departure of Mr Beasley in 1939, the second phase in the history ofSheneCountySchoolcame to an end. Besides consolidating the foundations which Mr Buckhurst had laid in the academic field, Mr Beasley widened the vision of school life into its many societies and created a competitive but friendly atmosphere within the school by the house system.
EAST SHEEN COUNTY SCHOOL FOR BOYS
During the 1920’s, Surrey County Council founded a number of new Grammar Schools throughout the county including both a boys’ and a girls’ grammar school at East Sheen in the Borough of Barnes.EastSheenCountySchoolfor Boys was opened onJanuary 18th 1927without the pomp and the celebrities heralding theRichmondopening. Two years later,EastSheenCountySchoolfor Girls was opened nearby.
There was considerable delay over the building of the boys’ school for two reasons: firstly there was an attempt to build a new school to serve both Richmond and Barnes at Pesthouse Common, Richmond, but the fact that Barnes did not get Borough status till 1927 may have contributed to its rejection: secondly the Sheen gentry campaigned earnestly for years for a mixed grammar school but the decisions and policies of the County Council prevailed.
The school was paid for entirely by the County Council and the headmaster appointed from the 1st January 1927. There were 192 applications for this post and the fortunate applicant was Mr. H. H. Shephard M.A.(Oxon), a scholar in mathematics. Four assistant masters were appointed and on 3rd January the school held its entrance examinations, similar to the eleven plus. All the boys living in Barnes were transferred from Richmondand the remaining numbers filled by the results of the entrance examination. The fees payable at the school were four guineas a term and over half the boys were fee-paying. A number of boys joined the school from St .Leonard’s Private School, and these formed the nucleus of the school football and cricket teams as sport was very much to the fore at that school: this, in turn, accounts for the very quick successes in these sports in competition with other schools.
One hundred boys were admitted initially to the school: one first form contained those boys under eleven, forms 2A and 2B consisted of those boys who entered the school by the entrance scholarship examination and forms 3A and 3B were mainly boys who had been transferred from Richmond, Provision was made in the school to accommodate two streams throughout the school plus a post-matriculation sixth form.
Four houses were formed and named by the Headmaster. There has been some difficulty to this day in deciding how Mr Shephard chose such admirable names as Hood,York,FifeandTemple. They are all names of famous people who have had connections in Sheen and Barnes but it is possible that Temple is the odd one out because it has two syllables instead of one: it appears that Mr. Shephard attempted to find four single syllable names connected with the neighbourhood: three names were suitable but he was stumped for a fourth name and thus resorted in the end to the inclusion of Temple.
As a new School, East Sheen could incorporate all the successful systems and interests of other schools and develop them. There is, accordingly, no two-stage development as outlined in the RichmondSchool. The School magazine, for example, called ‘The Lion’ (of Surrey presumably) was first published in the Summer Term of 1927: a Scout Troop and a Debating Society were both initiated in 1927: and football and cricket matches were played as house competitions on a league basis in the same year.
In 1928, a silver cup was given to the school by Mr Northover: the Northover cup has always been the most sought after trophy in the school, for it is presented to the Champion House of the School year. It is more commonly called the ‘Cock House’ Cup. The presentation of the Studies Cup was also started in 1928 and was awarded on a house basis for good work— commendations earned points for the house and detentions lost points. Swimming and Athletic Sports were included in the Cock House Competition in 1929and also in this year, the school printed its first and only magazine at the School Press.
In 1930, theMusic Study Circle, Junior and Senior Branches of the Debating Society, Chess Club,Scientific Society, Geographical and Dramatic Societies were all flourishing. During the 1930’s other societies and clubs were formed including the Natural History (1935) and Photographic (1935) Societies, Radio (1937) and Badminton (1938) Clubs, but many of these were intermittent and a continuous history for any one of them is rather the exception. The need was realised for an Old Boys Association in 1930 and later the following year, this association was formed,
As the School started with a third form in 1927, it was not until the 1930’s that academic success was tasted. In 1931 the school gained seventeen matriculations and in 1932 the first County Major Scholarship was won, followed two years later by the first State Scholarship. With the advent of the sixth form in the 1930’s, great rivalry broke out between the arts and science sixths and this has continued unbroken to the present day.
During 1934, there were three hundred boys at the school: twenty nine out of thirty gained their General School Certificate, nineteen matriculated and six gained Honours Certificates. School visits were first introduced in this year when a party went toSouth Wales to visit a coal-mine and also a tinplate factory nearSwansea.
The school magazine stated in 1936 that the school societies were continuing their useful work and were great successes: however a plea was made for more boys to attend meetings. The first foreign school trip was made in 1936 when a party visitedParis. Experiments were made in the same year to cut down the amount of homework but in an age of competing schools nothing much was achieved.
The school changed from a six day week to a five day week in 1937 under pressures from the local Rabbi: school, henceforth, was from Monday to Friday until 4 15pm and a five-day week continued after the amalgamation.
The school scout troop must be treated as a separate organisation: the troop was formed in May 1927 and was known as the 1st East Sheen when nineteen boys were enrolled by Philip Carr, then District Commissioner. In 1930 the troop was over one hundred strong, divided into three sections but in 1935 this was reduced to two sections. With the amalgamation, no doubt, the scouts of the 23rdRichmondwere joined with the 1st East Sheen. Hundreds of camps have been organised and many King and Queen Scouts have passed through the group since its foundation. The school at East Sheen had thus a scout troop since its first year and many hundreds of scouts have been indebted over the years to its founder, Mr Shackell, and Mr MacLaren, both still atSheneCountySchool.
The events leading up to the decision to amalgamate the two schools occupy the period between 1937 and 1939. The combined populations of the Boroughs of Richmond and Barnes totalled 80,000, with little likelihood of any further great increase, and in this area there were four two-streamed grammar schools, two for boys and two for girls. This system, the County Council considered, was running at the maximum cost with the minimum of educational efficiency. Thus Surrey County Council deemed reorganisation necessary, especially as theRichmondSchoolfor Boys building was totally inadequate in the busyKew Roadbut also because the numbers in all the schools were falling:
Approx. Accommodation 1937 1938 1939 estimate
RichmondBoys 230 229 230 220
RichmondGirls 350+ 250 244 220
E. Sheen Boys 300 280 261 240
E. Sheen Girls 300 249 224 180
The decreasing numbers were partly due to increased grammar school building by Middlesex County Council and the transfer of Middlesex children living in Twickenham, Isleworth and Chiswick from Richmond and East Sheen into their own grammar schools: they were also partly due to the effects of the great depression in the 1930’s as parents found they were unable to pay grammar school fees. The idea was again put forward for building a new school at Pesthouse Comuon, Richmond but the County Council estimated that the combined Boys’ and Girls’ Grammar Schools at East Sheen would house the boys of both Boroughs, whilst the Richmond Girls’ School would accommodate the combined total of girls using playing fields in the Old Deer Park: there would thus be no need for additional building. This, therefore, was the County Council’s plan for educational reorganisation. The annual intake in 1938 for grammar schools was fifty nine boys and sixty one girls, and there was no indication that future intakes would exceed this figure.
Violent opposition arose in Richmond at the proposal that the town should lose its unique grammar school to the Borough of Barnes, the Borough Council was almost unanimous In its petition for a new school within the Borough; signed petitions from parents and dignitaries of the town were all presented to the County Council, In 1938 the Borough Council even carried a resolution that they would prefer to have a mixed secondary grammar school rather than have the facilities for boys in the Borough moved to Barnes.Richmondhas always been jealous of its rich past, and the revolt of theRichmondgentry was not unexpected.Richmondhad been an education authority for years, an institution which Barnes had never had, and everything was done to keep existing traditions from passing to its younger neighbour. The parents of the East Sheen girls were equally indignant that their daughters would have to travel toRichmond: but all petitions and resolutions were to no avail as the decisions of the County Council were implemented.
RICHMOND AND EAST SHEEN COUNTY SCHOOL FOR BOYS
With considerable tact, Mr Shephard called his new amalgamated school Richmondand EastSheenCountySchoolfor Boys — the name Grammar was later added officially in brackets after the l944 Education Act. Richmondwas placed first in order to placate to some degree the citizens of Richmondfor the loss of their historic school. The enlarged school commenced in 1939 with four hundred boys, twenty two assistant masters and two visiting masters. Many of theRichmond staff sought posts elsewhere but six moved with the School to Sheen.
The juniors (10-13 years) occupied the former girls school inHertford Avenueseparated from the main boys building by three hundred yards of playing fields. The seniors occupied the main boys building but moved to the other building for many of the laboratory subjects. The school was well endowed with trophies from the two schools and in playing fields as the former girls’ playing field andRichmond’s ground at Pesthouse Common were both available. A new introduction in 1939 was the levelling of a general sports subscription for each boy to pay and in return received copies of the magazine, use of sports equipment etc. Another advantage of the combined school was the facilities for providing school dinners on the promises at theHertford Avenuebuilding.
The school houses of East Sheen continued the same in name, andRichmondboys were distributed into them. The scout troop fromRichmondwas probably also amalgamated with the 1st East Sheen troop.
However the outbreak of war hampered the peaceful union of the schools. As the boys were not using all the building inHertford Avenue, girls from the Secondary Modern School at Mortlake were housed there during the war because they had no air-raid shelters at their other school. Gradually, the girls took over control of the whole building and remained there after the war. The laboratories at the now Girls School ore still used by the boys for Sixth Form Work, although new laboratories and classrooms have been added to the main boys building. Permission to use parts of theHertfordAvenueGirlsSchoolhas never finally been withdrawn but the boys lost control of these areas in 1948.
During the war Drawing underwent considerable change and henceforth was referred to as Art. Renewed thinking into this subject led to a change in methods and aims of teaching. The former emphasis was on object drawing but the great majority of students found this of little use. Modern art training is now aimed at developing the students’ powers of original observation and memory of expression.
Three bombs were dropped on the school grounds during the war but no major damage to buildings resulted. The effects of the war in no way diminished the successes of the school: in l943 forty two students entered for the School Certificate examination and all of them passed; twenty nine gained their Matriculation Certificate. The same year, there were eight Higher School Certificates in Science awarded and three County Major Scholarships won. In 1944 the Higher School Examination was held in an air-raid shelter and results were again favourable.
Societies and clubs continued to thrive throughout the war: old societies were revived and new ones formed. In 1940 there was thought of setting up a Cadet Corps in theRichmondtradition and a circular was sent to parents for their views. Accordingly in l941 the Cadet Corp. was refounded and affiliated to theRichmondunit of the Home Guard. At the close of the war, the Corps was stated to be ‘in abeyance’ and was never to be revived again in the school’s history. Under existing regulations in the Army Cadet Force which necessitated close co-operation with non-school units, it became increasingly difficult to participate in the various functions arising from these changes at the end of the war. It was felt, moreover, that the School Cadet Unit had lost its entity as a Schoo1 organisation.
The formation of the Cadet Corps in no way affected the success of the Scout Troop. An Air Scout Section was formed in l941 and a Senior Scout Section in l946 when Imperial Headquarters deemed a separate section necessary for boys between the ages of fifteen and eighteen.
Every year throughout the war, harvest camps were organised by the staff for the purpose of helping farmers gather the harvest. Whilst younger masters were on active service, female staff were introduced to carry on the work of the school uninterrupted.
At the end of the war, 75 old boys of the school had lost their lives and onNovember 13th 1947, a plaque was unveiled in memory of those killed on active service.
With the post 1945 election campaign in progress over the country, the school embarked on a similar, but light-hearted election: it is interesting to note that the Liberal Candidate came top of the poll with the Conservative second.
The annual cross-country race which is the plague of many a schoolboy owes its innovation to the return to peace, and in l946 resulted in the school spending a strenuous but healthy afternoon trotting roundRichmondPark. The race counted as a House Championship and was included in the Cock House Competition.
The 1944 Education Act stated that grammar school education was to be made free to all who had the necessary ability: entrance examinations were thus held for pupils to compete for these places and consequently academic standards rose sharply. Of special note is the achievement of J. Carey in 1951 who gained the school’s first Open Scholarship atOxford. The examination changes to the General Certificate of Education in no way diminished successes as five boys gained eight subjects at Ordinary Level and seven boys gained seven subjects; but it is interesting to note that since 1951, some new subjects have been introduced to the curriculum which, in part, may be due to the emphasis on passing particular subjects and not on gaining a general standard certificate — examples of these subjects are Spanish, economics, geology, biology and zoology. A new biological laboratory was built in1953.
In 1953, the headmaster, Mr H.H. Shephard, retired after twenty five years service at the school. The small two-streamed school at East Sheen, and later ofRichmondand East Sheen, constantly having an approximate complement of 350 boys since the amalgamation, had grown in academic and athletic attainment. The very small turnover in staff attests to the fact that this has always been a happy and contented school and Mr Shephard must be praised for this.
Mr Shephard’s retirement heralded the arrival of the present headmaster, Mr G,P. Rawlings O.B.E.,M.A.(Oxon). Mr Rawlings like his three predecessors was educated at Oxfordand read mathematics as his main subject. Before his appointment, he was the Director of Studies at the naval training establishment RMS Worcester, where a party of Richmond Cadets had earlier gone for a course in 1913.
Since his arrival in 1953, Mr Rawlings has given renewed vigour and effort to all aspects of school life with the result that academic achievements have surpassed preceding years on almost every occasion between 1953 and 1960. On the sports field, the results are no less startling by the number of records broken recently and the number of boys representing the County in different sports. The years from 1951 marked stages in the great increase of the Sixth Form. The greatest influx was in 1954 after eleven boys had passed eight subjects and ten boys passed seven subjects at Ordinary Level. Even so, at Advanced Level that year, eight students gained four passes and four students passed three Subjects……as a result, eight County Major Scholarships were won. In 1956, 55 Ordinary Level Certificates were won, equal to the number of admissions made annually, and 31 Advanced Level Certificates; ten County Major Scholarships and three State Scholarships were obtained by Advanced Level Candidates.
A widening in the school curriculum led in turn to a widening of out-of-school activities. The School Choir was reorganised and made effective in l949 and new societies included the Christian Union, Glee Club, Fencing Club and Puppet Club.
At present, there are twenty four assistant masters and four visiting masters in a school with 385 boys: of this number, seventy are in the sixth form, predominantly on the science side.
In the early 1950’s, it became apparent that the name of the school was much too long -RichmondandEastSheenCounty(Grammar) School for Boys. The Old Boys Association had realised this also and had named their association ‘Shene Old Grammarians’, using the old name of theRichmondarea. The school, therefore, campaigned for a change in name to the more suitable ‘SheneCountySchoolfor Boys’ and this name received Ministry recognition in 1957.
In 1957 the fourth form started to take the Ordinary Level examination in certain subjects, particularly mathematics and French and those who did well went straight into the Sixth Form. The importance of the Sixth Form in modern education cannot be over- emphasised and it is significant to note the additions to the basic curriculum when comparing 1954 with 1960.
In 1954, Arts subjects taught were: to Advanced Level …Latin, English, French, German, Geography and History: to Ordinary Level……. Spanish, Science subjects: to Advanced Level : Pure and applied mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In 1960, Arts subjects to Advanced level:…… Latin, English, French, German, Geography, History and Economics: to Ordinary Level - Spanish, Geology and Technical drawing.: Science subjects to Advanced Level ….Pure and Applied mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, botany, and zoology: to Ordinary Level ….Spanish and technical drawing.
Early in the 1950’s, the school adopted the MV Waipawa under the British Ship Adoption Society’s Scheme. It belongs to the Shaw Saville Line, has a gross tonnage of 12,000 and is mainly engaged on theAustraliaandNew Zealandroute.
In 1957, the awards for two school scholarship trusts were started. The two generous benefactors to the school were Clifford B. Edgar and D. Auchtorlonie. Alderman C.B. Edgar, a former Mayor of Richmond, was prominent in the foundation of theRichmondSchool: Professor D. Auchterlonie was a member of the staff of theRichmondSchool in its early days and he subsequently occupied a Professional Chair inIndia. Both left substantial sums to the school to found scholarships, and the Governors of the school were in a position to award scholarships, without detriment to other scholarships won, to boys entering University in 1957.
An Old Boys’ Medal was initiated in 1956. A generous Old Boy of the school presented the school with a die from which medals may be struck. The medal is used to mark distinction of the highest order in various spheres of the life of the school.
The Jubilee of Richmond County School was celebrated in 1956 and a fund was launched for a Jubilee Library: the amount required was raised and the library opened in 1958.
A school motto was introduced by Mr Rawlings in the Jubilee Year of 1956 — namely, ‘Enrich The Time To Come’. This is taken from the last scene of the last Act of Shakespeare’s King Richard III, where Henry, Duke of Richmond, has declared the end of civil strife, and in token of the union of the two factions suggests the Tudor Rose, the badge of Shene County School:
‘We will unite the white rose and the red,
Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction
That long have frown’d upon their enmity!
What traitor hears me and says not amen?
O, now let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true succeedors of each royal house,
By God’s fair ordinance conjoin together
And let their heirs, God, if Thy will be so,
Enrich the time to come with smooth-fac’d peace,
With smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!’
It can be said that the happy union of the two schools in 1939 has served and will serve to ‘Enrich the time to come’.
Finally, it is noted that a new school building is being planned but the site for it is not yet certain: to judge from the past history of the school, a growing institution will always need additional buildings and no doubt a new school would herald a new era in the history of Shene County School for Boys.