Chapter 9. A School In The Country

13The School after 1920, as shown in a (coloured) enamel boss in the centre of the firefighting shield, held in the boardroom at the time of writing.

An artist’s impression, since the name of the School in large gold letters spread in one horizontal line across the whole front of the building and not in three lines as shown. What later became the main drive is seen on the right.

On October 26th, 1921, the new school was officially opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone. A reception was held in the boys’ main classroom and the music was provided by the band of The Royal Horse Guards. The name of the School was displayed in large gold letters on the back of the school building, facing the railway.

Two hundred pupils attended at this time and among the amenities were play sheds, fives courts, nine acres of land and a covered, heated, swimming pool. From the upper rooms one could see the Palace of Westminster, Windsor Castle, the Chilterns, the North Downs, Stoke Poges Church and Beaconsfield. It really was a school in the country.

In 1923 the Duke of York once more paid a visit to the school, this time to see the results of the move. This visit was, however, private and lasted only twenty-five minutes, but it was long enough for him to express his approval of the change.

The financial resources of the school, which did not charge fees, were very much reduced by the heavy expenditure on the new school building, and during 1924 many domestic staff were dispensed with and no new clothes were bought for the children. The Headmaster was asked to reduce the teaching staff and parents who could afford it were asked, to donate fifty pounds towards the upkeep of the school.

The Committee was dismayed to find that £122 worth of wine and spirits was consumed in that year, but seemed quite surprised to learn that they had been the only people with access to the liquor store.

14

Seen from the air in 1928 the school is in the centre with Slough Railway Station at the bottom.

The daily routine in 1928 is recalled by an Old Girl of the school.

7am Rise when woken by nurse.
7.40 Breakfast.
A list of tuck was made up and taken to a local shop to be prepared, for the following Saturday. The girls then dusted and swept their own classrooms.
8.45 Service held by the Headmistress in the girls’ assembly room.
9.00 lessons (mixed)
10.45 Break
11am lessons
12am Break
12.30 Lunch
2pm Lessons
4pm End of lessons
5.30 Tea
7pm Prep.
8.15 Bed
9pm Lights out, and seniors to bed
9.30 Senior lights out

Lessons were held on Saturday mornings, but on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, all children played games. On Sunday mornings the pupils walked in line to morning service at St Mary’s Church.

On President’s Day there were displays of needlework cookery and woodwork. The President and Committee also attended a stage show at the school.

Every July, until 1956, a Garden Party was held in the grounds on visiting day. This too was attended by the President and Committee. This was a great money-raiser for the school and thousands of pounds were raised on these occasions. There were stalls, a gym display and a theatre show. Ballroom dancing lasted on the lawn until almost midnight. The bar on the occasion was supplied with beer free by a large London brewery, and this was sold on the night at a reduced price, and such was the quantity that all who visited the school in the ensuing weeks were also entertained.

However, such was the expense involved in maintaining the school that the money raised at the Garden Party did little to ease the financial difficulties, and in 1928 the building and site were put up for sale for £55,000.

The intention was to rebuild the school elsewhere at a cost estimated at £30,000. As we shall see, both these prices were wildly optimistic and no offers were immediately forthcoming.

The Meredith and Drew sports prizes were donated in 1930 on the centenary of the firm, a biscuit manufacturers who would one day become KP (as in, crisps and nuts). By then the only offer for the site had been by Slough Council, who desired the site for a new town hall. The only site mooted as alternatives for the School were Glebe House in Hayes, Kent, and Haycroft in Surbiton, Surrey.

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