Moreton End School

Compiled from the prospectus and notes in our archives

By Rosemary Ross

Prompted by Comments on Harpenden Cinemas left by 'old boys' of Moreton End School, we searched our archives (BF.21A).  See also John Wyborn's account of the school in wartime

Photo:Moreton End soon after opening - perhaps spring 1934 - with the first five pupils, including John Ryck Wolfe Lydekker, seated with the dog at this feet.*

Moreton End soon after opening - perhaps spring 1934 - with the first five pupils, including John Ryck Wolfe Lydekker, seated with the dog at this feet.*

Mr Best, Dalkeith Road

Photo:The first pupils - marked 1935, but likely to be 1933 - with John Ryck Wolfe Lydekker in the middle of the back row.

The first pupils - marked 1935, but likely to be 1933 - with John Ryck Wolfe Lydekker in the middle of the back row.

Mr Best, Dalkeith Road

Photo:The school assembled outside the front, with Mr Card, Headmaster, April 1939. In "It Started with a Green Line Bus", Ralph Webster lists the 37 boys and staff as recorded by the photographer, Oliver G Harvey of 35 High Street, Back Row: Barlow, Jeremy, Carter (Jnr), Wade, Samuels, Burt, Webster (Ralph), Downey, Hooker, Garrod, Richmond (Peter), Auerbach, Webster (Brian), Greaves. Centre: Hawkes, Carter (Snr), Jones, Williams, Isaacs, Adams, Kime (Snr), Boughey, Perkins, Richmond (John), Davidson (Jnr), Ross, Gregory, Johnson, Robinson. Front: Kime (Jnr), Fatty Chapman, Faulkner Lee, Randall, Mr McDonald, Mrs Card, Mr Card, Miss Morgan, Mr Ritchie, Hill, Chapman (Snr), Childs (Brian), Woods.

The school assembled outside the front, with Mr Card, Headmaster, April 1939. In "It Started with a Green Line Bus", Ralph Webster lists the 37 boys and staff as recorded by the photographer, Oliver G Harvey of 35 High Street, Back Row: Barlow, Jeremy, Carter (Jnr), Wade, Samuels, Burt, Webster (Ralph), Downey, Hooker, Garrod, Richmond (Peter), Auerbach, Webster (Brian), Greaves. Centre: Hawkes, Carter (Snr), Jones, Williams, Isaacs, Adams, Kime (Snr), Boughey, Perkins, Richmond (John), Davidson (Jnr), Ross, Gregory, Johnson, Robinson. Front: Kime (Jnr), Fatty Chapman, Faulkner Lee, Randall, Mr McDonald, Mrs Card, Mr Card, Miss Morgan, Mr Ritchie, Hill, Chapman (Snr), Childs (Brian), Woods.

LHS archives, donated by Mr Bell of Dalkeith Road in 1970s

Launch in 1933

Moreton End School opened in September 1933 in a large Victorian semi-detached house at 53 Luton Road, Harpenden. The first headmaster, Mr Victor Edward Hubert Card, had previously been a Maths teacher at Hardenwick School. For the first term there were five boys - Randall, [John] Lydekker, Faulkner Lee, Perkins and one other. The staff consisted of Mr Card and his wife Vera, who took on the role of Matron, and one male and one female teacher.

Photo:Staff in late 1930s

Staff in late 1930s

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x MacDonald collection

Photo:Mr and Mrs Card - Headmaster and Matron, with unidentified teacher

Mr and Mrs Card - Headmaster and Matron, with unidentified teacher

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x MacDonald collection

In the 1930s the average number of pupils was 36, including six boarders. Over 10% later qualified as doctors. In the period 1950-73, under Mr Billington's headship the number of pupils rose to 85. Girls were first admitted from September 1978, but only up to the age of 7.

Some pre-war memories recorded in notes made in the late 1970s

Term-time always began with "The Parable of the Talents". This would link to the Cup inscribed "TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH", which was presented annually on Sports Day. One recipient of this cup was Michael Hawkes, who was very nervous, almost afraid of games, but who later became a Cambridge rowing Blue.

Visiting speakers included the Sacristan of Westminster Abbey who told the pupils about preparations for the 1937 coronation; and a deep sea diver in his complete outfit, with underwater cutting tools, which he demonstrated in a large water-filled biscuit tin. The Headmaster's wife spent two hours afterwards mopping up the water.

There were visits to the Morris car factory (which they compared unfavourably with the methods used at Vauxhalls), to a local hat factory and printing works, and to Chatham Dockyard in 1939, with special permission from the Admiralty, since the fleet was preparing for war.

Photo:Physical training - later 1930s in the school garden

Physical training - later 1930s in the school garden

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x MacDonald collection

Photo:More exercises

More exercises

LHS archives, BF 21A.2x Macdonald collection

 

Photo:Football at Roundwood Park playing field, c.1940

Football at Roundwood Park playing field, c.1940

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x MacDonald collection

Photo:Cricket at Roundwood Park playing fields

Cricket at Roundwood Park playing fields

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x MacDonald collection

Sports included boxing, which took place once a week in the Badminton Hall in a nearby field, which was also used for the school fireworks. The Badminton Hall burned down during the second world war. Soccer and cricket were played on the school's sports field (now occupied by Roundwood Park School). The boys changed in the school cellar before walking up Moreton End Lane. 

Photo:School sports day - undated Herts Ad cutting.  Fathers against sons was a regular feature

School sports day - undated Herts Ad cutting. Fathers against sons was a regular feature

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x

After the annual sports day in the summer, parents and boys returned to the school for the presentation of prizes on the lawn, and tea provided by Mrs Card. On wet days, when it was too inclement for sports, there would be a lecture in the front ground floor room with an early epidiascope. The sheet used for the projection screen was a linen bed sheet dated 1874.

Photo:This play was a fund-raising event for Dr Barnado's - late 1930s

This play was a fund-raising event for Dr Barnado's - late 1930s

LHS archives - BF 21A.2x

School plays were also a feature of pre-war Morton End and were sometimes performed at Rothamsted Manor.

Note * John Ryck Wolfe Lydekker (known in the family as Ryck) was the son of John Lydekker who died in 1946 having never recovered from Ryck’s death. His sister Jane, in Australia, recalls the family's grief when Ryck drowned whilst trying to save his Ship’s Captain’s dog after being torpedoed in 1943.  He is honoured on the Harpenden War Memorial and in St Nicholas Church.


Ralph Webster, in "It Started with a Green Line Bus" (The Book Castle, 2003), devoted a chapter to Life at Moreton End School. He listed the approximate dates of the headmasters:

  • Mr V E H Card             1933-1939
  • Mr O'Hara                   1939-1940 (died at the school)
  • Mrs O'Hara                 1941-1945
  • Mr Codrington             1945-1950
  • Mr Billinghurst            1950-1973
  • Temporary HM            1973
  • Mr R A Cansfield         1974-1990
  • Mrs Angela Clements   1990-1995  

 

Photo:Moreton End School from the garden - possibly summer 1940

Moreton End School from the garden - possibly summer 1940

LHS archives, MacDonald collection, RB/BF 21A.2

Photo:The school group, marked 1937

The school group, marked 1937

LHS archives, BF 21A.2 Mr Best of Dalkeith Rpad

Photo:The school prospectus, annotated - c.1933

The school prospectus, annotated - c.1933

LHS archives, BF 21A.2 Mr Best of Dalkeith Rpad

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Moreton End School' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Moreton End School' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Moreton End School' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Moreton End School' page
Photo:Moreton End school photo, c.1946. The bank behind the group on which flowers are growing was actually an old WWII air-raid shelter

Moreton End school photo, c.1946. The bank behind the group on which flowers are growing was actually an old WWII air-raid shelter

Scan sent by Peter Ford

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 15/12/2015.
Comments about this page

I attended Moreton End School from 1947 until July 1949. Mr Billington took over as Head during my time. Staff I remember were Mr McDonald, Miss Harrison and Miss Fontaine for Art on Saturday mornings. The sports field was at the top of Moreton End Lane. Our classes were held in a large hut divided into 3 classrooms. We then lived in Welwyn Garden City and I travelled by bus via St Albans. About 5 years ago I stayed in WGC and used the buses to come to Harpenden. The staff of the nursery school now occupying the house kindly allowed me to see the ground floor and to look into the garden. There is a replacement hut on the same site. I still have the programme for a production of Toad of Toad Hall which was given in a hall on the St Albans side of the town. Mr Martin played the piano very loudly! 

By Jim Maxwell
On 05/07/2016

I have just read the Moreton End School in Wartime page. Of course it was Mr Billinghurst who took over from Mr Codrington. I also now remember Mrs O'Hara. I was a border for my last term as my stepfather had taken a job in Manchester. I now live in North East Wales.

By Jim Maxwell
On 12/07/2016

Regarding Jim Maxwells comment, I too remember the 'Toad of Toad Hall' production as I myself played a non-speaking part of a small animal in that production! 'Toady' was going to be played by a boy named Errol Bishop but because of certain factors during the numerous rehearsals, he was replaced by a fellow named Crowson snr. The hall was on the East side of Harpenden Common.

Ed: it sounds as though the performance was on the stage of the Harpenden Public Halls.

By Brian Block
On 11/10/2016

I went to Moreton End School from September 1947 until July 1956. Mr Codrington was headmaster but shortly after I arrived Dr Billinghurst took over. His presence was rather intimidating for a young boy as he was very tall, gaunt and with a fearsome profile, accentuated by his prominent nose.

By Michael Jones
On 31/01/2017

Happened upon this site. Thank you for creating this! My parents owned The Silver Cup in Harpenden and I attended the school from circa 1950 to 1958. 

Billinghurst was quite dreadful and along with his (probably queer) assistant Pinkus, would enjoy giving me the slipper and pushing me back into class doing up my short trousers. I was probably around seven at the time.

Those of you who were there, would clearly remember the maths teacher and sports master Mr Phillips, who, if you got something wrong would pull your sideburn up painfully and slap you around the face. He blinded himself in one eye from an accident. He was however, a good teacher and a great Rugby coach.

Playing conkers was always memorable. One would either walk to school or take the bus if it was raining. One friend's name comes to mind: a chap whose last name was Ritchie ... 

I had bad asthma at the time from the awful yellow smog emanating from local coal burning. I was subsequently sent off to a school in Seaford, Sussex where my health improved immensely. 

Would love to hear from anyone who attended during my own period and their thoughts and experience. I am currently living in Northern California with my wife and three dogs.

By David Hyde
On 04/04/2017

Hi David, I was at the school too. I remember Billinghurst and Pinkus. A bit like a Carry On film with violence. I was hit by Phillips too, and for picking up a few conkers in the grounds of the Glen Eagles hotel received two weeks detention. My time at Moreton End helped me do OK in life. But not my happiest days. Best wishes Keith Sammels

By Keith Sammels
On 28/06/2017

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