Central School history

Central schools were a feature of the 1920s and were enshrined in the 1918 Education Act (the Fisher Act). They were a middle ground between the elementary schools, and secondary schools at an early stage of development for all pupils. They were particularly favourable to girls, who traditionally left school at the age of 13, while most boys remained until their 14th birthday. The Fisher Act brought into effect a standard leaving age of 14. Central schools therefore provided additional years of education, or a year of further education prior to application for a fee-paying secondary school, such as the High School for Girls.

The Central School in St Albans was temporarily housed in the building of the School of Art opposite the former library in Victoria Street. But in that building was also a handicraft centre. It was quite inadequate for the roles it undertook.

A permanent site had been acquired in Hatfield Road, Fleetville in the 1920s. The early plans were for two senior schools (girls and boys), later emerging as Beaumont. But a girls' school was built to house the relocated Central School – though it was far from Central! A pupil teacher training school and handicraft centre was also accommodated; buildings which have remained empty for many years.

The first children when the school opened in 1931 were those from the Victoria Street accommodation, plus 13-year old girls from Camp and Fleetville schools as they emerged as primary establishments.

The secondary ethos had become more developed by the end of the decade and two state Modern Grammar schools opened in 1938. The Central School became St Albans Girls' Grammar School, while the St Albans Boys' Grammar School had new buildings in Brampton Road. In the early stages of planning, however, the arrangement had intended to be the other way round –
see the School history details on the Verulam School page.

The Girls' Grammar School remained in Fleetville until moving to new buildings in Sandridgebury Lane in January 1953.

The Central buildings continued to be used for girls' education as Beaumont Secondary Modern Girls' School from September 1953 (later renamed Sandfield School). It became Fleetville Junior School in 1979.

Left, image 1 of 5, in 1931
Fleetville 4A 1959 girls

Photo courtesy Peter Hughes.

These five panels show all of the pupils and staff who moved into brand-new buildings, now occupied by Fleetville Junior School.  In the centre is Miss I M Garton, Head Teacher, and her staff.  Miss Garton had been the Head Teacher when the school was in the School of Art and Technology building opposite the old Carnegie Library in Victoria Street.  The school included a Pupil Teacher Centre and Handicraft Centre.  Joining the girls from Victoria Street were senior girls from Camp and Fleetville schools.

There is some overlap between the sections; therefore a few faces appear twice. Each pupil is numbered along each row, starting from the right.

Back row 64-50; third row 55 to 44; second row 56 to 43; front row 41-32
BACK ROW L-R:  63 Margery Paul;  53 Myrtle Thrower
THIRD ROW L - R:  none yet identified.
SECOND ROW L-R: 51 Margery Hatten; 49 Maudey Imeson; 44 Joan Seabrook
FRONT ROW L-R:  34 Maida Anthony

Image 2 of 5, in 1931
Fleetville 4A 1959 boys

Photo courtesy Peter Hughes.

Back row 55-42; third row 48-36; second row 16-35; front row 35-27

BACK ROW L-R:  42 Conne Henderson
THIRD ROW L - R:  none yet identified.
SECOND ROW L-R: 44 Joan Seabrook; 41 Joan Gulliver
FRONT ROW L-R:  29 Esme Morley

Middle, image 3 of 5, in 1931
Fleetville infants Miss Randall 1950

Photo courtesy Peter Hughes.

Back row 43-27; third row 36-24; second row 36-26; front row 27-17

BACK ROW L-R:  39  Doris Myland.
THIRD ROW L - R:  none yet identified.
SECOND ROW L-R: 33 Miss Masey (Music); 32 Miss Shute (French); 31 Miss Chapman (Maths and Gym); Miss Jane Ellis (Deputy Head); 29 Miss Garton (Head); 28 Miss Simpson (Maths); 27 Miss Harris (History); Miss Flegg (Science)
FRONT ROW L-R:  18 ........ Line; 17 ........ Everett.

Image 4 of 5, in 1931
Fleetville 3A 1957

Photo courtesy Peter Hughes.

Back row 30-14; third row 26-13; second row 27-15; front row 18-10

BACK ROW L-R:  none yet identified.
THIRD ROW L - R:  14 Dorothy Oriasho.
SECOND ROW L-R:  27 Miss Harris (History); Miss Flegg (Science); Miss Lacey; 24 Miss Fotherby (Domestic Science)     20 ........ Hodges; 18 Kiku Oriasho; 17 Doris Carter.
FRONT ROW L-R:  18 ........ Line; 17 ........ Everett.

Right, image 5 of 5, in 1931
Fleetville football team 1951/2

Photo courtesy Peter Hughes.

Back row 14-1; third row 12-1; second row 15-1; front row 10-1

BACK ROW L-R:  4 Mary Hayward.
THIRD ROW L - R:  1 Doreen Crump.
SECOND ROW L-R: 12 Lily Young; 10 Muriel Keightley; 8 Rita Richardson; 7 Joyce Pinnock; 6 Joan Pullinger; 5 Daphne Smith.
FRONT ROW L-R:  4 ...... Freestone; 1 Connie Richardson.

Left, image 1 of 4, in 1938
Fleetville football team 1948/9

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

The school, numbered 274 pupils and staff in 1938.  Tears, creases and other marks from the intervening time are bound to occur; there are three girls (back row left, numbers 1 to 3) who cannot be identified.  The camera has also caught an extension building in the background.  The broken lines mark the overlaps between sections.

So far no-one has been identified.

Photo above:
Back 1-14; fourth row 1-3 behind tear and 4-18; third row 1-15; second row 1-19; front row 1-4

Image 2 of 4, in 1938
Fleetville School Empire Day

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

Back row 13-35; fourth row 17-36; third row 15-33; second row 19-34; front row 3-17

Image 3 of 4, in 1938

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

Back row 32-53; fourth row 34-54; third row 31-49; second row 33-50; front row 16-31

Image 4 of 4, in 1938

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

Back row 47-56; fourth row 51-67; third row 43-59; second row 44-62; front row 27-32