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 teachers 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 & Technology building opposite the former Carnegie Library in Victoria Street.

The new school included a Pupil Teacher Centre and Handicraft Centre. Joining the girls from Victoria Street were senior girls from Camp and Fleetville elementary schools.

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

Back row 64 to 50; third row 55 to 44; second row 56 to 43; front row 41 to 32

BACK ROW L-R: 63 Margery Paul; 53 Myrtle Thrower
SECOND ROW L-R: 51 Margery Hatten; 49 Mauten 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 to 42; third row 48 to 36; second row 16 to 35; front row 35 to 27

BACK ROW L-R: 42 Connie Henderson
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 to 27; third row 36 to 24; second row 36 to 26; front row 27 to 17

BACK ROW L-R: 39 Doris Myland
SECOND ROW L-R: 33 Miss Masey (music), 32 Miss Shute (French), 31 Miss Chapman (maths & gym), 30 Miss Jane Ellis (Deputy Head), 29 Miss Garton (Head), 28 Miss Simpson (maths), 27 Miss Harris (history), 26 Miss Flegg (science)
FRONT ROW L-R: 25 24 23 Kathleen Simmons, 22 21 20 19 18 ….. Line, 17 ….. Everett, 16 15

Note: front row numbering range should read 25 to 15, not as shown 15 to 25.

Image 4 of 5, in 1931
Fleetville 3A 1957

Photo courtesy Peter Hughes.

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

THIRD ROW L-R: 14 Dorothy Oriasho
SECOND ROW L-R: 27 Miss Harris (history), 26 Miss Flegg (science), 25 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 to 1; third row 12 to 1; second row 15 to 1; front row 10 to 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; for this reason there are three girls who cannot be identified. The camera has also caught an extension building in the background. The broken lines mark the overlaps between sections of a long panorama photograph.

Back row 1 to 14; 4th row, tear 1 to 3 and 4 to 18; third row 1 to 15; second row 1 to 19; front row 1 to 4

Image 2 of 4, in 1938
Fleetville School Empire Day

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

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

Image 3 of 4, in 1938

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

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

Image 4 of 4, in 1938

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

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