Wickford County Senior School, Market Road

The origins of Wickford Junior School

Wickford Junior School

Wickford Junior School came into service in 1937 as the Wickford County Senior School. It was built in response to the continuing housing development in the area and the expanding child population. It is situated at the western end of Market Road and spans 250 feet on its south side. The front of the building is two-storey and is of a simple symmetrical, stepped design, constructed mainly of hand-made red bricks sourced from the local brick fields. At the rear of the building a separate block was constructed and this was made of timber with a corrugated asbestos roof. The area was used for practical instruction. It was joined to the main building by a covered walkway on each side. The school cost just under £15,000 to build and was to accommodate 480 to 560 pupils of both sexes. The main building housed the Headmaster’s room, staff room, locker room, kitchen, cloak room, toilets and assembly hall. The assembly hall had a stage above which was the school motto: To strive, to seek, to find.

The school was designed, and the building work supervised by the County Architect, John Stuart FRIBA, who received his initial training in Aberdeen. He was born in Keith, Moray c1877, which was then in Banffshire. John Stuart was appointed to Essex in 1919 on a salary of £1,000 per annum having previously been the architect to West Riding. The building work, in the main part, was carried out by Pavitt Brothers of Aveley, near Purfleet. The school opened in January, perhaps only in part, for the opening ceremony did not take place until Tuesday 28 September. The Headmaster was F W Rose of Romford who was also appointed principal of the Evening Institute.

Mr Rose’s appointment at the school was not without controversy, however. One day the dining hall was closed until 12.30, so 50 boys ate lunch outside the school. On returning to class they were asked where they had eaten and when they replied, each was promptly summoned for two strikes of the cane. Parents were up in arms and the incident made the Daily Herald on the April 27, 1938, although the number of boys reported there had dropped to 30.
The boys had a better experience a few months earlier, on the Tuesday before Christmas. Over 100 pupils attended Christmas dinner. Roast pork was served with apple sauce. Also on the menu was greens, potatoes, plumb pudding and oranges. A box of toys was collected for Dr Barnard’s Homes.

In 1943 the school had uninvited guests. Ten chaffinches had hatched in the post box on the gate.

However, in 1959 a new senior school, Beauchamps, was established east of the town with its access point at Hill Avenue, Southend Road. The pupils and teachers at the school in Market Road moved to the new school and Wickford County Senior School became a Junior School, which is its present status.


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