Just before the end

Fitzherbert School: click on image to open a large version in a new window
Photo by Mick Peirson
Fitzherbert School: click on image to open a large version in a new window
Photo by Mick Peirson
Fitzherbert School: click on image to open a large version in a new window
Photo by Mick Peirson
Fitzherbert School: click on image to open a large version in a new window
Photo by Mick Peirson

My first senior year

I attended Fitzherbert School in my first year as a senior, and also the first year of the senior school in Warren Road Woodingdean, after it had moved from Upper Bedford Street. In the early days the school was still called St. John the Baptist, but was soon after changed to Fitzherbert. The actual building had a long history and was getting old. But when I moved there it was freshly painted and looking spick and span.

Everything seemed so small

The photographs here are some of many I took just before the building was to be demolished. I had been given permission to have a look around the school inside and out. Everything looked so small. The inside was a disgrace as the vandals had been hard at work. There had been fires set everywhere. The old woodwork and metalwork classrooms run by Mr Moreman in my time, were gutted and smashed to pieces. In the first year the lower playground seen in photograph one, was not yet finished so we boys were put together with the girls in the upper playground where there was a big tree surrounded by a seat.

Rusty broken and dangerous

The tree seemed massive when I first moved to the school, but it looked so much smaller in later years as did everything. A cast iron staircase situated at the side of the building was where the kids who had school dinners had to queue. By this time the staircase was rusty, broken and dangerous. The dining room was next to the art classroom run by Miss Groundsell.

Smokers caught red handed

Photograph three shows part of the boys playground with the handball court; this was where I had my first puff on a cigarette with Patrick Scrase all those years ago. There was always a lookout for the smokers, but we were discovered once as John Crowley crept down on the outside of the playground and peeped over the wall, he caught us red handed. Photograph four shows the inside of the gymnasium where some of us struggled on those ropes to get to the ceiling. The old building looked so sad and tired compared to when I first went there in 1954.

Comments about this page

  • Thanks for putting your photos on the site Mick. It’s just as I remember it all those years ago. But tell me, what was the building in photo 1 used for? I just can’t remember that at all. It was the gym that was the cause of us not going to Woodingdean sooner as they hadn’t finished building it, so we were put back about a term I think. (I’ve already put that on one of the other Fitzherbert pages). It still looked pretty new in your photo didn’t it? It is rather strange that most of the schools I went to have been demolished or are no longer educational establishments.

    By Tim Sargeant (05/03/2013)
  • Hello Tim, the building in photo one is the gymnasium. When I first went to the school the lower playground for the boys was not finished, and that is the playground in the photo right in front of the gym. The four tall doors opened out onto the playground.

    By Mick Peirson (07/03/2013)
  • Mick

    I distinctly recall waiting on that metal staircase to the dining rooms for the ghastly school dinners at lunch time wishing I had a packed lunch like some of my mates. I guess I may have benefited however having been in rude health ever since.

    By the time I left the school at the end of 1973 I believe the standard of education offered was not up to the earlier years. This was highlighted by the fact that upon emigrating to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) I was forced to step back two full acedemic years and still struggled to keep up with fellow pupils in that year. These guys were taking the then GCE exams (the more tricky Cambridge Certificate)a full two years before their British counterparts.

    By Dom Taylor (23/12/2013)
  • I know what you mean about the school dinners Dom, as you say the food must have been healthy, all those heaps of cabbage on your plate. In my final year (1958) I had a habit of spending my dinner money in the little shop over the road. A few of us would buy a loaf of French bread each and eat the middle out and then stuff Smiths crisps in the empty space in the loaf and spend the next hour walking around just biting into the tasty loaf, yum yum. We always seem to be behind in some aspects, I often wonder if the UK just hangs on to see if things work out in other countries before committing themselves. Nevertheless, those were in the main happy days all the same.

    By Mick Peirson (24/12/2013)
  • So many memories from these photos, it makes me almost want to cry to see them. It was the very best school. Thank you.

    By Natasha Howe (was Reynolds) (24/01/2017)
  • I attended Fitzherbert from 1973-1977, had best time at that school! Mrs Hill was my favourite teacher. Also remember queuing on that metal staircase waiting for dinner, remember awful pudding of semolina rice with rosehip syrup – yuck! Remember Mr & Mrs Jolly, although Mr Jolly was jolly by name & not by nature! Such good memories.

    By Micaela Pannett (28/01/2017)
  • I attended Fitzherbert from 1969-1973 and remember waiting on that staircase at dinner time. I thought the dinners were fine, and often sneaked back in for seconds! Just recently I popped back and walked on the fields at the back, it was very nostalgic! I have a photo of myself and Angela Hornsby receiving a winners cup on school sports day which I am going to put on this site with other photos I have. 

    By Jozef Kis (03/10/2018)

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