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Hertford Infants School

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Hollingdean News an independent community newsletter.

The building of Hertford Infants School, 1931
Hertford Infants School is celebrating it’s 75th birthday this year. Here are some extracts from local newspaper reports at the time, about the exciting development in the ‘new town’ of Hollingdean – built to ease the overcrowding at Ditchling Road (now Downs) School.

The ideal school
The recently completed Hertford Road School near Hollingbury Rise, Brighton, built at a cost of over £10,500, was publicly opened by Alderman W. Stevens J.P, this afternoon (21st April 1931). The school is the last word in modern design and it is situated in one of the rapidly growing districts of Brighton. It is a possibility that many of the oldest inhabitants of Brighton could not say offhand exactly where Hertford Road is. It may be described as the central road of the new town which has sprung up within the past few years to fill the valley, not long ago a lonely Downland combe, between the Abattoir and Hollingbury Hill.

So new is the district that even today the steam-roller is at work grumbling its way up and down the steep hill, compressing the white chalk of the Downland into a solid foundation for the black tarmac. The army of builders is still storming the heights above where all suggestion of Downland is being smothered under bricks and mortar. It seems a curiously isolated and self contained district, and there can be no doubt that it needs a school for at least the younger children. So the education authorities, have provided the new school, which is capable of holding 288 children. The need for it is made plain by the fact that on the first morning the Head Mistress Miss M.F. Knight enrolled 218 “infants and junior mixed”.

A nice place for children
It was an exciting morning, for Hertford Road is quite a charming place. It is a low long building, in the shape of a letter “L” with the inside turning toward the sun and the sea. On the inside of the “L” is an open corridor, covered, so that the children can, when necessary go from one part of the building to another without passing through classrooms, and can get both shelter and fresh air. The spacious hall and the six classrooms are all bright and airy, with as much window space as is possible. All the details are of the most approved modern kind, with special consideration for the cleanliness and comfort of the children. One feels that this is a nice place for children. The playground is spacious and an engaging feature of the place is that the approach from the street is made by paths through tree-shaded enclosures. The sloping ground of these enclosures, one expects, will in due course be green with turf. The effect is to retain for the surroundings of the school something of the rural charm that the necessities of building have expelled from the rest of the neighbourhood. The trees have been well preserved.

The Mayor, who spoke from a fern decorated platform, said the children would have the advantage of a school built on the most modern lines. One up to date feature he had noticed was that the school was warmed electrically, and he was pleased to see also that there was a school hall. If ever children were happy in school they would be here. Prior to declaring the school open Alderman Stevens said that the Moulscombe School for boys and girls and the Varndean Secondary school for boys had been opened within the last six months and now came Hertford Road.

The Mayor commented with pleasure on the fact that it was designed by a Brighton architect, Mr Gilbert M. Simpson FRIBA and built by a Brighton firm of builders, Messrs James Bodle Ltd.

Councillor Hone said that there had been a great need for the school. It had been built in record time – two years – and it was one of the best the Brighton Education committee had erected. It was the only school heated throughout with electricity.

Extracts from:
The Argus, Tuesday 21 April 1931
Brighton and Hove Herald, Saturday April 18 and 25 1931
Southern Weekly News, Saturday 25 April 1931

Hertford Infants 2006
Photo: J. Whittam

Comments about this page

  • Joy – The pages about Hertford Infants look great. Full of interesting information. They sparked a great deal of interest in the current intake of Hertford children when they discovered the website earlier this week. Our topic this term is Brighton so the children were using the internet to do some research and lo and behold there was their own school!
    People may be interested to have a look at the school’s own website – – which has a lot more historical photos and information as well as loads of great pictures showing the things we get up to nowadays.

    By Tracey Bowers (Teacher/ICT Co-ordinator @ Hertford Infants) (10/01/2007)
  • Very interesting. I must have gone to the school for a couple of years soon after it opened when I was proably six or so. I remember one teacher, a Miss Everett. I lived on Stanmer Park Road, and could see the school across the valley.

    By Eric Feast (01/03/2007)
  • What’s happened to St Joesph’s infant school in Davey Drive?

    By Bridget (24/09/2007)
  • Hi Bridget- Yes, Hertford Road School had three classrooms (because of overcrowding in the old school). Were you up there from about 1959 -1961? Mr Hickman (Headmaster), Miss Tozer and Mr Grant (about 7′ tall and drove a tiny Goggomobil). After that us smart ones moved on to Dorothy Stringer and the remainder to Varndean Boys and Girls. Ha Ha !

    By Paul Wheatley (27/09/2007)
  • I was there from 1970 to 1974. I remember a teacher called Mrs Macullta. I am trying to find any photos of St Joesph’s School but no luck.

    By Bridget (17/11/2007)
  • Paul, are you related, to the lovely Mrs Wheatley who used to teach at the school. It was in the time before Mr Hickman became Head. He was then a deputy to a Miss Young. Mrs Haffington was my first teacher, with Mrs Phillips. I remember  Mr Grant, and Mr Hill the caretaker.

    By Chris (25/01/2008)
  • I went up to FitzherbertSchool; it was a good school, the best in Brighton, all the smarts ones went there. Still I see no information of St Joesphs Infnats School in Davey Drive, shame really. I went to Cardinal Newman school after fitzherbertSchool.

    By Bridget (03/04/2008)
  • I went to Hertford Infants from 1971 to about 1975, before going up to the newly built Hertford Middle School at the top of Brentwood Road. At the Infant School, Mrs Cromer was Head for a while, and I remember Mrs Kier, Miss Garner, and Mrs Phelan. In those days were taught in a demountable in the playground. Miss Tozer went on to teach at the Middle school and was a great teacher – she loved birds I remember and was a member of the RSPB.

    By Lara (12/06/2008)
  • Hi Chris. That’s interesting. My mother worked at the chemist in “The Dip”, but not at the school. I attended the school from 1956 to 1961. I remember Ms Phillips. Pupils: Robert Virgo, Chris Cager, Robert Knight, the Wooton Brothers, Janet Black, Ann Brown, Marilyn Brown. And being overcrowded after the post war population explosion. When were you there?

    By Paul Wheatley (in Australia) (25/07/2008)
  • Hi Paul, lovely to read your comments found while browsing of course. I think I remember you. I was Susan Bone and was at Hertford Road from 1954 to 1961 also going up to Davey Drive and then on to Varndean and finally to South Australia. Mrs Haffenden was my first teacher and I finished with Mr Hickman. My father became friendly with Iain Grant after I left school and he died not too long ago. Not in touch with anyone who went to Hertford Road except Carole Leaver.

    By Sue Tulloch (14/03/2009)
  • Hi Sue; yes I think I remember you, also Carole Leaver, that rings a bell. Mrs Haffenden was my first teacher, and yes Father Christmas walking around the back of the hall in total darkness, except for a torch light that he carried. I now live in Blackwood South Australia

    By Paul Wheatley (24/07/2009)
  • Hi Gina Yes, I remember you and Des Ost. Strangely from that era there are now very few still living in the area around Hertford Road School. Roger Townsend, Bobby Parfitt and, and Graham Penfold are still around. My sister Brenda lives nearby. I still see Diana Mason and one of the Sproates brothers from time to time but don’t really know them well enough to say hello.

    By Peter (01/08/2009)
  • This page brought back some real good memories and I remember Paul, Susan, Carole and many of the others mentioned – I’d forgotten including Father Christmas and his entry into a darkened hall till you jogged my memory – magic. I’ll never forget Mr Grant for the first time he came into our room on our first day in Davey Drive and he called Ken Moss who was about two foot tall at the time and told him he should stand up when a teacher came in. ‘Please sir’, said Ken timidly, ‘I am standing up’ and Mr Grant smiled as he often did and came over and lifted him up to stand on his chair. He would probably get done today for child abuse today – what a shame. Great school – it all went down hill after that.

    By John Killick (06/12/2009)
  • Re Peter’s comment on 1-8-2009: the three Sproates brothers names are Ray, Bob and Derek. Ray I am sure still lives in Hollingdean Terrace.

    By Tony Collier (21/02/2010)
  • I have been searching for a web site of Ditchling Road Infant’s School, but Downs School is the only one I can find. I started at Ditchling Road in 1941 and left in 1947. Miss Haffenden was my first teacher and I still have my first year (cut in half to do two pupils) exercise book. Also my sums book complete with warship doodles. My first school report signed by Miss Haffenden. Apart from the Infants section there was the Junior School in the same buildings. The air raid shelters were under the playgrounds and we often were down there for many hours sitting on forms with a blackboard on the opposite wall having our lessons. Often the playgrounds were covered in silver strips of paper after the air raids which we collected to play with. I would be interested to know if there is a web site for the school.

    By Jennifer Goddard nee Norrell (16/05/2010)
  • The infant and juniors are on separate sites now so try for the Juniors website and for the infants.

    By Tracey Bowers (13/08/2010)
  • Hi Gina. I was at Hertford Rd school from 1952 till 1958.I  remember Adrian Blake. I think his parents ran the Post Office in Hollingbury ‘Dip’. I lived in Stephens Road, Hollingdean. Before this I was born in Roedale Rd, no 12, opposite the laundry. I now live in Newcastle, but have a few happy memories of the school and area.

    By Peter Bradick (18/10/2010)
  • I was there from 1963 I think – I certainly remember Mr Hickman (Headmaster), Miss Tozer and other teachers – Mr. Goddard? I remember that everybody was frightened of being asked to Mr. Hickman’s office and getting the slipper. I think this was what made sure that I was good and never was summoned – although many naughty boys were. What sticks in my mind is the canteen down the steps into the air-raid shelter – with fierce dinner ladies. You didn’t dare leave your vegetables. Although that sounds a bit negative there are mostly happy memories of sitting on the grass banks in summer and bringing back creatures from Falmer pond to put in an aquarium, as well as projects on the Apollo Moon landing!

    By Bruce Lindfield (21/12/2010)
  • Shivers. Mrs Potter, dinner lady, I have never been the same since. I think it was in the late 60s/ early 70s.

    By David Mitten (04/03/2011)
  • I went to Hertford Road from 1958-1961. Have lovely memories of Mr Hickman, the headmaster, who I thought lived in his little dark office, tucked away. I remember Mrs Haffenden(?) who read us Little Black SXXXX after lunch – arms folded, heads down – and Mrs Phillips (loved her and the little tins with counters for when we did sums) and I remember a Miss Rose who had a classroom at the top end of the school. Happy days. Was so pleased when both my nephews went there too and carried on the family tradition.

    By Anne Jones (nee Mayell) (09/02/2012)
  • “Shivers. Mrs Potter, dinner lady, I have never been the same since” Yes David – that’s what I remember, although it was probably good for us! In those days we were given no choice about it, but I think it has swung too far the other way. So, children now, have too much choice and you see a lot of stories about how they never eat a green vegetable and live entirely on chicken nuggets or chips.

    By Bruce Lindfield (06/03/2012)
  • Was anyone else at Hertford Road in the class that left in 1966? Most went to DS or V.

    By Ian macauley (01/02/2016)
  • I was at Hertford. It must have been from 1960 onwards, then to Dorothy Stringer. I remember most of the teachers mentioned. Mr Goddard would spray spit as he spoke. I only went to Mr Hickmans office to pick up badges for being a good boy! Green ones they were. Team Normans, we were the best team, always in the lead for something. Saxons were yellow, Danes were red and Britons were blue. Miss Tozer was a woman to be feared, she was always shouting where as Mrs Farmer was lovely. I’m afraid I cannot recall any class mates names, I must have had some friends so I just keep looking  to see if any jog my memory – it was over 50 years ago!

    By Paul Matthews (11/12/2016)

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