THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIVES

In 1898 Mr. George Prude, the tenant of Six Chimneys Farm, was given notice to quit by Jesus College, Oxford who owned the property. His answer, given below, shows his shock and hurt at being so summarily evicted.

Six Chimneys Farm, Alstone, Cheltenham

Mr. Hughes, Bursar, Jesus College Oxford

27th September

Dear Sir
I was surprised to receive notice from you this morning, the more so I have always kept the rent paid up and acted to the best of my knowledge straight forward and hoped to stay here for many years more.
Can you tell me why I have to leave. If you are selling up all or part of the place, I should feel obliged if you would kindly give me the refusal of it.
Your reply will greatly oblige.

Your obedient servant
George Prude



Mr. Prude's plea fell on deaf ears as the land was to be sold to Cheltenham Borough Council for a school, to be built on the orchard adjoining the farm house. This school, which finally opened in 1908 was the forerunner of the Central School, later known as the Technical High School.

The Junior section opened with a small staff as the photograph shows and whilst the lady teachers in the infants section, looked benign in their Edwardian dresses, the photo of the Junior School staff shows them to be a little more intimidating for discipline, in those days, was very strict and the cane much in evidence.

By 1912 the school was well established and the Annual Christmas concert, typical of those days, stressed England's empirical links. However, the first World War was to change daily life of that school and indeed, many local schools which were turned into hospitals for the ever-increasing number of wounded soldiers.

Schools had to either double up or move to Church Halls or other premises and the children were encouraged to do all they could for the War Effort. After the Armistice in 1918, things began to return to normal, and in 1919-1920, more of Six Chimneys Farm having been sold to Cheltenham Borough Council, the Senior Section opened under the headship of Mr. Burrows. The photo shows the staff with the exception of the music teacher and the Commerce teacher, who, it is believed, was Mr. Chubb.

The school opened with four classes, boys and girls, but not, let it be said, mixed. For even in those far-off days, raging hormones were heard of and so the sexes were separated and the girls, particularly, came under the eagle eye of Miss Croome. This was the pattern of Council Schools in the 20's and 30's. Discipline was very tight and as various school log books show, canings were frequent. Bullying existed but not on the scale of today - possibly because children came of larger families and were used to defending themselves against siblings.

The school progressed and in 1949, Mr. Cartwright took over the headship, having previously taught at Doncaster Grammar School. He was a Yorkshireman and, like most Yorkshire people was outspoken and down-to-earth. He had served in Naval Research during the second World War.

During his term there he built up a highly successful school with a thriving sixth form, when the school became the Technical High School.

It competed with the Grammar School for those more able pupils who had a preference for technical subjects rather than the arts thus reflecting the changing needs of industry. Whilst the girl pupils studied secretarial subjects, boys too, learnt shorthand and typing.



In 1972 the School moved to a purpose-built Comprehensive School at Bournside and took its traditions with it from the old Technical High School. The school was held in such high esteem, parents would move home to be in its catchment area.

Mr. Cartwright retired in 1977 having served the school for 28 years - a popular man, with pupils, teachers and parents. He is sadly missed.

Of the early history of the school, whilst the registers of admissions tell us a little about the early pupils of the Central School, sadly, in the upheaval and eventual demolition of the Old School in Gloucester Road, the Log Books, which recorded daily life and notable events, disappeared. It is left to the survivors to fill in the memories of those days.

One former pupil who studied Commerce under Mr. Chubb, having been set some Economics homework, thought he had been clever in finding the answers at the Reference Library. He was somewhat stunned therefore, when Mr. Chubb called him out and after first congratulating him on his efforts, then proceeded to quote the exact source and author, of his work. He first congratulated the pupil on his perspicacity in locating the required passage but then gave him a lecture on the sin of plagiarism. Today, of course, students can 'lift' their answers from the Internet, without very much effort at all, but do they get the same satisfaction?

A later pupil in the sixties, vividly recalls the Cross Country runs to Swindon Village. The PE Master was Mr. Stookesbury and whilst the pupils manfully, and no doubt cursing, splashed their way through the ditches of Swindon, jeered on by visiting gypsies, Mr. Stookesbury would periodically arrive on his bicycle and position himself discreetly at the end of the run and 'Woe Betide' any runners who failed to appear! He was no fool and though the older pupils were 'on their honour' to complete the whole course, Mr. Stookesbury knew his boys and so kept them on their toes.

We are sure, there must be many former pupils who can add their memories but as to the old school itself - after the staff and pupils moved to Bournside, it served many purposes, but latterly became an annexe of Gloscat. But the ever-demanding need for more and more housing spelt its doom and despite great protest, the school was demolished and in its place, a small close was built and called 'Scholars Close' in memory of its former, academic past.

Sources

Gloucester Record Office : D4858/2/1/3 Lower Alstone Mill

Gloucester Record Office : D22771/2 Upper Alstone Mill
Gloucester Record Office : D8285 Six Chimneys Farm
Gloucester Record Office : D2216/87 Williams - Coal Merchant
Gloucester Record Office : D5671 Williams - Coal Merchant
Gloucester Record Office : D2516 1-5 Gas Works
Gloucester Record Office : D2080 Gas Works
Gloucester Record Office : D7063 Alstone Lodge
Gloucester Record Office : D189/III/2 Alstone Lodge
Gloucester Record Office : D855 Manor Court Books
Gloucester Record Office : Q/R1 41 Enclosure Award
Cheltenham Borough Council Minutes 1868 and 1948
Cheltenham Borough Council OTS Old Town Survey 1955

PUBLICATIONS

Illustrated Guide to Cheltenham 1845 G. W. Rowe
Normans History of Cheltenham Goding
A History of Cheltenham Gwen Hart
Cheltenham - A History Sue Rowbotham & Jill Waller
Electricity Comes to Cheltenham T. Acock
The Banbury & Cheltenham Direct Railway Jenkins, Brown & Parkhouse
Gloucester & Cheltenham Tramroad D. Bick
Birmingham & Gloucester Railway P. J. Long
Gloucestershire Place Names Volume IV
The Domesday Survey Cheltenham Hundred
History Society Journal No 6 Cheltenham Field System by Rawes
Life In Rural England Wm C Finch

MAPS

Coates's Map 1776
Merrett's Map 1834
Six Chimneys Farm Map 19th C
Gloucestershire Echo

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