School History


While writing my own personal memories of CCHS, I got interested in its earlier history. It is an integral part of Chelmsford and I became interested in the history of my home town (a city since March 2012) after dismally flunking my third form "Chelmsford and Basildon Project" in Integrated Studies! While queuing in the corridor on the way to morning assembly I often admired the photos of former headmistresses that hung on the wall near the school offices.

The 1960s

The 1960s tend to be associated with the Sexual Revolution, pop music and either very short skirts or flared trousers. Fashion was very diverse, ranging from hippies to Mods and Rockers. The Cold War and the Nuclear Threat were ever-present and the Space race began. Feminism (Women's Lib) and Gay Rights movements are both on the rise and the British Empire is on the wane, especially in Africa. A woman's place is no longer in the home!

Building work commences in 1960 resulting in large expansion of teaching facilities and in a kitchen, hall and dining hall large enough to cope with the 600 pupils plus staff.

1961: Miss Cadbury retires. Miss Phyllis Pattison becomes Headmistress. New classrooms (eastern corridor) and the three storey library/art/science block (raised on pillars above part of the Quad) are completed. The covered area beneath the library also allowed hardier pupils to take break-times in the open in inclement weather (and became a useful storage area).

1962: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visits the school and is Guest of Honour at Speech Day at the Odeon Cinema. This is the result of a promise she made to Miss Pattison: that if Miss P became a headmistress, the Queen Mother would visit the school! Former Headmistresses Miss Bancroft and Miss Cadbury are also present. The Royal Helicopter lands on the school hockey pitch. After Speech Day finishes, a day's holiday is declared. Work experience is first introduced. A more modern Caretaker's House is to be built at the northern end of the school, the original Lodge at the southern became Sixth Form rooms. A tender of £2676 was received for building the new caretaker's house.

1964: School swimming pool, in a building adjoining the far end (eastern end) of Bancroft Wing, is opened by Miss Cadbury.

1965: Former headmistress Miss Vernon-Harcourt (Mrs Price) dies. Miss Pattison takes leave of absence due to illness and Miss McKenna is Acting Headmistress.

1966: Miss Pattison resumes as headmistress.

1967: School's Diamond Jubilee. Speech day is attended by 3 headmistresses of whom Miss Cadbury is Guest of Honour (the others being Miss Bancroft and Miss Pattison).

1968: School orchestra re-forms.

1969: Deputy headmistress Miss McKenna (Acting Head during Miss Pattison's illness) retires.

The 1970s

During the mid 1970s, a stand-off between striking coal-miners and the Conservative government led to power cuts and the "three-day week" to conserve electricity (excepting "essential services"). The Conservatives lost the election in 1974 and Labour gained power. The Labour government promote the comprehensive system and threaten to end selective education (Grammar Schools). Women become more economically independent. An Oil Crisis affects public and private transport and parts of Britain experience summer droughts, leading to water rationing. Computers become more important in science and business (but not yet in the home). Feminism/Women's Lib becomes more militant while punk rock is seen as a negative influence on young people.

Uniform was based on French navy and became a blue-on-blue striped nylon tunic (1st and 2nd forms) or below-the-knee skirt (3rd - 5th form) with long-sleeved blouse and diagonally striped blue-and-white tie. In summer the skirt was worn with an open-neck short-sleeved blouse while lower school could wear a school-regulation patterned blue dress instead of the tunic. The hard-wearing "upholstery style" fabric was unpopular as it was hot, stuck to brickwork and attracted static. Lower school wore long white socks, but neutral nylon tights were allowed from 3rd form upwards. There was a blue blazer with crest, blue v-neck jumper, blue gabardine coat and a blue-and-white longitudinally striped scarf. The official outfitter was Horne Bros in Southend-on-Sea; they visited school during the year to take orders. Staff were vigilant for any infringements of uniform rules. The young ladies of the sixth form were allowed "smart casual".

1970s: Three demountable classrooms (prefabs) are built and named Rooms 23, 24 and 25. Rooms 23 and 24 are temporary, but Room 25 (to the left of Rooms 4 and 5) survived into the 2010s, despite being scheduled for demolition in the mid 1980s!

1970: Format of Speech Day changes: school officials take the chair to give School Reports and Vote of Thanks.

In 1970 the school Folk Group makes a privately pressed record of folk songs . The vocalists are: Bridget Reed, Christine Whitlock, Christine Wright, Diana Bunyan, Jane Griffiths, Jane Poulter, Kathy Fox, Kay Smedley, Linda Eastwood, Sally Golding, Susan Cullis, Susan King and Vivienne Fogg.
A side: There But For Fortune, Skye Boat Song, Geordie, Portland Town , Wild Rover
B side: Quando Eu Era Pequenina, California Dreaming, Tumbalalaika, Wayfaring Stranger, Turn, Turn, Turn
Another release from around the same time is a 7” EP, the self-titled “Chelmsford County High School”.
A Side: Choir - Elizabeth I And II (Arranged By Geoffrey Russell-Smith, Written By George Hall); Madrigal Ensemble - To A Butterfly (Written By Christine Wright, William Wordsworth)
B Side: Instrumental Ensemble – Romance (Written By Christine Wright; Madrigal Ensemble (Credil Songe, Written By Anon, Written By Elizabeth Bungay)

1971: Former headmistress Miss Bancroft dies. School now accommodated 670 pupils, 40 full-time staff, 13 part-time staff, 2 Deputy Headmistresses and 2 Senior Mistresses.

1972: Deputy Head Miss Johnson retires.

1973: Miss Cramphorn dies. Chairman of Governors is Mrs J Galbraith.

1974: School continues the tradition of tree-planting: The Old Girls; Association plants trees in memory of Miss Vernon Harcourt, Miss Bancroft and Miss Cramphorn, all of whom had played important parts in the history of CCHS.

1975: School acquires No 120 Broomfield Road and converts most of it to teaching rooms. Upper Sixth "form rooms" move into it. There is also an Upper Sixth Common Room.

1976: There are already concerns that government policies would result in CCHS becoming a comprehensive school or moving from its location to merge with a comprehensive school. Mr Hodge retires. (I join CCHS as a First Former)

1977: Queen's Silver Jubilee and CCHS's 70th Anniversary. There was a school "Cavalcade" to celebrate; this included portrayals of life throughout the history of the school, from an Edwardian family evening around the piano to the (then) modern day.

1978: Due to government policies, the selective education system was under threat. The school fought for its future and at one point looked set to be acquired by the Church of England and become a mixed Church of England Comprehensive. Many pupils wrote to the Chelmsford MP (Norman St John Stevas) - not a boilerplate "fill in the blanks" type letter, but heartfelt individual letters as to why the school was important. Former Deputy head and one-time Acting Head Miss McKenna dies.

Form 3S and a School panorama. The panorama is best opened in a new window – it’s a very long photo!

1979: Miss Pattison retires. Her long-time friend Miss Donaldson (head of sports) also retires. There is a school revue in her honour with music and short plays put on by the various societies and clubs. Miss Tyler is Acting Headmistress. Mrs Lorimer remains Deputy Head.

A floor plan drawn from memory. This was how it looked during my time as a pupil. The original school housed around 80 when it first opened and was designed to accommodate 150. CCHS at the time of this floor plan accommodated around 700 pupils as well as between 50 and 60 members of staff (full-time and part-time).

You are visitor number:

tumblr visit counter