North Watford History Group

Parkgate School

Southwold Road

Parkgate Junior School in Southwold Road was opened in 1907. The first headmaster was Mr. C.H. Powell. He remained headmaster until his death in 1940 and was said to have lived the school motto "Not for self, but for all". [1] He started a school log book which gives fascinating glimpses not only of the history of the school but how it was affected by wider events of the time. Some extracts from the log book are given below. [2]

11 September, 1907

The upper part of this building was opened this morning as Junior Boys' School. 269 scholars presented themselves in the morning and two more in the afternoon. The teachers are working under great difficulties as only two-thirds of the children have desk accommodation. The day was occupied in examining the boys and arranging them in five classes.

24 May, 1911

Empire day. In place of Scriptures, the headmaster addressed the school on "What the Empire expects of the British Boys". Special lessons were given until 11.30am when the ceremony of Trooping the Colour took place in the playground. The girls also witnessed the ceremony being lined up inside the railings while hundreds of parents and friends lined up outside. The ceremony was very picturesque and impressive. The afternoon was observed as a half holiday.

29 August, 1921

Parkgate Road Senior Mixed School. This morning commenced work in the above capacity. All the staff were present with the addition of Miss Waller transferred from the Junior Girls Department. 136 boys and 101 girls were enrolled. During the week, each child was examined in arithmetic, writing, composition, spelling and reading, and by the end of the week, each child was alerted to its Grade.

21 September, 1939

School was reopened this morning when the majority of children returned. There were a number of new admissions from the dangerous areas. Temporarily it was arranged to keep two classes in the annexe, pending the transfer of the ARP station occupying half the school ground floor. As the scholars are to remain during the Air Raid, the headmaster deemed it advisable to have all the scholars in the building.

27 September, 1940

Notification from the police that the school must not meet today owing to an unexploded bomb having been dropped in Sandringham Road last night.

21 October, 1940

In the morning a German plane dropped bombs towards Lea Farm. Children were in air raid stations and no disturbance of any kind was noticeable in their behaviour.

30 July, 1944

During the night a flying bomb fell on the houses at the corner of Sandringham and Parkgate Roads, causing much destruction and damage to property, and entailing the loss of thirty nine lives, among whom two Parkgate children, three old scholars and nine parents. All civil defence services were quickly in operation and the school, though damaged, was opened as a Rest Centre. Many injuries and homeless people were cared for, and during the day, the school acting as an emergency feeding centre served upwards of 1,000 meals and 2,000 cups of tea. This included meals to civil defence workers and workmen brought to the bombed site. The Rest Centre and Emergency feeding arrangements closed down on Tuesday, by which time homeless and other people had been billeted elsewhere. The school playgrounds became the centre of rebuilding operations and the infants' department continued in use as a feeding centre for workmen and for detachments of Home Guard and police who were in duty in the area.


Research: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.
Author: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.


  1. Parkgate Junior School Logbook entry for 17 Apr 1940; Watford Observer, 21 Sep 2007
  2. Parkgate Junior School Logbook extracts; Watford Observer, 21 Sep 2007

[Added by Glen: 9:58pm 6 Oct 2009]

This page was last updated on 6 October 2009.