Memories of Lea Farm School
In January 1956, when I was 9 years of age, my family moved to Watford from Stoke Mandeville near Aylesbury as my father had been working as a machine minder for Hazel, Watson and Viney, the Aylesbury printing company, and believed there would be better prospects for himself and his family in Watford, it being a "printing town".
I had attended the Stoke Mandeville village primary school, which was a Victorian building consisting of just two classrooms and a cloakroom plus a temporary white building situated in the playground, which doubled as another classroom-come-canteen. Each classroom had a round coal stove in the corner with the long metal chimney going up through the roof. These stoves were very useful for drying wet clothes on rainy days.
The school I was to attend in Watford was to be Lea Farm Junior School. The first time I saw this large, new, modern building, I was amazed, to me it seemed to be futuristic, a building from the space age, with huge glass windows and highly coloured painted panels around the outside walls, it was also on two levels. I remember being quite nervous about going up and down the stairs to class with so many pupils rushing around.
The classrooms were so light and we could actually see out of the windows and another wonderful modern comfort were the indoor toilets.
The headmaster at this time was Mr Rogers, and his deputy Miss Badcock was an austere disciplinarian who was my 4th year form tutor. My 3rd year teacher, Mr Geoffreys, seemed obsessed with teaching us about Arctic exploration regardless of the subject we should have been learning. His classroom walls totally focussed on Arctic explorers.
The Meriden Estate was in the process of being built and the Lea Farm farm house, although derelict was still standing along with some farm outbuildings which held hay and straw. Part of the farm was still being worked and cattle were driven along Cow Lane to various fields. Cow Lane ran from St Albans Road to Westlea Avenue; Westlea Avenue being the road in which I lived. Cow Lane was a mud track which was impassable in wet weather. Along with having to cross the Watford to St Albans railway line to go to school I usually took the longer route of walking along the A41 to the Dome roundabout, and into Cow Lane at the opposite end.
One day in assembly, Mr Rogers announced that the Lea Farm buildings were now to be out of bounds as a pupil had been bitten by a rat whilst playing there. I also recall a memo written by Mr Rogers to the teachers being left on the window sill beside my desk, which I surreptitiously read. It stated that as an increasing number of children entering the school were now coming from the new Meriden Estate, it had been noted that some of these children were rather dirty and smelly, so therefore could teachers please keep an eye out for any children in their class who may need some hygiene care, so as their parents my be spoken to. I was so shocked to read this, which is why it must have stayed in my memory.
I enjoyed my time at Lea Farm School and left to attend Alexandra Secondary Modern. I did not understand the term "modern" in connection to Alexandra as I was now back in an old high windowed building with ancient dilapidated toilets at the far side of the playground.
Author: Cynthia Jenkinson.
[Added by Glen: 8:33am 9 Apr 2011]