Classrooms for the younger pupils – 1958

Our previous blog entry, An overcrowded school – 1958, informed us that only the top three classes at Market Lavington School were able to be accommodated in the Victorian school building. The less than ideal solution was to hire halls in the village for the younger children.

Mrs Elisha taught the infants and they had been housed in the Parish Room (village hall) since 1940. The main school was on Church Street, whilst the infants were further along the road, past most of the shops, in a wooden building on High Street.

Rowena, the student teacher in 1958, measured the space available to the infants inside as 54 feet x 21 feet. She wrote that ‘it is a large room but, unfortunately, the children have very little space to play out of doors.’ She measured the space as 15 feet x 75 feet, but said that it was an uneven grass surface.

Even further along the road from the old school building, the 7-9 year olds were taught in the Congregational Church Sunday School room. This had been the old Quaker Chapel and is situated opposite Stobbarts Road.

Rowena explained that, although the room had been quite well adapted, there were problems with using this building as a classroom.

The desks and equipment had to be moved most evenings as the hall was required for other activities. The class had to move out on Wednesday afternoons so that the Mothers’ Union could hold their meetings. There were issues regarding outside playing space here too, as the chapel burial ground surrounded the building. Rowena measured a concrete area of 42 feet by just 7 1/2 feet wide.

Yet another building was pressed into service at lunchtime. Fortunately, quite a number of the children went home for dinner but, being a school with no hall, it was not possible to serve meals in the school building. Rowena explained that an old brewery was used and the cooked meals were delivered, having been cooked in Devizes.

The overcrowding was eventually solved when the secondary aged children moved to the purpose built Lavington School in 1962. However, an influx of children, resulting from new housing in Market Lavington, necessitated the erection of Mobile classrooms for Market Lavington School in 1968, before the new St Barnabas School was built in 1971. (That school, too, had mobile classrooms for a while.)

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