|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 3rd June, 1949, transcribed by Gill Hollis
‘Modern’ Lessons in Prefabs
Tennyson Road, Rushden, has been taking on a new look during the best part of two years while workmen have been busy on the town’s new pre-fabricated boys’ school. Now the job is nearly completed.
It is expected that the buildings will be opened for the first time in September and that eventually there may be 280 scholars from all over Rushden and Higham Ferrers on the books.
It is difficult to visualise the finished appearance of the school at present while contractors’ men are still wheeling barrows through the mud which may eventually become neatly cut lawn, but the outstanding feature of the buildings is obvious.
The long walls are lined with windows so that the scholars can get the maximum light and sun, and as a result the outlines are not unlike those of greenhouses.
There will be seven classrooms in all each designed to hold about 40 pupils a woodwork room and a metal-work room. Each block has its separate indoor lavatories and cloakrooms, and space has been provided for a staff room.
Walls are of hollow clay blocks and roof of asbestos, and although these materials are not themselves decorative, they have the advantage that they act as insulators and help to keep the air inside the rooms at an even temperature.
The interiors of the buildings are tastefully decorated in green and cream and the floors are of pitch mastic.
When the four white buildings become Tennyson Road Boys’ Secondary Modern School, the headmaster will be Mr. S. Howitt, at present headmaster of Rushden North End Secondary Modern. He will probably have seven male assistants.
2nd September, 1949
Boys Will Study in “Prefab”
First of its kind in the district, a complete “prefab” school will open at Rushden next Tuesday. It will be the town’s leading school for boys and, though temporary, has features that many schools might envy.
Four plain rectangular blocks standing on ground that is still rough and weedy suggest military hutments, but their interiors give a very different impression. In lighting, heating, ventilation and roominess the Tennyson Road Boys’ Secondary Modern School will start ahead of the average permanent school. It is also up-to-the-minute in furniture and equipment.
Northamptonshire Education Committee ordered the building of the school as a quick means of implementing the Butler Act in a town where even before the war new premises had become necessary and were being planned. The “prefab,” however, has taken two years to construct.
On a site long reserved for what was to have been a “senior” school for boys, the buildings are walled with composition blocks and have a good deal of interior brickwork. The flooring is for the most part of light composition and windows run continuously along both sides of each block. They are in aluminium frames and the majority of the sections can be opened for ventilation.
Woodwork and plaster are conspicuously absent, but the “rawness” of the walls is relieved by cream and light green paint. Electric lamps hang in profusion. Store-rooms, cloakrooms and wash-basins, with separate taps for drinking water, are provided on a particularly generous scale.
Two parallel blocks each contain two classrooms, separated by corridors, stores and cloakrooms, and one has a room for the headmaster.
A block placed at right-angles to the first pair provides large rooms for woodwork and metalwork and these have a heavier floor.
The fourth block, running T-wise in the original direction, holds three classrooms, including one of extra size. Each block has its own boiler for heating by radiators.
A tarmac square for physical training has yet to be laid, but the school has ample playing field space, and good pitches for football can be used almost immediately.
Metalwork will be a new subject for Rushden schoolboys, and the centre is already equipped with benches, tools and probably £500 worth of machinery. The machines include two lathes, an excellent variable-speed drill and a power hacksaw. There is a forge with anvil, and two stands for brazing are nearby.
The machines are fitted with motors, and a multi-switch system provides all possible safeguard against accident. Boys can be instructed in batches of twenty not with the idea of becoming professional engineers, but rather as a useful hobby which calls for skilful hands and the ability to think problems out.
In the case of the woodwork room equipment has been transferred from the school handicraft centre in Hayway.
The school can accommodate 260 scholars but will open with a roll of 220. Ages will range from 11 to nearly 15.
All the boys from the hitherto mixed North End School (formerly Intermediate) will transfer, together with those of the new 14-15 age group which has been housed at the Boot and Shoe School.
Higham Ferrers will send its “11-plus” boys, some of whom have been attending Rushden North End. Rushden Newton Road retains all its boys under the age of 13½, but with this exception the concentration of 11-plus boys from the two towns will be complete. Each Tuesday the older boys remaining at Newton Road will visit Tennyson Road for handcraft instruction.
Staff of Ten
In charge of the new school is Mr. S. Howitt, who joined the Intermediate (lately North End) staff in 1932 and has been headmaster since 1938. He will have nine assistants, among them specialists in woodwork and metalwork.
One day a permanent school will replace the prefabs, but the costliness and apparent efficiency of the present buildings suggest that the authorities should take their time.
To complete, as far as possible, the educational reorganisation of Rushden, the North End School, now being redecorated, will reopen as a school for girls a companion piece to Tennyson Road. It is not large enough, however, and the authorities are planning to build an additional block on a much-criticised site tucked away behind the houses of Spencer Road and Hayway. Miss M. Boys, who has been in charge of the new age-group, will be the headmistress.