The Hitchin Site
Three Early Advertisements, from about 1910, and the History of Hitchin to 1984.
Caldicott School was founded in 1904 by Mr J. Heald Jenkins, who continues to take a keen interest in the school. The object of the school is to ensure that the four or five years spent there lays a true foundation of character and learning, so that a boy receives a real preparation for future life in a Public School.
The question of food values has had the special attention of medical advisers, and there is a liberal allowance of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk, throughout the year.
It is at the Preparatory School that the foundations of learning and culture are laid down, and every effort is made to inculcate habits of conscientious study. House competition proves a big incentive to the latter.
Two playing fields provide ample scope for games, of which the main are Association Football, Hockey, Cricket and Tennis, and the Annual Athletic Sports are held early in the Summer Term. Gymnasium Classes are held in Winter Terms and Swimming is taught during the summer. Scouting is greatly encouraged and the School has its own Troop.
All precautions are taken to preserve the health of the boys. A careful examination of each boy is made twice a term by the School doctor, and an experienced trained nurse is on the resident staff.
The above notes give only a meagre idea of the principles and work of the School, but as such essential qualities as tone and atmosphere cannot be conveyed through this medium, a visit to the School is suggested as the only real way of forming a true opinion of the success of the methods and merit of the work.
More History Notes:
1904 - 1914 various extensions were added. The greenhouses were turned into a schoolroom cut into a wooded hill. The job was done without an architect by Messrs Willmott and Sons of Hitchin for £190. The school was so delighted with work that they persuaded them to dig out a little classroom called "A" for £45. The school accommodated 24 boys, and a trained nurse added to staff.
In 1909 the School Chapel was built. The architect was Mr Hayes of London, and the foundation stone was laid by Miss Emily Wood of Southport. The Chapel was in use by 1910. (Emily Wood was an Aunt of Gordon Wood and Miss Ingram who had joined the staff by then, she was also an aunt of Mr Heald Jenkins). A harmonium was bought for £25, and was used by Miss Guest LRAM, organist. It was christened by Mr Wood as Squeaking Jimmy, and when Miss Guest left, Mr Wood became organist.
1912 - The Scouts groups began. Gordon Wood was a very keen scoutmaster, and it became a strong interest of the school. Gordon Wood then joined the Navy in October 1914.
At a very early Scout camp - 1914
By 1915 additions to the school were complete. Boys have fond memories of the walnut tree - still standing in 1984. The dining hall was a long, somewhat dark room with leaded windows, 3 tables seating 6 or 7 a side, a big sideboard, service hatch and big bookcase (including issues of Punch back to No 1). Over the dining hall was the staff accommodation, Nurse MacKay and her sick room plus the famous medicine cupboard, one bathroom (two baths) and a toi1et!
On the floor above there were dormitories for boys. The school was gas lit - and one pupil has a dubious memory of some form of gas heating but that it was hellish cold in the grim winter of 1917 when even the gas-meter froze - no work was done that afternoon, and (Pony) Jenkins as the boys called him, read to the boys by lamplight. Outside the back door was a big classroom to hold 50-ish boys and a small classroom, "A". Alongside the big room was the quad or playground, asphalted, with space for minor rough and tumble games, exercises, and slides in winter. Above this on the tree-covered hill, dug into it was the two storey edifice,the ground floor occupied by carpenter's shop. Scouts built their handcart there. An outside stairway led to long multipurpose room with desks, ping pong table, two stoves, a big bookcase and tiers of lockers for personal effects. The third side of the quad had a corrugated bicycle shed and a small woodshed. Leaving the Quad there was a single storey building which housed the changing room for games with a tiled trough as a communal bath, boot lockers and toilets (right outside the dining hall), walnut tree overhangs on the right hand side and, above, steps leading to gym. The gym was the biggest room in the school and served for Speech Days, concerts and lectures, and could take 100 people. It had a high, raftered roof with climbing rope. On the left leaving the gym was the garage (a spendidly-polished though never-used Vauxhall Landaulette, a shed for Ranee the Shetland pony and trap and a pig-sty.