The Hitchin Site: A Timeline

 

1904

Various extensions were added. The greenhouses were turned into a schoolroom cut into a wooded hill.  The school accommodated 24 boys, and a trained nurse was added to the staff.

 

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. A harmonium was bought for £25, and was used by Miss Guest LRAM, organist.

 

1912

The Scouts groups began. Gordon Wood was a very keen scoutmaster, and it became a strong interest of the school.

 

1915

Additions to the school were complete including a Dining Hall, Staff accommodation, Health Centre and dormitories for boys. There was a big classroom to hold approximately 50 boys and a small classroom. Alongside these rooms was the quad, or playground, asphalted, with space for minor games, exercises, and slides in winter. Above this on the hill, dug into it was a two-story edifice, the ground floor occupied by the carpenter's shop. An outside stairway led to a long multipurpose room with desks, ping pong table, two stoves and tiers of lockers. The third side of the quad had a bicycle shed and a small woodshed. Leaving the quad there was a single-story building that housed the changing room for games with a tiled trough as a communal bath, boot lockers and toilets. The gym was the largest room in the school and served for Speech Days, concerts and lectures, and could take 100 people. The main playing field was on the London Road about a quarter of a mile.

 

Every Sunday at 1100 a service was conducted in the Chapel by Mr Bindon. Each boy was given 6d to put in the collection box, which was added to their school bill.

 

1918

Near the end of the 1st World War, Hitchin was bombed by a Zeppelin. All the boys were in bed when they heard a noise and the ground shaking. Mr Jenkins collected the boys and took them down to the Dining Room for safety.

Many boys helped with the war effort by working on the land. They were issued with a 'spud', a pronged device to dig up docks. They also volunteered at an army canteen where they washed up cups of tea.

 

1919

A dedication of war memorial was built (on Walsworth Road) dedicated to those who died in the First World War. Present at the dedication were all pupils, HM Mr JH Jenkins and Dr William Theodore Aquilla Barber (HM of The Leys, Cambridge).

 

The inscription read:

GF Batty HB Gould GB Hargreaves
B Chandler GT Goodman T Crodwell
BB George PWC Northcroft RB Hubbard
B J Stafford J W H Trenchard B D Adam
    A Parke

 

Methinks that death such as there has been gives the true measure of a man's worth.

 

F Vereker Bindon was appointed Headmaster on probation for one year. He became Headmaster in 1920. J Heald Jenkins and his family moved to Letchworth in 1920.

1921

Mr Jenkins leased 'The Lodge' to Mr Bindon in October 1921. Mr Bindon and Mr Jenkins leased all property to Mr F Gordon Wood in October 1921.

 

1927

Mr Bindon left Caldicott and Mr Gordon Wood took over responsibilities. He ran the school along with Margaret Ingram.

 

1932

Dedication and opening of the organ in Chapel. The door to Chapel was moved from the side to the front to accommodate the new organ.

 

1936

Margaret Ingram died, and a tablet was erected near her seat in Chapel. She was a member of staff since 1913.

 

Mr F Gordon Wood and Mr J Shewell Cooper became joint Headmasters.

 

1938

Mr F Gordon Wood surrendered the lease on the Hitchin property in March and the school moved to Farnham Royal in Buckinghamshire.


The Hitchin property was taken over by the War Office. Among those stationed prior to going overseas were: 200th Field Ambulance RAMC (March to June 1940), 2/4 Bn Royal Hampshire Regiment (May to November 1940) and the 22nd Anti Tank Regiment (1942 to 1943).

 

1944

Mr Jenkins sold the property to Col JF Harrison of Kingswalden who presented it to the Hitchin Youth Centre Association Ltd (HYC).

 

1947

Department of the Environment made extensive alterations to internal amenities and it was leased to a succession of Government Departments.

 

HYC sold the caretaker's lodge to provide funds for a new youth centre building.

 

1984

HYC decided to close its doors and all the buildings and grounds were put up for sale for redevelopment.