Memoir of Harry Dart

A History of Barnham and its Inhabitants – a memoir by Harry Dart, founder pupil

Some of the information about the school has been taken from a memoir written by Harry Dart, a Barnham resident who was born in 1899. He was a founder pupil of Barnham School in Yapton Road that opened in 1906. Harry’s father was a builder who built many of the houses in Barnham and Eastergate and also the Eastergate Parish hall and the old Barnham hall that was demolished in 2013. Harry left Barnham School in 1911 and travelled by train to Colebrook School on the seafront at Bognor (no Regis in those days). He tells us that the return fare was 4 ½ d in old money. Harry Dart’s family lived at No.1 Fishbourne Cottages in Elm Grove before moving to Bankside in Church Lane (known at that time as The Street). He married Gladys in 1925 and moved to Moreton, the house next door to his parents. Here he lived until his death in 1983. Harry and Gladys did not have children but were very involved in village life including the church and the school.

Harry wrote:

“In early September 1906 when I came to live in The Street [Church Lane, Barnham] the new school was opened on Yapton Road, local children up to that time [having] attended at Yapton or Eastergate schools.  As I was living previously in West Barnham I had my first schooling at Eastergate – a very old building in use since 1836 – and under a much-loved head teacher, Mrs Harvey, I had good basic instruction. We had only slates for writing and no individual reading books. Each morning we opened school with prayers and a hymn conducted by the Rev. Mr. Fraser, whose Rectory was nearby, before and after the “dinner” break we sang “grace” to the tune of The Old Hundredth, our hymns and songs being accompanied by the teacher upon a squeaky old American Organ. Those of us who brought sandwiches, living some distance away, ate them sitting round the Tortoise coke stove. Now in 1906 some 36 children gathered at the new [Barnham] school which consisted of two classrooms, the larger having a central movable partition contained Standards I to VI and the smaller housed the infants. Teaching and strict discipline was maintained by the Misses Bradshaw. Miss Mary, the elder, being the “Head” and Miss Isabella the Infants’ teacher. Those of us who had attended the older, primitive schools gazed wide-eyed at the combination desks each seating two, at the exercise books, pencils and pens and real ink and the grand maps and instructive pictures on the walls. It was a Council and not a Church school but our Vicar called quite often and questioned us upon our Scripture lessons; he was correspondent to the board of Managers.

“A high fence divided the playground, one half for boys and the other for girls and infants. There was also an open play shed (also divided) for use in wet weather. Organised drill and games became part of the daily curriculum, singing and dancing was accompanied with a piano, I fancy the only one existing in Barnham in those days. 


“We had extra long holidays in the summer to enable older children to help in the harvest fields and after the farmer had collected all the “shocks” and made them into ricks for threshing we younger ones were allowed to “glean” all the loose stalks and ears for our fowls. Nearly every house had its backyard fowl-run and with the help of the lovely crowing rooster my mother raised a brood of chicks every year. Other school holidays were shorter, a week at Christmas and only a few days at Easter. No half-term breaks but if the average attendance had been good we were given one whole day a month; for personal good attendance (never absent, never late) we were presented with a coloured picture card on Friday. I remember collecting in this way a series of pictures of butterflies – I wish I had kept them. Half-day holidays were observed on Ash Wednesday, Ascension Day and All Saints after we had attended service at the Church in the morning. We also made holiday on May 24th St. George’s and Empire Day after assembling at the school to sing patriotic songs and “God Save the King” (Edward VII).


“School leaving age was fourteen but a boy or girl who could pass an examination in the three “Rs” conducted by H.M. Inspector was able to go to work at twelve. This advantage was frequently taken by those from big families to augment the weekly income for wages in rural districts were low, families of six to ten children were fed and clothed for thirty shillings a week. There was cheap farm and garden produce available but few saw meat more than once a week and a present of a bowl of dripping from one of the larger houses was eagerly accepted.


“The Misses Bradshaw took up residence at “Moreton” [in Church Lane], there being no school house, remaining there until 1911… [Then] the Misses Bradshaw built “Ingleton” … and resided there until 1916 when the elder of the sisters died quite suddenly. 

Upon Miss Bradshaw’s death Miss L. Currie from East Sussex became head mistress, remaining until 1921 and living at “Moreton”. She was followed by Mr H.M. Lindsay, our first head master, for by then there were seventy children at the school. He left in 1942 and thereafter for six years the school had several short tern heads. In 1948 Mr Stanley Hooton came, he will always be remembered for his kind, genial manner, his hard work for educational improvements and the foundation of the Annual School Sports and Christmas Parties. He also took great interest in all village activities. His sudden death in 1964 [1965] was a sad blow to the parish, we who had had the pleasure of working with him felt a very great loss.  My late wife, who was Chairman of the Board of Managers at the time corresponded with Mr C.V. Baker, a former assistant master, who graciously consented to apply for the post and obtained it. He still [1978] carries out his duties most efficiently at both the old school and the new Primary complex at Elm Grove built in 1968 in the grounds of “Woodcot” [now called March House] which … had been Miss Wentworth’s Orchard. What changed conditions to those existing in 1906 – there are now nearly 300 pupils and Mr Baker controls a staff of ten teachers plus four canteen workers.”