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St Johns Church of England Primary School
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Dates of existence
In 1834 a dame school came into existence in a cottage that was later altered and enlarged to become the present sextons cottage, on the corner of Spring Park and Shurley Church Roads. The school was held on weekdays; on Sundahys a curate from Croydon Parish Church conducted a service there. A Cof E Chapel of Ease was built there in 1836.
The first Dame recorded is Mrs Eliza Pestell. She was married to the coachman of the Revd. Matthew Farrer, who became Perpetual Curate of Shirley in 1841. The Pestells were already living in Shirley, however, in 1838 when their second daughter Anne was buried while still an infant (two later daughters would also die before reaching majority). The Farrers were connected with the Earl of Eldon whose house stood where the grounds of Trinity School are now, so Thomas Pestell, Elizas husband, may earlier have been in the Earls service.
In 1854 the school room was enlarged and on 10 January of that year the Pestells eldest daughter, by then 21, took charge of the Girls and infants, and, apparently, her mother continued to be responsible for the Boys. These met in the Reading Room (presumably the Chapel) but in 1869 moved to a new building between the cottages and the churchyard gate in Spring Park Road. Meanwhile in 1856, the chapel had been replaced with the present church; the new Boys School was adjacent to its graveyard. There is a painting of the first Boys School by W.H.Mills, a former pupil.
Both the previous schools were replaced by a further new building, erected in only three months, which was opened by the Vicar, the Revd W. Wilks on 17 September 1885. This also stood on the Spring Park frontage.
On 09 January 1903 the schools were reorganised and combined under the Headmaster of the Boys School with effect, apparently, from 01 November 1904.
On 09 January 1933 the school was again reorganised. This was to implement the 1931 Education Act but also because numbers had suddenly become unmanageable because of the vast number of houses being built locally. All Seniors were transferred to Davidson Senior Boys and Girls Schools and travelled there by Corporation bus. It was at this time that the name St.Johns School was first used.
At 2.30pm on Wednesday 26 July 1944 a V1 flying bomb fell in the Infant playground and the blast destroyed the school buildings. Twenty four children and three teachers were in a shelter in the playground and, although the shelter filled with fumes and the doors were shattered, no one was injured. The children were evacuated safely to another shelter in the nearby recreation ground until the all clear was sounded.
For the next ten years the school was lodged at nearby Benson Primary School until the current pemises were opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 03 June 1954.
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