Dunton School

By Ken Porter and Ian Mott

Mrs Margaret Ross was a teacher at the Dunton School during the late 1970s and she still does volunteer work at Mill House School, Laindon teaching reading and hand writing. While having a clear out recently she came across three scrap books put together by the children she taught at the Dunton School. She has kindly given them to me, ‘The History of Dunton’, ‘Some of the changes and events which have happened during our life time’ and ‘Our book of Poems’.

Photo:Poem by one of the Pupils from 'Our book of Poems'

Poem by one of the Pupils from 'Our book of Poems'

Photo:Another poem fro 'Our book of Poems'

Another poem fro 'Our book of Poems'

I have no doubt that I will be able to use some of the information in the future; in the meantime it has prompted me to look into the schools of Dunton.

The first known school was a Dame’s school which opened in 1836. Only seven years later in 1843 a National School was built on a site granted by King’s College, Cambridge as Lord of the Manor and with the consent of I. B. Freeman, the owner of Dunton Waylett and Sumpners Farm. A rent of 1 shilling a year was paid to King’s College and the College gave £2 a year towards its upkeep.

The school opened on the 28th October of that year and the Rev Charles I Abraham, fellow of Kings College, preached a sermon on that day in the church.

It had two rooms to accommodate some 50 children. It was situated in the Lower Dunton Road. Ann Ridall was the mistress in 1848. It appeared to be a very busy little school for such a small parish. The 1871 census gave it as having 35 pupils, which is amazing considering the census gives the total population at the time of only being 148. Although when built the population was approaching 200. In 1890 Mrs Louisa King was mistress with an average attendance of 23.

The scrapbook goes on to tell us that it was sold by the Essex County Council and became a private home. Jenny Burridge tells us that her Nan and Granddad live in one room and a Mr and Mrs Todd and then a Mr and Mrs Rand lived in the other. It had also been the home of one the headmasters and a Mrs Lawrence. The book also tells us that during the Second World War the Home Guard occupied the building.

The school closed and sold sometime in 1929, becoming a private dwelling. A new Council School was built a few hundred yards along the Lower Dunton Road towards the Arterial Road. It was partly built to accommodate the growing number of children from the then new Plotland estate. The 1931 census gives the population of Dunton as 664. The old school became known as the old school house.

One of its famous pupils during the 1940s was Joe Cotterill better known as Joe Goodman ‘King of the one Liners’. As a child he lived on the Dunton Plotland estate (refer to the section on entertainment to find out more about Joe)

With the closure of the Plotland era brought on by the Basildon Corporation and the development of Basildon new town this school also closed in July 1977. It had only 12 children. From September 1977 until 1980 it was used as Secondary Tutorial Unit for just eight to 12 pupils unable to cope with normal school life.

Photo:Dunton Grange - July 2011

Dunton Grange - July 2011

Ken Porter

The school then lay derelict until the current owners purchased it 14 years ago; it is now a private residence known as ‘Dunton Grange’. Although it is not a listed building, Basildon Council insisted that the exterior is not altered so to keep it in keeping with the village. If you ever driving along Lower Dunton Road make sure you have a close look, the owners are keeping the building and the garden in beautiful condition.
Photo:Flowers on the Gate of Dunton Grange - July 2011

Flowers on the Gate of Dunton Grange - July 2011

Ken Porter

Photo:Name Plaque 'Dunton Grange' -July 2011

Name Plaque 'Dunton Grange' -July 2011

Ken Porter

Editor: Following a query about the 'Old School House' I have been asked to add the following two photographs to this article.

Photo:The original school room catering for 50 children. Now a private dwelling called Mulebiss.

The original school room catering for 50 children. Now a private dwelling called Mulebiss.

Nina Humphrey

Photo:The original School House, later the home of the local District Nurse, now a private dwelling called The Old School House.

The original School House, later the home of the local District Nurse, now a private dwelling called The Old School House.

Nina Humphrey

This page was added by Ken Porter on 12/07/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Can't remember the date but I was there when the cook-house burnt down and we had our hot dinners delivered by van. Very good memerys, still can't spell!

By David Flashman
On 19/12/2014

I went to Dunton School from 1975 to 1977 and was one of the last 12 pupils.  I remember having to catch the bus which took the senior school children to Laindon School from out side my house and it dropped me off at Dunton school where the caretaker would see me cross the busy road. I then went to the shop next to the school to spend my 5p on pick and mix sweets. I remember Miss Olive was my headmistress.  

By Emma Sincock
On 28/05/2014

What a surprise to see such interesting reminiscences about The Old School House. I am the daughter of Mary Carpenter (nee Fairbairn) and I was born in the house having been delivered by my grandmother Gladys.

My family migrated to Australia in 1954 and lived in various cities. Mum and I returned during a trip in 1991 and the owner at the time was kind enough to show us through the house.

By Anne Higgins (nee Carpenter)
On 28/04/2014

Mary.  Re District Nurse Gladys Fairbairn.  That’s a lovely story about you being delivered by her and named after her daughter.  Gladys’ children Mary and Ian were from her first marriage to George Fairbairn (I believe he died in 1930).  She re-married in 1936 to Colin Pond.  Her maiden name had been ‘Wolverson’.  Best wishes.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 21/02/2014

I remember Nurse Fairbairn as she delivered me and was a lovely friendly person  I remember she had some baby goslings in her back garden,which we passed on our way to school from Dunton Drive and I pestered my mother until she bought me two. As mother had been sure she was having a boy, no name for a girl was thought of, so she asked the nurse and she said her daughter was Mary and so I got a name,Then when I grew up and went to Laindon High Road school, who was one of my teachers!!!!!! Mary Fairbairn, I believe her first teaching job.

By Mary Hawkins
On 20/02/2014

Upon reading Sue Heazel’s comment regarding her dad’s cousin, Colin Pond living in Old School, having married district nurse Gladys Fairbairn, I decided to do some research.  This was particularly interesting to me as my mother had attended Dunton School from 1923 when it was a small two roomed building catering for 50 children.  She left in 1928 aged 14.  In 1980 we took her on a trip along Lower Dunton Road so she could see the school once again and reminisce.  She pointed out the little building and recalled some stories about the years she had spent there. 

School House is shown on the 1918 Electoral Register naming Elizabeth and William Lockhart in residence.  The 1929 ER names Florence and Alfred Fells.  One of those ladies must surely have been the ‘Governess’ who my mother had held in very high esteem throughout her school days.  The 1949 Electoral Register names Gladys and Colin Pond still in residence plus Mary and Ian Fairbairn.  The 1949 survey map shows the exact position of Old School House and written alongside is the word ‘District Nurse’.

Both buildings are now private dwellings called The Old School House and Mulebiss.  I have provided up-to-date photographs of the two buildings and with Ken Porter’s permission, I have asked the editor to add them to the other photographs shown in the above article.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 18/02/2014

Hello

Does anyone have group photos of of pupils from the Dunton School I started there about 1952/53 I have a couple of photos of me on my own sitting on the end of as bench posing with ball. I loved it at the school but remember crying for most of the first day! I had been so used to running wild around the avenues with our dog Jumbo the sudden constraint of school felt a bit like prison. I can't remember a lot of the names from that time but I played with Clive and Phillip Thomas and I recall Colin Pratt (did he live on a farm further down lower Dunton road?)

I think we left Fourth Avenue about 1957 but I never went to Laindon High Road School so not 100% sure. We lived at Charlesville which I believe was opposite Allan Young's house. 

I have only just discovered this site and I must congratulate all involved just love it

Regards

By David Kinnear
On 11/02/2014

Sue

The building in the photographs was Dunton school the old school house is further down Lower Dunton Road towards the railway on the same side. There is a field, a large house with buildings and then a small cottage which was originally the school and school house.

By Ian Mott
On 02/02/2014

I have recently purchased a marriage certificate of a relative of mine. Colin Pond (my dad's cousin) married Gladys Fairbairn a district nurse the certificae states Gladys was a district nurse and they both lived at Old School Dunton nr Brentwood. The date was 1936. Do you know if Old School would have been the above building? Thanks for any information.

By Sue Heazel
On 02/02/2014

I went to Dunton County Primary in the 1960s. The Headmistress was Mrs Mason (real name Masonovitch), primary teacher Mrs Watts, junior teachers included Miss Rose, Mr Baguley? and finally Mr Crimp. Only three classrooms one of which still had the screen to divide it. Only just enough boys in the junior classes to form a football team. First toilets were outside, then moved inside later and the old air raid shelters were still in place. Great days.

By Ivor Dallinger
On 23/07/2013

Thanks for a really informative write up about our house - we are always interested in the history - the photos do it proud - you should see the flowers in the rear courtyard - the old school allotment still keeps us in fresh vegetables - many thanks Pat and Jenny

By Mrs Jenny Holloran
On 28/07/2011

I went to this school on the Lower Dunton Road in 1941, our head teacher was Mr. Newman and the second room could be divided into two with a folding screen which went right across the room, we had our dinners in the Dunton Entrainment hall next door, also a Mrs.Butcher would serve hot chocolate from a little shed at the end of the school in the winter. Lovely memories 

By Mary Hawkins (Pratt)
On 14/07/2011
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