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Primary Schools
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Chowdhary Primary: Markhams Chase, Lee Chapel North


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Chowdhary County Primary School Chowdhary County Primary School Chowdhary County Primary School
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Location: Chowdhary School
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: 1987
Copyright: Paul Francis
Comments: Chowdhary School seen from Leinster Road.
Location: Chowdhary School
Photographer: Peter L. Sexton
Year of photo: c.1971
Copyright: Peter L. Sexton
Comments: Chowdhary School swimming pool.
Location: Chowdhary School
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: c.2005
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The main entrance pathway leading to Markhams Chase.
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Chowdhary County Primary School Chowdhary County Primary School Chowdhary County Primary School
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Location: Chowdhary School
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: c.2005
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The Markhams Chase Centre can be seen in the background.
Location: Chowdhary School
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: c.2005
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The rear of Whife and Sloper's dairy, since demolished and replaced with new houses.
Location: Chowdhary School
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: c.2005
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: St. Nicholas Church and the semi-detached Nicholas Lane houses can be made out in the distance.
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Chowdhary County Infant School opened its doors in September 1966. The junior school opened the following year in September 1967.

It was the last of three planned temporary schools for mixed children below senior entry; the others being Bryn (opened 1958) and Springfield (opened 1962).

Situated in Markhams Chase its main catchment area was the then new Lee Chapel North housing estate built closeby.

The infant school's first appointed Headmistress was Mrs. V.P. Griffiths and the junior school's first Headmaster was Mr. Peter F. Jones. Mrs. Griffiths had previously held the same post at Pitsea Infants School.

The school was named after Dharm Chowdhary*, a popular Laindon doctor who kept a surgery at a house called Daisybank (since demolished) in High Road, Laindon.

On 3rd October 1967 the school held a special plaque unveiling ceremony in honour of the late Dr. Chowdhary which was presented by his wife Savitri. In attendance were Basildon U.D. Council Chairman, Arthur Baron Burn and Rev. Arthur Dunlop, Rector of St. Martin-le-Tours, Basildon, who dedicated the plaque. The plaque read: 'To honour the memory of Dr Dharm Sheel Chowdhary who gave devoted service to the people of Laindon and the local schools throughout the period from 1931–59'.

The junior school for the school year 1966/67 was first used by 128 first year* pupils from Nicholas School; which was being enlarged with a new block.

The school had both single and two-storey blocks, an enclosed swimming pool and a large playing field adjoining Leinster Road and Nicholas Comprehensive School.

The swimming pool was a later addition first considered in June 1968. Its cost was put at around £2,500 and a committee, led by the junior headmaster Mr. Jones, was formed to organise various fund raising events aimed at reaching the target. The 50ft. by 20ft. pool, which opened in September 1969, was originally open-air and also used by Janet Duke junior school. Following its completion a 'swimming pool roof fund' was then organised and another series of events aimed at raising £3,500 began. The pool with its new roof was completed in 1973 and a special event was held on 17th February to mark the official opening. Special guests who attended included Basildon Council Chairman John Costello, Basildon's Olympic diver Alison Drake and Savitri Chowdhary.

Initially the junior school had just two form years until September 1969 when pupil numbers increased allowing the school to expand.

From September 1979 the schools were reorganised into a single primary school.

During the 1980s problems with the structural condition of the junior block had been identified and remedied with three highly visable strengthening struts.

In the 1990s pupil numbers fell and the school was deemed uneconomical to remain open. On 7th June, 1996 during the final term the school was hit by a fire that destroyed the kitchen and swimming pool. Pupil numbers had dropped to just 60 by the time of closure in July 1996.

Around 1972 Mrs S.M.E. Ashton replaced Mrs Griffiths as Headmistress. Mrs Ashton would later take charge at Northlands Infants in Pitsea. The last Headteacher was Mrs. Enid M. Firman who took over from Mrs Ashton when the school became a primary.

The school was demolished soon after closure though the site remained unused and overgrown up to early 2005 when it was cleared and then absorbed into the existing James Hornsby (formerly Nicholas) playing fields in a land deal that saw a portion of the latters playing field developed into a small extension of the Church View housing estate.

Teachers known to have taught there include: Mrs M. Gooding (deputy headmistress infant school), Mrs Lamb, Mr Williams, Mrs Murfitt, Mr Leonard, Mrs Brown, Mrs Petit, Mrs Tompsett, Mrs Savill, Mrs Mudge, Mrs Lawson, Mrs Chambers (supply teacher), Mrs McNeil, Mr J. Chapman, Miss Hume/Mrs Moseuni or Mohseni, Mrs K. Barnes, Mrs Bingham and Mrs Boult.

A former caretaker was Mr Fowler.

Page added: 2013
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Other points of interest:
(1) Dharm Sheel Chowdhary - b. 1902, Muradpur, Punjab, India, d. 30/12/1959.

(2) From the academic year 1990-1991 the school numbering system was changed to run consecutive from primary school onwards. The first year of secondary school is now known as Year 7.

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2013.
Copyright © 2013, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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