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Dunton County Primary: Lower Dunton Road, Dunton

Dunton County Primary School    
Year of photo:

Dunton County Primary School opened in early 1929 as a Council school. Situated in Lower Dunton Road, it replaced a small church school that opened in 1843 in the same road. This earlier school, which from 1870 to 1902 had come under the control of Dunton School Board, though adequate for the time was later in need of repairs around six years after Essex Council took over the running.

As a result of plotland development the population of Dunton had been on the increase and conditions at the small existing Council school were causing concern to the education authority. So much so that in July 1927 sketch plans for a new council school for 100 pupils were announced. The County Council estimated the cost to be £4,128. Around March of 1928 the Council accepted a tender of £4,292 from Messrs. T.J. Bailey, builder & contractor of 82 Victoria Road, Chelmsford, for the erection of a new school.

The new school was completed by 1929 but may not have fulfilled its original promise as the Education Committee in 1932 invited tenders for "Additions and Alterations".

The old Dunton Council School-House meanwhile was still in County Council ownership though in late April 1934 they were accepting offers for its sale. Following its sale it became a private residence and now called The Old School House.

In the 1950s the rural location of the school and the rise in traffic along Lower Dunton Road was causing concern to parents who campaigned through the schools' Teacher-Parent Association to the county council for a footway which was provided albeit on the opposite side to the school. By the early 1960s this had worn out and become overgrown causing the association to petition the council for a path to run from the caravan site to the school. Some years later this path was eventually provided. Around this time the school's boiler broke down and was replaced with a second-hand one.

Pupil numbers in the early 1960s were around 100 with many now coming from the nearby caravan site established on the former Labour Farm Colony. By 1969 this figure had dropped to 64 perhaps caused in part by the development corporation's compulsory purchase orders which forced home owners to vacate their properties in the more rural parts of the schools' catchment area.

In March 1970 a blizzard hit Dunton and the school closed for one and a half days as there was no heating. In the early 1960s the annual house championship sports day was contested between Fryerns and Wayletts which by the late 1960s had changed to colours like Red House.

A pair of concrete air raid shelters, built during the Second World War, were later demolished in 1973 when cracks in the brickwork exposing the metal reinforcing deemed them unsafe. They had been used as a storage facility and were replaced with a more modern building.

The school closed at the end of the summer term in July 1977. Following closure from September 1977 the school became Dunton Secondary Tutorial Unit for pupils unable to cope in mainstream education. The unit was still open in early 1988 and is believed to have closed at the end of the school year. The Teacher-in-Charge, as the post was referred to, at this time was Mr C. Evans. The building was then vacated and eventually sold. It is now a private residence called Dunton Grange.

Amongst the former Headmasters/Headmistresses of the school were Mr Newman (1936 on) and previously assistant headmaster at Craylands Senior Council School, Mrs M. Mason (Masonievic) (1950s-1960s) who moved to the same post at Ghyllgrove Infants' School, Basildon, Mr John Massey (1960s-c.1971), Mr Ralph Sibley (c.1971 on) and Mr M.J.J. Barbero (1970s).

Some former teachers were Miss Rose, Mr John Baguley (deputy headmaster), Mr Crimp and Miss Watts.

The caretaker around the turn of the 1970s was Mr. Jack Nash of 217 Victoria Road, Laindon.

Page added: 2006

Other points of interest:

1) Building contractor Thomas John Bailey of Chelmsford was also responsible for Nevendon Council School which opened in 1927. His company became one of the main Public Works Contractors to Essex County Council and other public bodies. He was later joined in the business by his son Kenneth and was responsible for many other schools and public buildings in Essex. In February 1944, and now living at Hill Farm, Roxwell, he changed his surname to Richardson. (Source: London Gazette, 25/02/1944, edition 36397, p.964.)

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2006 with revisions 2007, 2013.
Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2013, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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