Schools and the Workhouse in Farnborough
Following the AGM on 18 April 2012, there was a short local history presentation.
At a previous meeting, we ran out of time and the speaker was not able to give a full presentation about the Workhouse. By request, I outlined a brief history. It was located in Union Street, formerly Workhouse Lane. As a result of the Gilbert Act in 1782, the parishes of Farnborough, Cove, Yateley, Hawley and Hartley Wintney, joined together in a Union to build a workhouse on some land given by the Lord of the Manor. The house was run by a master and matron and there are extensive records which have survived to show the workings of the house. We are able to establish the accommodation which was provided and saw a typical diet sheet of 1853. The inmates fared reasonably well, having meat and fresh vegetables on a regular basis. The more able bodied were able to do some work locally and some tended the vegetables in the garden. Pigs were also reared to augment the diet. Some form of schooling was provided both in the house itself and latterly in a local school in Cove. When the house closed in 1868, it was sold and from then until 1980, when it was demolished, it was a private dwelling.
An early map from the sale of the workhouse illustrated there was a school nearby and was the starting point on the talk about schools generally. The first school we looked at was The Oaks, founded by Lt. Greene, the nephew of Mrs Foreman, a former owner of Farnborough Hill. The records still exist and show many children from Farnborough and Cove attending from the mid 1820s. Two other schools he founded were the Beeches, across the road which is now Greene’s School Road, and Greencroft, in what is now Clockhouse Road, both now demolished. The children of Farnborough Village attended a Dame School in Rectory Road until the National School was built in 1868 on ground given by Thomas Longman, the then owner of Farnborough Hill. By the 20th century there were two parts to the school, the older children being in St Peters which moved to the old Manor House, behind the Church, in the early 1960s. The Manor house had connections with education, being a prep school in 1901, and a National Gas Turbine School in the mid 1950s.
Other preparatory schools for boys in the late 1800s were the Farnborough School, where the College of Technology is today; Belgrave House School, which started in Alexandra Road and moved to two large semi-detached villas next door to Farnborough School and Pinewood School in Albert Road. Hillside Convent for Girls was founded in the late 1800s on the land opposite the Farnborough School, together with St Mary’s Day school on the corner of Sycamore Road. St Mary’s day school eventually became the Farnborough Secondary School which in turn was closed and the boys went to Farnborough Grammar School in Prospect Road, now the 6th Form College, with the girls going to Aldershot High School.
There were various schools for local children, such as the Wesleyan Church School on Lynchford Road which eventually moved to Queens Road to become the Council School, now South Farnborough Infants. St Mark’s was also in Queens Road. The Salesian College started when the Salesians took over the orphanage in the Tin Factory on the corner of Sherborne Road. St Patricks was later formed in Peabody Road, and it subsequently moved to Avenue Road where it is today.
The National Childrens Home in Alexandra Road started life as an orphanage but was run along school lines. South Farnborough High School began in a house on Lynchford Road, run by the Misses Hall, but subsequently moved to Reading Road, where it is a private nursery school today. Another girls’ school was Crossways which was founded on the corner of Church Road and Alexandra Road and then moved to Croxted House on the corner of Boundary Road. Many people will remember the building as being the public library.
It was explained that so many preparatory schools existed in South Farnborough as a result of the military presence in nearby North Camp. The officers moving to this area in the late 19th century needed somewhere to educate the children. Most of the schools excelled in sport and a lot of the local smaller schools used the extensive playing fields of Farnborough School because the ground, being sandy, drained well and did not become boggy in bad weather.