The Stortford school friends from the 1950s hoping for a class reunion
Three men who attended a Bishop's Stortford school which closed more than half a century ago are hoping to reconnect with their old classmates.
Malcolm Bradford, John Garrett and John ‘Rab’ Robinson – who are all 79 – were in class 4S at Bishop’s Stortford Secondary Modern in The Causeway from 1951 to 1954.
The school was for boys and girls aged 11-15. By the time Malcolm, John and Rab reached their final year there, it accommodated around 500 pupils.
The school was established after the Second World War had ended. The site had been used as a hostel for American soldiers posted to the area to work on the airbase which eventually evolved into Stansted Airport.
When the education authority took over the hostel, it became Stortford’s first co-educational secondary modern school, in 1948.
Taking the shape of a rectangle, thereby forming an inner quadrangle, the single-storey building was converted to accommodate about ten classrooms, with two larger ones used for woodwork and metalwork lessons.
Buildings were constructed of large raw bricks and roofed with asbestos or corrugated iron. Former Anderson shelters from the war years were used for storage.
Despite being termed ‘co-educational’, boys and girls were separated – in classes, boys sat on one side of the classroom and girls occupied the other, and at break, the boys played on an outer Tarmac area whereas the girls were in a small quadrangle.
There was no sports field. To play football, the boys would walk to Parsonage Lane – where Birchwood High School is now situated. Girls played netball in the quadrangle. Students would also play in Sworder’s Field and use the open-air swimming pool on The Causeway.
In 1957 the Secondary Modern switched to single-sex education and was renamed Bishop’s Stortford Secondary Girls School – or as pupils affectionally termed it, the Causeway Academy – after The Boys High School (now The Bishop’s Stortford High School) was built on London Road.
It finally closed in the mid-1960s when the new Margaret Dane girls’ school opened at Parsonage Lane. Demolition took place soon after and in 1971 groundwork began on the site for construction of Charrington House.
Malcolm and John grew up in Stortford and knew each other before they started secondary school. Rab joined their friendship group in 1951 after he moved to the town from Norfolk.
The trio lost touch after school. Malcolm, who now lives in Harlow, was an electrician throughout his working life until he retired in 2004. During the Cold War, he set up sirens in Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and Harlow which would have been used to warn residents of a nuclear attack.
John lives in Hatfield. After he finished school, he became a Post Office engineer for many years and then worked for Wiltshire Farm Foods. In his spare time he played drums for a whole host of local bands.
After school, Rab trained as a chef for three years at Herts and Essex Hospital. He joined the Royal Air Force as part of his National Service and enjoyed it so much he stayed until he was 40. After leaving the RAF, he had a couple of jobs until he became a postman, which he did until he retired. He now lives in Ware.
Rab and Malcolm bumped into each other by chance more than a decade ago. They reconnected with John this year via Facebook and have pledged to meet up regularly to share memories of their time together in school.
Malcolm said: “It would be nice if we could find some more – our class was very cliquey.”
The trio would like to have an official class reunion as long as they can contact enough of their classmates; if they manage to find only a few, they will instead arrange an informal meet-up.
Any of Malcolm, John and Rab’s former classmates can get in touch by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.