Steyning Grammar School (continued)
The Church Street Buildings

Introduction to "Schooldays Remembered:
Recollections of Steyning Grammar School 1840-1960",
Edited with an Introduction by J M Sleight

Pages 1 .2. 3

In the School Enquiry Reports of 1867 (Taunton Commission) the inspector described the premises as: "A crazy wooden building which has been kept from falling down by well-timed repairs. No amount of money, however, spent on near-repairs would make it fit for its purpose." Although it was ill-constructed, he said it was at least fairly furnished with desks etc. The master' s dwelling-house was cramped and ill-adapted for the reception of boarders, while the soil immediately around the house had become very impure through improper drainage in former years. A further health-hazard lay in the unsound timber which in spite of whitewash was capable of "harbouring or generating mischief to the inhabitants".

School Playgroundc1900

This photograph from about 1900 is held at Steyning Museum. The boys in the playground are wearing their uniform of knickerbockers and stiff white collars. The Rev. Alfred Harre, Headmaster, is standing in the middle wearing his graduation gown.

After Mr Airey's death in 1877 the school was closed for rebuilding for six years. Two good rooms were added to the ground floor, with bedrooms above designed to accommodate 25 boarders. In 1883 the Reverend A. Harre was appointed Headmaster. He was soon beset with problems, not the least of which was the water supply. Water for the school came from a well which every summer ran dry. Buckets had to be filled from the town pump and there were no baths for the boys. Steyning was not connected to mains water until 1899. The boarders had to pump water up into a storage tank every Saturday. They had an unpainted metal bath in a cubby-hole (now Chatfields entrance hall) and hot water was brought in a pail. Unlimited cold water could be added from a tap.

In 1906 West Sussex Education Committee became involved in the running of the school which became part of the county secondary education system. Additions and extensions were made to the buildings, the syllabus and the number of pupils. In 1908 the alehouse owned by the Steyning Breweries, the Brewer's Arms, was acquired for extra accommodation. By 1921 numbers had increased to 133. The school was inspected again in 1922 by which time only 15% of boys were coming from Steyning. The railway made access easy for boys from Shoreham, Lancing and Worthing. Worthing High School had not yet been built. In their Report, which focused upon the shortcomings in staff and academic performance, the inspectors did not mince their words. There would be little academic progress until large resources were made available for buildings, teachers, equipment and books. When it came to the buildings they wrote scathingly: 'It is hard to think it could ever have been planned according to any preconceived design. The multiplicity of staircases, most of them steep and dark, the treacherous steps at various unexpected places, are more reminiscent of a dangerously constructed maze than anything else and the whole place would make a good example for storage in an architect's museum."

View the Steyning Grammar School web site.



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Page last updated
16th August 2021