What Royston Did …

The Great War

Before the Queens Road Schools became a hospital

image queens road school

October 1909 saw the beginning of the building of the Schools at Queens Road, Royston which were opened on 21st September 1910. The original teaching staff came from the British Mixed School with CA Preston as the Head but only until November 1910 when one of the teachers, Mark Hewitt took over. Other teachers were Mr Jeavons, Mr Wood, Miss Cooper, Miss Howell and Miss Davies.

The Infants had local Miss Daisy Clark as Head along with teachers Miss Preston, Miss Shepherd and Miss M Preston.

The 1912 Kelly’s Directory shows the County Council Mixed School had capacity for 328 boys and girls with an average attendance of 264. Whilst the infants had a capacity of 100 with an average attendance of 84.

There were boys and girls entrances with the playgrounds railed off and separate. Existing evening classes were also transferred to the Schools.

How the Great War affected the schools

In August 1914, it was decided to use the Schools for an auxiliary hospital. To prepare it for it’s new role providing 35 beds for wounded soldiers, the children and the furniture had to be moved out. There was an additional plan to use up to 150 beds at the Workhouse if required.

The children were taught at the British School and a floor of the Town Hall. However, they were often asked to leave the Town Hall due to inadequate heating or to enable rehearsals for a patriotic concert. The gardens at the Town Hall were used for lessons and recreation. The children were given drill practice and encouraged to use spare land for a war garden. The staff and pupils regularly collected vegetables and eggs. There were references at the VAD AGMs to the efforts of the children. The one for 1915 mentioning sewing for the wounded soldiers and in 1917, the AGM mentioned the supply of potatoes at a time of scarcity. Other schools from the area, e.g. Litlington, donated eggs. The girls from Thriplow sent items they made to Royston.

The Hospital opened on 25th March 1915 and closed in December 1918 with the Schools returned to their original role in 1919.

According to her Red Cross Service card Daisy Clark, the Headmistress of the Infants School gave 5,000 hours of her time to the Hospital.

The Headmaster Mark Hewitt served in WW1 and, whilst he was away, J Lockwood became Headmaster.

Both Mark Hewitt and Daisy Clark worked at the Schools until the 1940s when they retired.