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History of the Schools

Over the years there have been a number of changes in the schools that educated the members of our association. Below is a brief outline of these changes and developments and it is hoped that members may like to send in more detailed articles on the history of the schools.

The Market Road Schools 1933 - 1958

The history of the Market Road schools started in 1905, when the Mid-Essex Technical College and School of Art was first opened on the Market Road site. Then in 1933, the Junior Technical School was opened for 13 year old boys and girls (the term “Junior School” in 1933 should not be confused with the definition of today’s Junior Schools which take pupils up to age 11). In 1947, the age range was widened to include 11-year old students. This marked a further divergence from the school away from the College and was one of the reasons for the re-design of the school badge in 1950 (see below) and its eventual move to Patching Hall Lane in 1958.

Extract from the Chelmsford Guide 1907:

  • Public Library, Art School, and Museum. - The Art School, the Museum, and Public Library stand in Market Road. It was opened in February 1906. The buildings were erected largely by the efforts of Alderman Frederick Chancellor, many times Mayor of Chelmsford, at a cost of about £10,500 of which £2,500 was given by Mr. Carnegie.
  • Technical School. - The Technical School, under the management of the Essex Education Committee, is situated in King Edward's Avenue, a new street behind Market Buildings. The school was opened in 1903 by the Earl of Onslow. It is largely occupied in promoting the study of agriculture."
The original buildings consisted of: the Art College - the existing red brick building fronting Market Road, just less than 100 yards from Duke Street, together with the Technical block to the rear, and off to the left, the late thirties Commerce block which fronted the Wood and Metal Workshops - (Where parts were partially machined by students for war production).  The Commerce block was partly rebuilt after wartime bomb damage.

 View how Market Road looks today on Google Maps
Memories from School Days in Market Road, by Ken Grain 1938-45

"Students came from a radius of up to 30/35 miles from Chelmsford, entering the Art, Engineering, or Commerce departments of the College which had a total compliment of approx. 400 students. In those days it was obligatory to always wear school uniform, including hats/caps - the latter always to be raised by the boys on meeting masters/mistress's or respected elders in the street. Clothes rationing, of course, later put paid to school uniform, as also did rationing to the 'Tuck Shop'.

Other privations of the time were the school bell - this quite early in the war became an old vehicle brake drum suspended on three chains and lustily struck by the 'Duty Prefect' with a small piece of metal rod at Assembly, Lunch, and period changes. Metal was in high demand and the boundary railings from all private homes - probably the school and industries also - were removed to aid the war effort.
1938/39 was a full and valuable year to be concluded with a note to parents - "If war breaks out your child is not to return to school until further advised". In mid October, over a month late, we did return on a ½ day basis since we found ourselves sharing our school with West Ham County High on a similar basis. The West Ham students were London 'Evacuees' and were 'billeted on' and living in the homes of Chelmsford families who now found that they had not 2 but perhaps 4 children.

In those early days 'Air Raid' shelters were built in Admirals Park (providing an underground 'Fun -run' at lunch times) and corridors were strengthened with substantial timber baulks, and blackboards were affixed to intermediate blast walls. The mornings were spent addressing Ration Books to be issued to the people of Chelmsford; the boys spent the remaining ½ days in accordance with the National Directive, 'Digging for Victory' etc.

Allotment land was cultivated in Roxwell Road, fruit picking, and a games afternoon in Writtle also featured.  Later in 1940/41, perhaps to boost morale, a Mid-day Ballroom Dance Club thrived.

Many students had an hour's bus/train journey to and from Chelmsford each day, and in 1941 this was often in burned, windowless buses, the return was made with only the minimum of lights for the driver - two ½" slits in headlamp covers and a torch bulb for the conductress (No Conductors). Rail tracks were often bomb damaged and trains delayed or cancelled.  All travelling students carried passes authorising them to travel by parental consent. Night raids meant that many slept in garden air raid shelters, and the following days stories were told of the raids. Food in the Refectory remained good if ingenious - the Refectory now a temporary building in the quadrangle.

By the time 1940 arrived, industry and employers generally were anxiously looking for staff. Hoffmann's, Marconi's, Crompton Parkinson, and all whose staff were now serving in uniform. So the 3 year College term became curtailed.  Several, not to say many, left early in their third year - about 10% - as opportunities arose.

Almost all of the boys and many of the girls of the 1934-41 intakes will have found themselves in uniform during the war years. In 1940, occupying the Drill Hall, adjacent to the Commerce Block, were men of the K.O.S./Y.L.I. - Kings Own Scottish/Yorkshire Light Infantry? who had just returned from Dunkirk. The Drill Hall was our former Gymnasium."
The School Badge

Below is an article from the school magazine, The Midexian, for 1950, which explains why the school badge was changed.

"For the first time the "Midexian" carries the School Coat of Arms and School Motto. We have not had our own Coat of Arms before, but have previously borrowed the County Arms. During this current year, after very much thought and deliberation given to the matter by the Staff, our own Coat of Arms has appeared, first at the Mid-Essex Sports, then at Speech Day, now on blazer pockets, and soon on hats and caps.

Let us remind ourselves what it stands for. First there are the old School colours of red and blue, adopted when our School was opened some fifteen years ago, and remembered with affection by generations of old boys and girls, who number some thousands, now at work in an infinite number of jobs, and spread over the world in a multitude of places. Prominent, too, stand the three Essex "seaxes," for we are an Essex School, serving an area wider than any other Essex School, from Pitsea to Thaxted, from Burnham to Hatfield Broad Oak. Above them lies the open book, traditional heraldic emblem of sound study and good learning. To the bearer's right is the open right hand, symbolic of the skill of craftsmen, men and women who "trust to their hands." On the bearer's left is the flying wheel, emblem of the machine and of technical study. Our Coat of Arms, then, stands for Essex boys and girls, preparing themselves by good learning and sound study, for service to their fellow men, through their own hands or through the machines which they will control. Above all they will try to control the machines and not be controlled by them.

The Latin word "Integer" is difficult to translate in one single word. It has varying shades of meaning: "united, complete, unbroken, upright." We, who come from such widely scattered homes, and who work at so great a multiplicity of subjects, are thereby reminded of the necessity for our School to have a unity of purpose and spirit, unbroken by the hectic distracting circumstances of day to day life at "The Mid-Essex Tech." But of deeper meaning, "Integer" comes to us in the word "Integrity," wholeness and uprightness of personality, conduct, and character. This is a high aim, one of which we all in varying degrees fall short. Our Coat of Arms and the word "Integer" will serve to remind us daily of this high aim so that we may more nearly attain it."

Broomfield Secondary School 1956 -75

Broomfield County Secondary School, the 150th new school in the County of Essex since the conclusion of the Second World War, was opened by The Right Honourable R. A. Butler, Lord Privy Seal, (the present Lord Butler of Saffron Waldon), in November 1956. Mr Eden was headmaster from 1956 until 1970 and Mr. Jackman from 1970 to 1975.

John Watson who was a student of the Mid Essex Technical School from 1946-50 and a staff member of Broomfield Secondary School 1958-65, very kindly searched out copies of the Broomfield School Badge.  He now tells us he has the tidiest loft in Essex! John also tells us about the history of the Badge, which is a stylized version of the Escarbuncle bourne on the shield of Sir Geoffrey de Manderville - the first Lord of the Manor of the area encompassing Broomfield, Great & Little Waltham, the Easters and Leighs. The Badge is taken from the shape of the decorative iron bands, which formed the shape of the shield and gave it its strength. The school put its own interpretation on the design which suggested that the knowledge taught by the school would radiate out in all directions as indicated by the Escarbuncle's similarity to a compass rose.

Chelmsford Technical High School, Patching Hall Lane, 1958-75

Chelmsford Technical High School began as the Junior Technical School in 1933, on the same site as the Chelmsford School of Art and Technology in Market Road. As the Chelmsford County Technical School, it was transferred in September 1958 to new and separate premises in Patching Hall Lane, Chelmsford.
Mr. Palmer was headmaster from 1943 until July 1954.  He was followed by Dr. Stephens, who arrived in January 1955 (we have no record of who deputised for the Autumn term of 1954) until Christmas 1960.  Miss Chalk then became acting head until Easter 1961 when Mr. Cooper arrived.  Mr Cooper served as headmaster from Easter 1961 to 1975 at Patching Hall Lane, then became headmaster of the new Chelmer Valley High School until his retirement in 1980.

 View how the Patching Hall Lane site looks today on Google Maps


Chelmer Valley High School 1975 to present

In 1975 Chelmer Valley High School was formed by the amalgamation of Broomfield County Secondary School and Chelmsford Technical High School under the headship of Mr. Cooper. The school existed on the two sites for two years and then in September 1977 it was consolidated on the Broomfield site, in modified and enlarged premises. Mr Cooper retired as headmaster at Easter 1980, his successor being Mr. Richardson who had been a deputy head since the formation of the new school in 1975. Mr. Richardson retired in 1985 to be succeeded by Mrs. Marsham, who in turn retired in 1992, to be followed by Mr. Franklin who retired in 2014.  Mr Franklin was succeeded by Mrs Goodchild, the current head teacher.
Mr. Cooper designed the school logo, which shows water - a reference to the river Chelmer and the swan comes from the coat of arms of a local family.

 View how the Chelmer Valley High School site looks today on Google Maps

Click on the images below to view full size

Mid Essex Technical School

Mid Essex Technical

Chelmsford Technical High School

Chelmsford Tech High

Broomfield Secondary School

Broomfield Secondary

Chelmer Valley High School

Chelmer Valley High