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Holy Trinity Pewley Down School Celebrates Milestone 200th Anniversary

Published on: 9 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2020

Holy Trinity Pewley Down School is preparing to celebrate its 200th birthday this October. The school has given David Rose access to a wealth of archive material that reveals its history in words and pictures.

A number of special events have been arranged to mark the school’s bi-centennary. They include an open afternoon and tea party on Tuesday, October 16, from 1.30pm to 3pm, at the juniors’ site at Holy Trinity School in Addison Road; a thanksgiving service at Holy Trinity Church, on Thursday, October 18, at 1.45pm; and a concert in the school hall at 7.30pm also on the 18th.

Former pupils and friends of the school are welcome to attend these events.

Aerial view of today’s Holy Trinity School.

There will be a display of archive material relating to the school during the celebrations. These include some wonderful photos of pupils and teachers down the decades, plus some of the school’s old log books and a punishment book!

Details of the school’s early history are sketchy. It would appear that the school was built in the fork of South Hill and Pewley Hill by the National Society for the Education of the Poor and opened in 1812. It was one of the first six schools built by the society that had been formed just a year earlier. Boys and girls were educated separately. They attended from the age of three years to 12.

Pages from the school log book in 1872.

Parents paid a voluntary subscription but it was not until 1880 that attending school became compulsory. In 1891 elementary education became free.

The school was rebuilt in 1865 and again in the 1900s, when a new wing was added. While building work was going on, the school took over premises of another school nearby. This was the Guildford British School for Girls and Infants in South Hill, that had opened in 1814. Also, at some point while the builders where at the school, pupils went to a room at Abbot’s Hospital for their lessons.

The former school buildings seen from South Hill.

Surviving school log books from 1865 reveal fascinating details about husband and wife Joseph and Helen Ball who came to the school as heads of the boys and girls schools in 1869. They presided over a time of change and improvements to the education offered to the pupils there – due, in the main, to their tireless efforts.

Mr Ball sought to overcome problems with discipline. Use of the cane was withdrawn for a short time, but the bad behaviour continued and the cane was soon back in use. Events such as a circus coming to town and the traditional May Day celebrations meant that boys often stayed away. Outbreaks of influenza could sweep through the school reducing the numbers for weeks at a time.

Pupils in 1928.

After the Second World War William Brown became headmaster – a post he held for 23 years. He was succeeded by Mr Williams, and in 1989 the current head teacher, Richard Rowe, took up his post.

Work starts on the school at the top of Addison Road.

The 1970s saw great changes. A new school for infants was opened in 1973 in Semaphore Road, and in 1976 a new middle school opened at the far end of Addison Road. It was officially opened the following year by the then Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev’d David Brown. The former buildings in Pewley Hill and South Hill have continued to be used for various county education purposes.

Pupils in the 1970s.

Holy Trinity (junior) and Pewley Down (infant) are thriving schools. Within a section on its website are profiles of the teaching staff. For head teacher Richard Rowe, it states: “School really does mean community for Richard and his community certainly is growing as he takes Pewley Down under his wing. An advocate of cutting edge education he is constantly seeking new challenges and directions for the school, both with the physical building and with the curriculum. He’s often to be seen whizzing up and down the hill in his Mini and wears a different pair of cowboy boots each week!”

Click here to see the school’s website.

Coming soon on this website will be a further story about the remarkable Victorian husband and wife head teachers Joseph and Helen Ball. Using archive material in the school’s collection, David Rose has also undertaken some further research into the pair revealing a good deal about them, their their lives and their family.

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Responses to Holy Trinity Pewley Down School Celebrates Milestone 200th Anniversary

  1. Martin Giles

    October 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Guildford Dragon NEWS reader Julian Lyon recognised himself in the 1970s photo above.
    See ‘Letters – Can You Help Name Those In The Holy Trinity School Photos?’ for more information.
    Julian has named many of his classmates in the photo and finishes, “It would be good to see if any of your readers can add any names.”