Little Furze Primary School in 1953

Little Furze School was opened in September 1952, with 600 places available in the Infants and Junior sections. The site was considered to be a difficult one of 13 acres on the northern flanks of the South Herts Plateau and the steeper slopes were levelled to form the basis for the extensive buildings, playgrounds and the narrow field parallel to Gosforth Lane. The writer has attempted to re-produce some of these features on the annotated Aerofilms photograph (1953), Little Furze County Primary Schools, Oxhey. Also, a geological sketch section has been provided to place the school in relation to the physical features of the locality. When this contributor entered the school in early March 1953, one immediate impression was the apparent difficulty with draining the lower slopes of the site, which had been covered with turfs in an attempt to stabilise the environment.

The school had been constructed on the northern side of Hanging Field, which had previously been poor quality pasture surrounded on three sides by woodland, as indicated by local maps dating back almost 200 years. The only level playing field was the extremely narrow piece of land between the school buildings and the road, but it was suitable for holding events on Sports Day and for the occasional game of football. Most matches with other schools in the Watford District took place on the newly-created South Oxhey Playing Fields. Relatively little use was made of the main school field adjacent to Oxhey Woods, apart from¬†those spaces next to the large playgrounds. To this impressionable nine-year-old, the school was situated in a most attractive location, particularly during the fine summer weather of 1953. In almost every respect, academic, cultural and sporting,¬†Little Furze had made a promising start and was arguably the leading primary school on the Estate in the early part of the decade, along with Oxhey Wood School. For this writer, Little Furze offered a sound education for the transfer to Watford Boys’ Grammar School in September 1954.

This page was added on 08/06/2017.

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  • Since my comment of last May a great deal has changed. For one thing, I’m told the plastic fence is to benefit slow worms. This gas happened elsewhere bur in this case the idea us to catch the slow worms before they lose their habitat and move them to Chorleywood House. At the moment the rest of the site is home to wild flowers but for how long I don’t know. As of today (Wednesday 28 September) the school building has been flattened leaving a very substantial heap of rubble and a pile of twisted metal. I never saw the swimming pool (not being an ex-pupil) but it must be somewhere there in the rubble.
    It has been a long wait since we were told about the initial plans. Now to see if the development lives up to expectations.

    By Robert Maddox (28/09/2022)
  • Since I noticed the sorry, but not irreparable, state of the surrounding fence very little has happened. Just the occasional contractors van with little obvious sign of much being done. With one exception.
    A low fence, about a metre high, has been added all around the site close to the existing fence. It’s made of plastic presumably and would seem to be for the purpose of keeping something in or out. I’ve seen these elsewhere but have yet to discover what they’re for. Controlling rabbits? Hedgehogs? Whatever, it doesn’t look effective.
    The County Council have been sitting on this land for years, at considerable expense, while other schools in the area have appeared or disappeared.
    I understand the derelict ITO building in Northwick Road also sits on land belonging to the Council. I wonder how much longer that site will sit there unused.

    By Robert Maddox (14/05/2022)
  • I can only comment about my own observations. I was a mere toddler when the school was built living in faraway Tiverton in Devon until I left school in 1967.
    Since then I’ve lived in The Long and Winding Road that led to Bridlington Road. I thought my address over the dentist would have joined all the other rubble by now.
    It hasn’t for some reason but during that period I spent several years in Watford, returning to S Oxhey 6/7 years ago.
    I’ve just received a letter from TRDC – CSC rep (what’s CSC?) about plans for the Little Furze site.
    I think it should include reference to a public meeting held in the Baptist Church some years ago when we were told plans were in place for demolitioning (sp?) 2 local care homes and replacing them with one on the Little Furze site plus housing.
    I don’t take seriously the point about an underground spring. I don’t think this is unusual and in any case it looks to me as if a spring emerges at the gates of St Joseph’s school.
    I haven’t yet seen the detailed plans but I understand an early step will mean a new fence around the site. If the existing one surrounds the whole site it is woefully inadequate. If the hugely expensive security was to protect the building what was the point if it’s to be demolished? I’ve seen youngsters running across the roof as if it was a new school in Watford’s Clarendon Road.
    If a new fence is needed all that needs to be done is to repair the existing one in places where it’s damaged. The cost of replacing it would surely be another complete waste of time and money.

    By Robert Maddox (04/01/2021)
  • It is also worth pointing out that three former pupils from Little Furze Junior School in the 1950s eventually became Head Boys at Clarendon Secondary School: Brian Lawrie (1957/58), Derek Fullylove (1959/60) and Peter Swain (1961/62).

    By John Swain (09/06/2017)
  • The photograph of John Swain was taken by the official school photographer at Little Furze Primary School in March 1953, aged just 9 years, two months! After an extended interview with the head teacher, Mr. R.L. Curling, he was placed in form B1 (Year 4) and within twelve months, he had successfully taken the notorious 11+. All pupils at the school were expected to work hard and to realise their full potential. As commented elsewhere on this website, from a large class size of 45, 27 made the transition to a selective school, with most of the girls accepted for a place at Watford Grammar School, whereas the boys were almost equally divided between Watford Boys’ GS, Bushey GS and the newly opened Rickmansworth GS. The remainder of the year group (three classes) mostly went to Clarendon Secondary School in September 1954 and were to form one of the significant cohorts in the expansion of the school through the decade to 1959/60. The history of Clarendon School, 1950-1967, is told in detail by David Reidy and the book is obtainable from the author.

    By John Swain (08/06/2017)