St Nicholas J.M.I School

North Road

By Pauline Maryan

School house of St Nicholas School c. 1958
Stevenage Museum PP800

The National School, later known as Saint Nicholas School, opened on 1 January 1834 on Bury Mead. Even though attendance was not compulsory and a small fee was charged 116 boys and 91 girls attended on the first day. There were three departments to the school, Boys, Girls and Infants. However, by 1910 the number of pupils had grown to such an extent that it was decided to build a separate building for the boys in Letchmore Road. In 1963 the school was moved to a new site in Six Hills Way.

This page was added on 14/02/2011.

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  • Thank you, Pauline.
    I’ve just posted a reply on the ‘School at Burymead…’ thread, but was delighted to find the long post by Alan Ford here. You were a classmate of mine, Alan, and your memories of the old St Nicholas brought a tear to my eye. Just yesterday I was explaining to my wife why I wanted my ashes to be buried under a horse chestnut tree, and I described to her the perfect shape and significance of that single conker tree on the mead that stood out from all the rest. How strange that today I find that you were affected in a similar way by those trees. Your descriptions of significant moments are exactly those that I would have chosen to paint the picture of my time at the old school.
    I can remember you pretty well, and can even imagine your softly-spoken ‘old town’ voice.
    I wish you well.

    To the moderator (if one exists):
    I don’t know if contributors are automatically alerted to replies, but I would be happy for Alan to know that I have seen his post, and to be given my email address.

    [Requests to make contact with other posters should be addressed to, giving details of the person with whom contact is sought and exactly where their post or comment appeared. Ed.]

    By Tony Latimer (21/10/2022)
  • I started at St Nicholas School when I was 4 ys old and I was in Mrs Killen’s? class. We used to have to wave our hankies each morning and I remember when I didn’t have one I would take a bit of rag from the rag box. I was very happy at this school and was in mrs Kitchiner’s class in 1949 (I remember writing the date each morning and chanting my tables). Every day at home time she would play Teddy Bear’s Picnic on the piano as we marched out. I was also in Mrs Warner’s class and she used to read us a few pages of a story every afternoon. Miss Lawrence, the head mistress, taught me next and then I had the first male teacher Mr Batson. I passed my eleven plus exam but failed the inte rview. Miss Lawrence was very cross with me for not getting through.

    By Janice Mellett (22/04/2021)
  • I went to St Nicholas School on the Mead from 1958 to 1963, and was then one of the first pupils at the “new” St. Nicholas School in Six Hills Way, when it moved in 1963. The School on the Mead was probably little changed since the 1930’s. The classrooms were heated by Coke fires in the corner of each room. There were no internal toilets, these were 100 yards away at the end of the garden, and a visit in winter or bad weather involved putting on your coat, scarf, gloves and wellington boots. As there was no kitchen or canteen, school dinners were cooked at Letchmore Road School and delivered in large vats, which gave the mashed potato, cabbage and custard greater opportunity to become lumpy or congealed. Despite these things it was a good place to go to school and, being young, we didn’t know any different. Although there was a tarmac playground it was unfenced and, apart from in the winter, the Mead and part of the Avenue were also part of our playground, and as far as I know no one ever went missing. The Avenue in those days was not dissected by Martin’s Way and the part nearest the Mead consisted of mature Horse Chestnut and Lime Trees, which were lost during the “Great Storm” of 1987.

    Life at the School closely followed the seasons, and seemed to me closely tied to the life-cycle of the Horse Chestnuts in the Avenue, or did I only pay attention during the Nature lessons? Spring, when the Horse Chestnuts had their “sticky buds” (which, when we were in the Infants, were picked and put in jam jars until their leaves emerged) and the Rooks were nesting in the Avenue, we would, every Tuesday in Lent, walk up the Avenue to St Nicholas Church for a service and again on Ascension Day. Summer, when the Horse Chestnuts were in full leaf and had their towering white flowers, would be the time of the dreaded Maypole Dancing (not one of my favourite activities) culminating in a performance for the old folk at Whitney Wood Retirement Home. Autumn was the season of conkers and there could not have been many schools where you collect them during playtime. It was also the time of the Stevenage Fair and, in my early years the “Field” Fair that followed the “street” Fair was held on Franklin’s Field (now the site of Dewpond Close and Franklin’s Road) and we would spend playtimes and trips to the toilets watching the Fair being set up from the garden. Winter (no leaves on the Horse Chestnuts) was cold. Two of the coldest winters of the Twentieth Century, 1962 and 1963, occurred while I was at the School. The school milk [free to all in those days, (pre-Margaret Thatcher)] froze and was thawed beside the coke fires in the classrooms. “Awesome” slides were made in the playground and massive snowballs were made on the Mead. Schools never closed in those days because of snow and we had to trudge through snow drifts to go to the toilet. The Headmaster, when I started School on the Mead was Mr Franklin, and the Teachers that I recall were Mrs Pattenden, Mrs Livingstone, Miss Kitchener, Mr Batson and Mrs Warner.

    In 1963 the School moved to Six Hills Way. As most us lived in the Old Town and our experience of the “New Town” was of shopping at the Town Centre, it was like going to school in a different town. The “new” School was not at first without its problems. Prior to completion it suffered from attacks of vandalism, and parents would patrol the site at weekends and a Guard Dog was acquired, with his own kennel at the school. Also, when we had first moved in, a problem was discovered with the ceilings and wooden supports had to be put up until a solution was found. The “new” School included a small part of Whomerly Wood in its grounds where, in the summer, we could play and build camps and, shelters. I think this was so that we didn’t miss the Avenue and the Mead too much.

    By Alan Ford (17/03/2012)