In the Bucks Free Press edition of December 2018 we showed on one of the Nostalgia pages a picture of children from Netherwood school.

This school is probably unknown to many readers, including myself. However, judging by the response to the picture Netherwood is remembered with affection by some readers.

It was a private school, initially located in the school-room adjacent to the Methodist Chapel on the corner of Gordon Road and the London Road.

The Methodist Chapel had been built in 1893 and the schoolroom building was added in 1929. It contained two classrooms and was built because the Wesleyan Methodists were undertaking “extensive work amongst young people”.

The Principal and Head Teacher of Netherwood School was Miss Marjorie Kitchener. She was the daughter of Horace Kitchener, the school-master at the village school in Church Lane, Bledlow Ridge.

Before the Second World War Marjorie had been the music teacher at the school.

The precise foundation date of the school in as yet unknown, but it was established in the late 1940s.

At the annual Open Day of the school in July 1951 Miss Kitchener reported that during the year, two of the pupils had passed the 11+ examination to qualify for entrance to Wycombe High School. They were Droona Lane and Lesley Boore.

The number of pupils passing the 11+ was, and still is, the main criterion by which private schools judged their success, and therefore their attraction.

Miss Kitchener went on to thank the parents of one of the pupils for the gift of a cricket “outfit”.

The school held its first carol service in December 1953 in the adjacent Methodist Church, when Miss Kitchener played the organ.

The lesson and prayers were read by the children, some of whom were the soloists when carols were sung.

These were Harvey Coltman, Graham Whitfield, Brenda Griffiths, Susan Johnson, Robert Lockwood and Ann Higgs. It was reported that a collection raised just over £3 for the church funds. In 1954 the school moved to new premises at 184 West Wycombe Road, where it merged with Lyndhurst school.

The following year the Open Day was held back at the Gordon Road Methodist Church. On that occasion the pupils “entertained the large audience with songs, dances, recitations, piano solos and an amusing play ‘The Scarecrow’ by Enid Blyton.”

The prizes for academic achievement were presented by a former teacher Mrs Brackley and bouquets were given to her and Miss Kitchener by the pupils.

A reader who has fond memories of the school, remembers that other teachers were Mrs Harris, Mrs James, Mrs Higgins, and Mrs Brown. She went to the school from 1952 to 1958, so attended the premises at both Gordon Road and West Wycombe Road.

About the latter, she remembers – “The school moved to a large house in West Wycombe Road nearly opposite the recreation ground.

“The large garden at the back was full of trees, and was used as the school playground.

“The principle was Miss Kitchener, and deputy Mrs Harris, and had a total of approx. 60 pupils spread between 3 classrooms.

“Our uniform was navy blue gym slips and blazers in winter, and blue and white dresses in summer for the girls. Grey trousers and shirts and navy blazers for the boys.

“During the summer months we used the recreation ground for our games lessons, which was usually cricket or rounders.”

The London Road chapel was sold by auction on March 8, 1959, and subsequently used as a storeroom for the adjacent furniture showroom of Butlers. It is now occupied by a wine merchant.

The musical interests of the founder of Netherwood school Marjorie Kitchener have been perpetuated by one of her pupils Paul Drayton. Paul is a composer, conductor, pianist, teacher and author of international repute.

He left Netherwood to study at the Royal Grammar School in 1956, then read music at Brasenose College, Oxford University.

Many of his compositions are vocal, including an opera The Hanging Oak. If any other readers have memories of Netherwood school, particularly in the late 1950s/1960s, I would be pleased to here from them. Email or phone 01494 755070.