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Loughton County High School for Girls
"The Utmost for the Highest"
Miss Madeleine (Mollie) Heald M.A, joined the school in September 1945, having previously worked at Howell's School in Denbigh, North Wales, a school which apparently had links with Bancrofts. She was headmistress for 26 years, retiring in the spring of 1972, and was awarded the OBE in 1971 for her distinguished services to education. Miss Heald gained her M.A. at Newnham College, Cambridge, having learned Spanish in just one term in order to gain entrance. She reputedly knew every current pupil at LHS by name and had the orator's talent of being able to clear her throat while still speaking normally to a large hall full of people. She was a very kind lady and took time to speak to individual pupils whenever she felt they were in need of guidance. Miss Heald died in March 2003 at the age of 93. Long serving school secretary Faith Neville attended both her funeral and the later memorial service only months before her own death in January 2004 at the age of 90.
Miss Heald was succeeded by
Mrs Winifred Jean Delchar, a 40 year old mother of two boys. Previously she had been senior mistress at Mayesbrook Comprehensive School in Barking and had 20 years experience of teaching at both grammar and comprehensive schools. She lived in Upminster. Sadly, Mrs Delchar was not destined to be head for long, though she apparently made a significant impact on the school during her short reign. After illness and major surgery she appeared to recover well, only to fall ill again during the summer holidays of 1976. Although she returned to school after the holidays, she died in hospital, just a few weeks after the new term started.
School survives risk of demolition
It was during Mrs Delchar's time that there were plans to demolish the lovely old school buildings with the intention of rebuilding on a site adjacent to Buckhurst Hill County High School for boys, since the two schools were to combine as a co-ed comprehensive. Fortunately local residents took up the call to arms and the old buildings were saved.
Deputy head steps up
Deputy head, Mrs Dorothy Henderson, who had been teaching English at LHS since the late 60s, temporarily took over the duties of headmistress after the sudden loss of Mrs Delchar, until her replacement could be appointed.
As Mrs Henderson was mostly at LHS as a teacher, I have included the
information about her on the teachers page as described below
There is a tribute to Mrs Henderson's time at LHS and to her sense of humour. You can read it here.
It comes from the 1985 LHS magazine, following her retirement in 1984
Mrs Henderson wrote a wonderful appreciation of Miss Wolff which you can read here
She also wrote and produced Miss Wolff's scrapbook, given to her on retirement. It is reproduced here
New Head moves in
As far as I have been able to determine, Miss Smith left (or retired?) at the end of the summer term in 1985 (please let me know if this is incorrect).
And on the changes go
Miss Christine Manning joined LHS as head teacher in the autumn of 1985 as the changes continued apace. The name Loughton County High School disappeared completely in 1989 when the school became Roding Valley High School, a school which, for a few years, specialised in teaching the performing arts. How times change!
Read Miss Manning's newspaper article about many of the changes on the Home page here
Miss Hall was born on 12th January 1876 in Greenheys, near Oldham and educated at Manchester High School for Girls from 1888 to 1892 and then gained an MA at Owen’s College (later to be known as the Victoria University of Manchester) in 1903, studying mathematics, economics, Latin and French. Her former headmistress at Manchester High, Miss Burstall, persuaded her to take up teaching. After teaching English at North Manchester HS, Miss Hall started her own, very successful, school at Long Mills, Derbyshire, then at the age of twenty-nine she became headmistress of the first High School for Girls in Essex - our LHS. She invited Miss Burstall to be Guest Speaker at LHS in 1914 and 1921.
sources: : Loughton High School magazine No 42, Autumn 1962
Manchester High School Archives
Many thanks to Christine Spencer for the research
Miss Eleanor Margarethe Verini took over when Miss Hall retired. She was born 19th May 1894 in Exton, Hampshire, where her father was Rector and she was educated at Queen Margaret's School, Scarborough and at the Cheltenham Ladies' College, then became a student at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. She worked as senior English Mistress at Edgbaston High School, Birmingham and later as lecturer in English at Cambridge Training College for Women (Post Graduate), before taking up the position of headmistress at Ely High School in 1929. She left there in 1936 to become headmistress at Loughton High. She left Loughton in 1945 when she was appointed as Principal of the Cambridge Training College for Women.
Many thanks to Christine Spencer for researching this.
There is a lot more information in the link below, thanks to researchers at Ely High School
If you can name any others, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks
DEPUTY HEAD GIRL
Annie Tee (Acting HG)
Betty Tubby (Head Prefect)
Shirley P Jones
(from March) Judith French
Doris Burrows & Joan Gilbey
Valerie Grist &
From 1982, instead of Head Girl, Deputy and Prefects, there were teams of girls (and boys from the combined
sixth form with Buckhurst Hill County High), in the form of a School Council
1982 1985 1986/7
Coordinator : Heather Hinkley Cathy Andrews
Chairperson (main school council) : Anita Dighe Alison Dwyer
Chairperson (6th Form council) : Sally Eden Paula Berrisford Jane Cooke
Secretary (6th Form council) : Karin Field Isobel Black
Don't miss the sub-pages
in this menu!
The first headmistress and founder of our school
Miss Mary E. Hall M.A. (1876 - 1962)
Loughton County High School 1906 to 1936
Miss Hall gave the school its motto - "The Utmost for the Highest"
This bust of Miss Hall still stands in the entrance hall of the present school surrounded by the LCHS honours boards even though the school name has changed and the honours boards probably mean very little to the current generation of pupils at Roding Valley High School.
Christine informs me that the bust was a gift to the school in 1935/6 by Miss Picot, who she believes was a former art teacher at LHS
Letter from Miss Hall to the Old Girls Association, published in the school magazine of September 1936:
" My Dear Old Girls,
This letter in the Magazine seems to be the best way of trying to get a message of thanks to all of you who so generously contributed to the lovely parting gift you gave me. Though I saw many of you on April 7th, I did not realise when thanking you for the delightful desk and cheque what was the exact amount of the cheque enclosed in the desk. I think you would all like to know that it was for the generous sum of £55. I believe the understanding is that having the desk as a permanent token from you I am to use the cheque for luxuries or holidays.
I think it is a delightful idea, for should I go abroad again (and I hope to do so in the Autumn) I shall spend some of your gift in avoiding night travel and in excursions and sight seeing I should otherwise have to forego.
Your gift will be a real comfort to me and I have already found that it will increase in value even, for in my thoughts I have already spent it many times - it will be an evergreen plant in the garden of my memory.
I love the delightful book with all your signatures - the book lives in a drawer in my desk; as I sit at my desk in the corner of my little dining-room I can see out of two windows and have a view of fields and trees; do you wonder that I sit and dream sometimes of you old girls severally and in groups - you who are perhaps my proudest possession - my "old girls."
Will you make a note of my address? I hope you will never pass by without stopping to see me and a special visit from any of you would be a great pleasure.
My kettle boils water very quickly - I think you would be glad to see how well I am and how contented in the garden I am making.
Always yours affectionately,
MARY E. HALL
On separate pages:
Sub pages of this page:
Miss Verini - LHS - 1936 to 1945
(I know it's not a politically correct term these days but that's what we called these brilliant ladies when we were their pupils so I'm sticking with it!)
Miss M E Heald - LHS - 1945 to 1972
The photos below are scanned pages from the 1977 School magazine
The tribute was written by Mrs Henderson
A Thanksgiving service is being held for Madeleine “Mollie” Heald, the former headteacher of Loughton Girls School [sic]. Miss Heald, who was headteacher for almost 30 years, died in March aged 93.
Many who knew her in Loughton did not have the chance to pay tribute to the dedicated teacher and so the service is being put on to allow people to pay their respects.
Miss Heald, who was known as Mollie, was appointed headteacher at Loughton Girls School, which is now known as Roding Valley High School, in 1945 when she was just 33 years old.
Faith Neville, who worked alongside her, said: “She was amazingly young to be a headteacher. I remember she used to put herself down and say she only survived as headteacher because the secretary knew how to do things and that was typical of Mollie and her humility.”
Mrs [sic] Neville, of Millsmead, Loughton, added: “She was a very good teacher and very well qualified. She had a lot of educational experience including working at a girls’ boarding school during the wartime.”
Miss Heald grew up in Yorkshire before moving south. She attended Newnham College, Cambridge, after learning Spanish in one term in order to be accepted, and graduated with a first class degree.
Under Miss Heald’s stewardship Loughton Girls School developed and became recognised as one of the finest schools in Essex, according to Mrs Nevill.
Miss Heald was also involved in many committees outside school concerning teacher training, language teaching and other topics. In 1971 she was awarded the OBE for her services to education.
Miss Heald was a member of the St Mary’s congregation for many years, serving on the parochial church council, and was also a huge supporter of the Leprosy Mission and the Children’s Society.
Miss Heald’s subject was Spanish and despite being headteacher she took it upon herself to get to know every pupil at her school.
Mrs Neville said: “She set about doing good. She was very friendly. She made it her business to know the girls at the school. She was absolutely determined to know every girl in the school and after they left the school she used to know them and their children.”
Margaret Russell, the area organiser for the Leprosy Mission and one of the people who has helped to organise the thanksgiving service, said: “I think it’s very important to have the service because a lot of people didn’t have the chance to pay their respects when Mollie died.”
by Pete Henshaw, June 2003
After 26 years as headmistress of Loughton County High School, Miss Madeleine Heald is to retire this year.
Miss Heald, who was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her distinguished services to education, told the Gazette that she had reached her decision to retire with considerable regret but felt it was an opportune time to do so.
She added, “I will retire at Christmas with mixed feelings because I have been extremely happy in my career at the school and have been very fortunate in the support I have received over the years from the governors, staff and pupils. But everything must come to an end some time and I do feel that if I leave at the end of the year it will give my successor every chance in her new life. I have not made any plans at all yet as to what I shall do next year in my retirement.”
In a tribute to Miss Heald the chairman of the school governors, Mrs Mary Liell, said, “She has been an absolutely wonderful headmistress and the governors are very sad at the prospect of losing her as she has made life easy for us. We have always felt that it was an honour to have her in charge of the school.”
Miss Heald’s successor has not yet been chosen.
The following is a transcript of a clipping from the West Essex Gazette announcing Miss Heald's planned retirement.
clippings received, with grateful thanks, from Christine Edwards
Loughton High School headmistress awarded the OBE
Miss Madeleine Heald, headmistress of Loughton County High School for nearly 26 years, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire for her distinguished services to education.
A woman whose greatest interest in life has been education and who has served on many committees for the advancement of it, Miss Heald came to Loughton from Howell’s, a school in Denbigh, North Wales, in September 1945 to take up her present position.
Since the news was announced last weekend Miss Heald has been inundated with telegrams and letters from well-wishers all over the country.
At school assembly on Monday morning the chairman of the school governors, Mrs Mary Liell, was a surprise visitor and a pupil presented Miss Heald with a huge bouquet of carnations on behalf of the governors and pupils to mark the occasion.
Miss Heald, who lives in St John’s Road, Loughton, told the Gazette, “I was asked if I was willing to accept the OBE five weeks ago but I did not know I had been given it until I read about it in my morning paper on Saturday. I have been very moved at the kindness of everyone. I have received hosts of telegrams and letters from friends, colleagues and former pupils congratulating me. I regard it as not only as honour to myself but as a particular recognition to the school and I am naturally delighted and proud that the school has been rewarded in this way. I am looking forward to going to Buckingham Palace to receive the award from Her Majesty although I am feeling rather nervous already.”
Buckingham Palace was the destination for Miss Madeleine Heald, headmistress of Loughton County High School for Girls, when she went to receive her OBE on Tuesday.
She was accompanied by friends Miss N Medrington and Miss M Vincent.
Miss Heald was awarded the OBE in June in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her distinguished services to education.
“It was a very enjoyable occasion and beautifully organised” said Miss Heald after the presentation.
Miss Heald, who was due to retire next month, will now stay on until April next year because a successor has not yet been appointed.
Transcripts of clippings from the West Essex Gazette.
Many thanks go to Christine Edwards for keeping all these clippings and forwarding copies to me.
Mrs Delchar - LHS - 1972 to 1976
The school secretary around this time was Mrs Wright.
The picture below is from the 1975 panorama.
Her daughter, Helen, joined LHS in the 6th form - 1975 - 1977
and sent me this lovely photo of the two of them in 2015
Heading for a difficult period of change
from the West Essex Gazette 1977:
Miss Smith - LHS 1977 to 1985 ?
Leyton Headmistress Miss Patricia Smith is the new headmistress of Loughton County High School for Girls.
The post has been empty since the death of Mrs Jean Delchar last September.
Miss Smith has been head of Leyton Senior High School for Girls for 13 years. She is expected to take up her new appointment at the beginning of the summer term in April.
“I’m looking forward to the new job particularly because Loughton High is a school that has children from 11 to 18 years,” said 53 year old Miss Smith. “It is very stimulating to meet the challenge of a new post.”
Miss Smith was selected by a joint appointments committee which sat at the school last Thursday. Chaired by Mrs Beryl Platt, chairman of Essex Education Committee, it included county council and school governing body representatives.
Loughton High School is scheduled to change from a three-form entry selective school to a four-form entry comprehensive in September 1979. It will share a sixth form with Buckhurst Hill County High School for Boys on a new site near to the Loughton School.
“Miss Smith is particularly well qualified to lead the school through the period of change which lies ahead,” said chairman of the CHS governors Reg Evans, announcing the appointment in a letter to parents. “She steered her present school from a girls grammar school to its present status as a well-established girls’ senior high school.
Much of the research for this page has been done by Christine Spencer with thanks for the help of the Roding Valley school librarian, Julia Martin,
and the kind agreement of the headmasters of Roding Valley High - Mr Paul Banks to 2014 and Mr James Luck (2014 +)
I would also like to thank Christine Dick (née Edwards) for the many newspaper clippings she has provided
When these open in a gallery you can enlarge them further by clicking the box at the top right-hand corner of the image, then scroll up and down to read
A NOTE FROM UP THE ROAD
It was a very strange feeling to leave Loughton High halfway through the year. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there and it was strange to leave knowing that I shall be back again in a year.
It has taken some time to get used to my new surroundings. I can still hear trains rumbling past but there is no traffic noise at all. The main difference is, of course, the little children. They are delightful: keen, eager, polite and tiny compared with the young women of Loughton. Everything is small: the school, the furniture (I am glad they found me an adult size desk and chair) as well as the children.
The staff have made me welcome and make me laugh at the exploits of some of the youngsters who will eventually join the new school.
from Alderton Junior School
As Roding Valley High School was to be an amalgamation of several local schools, staff interviews had to be conducted on "neutral territory". For this reason, The Alderton County Junior School, in Alderton Hall Lane, was chosen. Miss Manning spent quite a while there, preparing for the new school. While there, she wrote the following for the 1991 Roding Valley yearbook:
Miss Verini wrote a letter to the 1936 school magazine shortly after she took up her role as Miss Hall’s successor.
Loughton High School for Girls, 14th July 1936
My dear Girls and Old Girls, -
I am told that you would like me to write something in this Magazine, and I am glad to be given the opportunity. At the same time I realise that I only belong to a month or two of this School year, and that this issue really belongs to Miss Hall.
It is to Old Girls especially that I want to write, for the magazine is the best medium to reach you all. I do hope that you will continue to feel at home in School, that you will not hesitate to visit us as you would have done in the past, or to ask for any help. A School may gain so much by maintaining contact with those who have outgrown its immediate use, and I should be sad if a change of Head were to mean for anyone a break with the past.
Changes will no doubt come, as they must where there is life, but they come from care for the present not disregard for the past. For all the Red Queen’s efforts, “Faster, faster” only kept her running on the spot, and so it is with all of us who in turn would serve succeeding generations.
I hope that past, present and future generations will hold together through common experience of that growth through which “The days that make us happy make us wise.”
from the 1960 panorama
Christine Manning passed away on 11th February 2019.
Her friend, and fellow teacher, Alison Clewlow, has written a lovely tribute which you can find here