Childerley Gate: The School on Bourn Airfield

When we, that is, Caldecote Local History Group, were putting together The Book of Caldecote, many of the residents to whom we spoke mentioned that they had attended Childerley Gate School, which existed between 1910 and 1940. Sadly, the school was demolished when, at the outbreak of the Second World War, the land on which it stood became Bourn Airfield, a satellite air-base for RAF Oakington. It is said that an aeroplane coming into land struck the roof of the school and the building was demolished as it had become a hazard to aircraft.

school airfield

Childerley Gate School can be seen centre left in this map from 1928. It is situated on the south side of St Neots Road, between Childerley Gate and Two Pots House, north of Grange Farm.

When we were putting together The Book of Caldecote many people described to us their memories of the school, the head-master’s house, the ringing of the school bell, and their recollections of the teachers, and the lessons they attended.  But with exception of one photograph taken in about 1930, in which the school buildings can be glimpsed behind a group of pupils, we have no idea what the school buildings looked like.

school-airfield-class-photo

Christmas Fancy Dress party, Childerley Gate School in 1929/30. The school buildings can be seen in the background.

But, hidden away in the Cambridgeshire County Council archives, there are the original architect’s drawings for the entire building. And with the permission of Cambridgeshire County Council, we are delighted to be able to show these images today. We now know what Childerley Gate School looked like when it opened in 1910. And for the first time since its demolition nearly 80 years ago, we can display these images here on our website. The drawings were signed by Mr H. H. Dunn ARIBA, the County Architect of Cambridgeshire County Council at that time. The drawings appear to have been completed in June 1909, and the copies we have were probably used by the building contractors, Clark & Sons of Cambridge.

From the drawings, we can see that the headmaster’s house was a two-storey building, attached to the school, which was single storey. The school bell tower was placed on the roof over the main classrooms.

school-airfield-plan01

The drawings show all four elevations, north, east, south and west, and plan views of the internal layout.

School plan 02

The school had two classrooms, one for infants and one for older children, up to the age of 14. There were separate cloakrooms for boys and girls, and a block of outside toilets that must have been very cold in winter. The headmaster’s house had a parlour, a living room, a scullery (kitchen) and three bedrooms on the first floor.

School plan 03

These drawings, which are now very fragile, were beautifully executed and coloured by hand. There is a tremendous amount of detail to be seen if you look closely. The notes and details have been added in neat handwriting that can be read clearly. They really are a work of art and we are very lucky that they have survived.

School plan 04

(Architectural drawings are reproduced here by kind permission of Cambridgeshire County Council Archives Service and must not be published elsewhere without their permission. The originals are deposited in Cambridgeshire Archives, Shire Hall, Cambridge under catalogue reference KCC7/ARCH/E3/8).

 

Sue Day, Caldecote Local History Group

 

 

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