Bennetts End Secondary Modern School now part of Longdean
By Alan French
The following is an extract from a communication that I made in 2005:-
My name is Alan French. I was at Bennetts End Secondary Modern School from its start in 1955. I am therefore, interested in the forthcoming celebration/s and have registered on special website.
However, in the meantime, I would like to make some comments that I hope may prove helpful and interesting.
On the subject of memorabelia, there is a possibility I may have some. If I find anything, I shall contact you. Outside of the memorabelia of which might be in my possession, I have reason to believe that Mr. Fowler, kept an album of photographs. This is according to an article which years ago, appeared in the local press.
The most famous artifact containing reference to the school, is featured in an album titled,”The Beatles Live at the BBC.” John Lennon reads out from something submitted by Upper Third prior to the Beatles performing a song.
I am also curious about some films. I do know of the possibility of at least one or two professional documentaries which feature the school. One I have seen in the last few years. This was a publicity film made circa. early 1960’s about Hemel Hempstead. Unfortunately, the school is only seen for a few seconds. I do know that there is at least a 16mm. copy of it in existance.The other film was made while I was there. But I am not aware of the details concerning this film. There should, however, be some amateur film of the school in existance. Shortly before I left, Bennetts End Secondary Modern School purchased a Bell and Howell cine camera. I recall Mr. Fowler operating it at a hobbies exhibition, held in the school. I am not sure of whether the guage was 9.5mm. or standard 8mm. If you are wondering why I seem to give the impression that I know something about films, it is because I am a member of Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers.
I also know that a reel to reel tape recorder was purchased some years before the cine camera. The recordings made by it would go back to the 1950’s.
Hi —. For club records. Following our verbal conversation. This is the special preface, or forward, that I have written and printed, together with the lengthy blog that I submitted last year and was published.
I am delivering it to Longdean School for their archives, as they are mentioned with regard to a UFO sighting in 1956, when they were Bennetts End Secondary Modern and Apsley Grammar Schools.
ALAN (ALIEN) FRENCH STRIKES AGAIN. A special forward. My name is Alan French. For all my sins, I am one of the original pupils who attended Bennetts End Secondary Modern school when it opened its doors in September 1955.
Today, I am retired. Although I have not got a computer of my own, I write blogs for the Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers in the Hemel Hempstead Library.
Last year something strange happened which inspired me to write two blogs. The first was about the sighting of a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) after a club meeting. The second blog was inspired by not only this sighting, but also this subject, from part real life, and part motion picture and kindred art perspective.
During the earlier part of the second blog, I referred to another sighting which involves Bennetts End Secondary Modern School in 1956, now part of the Longdean School complex. Therefore, I think that either, in part, or, as a whole, the blog would be of interest to the Longdean Archive.
The rest of the blog? Who can say? But interestingly enough, amongst other things, it does give reference to what in its time, was a famous science fiction horror film titled, QUATERMASS 2. One of the locations for this production was in the radius of Galley Hill in Hemel Hempstead’s Gadebridge and Warners End. It was a cinema version of a successful television serial.
Strangely enough, at the time this was happening, Bennetts End Secondary Modern, had an intake of pupils from the Gadebridge, Warners End and Chaulden areas of the town. So it could be argued that this was in its “territory”.
I do not know if other schools also had an intake as well during this period. Although when I went to Belswains School, for a time, there were some pupils who came from Chaulden’s Pixies Hill area. As far as Bennetts End was concerned, however, transport was laid on for the pupils who commuted from the three estates, quite often referred to as the western neighbourhoods.
This special facility continued for some time. Eventually these areas acquired their own schools as Hemel Hempstead’s new town developed. At this point, the intake was phased out. Older pupils stayed on. If my memory serves me correctly, the younger ones transferred to the schools nearest their homes. And of course, no new pupils from those areas, as far as I am aware, subsequently started at Bennetts End. In fact as a result of lack of schools in this area, some land was utilised near the top of Galley Hill which eventually became the now sadly closed Martindale School. It is here in the film, QUATERMASS 2, that a social club/community centre is supposed to be.
Many people believe that the reason Warners End’s Quartermass Close and Road, is named after the fictitious Professor Bernard Quatermass, due to the location filming, despite a slight variance of spelling and pronunciation. In actual fact, it is named after a family named Quartermass, who had a daughter, Katherine Mabel Quartermass, tragically murdered, on July 16th 1896, when she was 11 years old. However, as far as the name with the same spelling as the television and film character is concerned, there was a shop in St. Johns Road, Boxmoor, called Quatermass. This name also appears on the war memorial, at the end of the same road. Regarding the blog. I submit my blogs by e-mail to the Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers. Although I check them for their accuracy, I regret that in the case of this one, there are some grammatical errors that have slipped through the net. So I apologise in advance for any you spot.
This blog is exceptionally longer than the average blogs I write for our website. But I hope you find it interesting. I would also point out that some information I gave regarding the two Doctor Who/Dalek films for the cinema, I have discovered is wrong. At the time of writing, I, like some other people, had reason to believe that they were made by Hammer Films. Particularly as they starred Peter Cushing. Since the publication on our website, it has emerged that they were made by a rival production company called Amicus.
In the meantime, I shall stay behind for detention, and write one hundred lines of, “I must be more careful in future.” Alan French. 2010. (Member of Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers. Website: http://www.hemelmovimakers.org )
Please note that my blogs are written by me and therefore may not be representative of The Hemel Hempstead Movie makers.