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: )

Please note that my blogs are written by me and therefore may not be representative of The Hemel Hempstead Movie makers.

This page was added on 20/12/2010.

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  • My name is Rick (Richard) Payne, I was at Longdean School from Sep 76 – Jun 81.
    I remember some great teachers at the school, Mr Daine, Upton, Ellis, Patterson, Brown and Miss Green to name but a few.
    I underachieved unfortunately, achieving just 1 O Level, through no fault but my own.
    However I returned in Dec 84 (by invite of Mr Daine) to do a presentation on the Army to the Lower School Assembley and schocked many when I attended my reunion in 95 as an Army Corporal, eventually completing 22 years.
    I have worked hard to put right the wrongs of my schooldays and yesterday I was sworn in as a Councillor on The City of Birmingham Council.
    I remember my days fondly and wonder what became of some of those great teachers?

    By Rick Payne (10/05/2022)
  • Hi, I am the current Archivist for Longdean School and continue to find parts of the history thats important to us. Im intending to produce a presentation soon on the history of the 2 school that make up Longdean . Are you all aware of the electronic archive that is now available to all?

    By Richard Blackshire (15/03/2021)
  • I was also a pupil at Bennetts End secondary modern, I left at the age of 14 as my birth day falls on the last day in August 1963, if i had been a day younger I would have stayed an extra year. Not that I would have been any wiser, As I recall my form teacher in 4C was a Mr Lunn, (not on your list) My recollections of Mr Dunkley, ( he was deputy head at the time) was that he was very fond of using the cane, and Mr Nesbitt’s slipper was legendary.
    Good memories, I think so, I think I turned out ok, after working at local paper mills for many years, I studied engineering and ran my own businesses for many years. I am 73 now and have been retired in Norfolk, Like it seems for ever, I often wonder what happend to all my old class mates.

    By Paul Ward (13/12/2020)
  • Hi Andrew Wager. I was in the same class as you at some time between 1961 – 1965. I remember the technical drawing teacher but not his name who through the black board rubber if you don’t pay attention and Mr Nesbit (PE) who looked for the largest PE slippers. Besides saying that it was a great time and I thank all the teachers.

    By Stuart Insall (23/11/2020)
  • Hi I went BESS 1960-1965. I remember many of the teachers mentioned in other posts. I remember Miss Rymer she taught English I also remember Kenny Carruthers who lost his life along with his three brothers. This leaving his Parents and two sisters. Barbara was in my year. I remember Miss Deans and Mr Fowler. So many memories. I often look through my reports.

    By Lesley Stewart (new Davis) (18/11/2020)
  • To Brian George.
    Mr, Bride replaced the original metal work teacher, Mr. Stuckey/Stuckie. It is correct . Mr. Fowler did become chairman of the local council. Alan French.

    By Alan French (14/11/2020)
  • So many memories brought back reading all the comments, I was at BESS and left in 1967 loved football, athletics, cross country. Was very sad to have missed the closing and would of loved to have been there but business /charitable commitments prevented it. Very best wishes to all!

    By Alan Rowe (29/05/2020)
  • Simon A. Shavelar, Now living in Cambridge.

    One other teacher I remember well in the Art Dept 1968 -73 was Mrs Nothcott.. She gave me good inspiration in Art, which has served me well in my life.
    Also please do remember, Ian Banbury ( BESS ) who brought home a silver from the Montreal Olympics for cycling.
    And the UFO’s, well in my previous work in research, it appears that historically, Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding area is the most ufological area in UK.

    By Simon Shavelar (08/01/2020)
  • I refer to the post by Ander Wager of 27.1.2018 re Kenneth Carruthers and his sad passing.

    I lived in Hobbs Hill Road at the time and two of my friends nearby Peter Potton and one other whose name I forget used to play with Kenneth out in the street. Later Kenneth came to work as a 15 year old in the Mechanised Accounting section of John Dickinson and Company, Apsley Mills where I had started at the same age some months earlier. We worked ICL and Power Somers mechanised accounting sorting and tabulation machines. Said Kenneth died as a result of the gas boiler malfunctioning in the house where he and his brothers and sisters lived. There were five of them as I recall. All died in the incident referred to. The parents finding this the following morning.
    I went to the funeral with other members of staff from John Dickinson’s. Very sad. Kenneth was a nice chap and always made us laugh.

    re other posts in this blog generally.
    A list of teachers is shown and I note the various names.

    Was Mr Bride who is mentioned the metalwork teacher at Bennets End? I do recall him along with others. Mr Gent was the Deputy Head. Of course Mr Fowler was the Headteacher. Saw a photo taken in about 1973 apparently showing a team of Japanese visitors around Marlowes, HH. The caption said he became Chairman of Hemel Hempstead Town Council. Is that right?”

    Lastly I would not necessarily agree that all the teachers at Bennets End were “Great”. I seem to recall an Arts teacher who was a sight to fond of hitting people over the hand with a ruler and an English teacher who could be very superior when he wanted to be. But it is all old memories now of course.
    Good to talk.

    Brian George. Nottingham

    By Brian George (09/09/2019)
  • Regarding James A Gilman’s post, I was on a trip with the school to Italy in 1960, which took in some events in the Rome Olympics, and visits to other countries en route. The whole thing cost my parents forty-five quid as I remember. I’m now teaching at a University in Colombia.

    By Roger Simpson (22/03/2019)
  • Some more past great teachers to remember plus already mentioned above:
    Mc Iver
    Fowler – Headmaster

    By Greg Ferrari (04/01/2019)
  • My wife & I were both teachers at Bennetts End from 1960 to 1963 — John & Pauline Gilman — I was the School Librarian and was the one who started the school’s MOSAIC Magazine referred to above, while my wife taught English. We knew Alan Duinto also referred to above and I’d be glad to have a contact for him. I remember Mr. Dunkley, and Mr. Matthews the Head of English, and a girl called Crystal Gale. We took a school party to Italy in 1959 or 1960 — Venice, Rome & Florence — any of you went with us? We emigrated to Australia and I now live in Durham, my wife having died 4 years ago.

    By James A Gilman (04/12/2018)
  • My wife — Pauline Gilman — and myself were teachers at BESS from 1960 to 1963 when Mr. Dunkley was headmaster. We both taught English while I was also the School Librarian. We took a group of around 30 pupils to Italy — Venice, Rome & Florence — does anyone remember those times and any other members of staff?

    By James A Gilman (24/07/2018)
  • Just been updating myself. I spoke to Mr. Bride earlier in 2008. I was at a funeral for someone I knew in The Leverstock Green Players. Coincidentally, she had been his ex-wife. We had a very interesting chat about the school and some of the teachers.

    The last days of Bennetts End Secondary Modern School is featured on You Tube
    And loaded up by Newtown Naughtyboy. It is a mixed bag of stills and moving images.

    Alan French May 11th 2018.

    By Alan French (11/05/2018)
  • Hi I also attended BESS and remember Dave McGuffog not sure if he was a year below me or above. Mr Fowler was the headmaster and Mr Dane the Deputy Head and dealt with the boys and Miss Sinclare dealt with the girls. My teacher was Mr Brown but I was doing the commerce course so really didn’t see much of him. I also remember all the boys Dave mentioned and still see John Dimes around. Very sad when they closed most of the old part and unfortunately didn’t make the opening days to say goodbye.

    By Lyn Burgess (12/04/2018)
  • I attended BESS from 1965-1968 with my brother Pete. Form teacher was Mr Hall, Class 2b, top floor, first stairwell. Remember very talented names like Gary Denham who was two years above me, a very good artist. He had a mate John Dimes who was very talented too. Often wonder how they did, my own brother went on to be a very talented artist but sadly died at the age of 25. My good friends were many but included Chris Wylde, Louis Porrretta, Rob Marsh, Steve Schubert, Big Len. Remember teachers too, names like Mr Calladine, Mr Bailey, Mr Springett, Mr Day, Mr Boston – careers man Mr Napier cannot be forgotten, Always enjoyed the football matches and always thought our teams were good. Really enjoy the banter going on. Sadly it takes 50years to recall it!!

    By David McGuffog (14/02/2018)
  • I attended the school from 1961 until 1966. I remember Mr. (Peter?) Springett, who I recall lived next door to me in Market Oak Lane, and Mr. Cocking, who even though I wasn’t fond of math, I though was a good guy. Also remember Mr. Calladine, the music teacher, and vaguely remember Messrs. Bride, Daine & Nisbet. Most clear memory I have is a sad one, of the passing of a classmate Kenneth Carruthers, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning along with his family in their house around 64 or 65. I remember the annex classrooms, and a spectacular sports day at the end of term when the weather was awesome. Does anyone know the status of any of the teachers? It’s been a long time, but maybe some are still around.

    By Andy Wager (27/01/2018)
  • Apart from a minor mistake in one of my comments (It was a number 2 bus), I would like to point out that someone has placed a video of the last months of this school on a video. I think the maker was a helper at the exhibition. The video is both still and movie. Look up Bennetts End Secondary Modern on You Tube.

    Sadly, looking over yonder to the school, I can no longer see the building and mosaic.

    Alan French. October 8th 2017.

    By Alan French (08/10/2017)
  • Mr fletcher was great teacher went to the USA any know happen to him

    By Peter Hawkett (31/08/2017)
  • Nice to see comments about Bennetts End. I was there until 1963 and Mr Springett was our form room teacher for the last four years. I remember Mr Bride, who gallantly tried to turn me into something of a metalworker but with extremely limited success, and Norman Rowland (French) with whom the class went to Switzerland round about Easter 1962. Also Mr Cocking (Mathematics Through Fear), and Mr Matthew, to whom I will always be grateful for teaching us an appreciation of English Literature.

    By Roger Simpson (10/07/2017)
  • Having seen many comments and memories I would like to send my regards to Colin Howard.As he mentioned about the RAF,l served for 15 years of which l was able to travel to several places and abroad.I returned to Hemel when completed my time and worked at various engineering companies as a technician in development and design.lm now retired for nearly 10years and live in West Wales which is great.My regards to all

    By Keith English (02/12/2016)
  • My mum Eileen Ross taught there

    By Andrew Roan (18/11/2016)
  • Hi I visited longdean on behalf of my dad Keith English and also my 2 daughters that went there from 2002 , sadly my parents who’s unable to come as he now lives in west Wales !! On 3rd November I visited and I was stunned to see such memorabilia from 1955 when my dad first started , I was then told I Sadly just missed Alan french who my dad remembers with fond memories , I was overcome how many photos that my dad was in and how much he told me and saw for myself and in photos and scrap books of his school days , Just wanted to express myself as the second generation this means world so glad that I was able to see this Xxx

    By Emily English (04/11/2016)
  • Mr. Bride. I gather since I saw your message, you have visited the school. My friend, Colin Howard, remembers you making the trophy. I have made two verbal enquiries at the exhibition. But no-one seems to know what happened to the trophy.

    Keith. After you left school, I gather frome Colin Howard that he remembers meeting you at RAF St. Athans. He has asked me to pass his regrds on to you. I also note that you were able to visit the school.

    For all. I gather that the grounds are to be landscaped, and used for games etc.

    I visited the schhols for the very last time today. This time, when I played Auld Lang Syne on the piano, it seemed more sad. It also made feel emotional. It was the end of a golden era. Later, I left the premises by the Hill Common entrance, where ; with John Blackman, a UFO was once spotted by us.
    This time I went into Barnacres, to catch, not a TARDIS, but a number 3 bus. I had left the 1950’s, and was back into the present.
    I wish all, good luck for the future.
    Alan French. November 4th 2016.

    By Alan French (04/11/2016)
  • Keith. You are in some photographs.
    Roy Bride. I remember you if you taught I think metalwork. I will be returning later in this week with another original pupil. Colin Howard. I remember Mr. Lund. I will also enquire about the cricket trophy

    By Alan French (02/11/2016)
  • Hi to all that joined the school in September 1955,sadly I’m unable to visit the the last days of the school I once knew as Bennetts End Secondary Modern school.It would interesting to know if there would be any one who likely to remember myself and school chums of the time.

    By Keith English (30/10/2016)
  • I was a teacher at Bennets End School from 1957 until it became a part of Longdean, when I left to become a lecturer in a Teacher training College. I did the rest of my teaching/lecturing in Higher Education. I have photos of the commissioning of a sailing dinghy; Mrs Fowler breaking a bottle over it We had a number of staff interested in sailing at the time. I also built a weather station outside what was then the front entrance.
    A number of Bennets End staff played in a local football team in the West Herts league. Happy days. I wonder what happened to the cricket trophy I made in silver? A couple of years I also took a small number of boys on cycling holidays in Wales and Devon and Cornwall. I am still in contact with two other staff. Alan Dunton and Peter Lund.

    By Roy Bride (30/10/2016)
  • I have visited the school today. Two things emerged,
    1. The school is inviting anyone connected with Apsley Grammar, Bennetts End Secondary Modern and Longdean schools to an exhibition being held in the old buildings before their demolition; as from 31st October and Friday 4th November between 12 noon and 7.00pm. The exhibition consists of documents and old photographs tracing the history of the schools from 1955 to 2016. Enjoy the opportunity of a last nostalgic trip to reminisce your schooldays, the buidings, memories and atmosphere.
    2. two of Team GB in the 2016 Olympic games were former pupils of Longdean.

    Alan French. 2016. An original pupil.

    By Alan French (26/09/2016)
  • Hi Paul and Christine,

    Paul, I remember some of those teachers and even more. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    Both of you.
    Don’t forget, there was, and as far as I am aware, plans for an exhibition at Longdean during the last week in October. It will trace the history of the schools from 1955 to the present day. Then as far as I know the old buildings will be demolished. The new smaller school will take over. What happens to their history archive after that, I am not sure. I will be checking this out shortly.

    Christine. I remember Peter Williams when Belswains School had an intake from Pixies Hill. I think that this was temporary. Later, when Bennetts End started up, I saw him again. Last time I saw him, he was working at Apsley Mills. The two sisters that you mention, I remember also at Apsley Mills. In addition, I believe you also had a brother called Richard who worked on the same section that I was first on, which was in The Banker Envelope Department. It is a small world.

    Alan French.

    By Alan French (22/09/2016)
  • Name Paul Tipper
    @ BESM 1957 to 1961
    Teachers I remember –
    PE Mr Nissbit.Mr Cook,Mr Springett,Mr Hughes,
    Form teachers 1st Miss Taylor 2nd Mr Jones,due to age can’t remember 3rd&4th years.
    Other teachers I remember Miss Peirce,Mr Cocking,
    Mr Carter(music) Canadian,Mr Mills Mr Mciver,there’s others I remember but can’t put a name to them.Still have contact with Hubert Boyce,Lenny May and Bob Lima.
    It was a good school and full of good memories.

    By Paul Tipper....(09-09-2016) (09/09/2016)
  • Hi. I was at Bennett’s end secondary school from 1964 to 1969 and Mr Dunkley was Headmaster when I first went to the school. My older brothers and sisters also went there from 1955 onwards. There names were Audrey, Peter and Gail Williams.

    Christine Mills (previously Williams)

    By Christine Mills (29/08/2016)
  • For all Bennetts End Secondary Modern pupils.

    I do not know if anything is planned, but the school is 60 years old this year. It will eventually will be demolished sometime and will be replaced by Longdean Academy. Don’t know the date or year. There was a 50th anniversary 10 years ago, and an exhibition of memorabilia was held.

    I will add more info when available.

    Alan French. 

    By Alan French (10/07/2015)
  • Hi Michael,

    Only just seen your comment. Your name is very familiar. But trying to remember your face.I remember Miss Thorne. And I had friends in 2b1. e.g. Barry Phillips and John Blackman to name two. I started out in 1a2 with Mr Cook.  I stayed on a bit and went into the 5th year in the end with Mr Thompson. I started in 1955 and left in 1960.

    Alan French.

    By Alan French (10/07/2015)
  • Hi I was at BESS from 1956 to 1960 ,I was in miss thorned class 2b1 in the main building !2nd story .

    By michael willis (07/05/2015)
  • Hi Colin and Keith.

    Just seen your messages.

    I remember Mrs Tunnicliffe. She came along a little later. The original history teacher at the school was Mrs Violet Carver.

    Mr Dunkley’s name seems to crop up a lot. I did hear in recent years that in his past, he had been a RAF officer. Probably why he could be a hard task master. In my opinion, pupils were more wary of him than the headmaster Mr Fowler. Although I got on with him up to a point, I was wary of him.

    Either way, good to hear from former pupils. Keith. I remember you in my class.

    Alan French.


    By Alan French (12/11/2014)
  • Having seen recent comment’s on this page brings back memories.I also started school on the first day it opened in 1955 having moved from Hobbs Hill school.I can recall several names of teachers of that period including Mr Dunkley.I also went on school trips with him but found he was a hard task master.

    Keith English

    5 Nov 2014

    By Keith English (05/11/2014)
  • Nice to see your comments, I went to this school from 1958 till 1962 and still have a few of the mosaic mags that were printed by the school, one of my teachers was Mrs Tunnicliffe, whos influence for history still stays with me today

    By Colin Porter (09/10/2014)
  • Just seen the comments. Terry. I thought I may have overdone things, so I appreciate your thankyou. John. Not sure if I can help you, but I remember you and Mr. Dunkley. I did not go on the trip. But I was only in 4th Boys for a month. I was transferred to another class whose teacher was a Mrs. Knight. This was due to some controversy and a complaint put in to the school. Mr. Dunkley, I believe, became a headmaster in a school in Reading.

    By Alan French (07/10/2013)
  • can you help me I was in Mr Dunkley class 4 boys. we went on school trip the first trip abroad trying to find we think bouillon I live in Spain now.

    By john jenkins (14/07/2013)
  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, found it by looking up what is Bennetts End School called now. Looking at the Facebook Hemel link! Thank you for sharing. Terry Green

    By terry green (19/08/2012)