History heading


The origin under Miss Moore (1909-1913)
The moulding under Miss Ward (1913-1935)
Modernisation under Mr May (1935-1949)
Expansion under Dr Wood (1949-1963)
Further expansion as a sixth form college (1970 onwards)
Into the third millennium
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Blandford Lodge Pupil Teachers' Centres were set up in 1846 to improve the quality of teaching in the, then, religious foundation schools. Before the older pupils could be used as assistant 'teachers', a minimum age of 13 was required with a demonstrable capability in basic numeracy and literacy skills. Eventually, the number of pupils at Christchurch having decreased to 3 while those in Lymington had increased, the Education Committee decided to amalgamate all the pupils from the Christchurch, Lymington and Ringwood districts at Brockenhurst. The school began in 1909 as a Pupil Teachers' Centre in the Wesleyan Church Sunday School room with about 18 pupils under the Head Mistress, Miss Moore. She worked alone until joined by an Assistant Mistress, Miss Pratt, in July 1913.

This highly limited accommodation soon proved inadequate and in January 1911 the school moved to Blandford Lodge, a private house located in The Rise which the Education Authority rented. Three bedrooms were used as classrooms; one contained 14 Juniors, the second 12 Seniors and the third had 6 Pupil Teachers. A small halfway room was used as a girl's cloakroom while the boys left their caps and coats in a dark passage behind the stairs. Downstairs, the kitchen was used as a science room and one of the two rooms as the Mistresses' Room while the other contained a trestle table for school dinners. PE classes were held in the back garden. In July 1913, Miss Moore resigned and Miss Emma Ward was appointed Head Mistress.

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Miss Emma WardFrom the first, the accommodation at Blandford Lodge was inadequate and in 1913 the Hampshire Director of Education acknowledged that the overcrowding was sufficiently serious and health-threatening to warrant a new school. Land was purchased in Highwood Road and a new school was built in 1914 at a cost of £1,888 2s 11d - a cost overrun of 30% on the original budget! There were two classrooms, accommodating 30 and 20 pupils respectively, with a science room holding 12. Finally, in December 1914, the school moved in with an opening roll of 40 pupils. Miss Ward was a great disciplinarian and under her guidance the school achieved a reputation for scholastic achievement, drama productions and sport, the latter despite the fact that the school had no sports field of its own until 1919.

Within one year, the number of pupils had risen to 60 and the teaching staff increased to three. The inadequate accommodation had become so overcrowded that new pupils were turned away. During the war years, no building construction was possible so a room at the Brockenhurst Elementary School had to be used. This still limited the numbers admitted and the roll stood at 73 in 1918. It was a great day when, in the autumn of 1919, the Education Committee supplemented the school accommodation by purchasing the Kia Ora Hut which stood near Lloyds Bank in Brookley Road. It had originally been used by the New Zealand War Contingent Association as a clubroom for Anzac soldiers convalescing in the village. Being ten minutes walk from the main school, it was not ideal but as Miss Ward said "what did this matter to those who had been sitting 50 strong in a room meant for 20".

In 1920, Miss (Aggie)Graham joined the staff at the beginning of the summer term and Miss (Beaky) Box in September.

The academic results from 1918-35 were remarkable, everyone in the fifth form took the School Certificate and not infrequently everyone passed. In 1924 a pupil gained the Royal Geographic Society's national prize for the best geography paper. A pupil won a Major Open Scholarship to one of the older universities, a distinction attained only twice since that time.

1924 staff
School Staff 1924

County School crest In 1920, the Education Committee authorised the building of additional classrooms on the Highwood Road site. These were ready for occupation in January 1921 when 65 new pupils (who had been waiting since the previous September) flooded into the school, raising the numbers to 155. More important, the Board of Education reversed its steadfast refusal and granted secondary school status so from the 1st January 1921 the school was known as Brockenhurst County School.
County School crest

Further extensions were added and by the end of 1924 the school had acquired a hall with gym apparatus, a kitchen and a woodwork room. The hall enabled the school to develop a social life, with House Parties and Christmas socials, while drama productions became more ambitious even though there was no stage. Heating consisted of one stove in the kitchen and the lighting, provided by the Brockenhurst Gas Company, alternated with highly variable gas pressure between stygian gloom and almost stygian gloom. However, complaints were few as now the way seemed open to luxurious living.

The death of Miss Ward in October 1935 marked the end of an era, the end of a struggle for existence, and the traditions that make a school had been created. The Senior Master, Mr Green, became the Acting Head until Mr R H May (formerly head of Farnborough Grammar School) took over as headmaster in the summer term of 1935.

England in Miss Ward's day still retained much of the Victorian attitude to education - that it was the prerogative of the rich and a charity towards the poor in order to keep the country abreast in international trade rivalry. Her ambition to create a school with sound traditions had been achieved despite great difficulties. Parsimony had been apparent over the provision of amenities and essentials and much of her time had been spent battling for the insignificant yet essential trifles of existence.

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Mr R H MayOne fault with Miss Ward's regime was the school's seclusion, its lack of contacts with the wider world. Mr May recognised that life had opened out a more fascinating life for the future and it was his intention that the school should prepare its pupils for the wider horizons that lay ahead. He had been promised a new school and in 1937 the Education Committee purchased six acres of land adjacent to Careys Manor on which to build the present school which was finally ready for occupation in September 1939. Few state schools could boast more spacious grounds set in such beautiful surroundings. The building was designed to house 500 pupils although there were only 390 when it opened. The name of the new school was changed to Brockenhurst County High School with a catchment area extending from Christchurch to the outskirts of Southampton and as far north as Ringwood.

At the first speech day in 1940, Mr May declared "the war has dashed our hopes of a better world". It also dashed his hopes of an even better school and for the next six years he was faced with his predecessor's problem of providing for the necessities of existence - teaching space. The long-lasting problem of teaching space started on the 1st September with the evacuation to Brockenhurst of the Portsmouth South Secondary School for Boys, which necessitated reopening the old school buildings in Highwood Road.

The war spawned new school activities -

In 1941, Mr May created a precedent by advancing three pupils (Heather Lagdon, Gordon Cheeseman and Gloria Warwick) a year - going from form 2A straight to form 4A

By September 1942 there were 535 pupils, rising to 620 the next year, so the old problem of a school bursting at the seams was again apparent. Classes were held on the stage, in the hall and on the balcony - frequently all at the same time. By September 1945 the total number was 707 but at least the war was over and the Portsmouth contingent could return home.

In the post-war years Mr May made a great effort to direct the school along the path he had marked out years before. Societies began to establish themselves, foreign trips were resumed, artistic activities were proliferated and the school magazine "The Brock", which had been suspended in 1941, resumed publication in July 1948 with Mr Curtis at the helm until his retirement in 1962.

Pupil numbers continued to rise, with some forms having more than 35 pupils and most of the Junior School was relegated to the Highwood Road site.  

In September 1945, Mr May and the Education Committee (at the suggestion of the Mayor of Lymington) undertook an educational experiment and created Form IIIO, comprising 28 pupils who had failed the Scholarship Exam (the precursor of the 11-plus) and whose teachers felt they would benefit from a secondary school education. The foreshortened timescale necessitated omitting some subjects from the curriculum and caused problems for those who studied maths in the sixth form. The experiment was never repeated per se.

In 1947, Mr May conducted another experiment. He placed the top 25 pupils from the previous second year in a special form (IVx) which bypassed the third year completely, enabling them to take the General School Certificate examination in only four years.

In November 1947 Culverley, a large country house set in five acres of wooded grounds in The Rise, was opened as boarding house for boys with Mr Gallimore as the Housemaster and his wife as Matron/Housekeeper. When the Gallimores retired in 1951, their posts were taken over by Mr and Mrs James and Culverley accommodated 18 pupils. By 1963, the numbers had risen to 38, six of whom had to sleep out with other members of staff due to lack of space.

Highwood Road demolition Three new Horsa huts were finally erected in 1948 and
it was 1961 before one was demolished to make way
for the new hall. These huts eased the accommodation
only temporarily because the Highwood Road buildings
were lost to the Modern School and the reuniting of the whole school in September 1949 meant that the accommodation problem became as acute as ever.

Mr May took early retirement in July 1949 so the problem was left to his successor.
Demolition of the
Highwood Road building

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Dr L R WoodIn 1950, Dr Wood presented the School with a new badge and school colours of red, silver and blue replacing the original gold, brown and green. He also had a badge designed specially for prefects but someone versed in heraldry pointed out that the design incorporated a bar sinister which denoted that the wearer was a bastard so the badge was never used. He expanded the number of pupils' societies and, in addition, was instrumental in acquiring a further eight acres to extend the playing field in the easterly direction.

In 1950 the Old School Association commissioned Mr Frank Whittington, a distinguished New Forest wood carver, to produce a carved oak memorial plaque that had been designed by Frank H Stacey an old boy of the School. Mr Stacey, an expert letterer, also produced a Book of Remembrance which contained the names of the 27 members of the School who fell in the two World Wars together with a girl pupil who was killed during an air raid on Brockenhurst. The War Memorial plaque was unveiled in the front vestibule of the School on July 21st 1951 . In the presence of old students and relatives, together with a number of present pupils and staff, the Rev F H Broomfield BA BD, Vicar of St Christopher's Southbourne and himself an old student, conducted a dedication service in the School hall. Dr Wood read out the Roll of Honour followed by an address from the Right Rev Bishop L H Lang DD, Assistant Bishop of Winchester, who afterwards performed the dedication ceremony. The plaque was unveiled by an old student, Mr C N W Morris of Christchurch. Later, when the College vestibule was redesigned, the plaque was removed and fixed on the front corridor wall opposite the Principal's (and former Headmasters') office.

As an experiment Dr Wood admitted into the Sixth form pupils from Secondary Modern Schools who had obtained five Ordinary Level passes in the General Certificate of Education Examination. In the beginning, there were just three or four from Ashley Modern Secondary School but this increased steadily to about thirty pupils annually. This achievement caught the attention of the Minister for Education who visited the school in January 1959 and publicly stated that "the Hampshire Education Committee, acknowledged to be the most progressive in the country, now gives every child a second chance to enter a Grammar School and go on to University".

Jeanne d'Arc rehearsalUnder Dr Wood, school societies flourished with many additions including squash, badminton, PE, golf, the young farmers, the junior dramatic society, the senior drama club, the theatre club, the fourth form club. The main school drama productions flourished under the guidance of producers like Miss Jenkins, Mr Gallimore, Mr Curtis, Miss Davies and Mr Fitch.

Like his predecessors, the most persistent problem plaguing Dr Wood was accommodation. In his first term he placed the facts before the Governors that with 893 pupils and form sizes up to 38, the school was grossly overcrowded. As in Mr May's time the hall was used as a second gym, with the stage and balcony as classrooms. Even the space in the corridor behind the balcony was used for Arts Sixth Form lessons. The school meals service, producing 600 meals in a kitchen designed to produce 300, was in danger of breaking down. A new kitchen and dining room (now the student Refectory) were built which could handle 400 meals at a sitting, enabling the school to be fed in two shifts. Almost immediately it opened, the Dining Room was pressed into use as a classroom, sometimes with a class at each end.

It was felt in some circles that the terminology 'County High School' suggested that it was a girl's school so, in 1950, Dr Wood changed the name of the school to Brockenhurst Grammar School. In December 1952, according to the Brock, "the school motto was surreptitiously changed to inter silvas quarere verum by virtue of it unexpectedly appearing on the official school Christmas card". In 1953, the school name reverted back to Brockenhurst County High School but with the new motto retained. The reason for the change back cannot be ascertained.

By 1952 the pressure for space was so great that some classes were held in part of Careys Manor, even though two geography rooms, a history room and three small sixth form rooms had been created. In 1953 the Air Ministry built a hut for the ATC which was immediately pressed into service as a classroom (and sometimes, even two classrooms!).

It was not until 1957 that any more additions were made, in the shape of two biology laboratories, and the following year a block of two new classrooms was built on the field. Later, three more classrooms were built on the field, including a commercial sixth form room.

 Grammar School crest In 1960, the Hampshire Education Committee gave permission for the name to be officially changed to Brockenhurst Grammar School. Dr Wood decided that the newly named Grammar School should have a new badge and, probably mindful of the bar sinister in his previous crest, commissioned the Royal College of Heralds to design and register a new crest for the school. This crest was officially inaugurated in December 1962, incorporating the previous rose and oak-leaves motif with the shield surmounted by an oak-tree and a badger.

As numbers continued to increase a more ambitious and permanent plan was adopted, of which a new science block was the first part completed. Next came a new gym, followed by a new hall which was opened in September 1962. New Staff Rooms then joined the Science Block to the promenade outside the new hall. Above the Staff Rooms, on the first floor were history and geography rooms while the second floor had two large art rooms.

This new plan involved drastic alterations in the original building. The old Hall was transformed with the ground floor converted to six administrative offices while, on the first floor, the balcony became a 100-seater lecture theatre with a new brighter and larger library leading from it. In 1963, the old library and art room were converted into domestic science rooms. The old domestic science room was assigned to the music department and the old kitchen was converted into a prefects' room.

These additions nearly doubled the size of the school, allowing it to continue growing, but the increasing size of the sixth form was causing problems. By 1969, half of the student body was in the sixth form.  

By this time, the school had expanded to 1115 pupils while the number of sixth-formers taking some subjects was so great that classes had to be divided into two, and sometimes three, groups. The problems of staffing and accommodation that this created re-occupied the attention of the Ministry and the Education Authority as well as the Headmaster.

The Education Authority were in favour of making the school, then the largest co-ed school in the country, boys only - presumably to solve the accommodation problem by halving the number of pupils. Dr Wood strongly resisted this and the proposal was finally dropped. The satisfaction this gave him is evidenced by an uncharacteristic sentence in his retirement speech in which he said he left behind "the finest collection of miniskirts on the south coast".

The concept of sixth form colleges was formulated as a way to reduce the burden of the escalating cost of educating sixth formers on the Local Education Authorities. Essentially, these colleges became administratively autonomous and responsible for their own finances. Brockenhurst Grammar School decided to convert to a sixth form college, leaving the lower school education to be carried out in the surrounding comprehensive schools. Accordingly, in 1969 the name was changed to Brockenhurst College with Dr Wood as Principal. The transition to the new role was carried out gradually; those pupils already in the lower school continued until they took their Ordinary Level examinations but, in each succeeding year, no new pupils were admitted to the lower school. New pupils were admitted to the sixth form from the following neighbouring comprehensive schools nominated as feeder schools for the new college.

(New Milton)


Having masterminded the planning and overseen the transition to a College, Dr Wood retired in July 1970.

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The College has had two principals since Dr Wood retired
Mr A J Baker Mr M J Snell
Mr A J Baker
1970-January 1989)
Mr M J Snell
(January 1989 to date)

Initially, the loss of the lower school caused the numbers to reduce but they soon started to increase again.


In 1972, to cope with the demand for more classrooms, the Horsa huts were converted to small classrooms and six additional wooden classrooms were constructed. In 1975, the new Sports Hall was completed.

College crestBrockenhurst College grew in size and popularity and, in 1984, became one of four Tertiary Colleges in Hampshire. The significance of this was that it no longer had to be run under school regulations and be responsible to the local Education Authority (or, to be accurate, Authorities since Christchurch and Bournemouth pupils had become the responsibility of the Dorset Authority due to county boundary changes). The College was now free to diversify the curriculum to meet the changing needs of school leavers.

A purpose built Technology Block and Catering facility was constructed. However, the demand for places was such that the student population had to be accommodated in temporary huts. By 1988, student numbers had risen to 1100 and there were 34 temporary buildings - many dating back to 1948.

In 1993, the College was incorporated as a business. By then the three local Education Institutes had been absorbed within the College so that both vocational and part-time non-vocational programmes were being delivered during the day and evening. The relevant curriculum generated further growth until by 1988 the student population had reached 1100.

A forward looking accommodation policy under the Further Education Funding Council culminated in 1995 in the construction of the Errington Building and Social Centre, which replaced a number of the crumbling huts besides giving more parking spaces. These old buildings (well known to past students) are, in fact, still present. Covered with top soil and grass they form the burial mounds which now greet the visitor on what used to be the flat front lawns, giving a significant saving on debris disposal costs! In 1997, Lottery funding provided an extension to the Sports Hall which offers year round facilities to students and the local community. The Arts and Mathematics Building marked the end of three major building phases which, with the exception of the original ATC Hut, has eliminated the outdated accommodation accumulated over 40 years of expansion. During that period there has been significant relocation and refurbishment of other parts of the campus so that curriculum areas are broadly together, student services are centrally housed and staff accommodation upgraded. The sale of Culverley, which has been subsequently redeveloped to provide three large residential properties, made a significant contribution to funding these projects. The building programme has allowed the College to expand further the student population but 100 students were rejected in the 1999 intake because of insufficient accommodation. There are plans for increased study space, a performing arts facility, a new refectory and the need for ever more parking spaces.


At the end of the 1999/00 academic year, Brockenhurst College was the most successful college in Hampshire and was in the top 4% over the whole UK. To cope with this success, a new three-part £2M building programme was scheduled to commence in February 2001.

1. A new Performing Arts Centre and a doubling in size of the Open Learning Resources Centre.

2. The demolition of the KDR (Kitchen Dining Room, venue for meals and social events) which was too small to cope with the demand (familiar!). The KDR will be replaced with a new two-storey refectory building, leaving only the Main Building and ATC hut as landmarks familiar to past students.

Kitchen Dining Room
Before demolition
KDR 1954
Form IV Xmas party 1954

3. The provision of an extra 160 parking spaces.

The new catering building, opened in 2001, is in keeping with the times. Known officially as the Hard Brock Cafe, it has an interior styled on McDonalds with piped background music. It is a far cry from the spartan environment of trestles, table-tops and benches that many past students will remember in the old Hall. Hard Brock Cafe

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When looking at places past remembered they always seem different and one tends to regret the changes wrought by time - the College is no exception. The history of Brockenhurst has been a catalogue of expansion and change and the transition from school to college merely continued this process, albeit radically changing the nature of the establishment. The comment by older former students researching their past on the Internet "it doesn't sound like the school I went to" is quite justified. It isn't - like everything, the School evolved and, although this may be regrettable from a nostalgic viewpoint, evolution is a necessary part of life. Just as Mr May's school probably seemed alien to Miss Ward's old pupils, so it is with the College. The school has become a different thriving business and educational establishment - if it hadn't, by now it would probably be a residential housing estate like Culverley.

Disregarding the burial mounds, the main building will arouse nostalgic memories in older past students but the rest is very different, like the new crest and motto. Although Dr Wood's legacy of denim jeans has evolved into bare midriffs, the problem of accommodation is unchanged -even after nearly 100 years. It is worth attending the Reunions for the chance to meet old friends and recall past memories in a familiar location.


This history owes much to the efforts of Mr J W "Buck" Halliday who sifted and collated information from the archives, combining it with the personal knowledge of himself and his colleagues, to produce a booklet commemorating the fiftieth anniversary. The post-1961 archives, in particular, are sparse and the content of this section is due both to Mr Snell and his staff and to the long memories (and roomy attics) of several past students. If anyone has any relevant information or comments, please e-mail them for incorporation to make this compilation as complete as possible.

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