A Brief History of the Girls' School from 1932

The following is taken from the 2002 Newsletter of the Plashet Old Students Association.

2002 is a very special year for Plashet school as it is 70 years since the buildings in Plashet Grove were opened, and the East Ham Grammar School for Girls came into existence.

The story of East Ham Grammar School for Girls began in 1932 when the first pupils were admitted. Until that date senior boys and girls of the Borough had been taught together at the Technical College and Secondary School in the Barking Road.

Because of the increasing demand for secondary education the Education Committee decided to build a new school, and to use it for the education of girls, leaving the Barking Road premises by the Town Hall for what was now to be known as East Ham Grammar School for Boys.

The issue of the Stratford Express for Wednesday 14 September 1932 reported as follows:-

"A new chapter of outstanding importance in the history of educational development at East Ham was inaugurated on Saturday 10 September when the Borough's largest and most modem scholastic establishment - the Grammar School for Girls-was officially opened. Erected on the site of the White House, Plashet Grove, where Elizabeth Fry once lived, the school, which has cost about 42,000, provides accommodation for 480 pupils. Its completion brings to fruition a scheme which, but for the operation of the economy axe, would have been carried out several years ago ... ..
The Education Committee paid a graceful compliment to Mr W. H. Barker B.Sc. F.C.S. by according him the honour of opening the new school. Mr Barker recently retired after 27 years service as Principal of the Technical College and Secondary School adjoining the Town Hall"

The account goes on to record that:

"the Grammar School has been erected by Messrs H. C. Horswill Ltd of Forest Gate. It is of the quadrangle type, the ground floor being occupied by 12 classrooms, an assembly hall, offices, cloakrooms etc. The first floor contains two laboratories and a lecture room, arts and crafts, domestic subjects, needlework, typewriting and sixth form rooms and the library. The gymnasium, a separate building with dining room and showers attached, is fully equipped with the latest apparatus. There is a playing field with accommodation for 4 grass netball courts and three hard tennis courts have been provided."

After the war and the Education Act of 1946 there was even greater demand for girls' secondary school places, including at the Grammar School where more girls were choosing to stay on into the sixth form.

How were these places to be provided? The answer was two-fold:

A modern Secondary Modern: In the 1950s a site across Plashet Grove from the Grammar School was developed as Plashet County Secondary Modern School for Girls. The building itself was strikingly modern at the time with its large windows, tower block form on a podium base, and steel and concrete construction. It caused quite a lot of local comment and was-and still is - a distinct architectural contrast to the traditional 1932 Grammar School building.
Adding on upstairs: Simultaneously the development of new techniques and lighter building materials enabled the Grammar School to expand upwards on its existing foundations. A new second floor was added, providing modern facilities for home economics and needlework; art, craft and pottery; physics and biology; plus a conservatory, a technicians' room and a lecture room. A further floor on the south side of the school provided for specialist geography and language teaching. The eastern inner courtyard became part of a much enlarged assembly hall, turned through 90 from the original hall. It was provided with an excellent stage for drama etc. which was well used in the years to come.

Now, of course, the two buildings are all part of the one Plashet Comprehensive School, and are linked by the new Unity Bridge.

Added 20 March 2002