William Torbitt School website for former pupils and staff 

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History of the School

The school was named after William Stansfield Torbitt who was Director of Education from1903 to 1938.

The initial staff (Infants) were: Head Ms V A Wynne - supported by G Ball, E Billington, N Warrington, H Day, and E Henshall.

The initial staff (Juniors) were: Head Mr G P Train - supported by W G Cumming, J Osborne, A S Allan, W J Davis, E Bray, M Glegg, J Honey, M Peacock and W Tregunna.

The official opening of the school was held on 9th September 1937. The ceremony was performed by the Mayor of Ilford, Alderman H. Billington J.P., with Mr. William Stansfield Torbitt, Ilford’s Director of Education in attendance.

As war loomed, the school was closed on 26th August 1939 and the staff and pupils assembled waiting for notice of evacuation. Evacuation was ordered on 1st September. This was the beginning of the ‘Phoney War’ and the threat of bombing did not at the time materialize. Consequently, the school was re-opened on 1st April 1940 and 430 children enrolled. Mr. Train was still headmaster of juniors and Miss Peacock was headmistress of infants.

(Miss Billington and Miss Peacock were living in retirement in the West Country when this history was compiled - July 2001)

On 16th June 1940, under education Plan IV 101 children were evacuated to Devon escorted by several teachers.

On 24th June 1940 the school was partially re-opened for 262 children and A.R.P. practice drills (air raid precautions) were carried out every other day with gas mask drills.
Constant air raid warnings brought the school’s attendance down to 8% on 16th June 1944 and only fifteen days later the school suffered for the first time from enemy action. The damage caused the closure of the school and it was not re-opened until 11th September. The school was hit again on 23rd November but the damage, being minor, meant that it was able to open again after 5 days.

In the following year, on 5th February the school had to close again after bomb damage, but the threat ended for good with peace being declared in May.

With thanks to Geoff Gillon

For notes on the family ancestry of William Stansfield Torbitt, contact Geoff Gillon

Reunion 1998Programme Extracts
(with notes from the school log book plus some quotes)
"The beams of a dozen floodlights illustrated the impressive facade of the new William Torbitt School - when Ilford's finest and most modern school was formally opened by the Mayor"
Ilford Recorder - 23rd September 1937
"Built of the best materials, of the latest design and the staff are second to none."
Councillor Braithwaite - September1937
"I remember Mr Torbitt very clearly...... Mr Torbitt was a gentleman in the best sense of the word............ respected by everyone"
Joan Davison - Junior Teacher 1943-1947
William Torbitt School History

On the 23rd August 1937, William Torbitt School was opened with Ms VA Wynne as Headmistress of the Lower Department (as the Infants' School was known at this time).

The initial staff were:- G Ball, E Billington, N Warrington, H Day and E Henshall

GP Train was Headmaster of the Middle School (now known as the Junior School).

Initial staff were:- WG Cumming, J Osborne, AS Allan, WJ Davis, E Bray, M Glegg, J Honey, M Peacock and W Tregunna.

The 9th September brought the official opening of the school by Mayor Bilington with Mr William Torbitt (the Dirctor of Education) in attendance.

Only around two years after the School's opening, it was forced to close on 26th August 1939. "The staff and pupils of William Torbitt assembled waiting for notice of evacuation." 1st September the evacuation was ordered and the school closed.

On 1st April 1940 William Torbitt Junior Mixed and Infants School was opened and 430 children enrolled. Mr Train was still Headmaster of Juniors and Miss Peacock was Headmistress of the Infants.

On 16th June 1940, under Evacuation Plan IV 101 children evacuated to Devon escorted by several teachers.

24th June 1940 William Torbitt was partially re-opened for 262 children. During this time ARP practice drills were carried out everyother day along with gas mask drills.

Constant air raid warnings brought the schools' attendance down to 8% on 16th June 1944 and just fifteen days later the school received its first damage from enemy action. The damage forced the school to close for a second time and it did not re-open until 11th September 1944. The school was again damaged by enemy action on 23rd November of the same year but it was only minor so the school was able to re-open again after five days.

The school was again damaged and closed on 5th February 1945 but threat was brought to an end on 8th May of the same year as it was proclaimed Victory in Europe Day!

30th May 1945 brought the children flooding back from evacuations causing reorganisation of the school to be required. On 6th June 1946, the children celebrated their Victory Party.

9th June 1979 (sic - suspect 1947) Mr Cowan took over as HeadTeacher in the Junior Department.

The school was closed for another celebration on 29th November 1947 for the wedding of HRH Princess Elizabeth and the celebration of the King and Queen's Silver Wedding on 26th April 1948.

After fifteen years of service, Miss Peacock resigned as Headmistress of the Infants' Department on 27th March 1956. Miss Billington took over as Acting Head.

Miss Ivy W Eaton took charge of the Infants' School on 1st May 1956.

From 12th October 1956 to December there were various absences due to a number of illnesses, for example, whooping cough, flu, scarlet fever etc. which affected both teachers and pupils alike.
A tropical fish tank was installed in the school on 2nd May 1957 by Miss Eaton and she states in the log book that the children were "very interested in the mechanics of the heating."
The Christmas Concert had to be posponed in December 1957 until after Christmas because of the number of children brought down with chicken pox.
The Headmistress, Miss Eaton, was forced to return to school during the summer holidays on 1st August 1958 because the school had been proken into and the rooms were "in dreadful confusion".
The school was again closed for a wedding celebration on 6th May 1960, this time it was the marriage of HRH Princess Margaret to Mr Anthony Armstrong Jones.
On 28th January 1963 the children were all forced to wear coats in the school because they had run out of oil with which to heat the premises. The oil arrived at 10am the same day and the school returned to normal.
12th July 1963, a BBC TV unit visited the school to film work in mathematics.
A retirement ceremony was held on 22nd July 1965 for Miss Eaton following nine years of service at the school. Miss Billington (Deputy Head) took over as Acting Head for the Autumn Term until Mrs June Richards was appointed Head Teacher on 3rd November 1965.
September 1965 the Nursery Department opened for the children of teachers in the London Borough of Redbridge - Mrs Langley was appointed Teacher in Charge.
During the Spring Term of 1970 the school was re-decorated causing the children to take lessons in the hall while their rooms were painted.
22nd July 1970 the Head Teacher of the Juniors, Mr Cowan, retired after 23 years service.

9th September 1970, Mr Windle took over as Head Teacher of the Juniors.

27th April 1971, the halls were fitted with PE apparatus.
21st April 1974, Mr Windle left William Torbitt to become Head of Cleveland Juniors.

23rd April 1974, Mr Griffin took over as Head of William Torbitt Junior School.

26th June 1974, discussions took place to have Aldborough Hatch Community Hall placed on William Torbitt School site.
16th July 1974, discussions were held over placing mobiles for the Music School on the site.
6th May 1975, considerable damage to the school was caused by flooding due to a break-in hen all the taps were left running.
September 1975, the Nursery was extended to include catchment area children.
2nd September 1976, the school was asked to conserve water due to a nation-wide drought.
1st April 1977 Mr Griffin resigned as Head of Juniors and Miss Marsh was appointed.
3rd June 1977, the school celebrated the Queen's Silver Jubilee with a grand party held in the school hall and all the children wore crowns.
The School & Home Association was established on 21st November 1977.
6th January 1986, the new Dining Hall was opened. Then on 7th October 1986, there was a massive pipe burst and the water supply was cut off!
20th January 1987, the school was closed due to exceptionally cold weather and there was no oil for the boilers.
17th July 1987, William Torbitt celebrated its Golden Jubilee.
31st August 1989, Miss Marsh resigned as Head of Juniors. 1st Seotember 1989, Mrs Sears took up her position as Head Teacher of the Junior School as is still the Head Teacher to the present day. (NB: 20/06/98)
22nd July 1992, Mrs Richards retired as Head of the Infants after27 years of "happy service for the school". In September 1992 Mrs June Hill took up position as Head Teacher of the Infants' School and is still the Head Teacher to the present day. (NB: 20/06/98)

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