The bell that won't stop ringing

The Story of North Town's School

North Town School was built and opened as a Church School in 1863. By 1872 however, the burden of its maintenance became too much for the limited number of subscribers and the School was transferred from Church Authority to the newly formed Aldershot School Board. It thus became the first public elementary school in Aldershot.

The school continued to flourish into the 20th Century. It had been built for a maximum of one hundred and eight pupils and the statistics for 1903 show an average daily attendance of seventy five. The opening of the much larger Newport Road Schools in 1905 however made North Town School redundant and it closed at the end of the Summer Term of that year.

The District Council, faced with the maintenance of an empty building, handed it back to the Church who continued to maintain and use it for Sunday School and Social activities until St Augustine's Chuch Hall was built in 1914.

The outbreak of the 1914 1918 War however, saw yet another reprieve for the old School Building which the Church ran as a Troops Canteen and Writing Rooms until 1916. Even then a use was found for the old School! Father Wickham (Priest i/c St Augustine’s 1913 1918) writes in his Parish Magazine of Nov 1916

"We must congratulate the old Denmark Street School on its delightful transformation both outside and in. As a private house it is quite unique"

It was to stand as such until the 1950's when the whole of this area was demolished as part of the post war reconstruction of North Town. Not EVERYTHING of the old School was lost however...........

St Augustine's Church had been built in 1907 without the usual Church bell. It improvised with a bell affixed to the adjacent 'Church Rooms'. In 1914 these 'Church Rooms' were due to be demolished to make room for the building of the Church Hall we have today,

...... Thus, in his Church Magazine Father Wickham writes

APRIL 1914 "The moment the old Church Rooms are doomed we must rig up on the Church the bell (from the old School Rooms which is louder and better toned (!) than the one on the present Church Rooms) if we are not to be 'bell less'. "

AUGUST 1914 "We are thankful to have the old bell from the old Denmark Street School effectively and not inartistically hung on the West Front of the Church. Perhaps, we hope, it will fetch in some who remember it of old and have regretted its long silence,"

It is there to this day the bell which over a century ago summoned North Town to school today calls North Town to prayer.

NOTEIt is difficult to describe the precise location of the old North Town School since the very roads in which it stood were demolished completely in the major reconstruction of the Fifties. A "pre Fifties" street plan of North Town is therefore enclosed with the precise location of the school marked thereon.

Sufficient local landmarks still exist for this location to be identified.