Harwell Primary School in the late nineteen-forties had a large staff to cope with the extra children bussed down from the ex-Air Force houses, and the prefabs at the newly opened and fast expanding Atomic Energy Research Establishment. The Headmaster, Mr WJ Smith, had to use the “Tech”, or Technical Institute as the Village Hall was then called, for the two infant classes under Miss Miles and Miss East. The main school, built in 1894 as the Council School, was lofty and inconvenient. There were four classrooms, one with tiers, and small coal fires warmed the front of the class and the bottles of milk on a wintry day. The only views from the high windows were of the sky and the trees. The cloakrooms, one for boys and one for girls, were just inside the outside doors; they were unheated, with basins and cold water taps, but the toilets were at the back of the playground, and even colder. Dinners were supplied in containers from a central kitchen in Wantage, and did not arrive very warm; they were eaten on the classroom desks. Some of the staff had returned from the war and had received a rushed emergency training; they formed a lively group. A canteen was built later to provide a kitchen and dining room that could be used as an extra classroom; it was also used for some years as the polling station; this building was demolished in 1982, when the old school was converted into two houses. Use of the Village Hall for classes continued until 1950 when a new school was built on ground belonging to the Atomic Energy Authority, to replace Chilton village school, and to provide schooling for the children on the new AERE estates. This halved the number on roll at the Harwell School and the staff was similarly cut.
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