St Augustine's Catholic Primary School

St Augustine's Catholic Primary School

Following Jesus, our school family shows love and respect for one another and the world around us.


Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill, Ilford, Essex IG2 6RG
Enquiries to be addressed to Mrs Brogan in the Infant Office

02085 541919

School's History

St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School opened on Monday 22nd August 1938 a short time before the outbreak of World War II.

Originally what is now our school hall was then the Church, and its sanctuary was where the stage is now. There were 5 classrooms to take two hundred and fifty pupils, although only fifty five pupils registered on that first day. Toilets were in a separate unheated building alongside the school that usually froze up in the winter that occasionally led to the closure of the school.

On the 26th September 1938 a meeting for parents was arranged for the evacuation of school children to the village of Combs a few miles from Stowmarket, Suffolk.  In fact war and ‘evacuation’ were delayed until the following September and the school role reached 120 children.  In the following August 1939 final preparations for this evacuation were in place and they distributed National Registration Cards and gas masks.

The school basement had been adapted as an air-raid shelter and desks and equipment were moved down there so that tuition could continue. Sirens soon became part and parcel of their lives.

In the spring of 1941 under a national slogan of ‘Dig for Victory’ St Augustine’s started vegetable growing.

By the Spring of 1942 the bombing period was temporarily stayed, and gas mask drills and inspections still went on, but then air raids returned early in 1943 giving the parishioners broken nights with ‘Alerts’ and ‘All Clears’.

In January 1945 because of the book-keeping involved in School Meals accounting, a clerical assistant was appointment and initially for that purpose only; that is how School Secretaries started.

When the war was over the wooden seats which had been constructed for the basement shelter were taken out and re-erected as playgrounds seats, and the school was closed for three days in celebration of ‘Victory in Europe’

In the summer of 1952 St Augustine’s had 350 pupils on role. There were 7 classes in all, 5 classes and 2 classes in the dining hut across the playground and there was no hall. The average size of children in a class was 50.

Then in 1954, came the opening of the new Church and the former Chapel of Ease became what is now St Augustine’s school hall.  About this time more money became available with increased government grants and two new classrooms were eventually built. By 1960 work began on two more new classrooms, a kitchen for cooking on the premises and a separate room for the Headteacher and Secretary and a new Staff Room formed from the demolition of one of the older classrooms.  There were now indoor toilets and the existing ones demolished together with the dining hut in the Playground.

Many years later the number of children coming into the Infants began to increase to such an extent that a new building was needed.  It was arranged that one of the country’s foremost inspectors were coming to St Augustine’s. to determine the future of the school.  The VIP duly arrived and Father Cooney started the bargaining. After a little pleasantry on both sides Father said “If you let me have your classrooms I’ll give you one of my best cabbages”.
“Oh” said the lady, “I shall expect two cabbages for that!” Anyway he got his classrooms in a very short while!  Hence the separation of what was once a Primary School into Junior and Infant school.

Above photo you can see the construction of St Augustine's church

The old netball court that is now the school car park

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