The Tom Hood School

Tom Hood School arose from the old Cobbold Schools in 1925. Yesterday was a day of guided tours for ex-pupils. I went along although I never attended that school but as a newcomer to the area, was curious about an old old massive towering miserable looking building which was built up after most of Cobbold Road was demolished in the early part of the twentieth century to make way for it. I was told that by a long term resident in Cobbold Road, George, once of Neville Bakeries in Harrow Road. The railway was already there by then.

I passed the St Margaret’s with Saint Columbia Church next to a glorious Tabernacle church on Woodgrange Road and into Terling Close with the school in sight behind mesh electrically-controlled gates. A new purpose built school Buxton has just been built enabling the old Tom Hood School to be demolished necessarily in January 2018.

Our party was ten and excellently guided by a senior member of the school who had in place students on escort duties. From the old canteen we went into classrooms on the same floor with a purple and green colour scheme and then up to the first floor all decked out in glossy orange paint. The second floor built later than the original building comprising internal brick walls was blue and then the special treat was to see and explore the view from the school roof where a greenhouse had met its glassy demise and huts well past their glory stood upright in faded beach-hut colours.

What a view from the roof and on a November day what a blue sky. The experience was just amazing. We could see right across the Wanstead Flats and all over the old rooftops of many many terraced houses all built over a hundred years ago because of the incoming of the railways. A typical house along Dames Road now goes up for sale at £550,000. It’s easier to move out of the place than to move in as said by Bob the caretaker at Buxton School aka for today as Tom Hood School.

The rest of the visiting party for the 11 am scheduled one had many laughs and memories. It was an emotional visit for all of us. Our host enjoyed the outpourings too. She has managed to save one building on the grounds to be the headquarters for a community-use area and talked of community use in terms of clubs and meetings and even a Farmer’s Market.

One of our party had been one of the cohort named as the Millenium Year, the graduates of 2000 , and revealed the place where a time capsule had been buried. So let’s hope it gets secured again in January when the downing begins.

In the old playground I espied behind the safety fence on a wall the old stone plaque describing the laying of the foundation stone in 1899 to mark the Cobbold Schools inauguration as commanded by the Wanstead School Board. What a treasure.

Our host and guide took us into the new Buxton sports hall to see the difference. Yes it was absolutely magnificent. The students vacate Tom Hood at the end of the year, Demolition begins in 2018 and by May the community area will be landscaped and all the beautiful trees saved.

I’m not sure the local residents share my excitement about the changing built area in a vastly-changing area anyway with folk moving in from Hackney and Leyton. The sale of houses has quietened down. Some of the houses are 1970 film set look alikes and many need tlc. Having said that the charm is magnetic; the stairs are often steep and narrow in those Victorian/Edwardian abodes. The thing I loved too about the old school building was the non-steep and very wide steps and there were many of them reaching to the roof. The whole building was light because there was so much glass in the form of paned windows all over the place and all intact, There were painted over wooden banisters and balconies, old school photographs on the walls and possibly 1954 display cabinets of natural wonders from the forest and Flats. There were scratchings on pupil entrance brick walls; autographs from 1957 and more.

What a place! Remember when George Mitchell School was demolished overnight recently . Me? I want to see the dust rise from the downing of Tom Hood, like old chimneys falling down on ancient pre-loved stone houses in Westray. Something to look forward too.

Thank you Buxton Community staff for the magnificent opportunity to see a major physical part of history in its last stages of glory and warmth. RIP Tom Hood School.

 

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