Howe Dell Primary School 1955 -2007/8

By Miriam Gaskin

Howe Dell Primary School in Old Rectory Drive opened in 1955 after the closure of Howe Dell Secondary School the previous year.  The first head was Gordon Mackay followed by Miss Matthews who remained head until 1988.  Then Sally Somerville was head until the school moved, in 2007/8, to an eco friendly, 21st century building on the redundant BAE airfield site which was being developed as a large housing estate and business park. A long way from its origins in the Old Rectory/Parsonage near the Town Centre

This page was added on 07/02/2011.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

  • My sister and I had a magical time at .Howe Dell.We were then, Angela and Pamela Wilder.Now married with grandchildren. Our first teacher was Miss Trimble quite scary, because she had a slipper hanging on the wall, although I never knew it had been used, enough said! My fondest memories where of the most inspirational Cyril Crann, a kind gentle and natural teacher; who also played the piano during assembly. Mr Crann also rowed us onto the pond at the bottom of the playground.During our days 1958 on, Mr Crann had a scooter(vespa)? and would zoom down the the sweeping drive. Miss Matthews who lived at Essenden was very keen that we should write in the italic style using an osmiroid fountain pen, with italic nib, ah! I wish I still had that old pen!!! During one very cold winter I remember thinking it would be a good idea to walk on the frozen pond by the back door, predictable results! Does anyone else remember Mr Crann reading The Phantom Tollbooth to his class?
    Happy Days!

    By Pam Penrose (22/01/2024)
  • I attended Howe Dell from 1956 – 1966 – so many memories, I lived in Fern Dells, I remember Esther Vann, Sally and Colin Hall, Patsy Banham, Barry Collins, Tommy Freeman, Christine Fordham, Alison West, Mary Ryan. I live in Virginia USA.

    By Wendy Thoburn (02/11/2022)
  • I attended Howe Dell School from 1955 – 1966, I remember the row boat, we were taught how to row on the pond and I remember the yellow wood caravan that was gifted to us to play in. Beautiful grounds, happy memories. I live in the USA now.

    By Wendy Thoburn (02/11/2022)
  • Hi all, just a quick revision on Neil, make it Neil Wright and Rodrick Vann.
    I hope all of us remembering the great ice slides on the the Winter days on the pavements that we created. Another name that comes to mind is Sue Conway of Haseldine Meadows. Ray, hope you remember me from 57 Haseldine Meadows?

    By Paul Richards (23/09/2022)
  • Migrated to OZ in 1965. Great memories of the great school. Just chasing up Rodrick Van, I see sister Esther Vann made some comments below. In OZ had a great career in football and I hope Neil Gray did well. Any news on my crush, Carol Brown? Alive and well in Canberra, Australia.

    By Paul Richards (15/09/2022)
  • I went to Howe Dell with my brother and sisters there were 4 of us ; Sarah and Melanie ( the twins who Adam Cooper remembers !) Becky and Wesley. We remember so much about our time at the school and the friends we made.

    By Melanie Marshall (02/09/2022)
  • Hi! It’s me again. Gaynor Moore. Had a very interesting life. Failed most of my O levels at St Audrey’s but went on to Art College, then became a designer and later a successful copywriter and art director of in a top London advertising agency where I won lots of awards for my TV Commercials and poster advertising. I have now written a book called My midlife chrysalis which will be out for sale early in 2022. It’s about it the year in my life that followed an abusive marriage. It’s a funny happy book and the best year of my life!
    Some of the names I remember from school of are Raymond Pickett, Adrian a Silbur, Teresa Smith, Elaine Jennings, Terrence, Marylin, Jane, Alison, Victor, Jimmy. Hope you are all having a good life. Look on out for my book!!!!

    By Gaynor Moore (04/06/2021)
  • I was at Howe Dell from 1965 or 66 until 1972. I remember Sandra Aylett, you were the youngest in the class born in August. Remember Ian Meopham v well as we were also in the same class at secondary school.
    A very special school and mostly lovely teachers. Mr Crann taught the top year and was the only male teacher. He was a lovely gentle person. He read us the Hobbit and always sucked peppermint because he was giving up smoking. In Miss Wakefield’s class we did a long project about what were then called American (red) Indians. We learnt about how they lived and we made teepees and small dolls dressed in leather costumes, feathers and beads which we sewed ourselves. We did so much artistic stuff. I lived the art room, up above where the loos and cloakrooms were and where we did lino cutting and printing. Miss Matthew’s was a stickler for her italic writing. I remember hiding in the loos for ages once because I made a mistake writing out my work for our school display in ink and couldn’t rub it out or change it. I sat and cried in the cubicle. Also Miss Matthew’s had us do the gardening and I managed to shove a big garden fork right through my shoe. Luckily it went between my toes. Imagine the health and safety fuss these days. Yeah we used to collect and eat the beechnuts and go on lots of nature walks. The school trip to Wales where mIss Matthew’s showed us all how to vault a 5 bar gate…in her long tweed skirts no less! I thought she was ancient in the 1960s. Cant believe she was still there in 1988. If she retired at 65 say, she would have been only about 45 when I started juniors. No way! I’d live to go back and visit the old school again. So many winding corridors and passages and little rooms upstairs which we thought were haunted.
    What’s there now if it’s no longer a school?

    By Christina Revell (21/04/2021)
  • Well I attended Howe Dell from 1969 to 1973. Remember my teachers in the order of Mrs Gately, Mrs Berry, Mrs Turner and Mrs Bradley. The teachers were nice but I remember being fearful of Miss Matthews. She used to insist on us writing in italics and pronouncing the H’s in What, When and Where (the Queen’s English). Dare to cross her and punishment was “sitting on the landing” in isolation for everyone to know you’d misbehaved! I also remember her having this scheme where if you did a good piece of work you’d get a gold star! I remember Class 1 (Mrs Gately) being in the main old rectory building but then the following years being in prefab buildings to the right of the winding entrance path going in. We had coach trips to go swimming at Hatfield pool and annual seaside trips (Frinton, Walton on the Naze etc.).

    I remember my school friends John Model, Roland Halsey, and the twins Melanie and Sarah, all of whom I’d love to know how they are doing now!

    By Adam Cooper (16/04/2021)
  • I went to Howe Dell from 1966 to 1970
    Trying to contact someone from my year

    By Stephen Ashdown (06/04/2021)
  • Hi I went to Howe Dell in 1956, I lived in High Dells
    I remember Colin and Sally Hall, Alan Wright, Phobens?
    Robert Jarman, Malcom Priestly, Angela Knight, and a few others,
    be interested to know if any one can remember me.
    Raymond Power.

    By raymond power (12/03/2021)
  • I went to Howel Dell from 1956 till 1962 my maiden name was Linda Parker then . I remember Miss Mathews first day at Howe Dell how she told us how lucky we all were to have such a beautiful school with lots of green spaces around as she came from a school in London which didn`t have a blade of grass . I remember the hand writing lesson she gave us in assemble every morning and the occasion gardening lesson . May day was a very special day when we could bring in our best clothes to change into for the dancing round the may pole . As far as I remember Howe Dell School was Lord Salisbury`s originally home before Hatfield House was built .

    By Linda Joan Taylor (19/07/2020)
  • My brothers Fraser & Paul Wilson & I ( Mark Wilson ) went to Howe Dell 1958-1959….Iremember Mr Crann had a very sporty racing bike… and I remember learning to play the French Horn. It was a lovely school. We lived at 6 Elm Drive, and the Raby’s lived at 10 Elm Drive. We moved to America in 1960, then Australia in 1964. We still keep in touch with Frankie, Liz and Evey Raby. Pls contact me on

    By Mark Wilson (09/06/2019)
  • Fab memories of teachers and others in my class, some in here too! Miss Matthews taught us everything from pronounciation, gardening, calligraphy to how to eat peas without scooping the fork. Fabulous memories collecting from the beechnut tree, country dancing in the grounds. Our field trips and nature walks in Hatfield park. In class 7?, Miss Owen, an official photo was taken of me in the classroom. Others in the photo are Miss Owen, I.Donnelly, D.Lengyll and J.Bowen. The photo resides in the British Photo Library. #vproud

    By Sandra Aylett (24/11/2018)
  • I went to Howe Dell in the 60s together with my brothers Ian, Gary and myself Mark Meopham , it was a special place and I had the time of my life. Miss Mathews was indeed a little frightening but a great Headmistress, my only complaint was having football cancelled when ever it rained as she did not want boys football boots leaving mud on her path ways.

    By Mark Meopham (23/09/2018)
  • Ahh great memories of this place I went there in late 70s early 80s when Miss Mathews was there. Always made sure I had lovely writing..and would smack me on the back and call me a cookoo lol…also live in High dells so chennels was next road. would love to walk round the old parsonage again one day 🙂

    By Chris Hamon (20/07/2018)
  • I remember Ray Pickett & his brother. Also remember the Vanns from Elm Drive (we lived at 2 Elm Drive), the Bradbeers and Amanda Sawyer. I remember Miss Matthews ( &weeding the crazy paving at lunchtimes. Mr Crann was lovely & had an amazing sports car!
    My sister, Susan, and my brothers Roger & Michael Love all went to Howe Dell-a lovely school & happy memories.

    By Anne Love (07/03/2018)
  • Well I was at Howe Dell, also my brother David. I recall the name Gaynor Moore. I also knew Esther Vann, well more correctly her brother Roderick. The Vann’s lived on Bishops Rise and we lived in Haseldine Meadows. I recall the winding path from Briars Lane, I walked it almost every day for years! I recall joining Miss Trimbles class year with trepidation …however I found her very good and very fair. I recall Mr.Crann, Mrs Gately and Miss Matthews amongst others. I was part of the kids who called ourselves the Spring Glen gang. Our range was from Briars Lane to Roe Green, with the occasional foray to Stream Woods and the water works in Bishops Rise. Back then we were just ‘out’ until meal times. It seemed there was much more freedom then.

    By Ray Pickett (21/11/2017)
  • Hi everyone, I also lived in Chennels at No7 went to Howe Dell between 1957 & 1964 and then to Onslow,
    First teacher was Mrs Gately, then Trimble ( nasty )
    Grant I think and later Mr Crann lovely guy, still got a class photo when in Trimbles class, mostly remember the girls names, Elizebeth Brown, Lindsey Russel, Janet Wilkes, to name a few, fond memories of those days.

    By Gerald Salter (28/07/2017)
  • I was at Howe Dell from 1957-1962 and remember it with great pleasure. 

    By Esther Kay (Esther Vann) (20/04/2015)
  • Yepp, I lived on Chennells at number 21 and I remember you Gaynor. After Howe Dell and Onslow I studied to be a Baker/Confectioner. Worked around Hatfield and Northern London for a few years, then went to Germany for a while. Back to the UK and. more work around Hatfield and St Albans.

    1978 started doing charity work at Bridges in the old Police Station. Then I went to Cardiff where I met my wife. 

    My wife is Swedish so I moved here in 1978, and have 2 children (32 and 30) and 3 grandchildren (12, 3 and 2). For the last 10 years I have been working in IT, but have had health problems the past few years…..

    By Vic Thompson (21/12/2014)
  • Victor Thompson from Chennells? (Bother, Jimmy?) Hello there if it is your comment. I am Gaynor Moore who lived at number 28. I was at this school with you at the same time (same class I think). I still have dreams about Howe Dell and my walks along the winding path to it, which passed around the girls gram. school. I know the teachers you mention and remember all my teachers as follows – Mrs Gately, Miss Leak, Mrs Grant, Miss Wakefield, Miss Trimble (Scary), Mr Crann (lovely gentle, encour and Miss Matthews (who I was terrified of). I also remember that I was scared to go to the ‘sewing room’ which was a room seldom used, reached through dark corridors. Incidently, while at the school, an old painting of a dancing bear was uncovered in this room. Hated Cuffly Camp. Froze under my old grey blanket. Loved all the artistic stuff we did.

    By Gaynor Moore (02/08/2014)
  • I went to Howe Dell School briefly in 1958 aged 6 but left to attend the then Blessed Philip Howard School once it opened, although I was allowed to walk through the grounds to access Wood Lane until Onslow School was built and a new pathway constructed. I think a Miss Matthews was headmistress? I lived in the police houses in what is now Old Rectory Drive and all of us who lived in the road played in the school grounds and in the Council Purchasing Offices alongside, also in the open field where Onslow was built. At Howe Dell I recall being in a classroom in a building called The Arkon, and also in an upstairs room in a wooden building to the front left of the main house. There was a play caravan in The Arkon. The caretaker was a Mr Pattendon, who had a daughter called Susan, who was much older than me. I vividly remember dancing round the Maypole and making cowslip balls, probably an endangered species now …

    By Lin Fee (06/04/2014)
  • Went to Howe Dell 1960 – 1965. Had Miss Greenwood, who late became Mrs Morris. Enjoyed my time in this old building.

    By Vic Thompson (29/02/2012)