Local History

Sturminster Newton High School | Then and Now

It’s a sobering thought that the kids in these pictures of Sturminster Newton High School will be in their 70s now.

The photos were taken soon after the school opened in 1960 – although it was the County Secondary Modern School until comprehensive education came along in 1968.

I inherited the pictures from my mother, Connie Guttridge, who was the last secretary at the old Secondary Modern in Penny Street and the first at the ‘new’ school in Bath Road.


Sturminster Newton High School in 1960

Much to her relief, I was never a pupil there but I do have a vivid memory of 1960, as she made use of my ten-year-old muscles during the summer holiday.

I remember unwrapping and stacking a zillion pristine exercise books and text books in the walk-in stationery cupboard.

The school was originally designed for 350 pupils but opened with 497 so it probably wasn’t too far short of a zillion books.

The school was formally opened in September 1960 by the Bishop of Sherborne.

Stan Tozer was the first headmaster and I think Harry Dawes was deputy head.

As we can see from these pictures, the school’s facade has changed remarkably little in 60 years.

One obvious difference is the disappearance of the factory chimney, which I presume reflects a change in heating arrangements.

The windows on the three-storey teaching block also appear to have grown.

The school had an early problem with ground floor windows, some of which opened onto a footpath and caused minor injuries to pupils who walked into them.

A barrier had to be erected to prevent mishaps.

Sturminster Newton High School Today

On the rear side of the school, there have been far more changes including extensions to accommodate science labs, art and textile rooms and sixth-form students.

Steps, paving stones and railings have contributed to a transformation of the Courtyard area in particular.

Roger Gutteridge

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