School History

Belleville School was established in 1877. Our three-storey Victorian school building on our Webb's Road site is full of history and original features. Our second site, on Meteor Street, was opened in 2011. We have included a few historical photographs and articles below. Wherever possible we try to bring the history of our school and our local area into the history curriculum for our pupils.  

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Post-war memories

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Through the audio link below, local man John Harms talks about his Belleville school memories.
John was a pupil at Belleville school from 1947 to 1953, just after the end of the second world war. He grew up in Bennerley Road and vividly remembers his first day at school when he entered the ‘Boys’ section’, his mother waving to him through the railings.
Every day, he walked to school, then back home for lunch, then back to afternoon school. He remembers some strict teachers and cheerfully remembers being called ‘a dunce’! He also fondly remembers parties and celebrations, such as at Christmas and the Festival of Britain in 1951.

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Edward Thomas – The Outside World in His Pocket
Edward Thomas (1878-1917) was one of the first pupils to join Belleville School when it opened in 1874.  During his time as a school-boy in its imposing Victorian classrooms, and while free-ranging and exploring the flora and fauna of the neighbouring Commons, one of our greatest and most celebrated poets, rooted his interests in nature and writing. The Thomas family lived on Wakehurst and Shelgate Roads when Edward Thomas was a child. As an adult Thomas then relocated from London to an idyll of a place, the village of Steep in Hampshire.

Town meets country: two schools share pride in their associations with a great poet
Early in 2012 a group of Year Five Belleville pupils took off for Steep to team up with their equivalent age-group in the village’s Church of England Primary School. For some of them this was a first exposure to unspoilt countryside, an experience that was all the more amazing when they were so warmly welcomed by the staff and pupils they met.  Something of their elation  has been captured forever, as on that sunny day, when their voices sweetly echoed across the Downs, the two schools clubbed together to make an audio feature "The Outside World in His Pocket",  an exploration of the life and poetry of Thomas. They recited the poems, sparked lines of their own, contrasted the comparative tranquillity of Hampshire with the hubbub of London, and clambered up the Shoulder of Mutton Hill  where Thomas used to tramp and where there is a memorial stone to him.  They were left speechless by the views, visited the village church to register Thomas's name on the list of those who died for their country in the First World War, and were led by the Steep children on an adventure into the heart of the school's wood.

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Beautifully counterpointed with the children in The Outside World in His Pocket, and recorded during his recent visit to Belleville School, is the passionate commentary of poet Matthew Hollis, author of a recent remarkable biography Now All Roads Lead to France - The Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber & Faber). Matthew, a gloriously thoughtful speaker,  tells in brief the story of a complicated man who thought of himself as neither from the country nor the town, a wanderer who realised his true calling as a poet only in the final months of his life days before he was to die in the Battle of Arras.

The music on this feature is by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956) who lived in Ashmansworth, Hampshire and is used by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Publishers, Ltd.

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Belleville Alumni
Are you a former pupil of Belleville? Belleville Alumni aims to connect with former pupils and inspire current pupils.
Were you at Belleville during the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s...? Are you able to share any memories or photos with us? 
Maybe you left Belleville more recently and have memories and new experience to share?
We would love to hear from you!