John Lea School from the bike shedsJohn Lea School from Doddington RoadJohn Lea School from the main steps near the car park
John Lea School - A Pictorial History by Trevor Jones -
How it all began

Wellingborough John Lea Secondary Modern School was a familiar and prominent feature to the South of the town for almost fifty years.

Standing in grounds of twenty two acres the buildings had been designed to follow the natural lines of the site - "It will be one of the finest schools in the country" - Mr. John Burkitt, chairman of the school governors on the school's first speech day in late 1953.

In 1949 land had been reserved for a 'Secondary Modern School'. Following Ministry Of Education approval it was agreed the acquisition proceeds and the school should be included in the Authorities 1950 Building Programme and should provide for about 600 pupils. The land situated in the Doddington Road / Turnells Mill Lane area was acquired from Messrs. Whitworth Bros. Ltd. Wellingborough, for the sum 2,800 - plus other fees. In December 1949 reference is made to the provision of a four form entry with 680 places however for the present, a first phase two form entry for 340 places is to be provided at an estimated cost off 108,700. The costs include 10,000 for a canteen and 10,200 for site work. Completion of the land purchase was made on 2nd May 1950.

Construction tenders were expected by December that year and subsequently in early 1951 the first phase contract - without gymnasium and changing rooms and minus a block containing craft rooms laboratory and art room - is awarded to Messrs. Chowns Ltd. of Northampton, their tender of 140,766 being the lowest. Mr. F. H. Webster of Northampton is appointed Clerk of the Works. The contract for the school's steel windows is awarded to the specialist firm of C. E. Welstead, Ltd of Croyden.

In March 1952 the Education Committee refers to the death of Mr. John Lea. Mr. Lea was Chairman of The Further Education Committee and a member of the Governing Body of Wellingborough Technical Institute for more than forty years, he was also Chairman of the Governors of the Wellingborough Grammar and High Schools.

The school's second phase is also awarded to Messrs. Chowns Ltd. of Northampton
and includes a gymnasium, 5 classrooms, 3 handicraft rooms and a caretaker's house. Expenditure is not to exceed 99,225.

In their meeting of January 5th, 1953, the Secondary Education Committee anticipate the school would be completed in the summer, would provide for boys and girls, and the first phase would have an intake of about 400 pupils. The school is to be known as Wellingborough John Lea Secondary Modern School.

Grading and staffing is set at:
  • Grade V Head Teacher
  • 12 Assistant Teachers
  • 1 Handicraft Teacher
  • 1 Domestic Science Teacher

The school opens on September 7th, 1953, with 356 pupils on roll - 135 boys and 221 girls. Work on the second phase is under way.

Mr. Samuel Reynolds is the school's first Headmaster.

J.L. conception
click to enlarge

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