Early Education of the Garden City

Ludwick Infant School

By George Boston

Miss Smith, in 1950.
Ludwick School staff in 1939 - Miss Linda Sing is in the middle on the bottom row with her grey hair and black shoes.
Ludwick School staff 1950: Miss Bush, Miss Roth, Miss Gilmore, Miss Salmon, Miss Sawfield, Miss Collins, Miss McKelvie, Miss Johnson and Miss Bradshaw.
Ludwick Infant School, 1937.

I started Ludwick School (now Holwell Primary) in September 1947 – the headmistress was Miss D Scurfield. The Misses Laura and Linda Sing had both retired as headmistresses of Ludwick and Peartree in 1942 and 1946. Ludwick was an infant school which housed five to seven year olds in early education, and the teachers had to be qualified to a certain level. It was a very good school.

We lived on Cranborne Gardens, and Ludwick School was quite accessible. I left the house at 8:15 every morning and walked north down a little alleyway and then turned right which arrived at Salisbury Gardens. I then walked straight ahead of me onto a little path in the middle of trees, and then Ludwick Way appeared. I turned left down to the end, then right and there was Ludwick School. Miss Scurfield, our headmistress, drove down Ludwick Way to get to the school so all the pupils (and staff come to it) used to look out for her.

Before school started, Miss Scurfield would make everybody aware of her presence by slamming the door closed behind her as she left the building. Then, we all turned round to look at her. You could see she’d been as a headmistress for some years, by her organization and particular ways. As the bell sounded at 8:50, Miss Scurfield instructed the students to line up silently in front of class teachers. Until 8:50, she walked up and down supervising us all. At 8:50, we would be let in.

We started school at 8:50 AM with a prompt start due to Miss Scurfield’s prompt attitude. Our morning break was 15 minutes at 10:30, and lunch was for 1 hour 20 minutes at 12:10. We finished at 3PM, and a lot of the pupils used to hang around on the school side of the gates against Miss Scurfield’s wishes. The caretaker locked the school up at 3:10 PM, after Miss Scurfield had left. We all watched as she drove out the school gates, giving everybody a fierce look.  

Dorothy Scurfield was in her mid 40s when I started Ludwick School, and was very strict and precise. She had a yellow 1946 Rover 12 which we all used to look for as we walked to school in the morning, as she drove down Ludwick Way. Miss Scurfield was vile, and loved humiliating the students when necessary. Success of her school was the best for her, and she always used to a personal announcement to every class.


Miss Bush -I don’t remember much of Miss Bush, but I do remember she was from Hackney (she had a Cockney accent). She used to come up to the Garden City on the train every day, and loved shopping at Welwyn Stores. I usually saw her on a Saturday when we did our family shopping. She left in 1954, a year after I started grammar school, and didn’t return to Welwyn Garden City much at all.

Mrs Roth -Mrs Roth lived at 43A Leigh Common then 8 Heather Road in Welwyn Garden City with her husband Henry Roth and their daughter Janet. Janet did go to Ludwick School and then onto Peartree Primary like me, then I think Janet went to The Howard School. Her husband Henry was an electrician. I think Mrs Roth moved to Panshanger in 1967 or 1968 and taught at Sir Frederic Osborn School, but I can’t be absolutely sure. We had a school reunion in 1974 and she didn’t show up, so must have died or moved away.

Miss Gilmore – She was my form tutor, and a trained teaching of typing and shorthand. She lived in Ware, and caught the train to Hertford then onto the Garden City. She left to marry Miss Bush’s brother Bill (the rumour at the grammar school I fondly recall) in 1952/1953 and then moved to Ethelred Close just up from us off Ludwick Way. She taught at Peartree Primary for about five years, and then in 1957/1958 went to teach at Welwyn Secretarial School teaching typing and shorthand. By the school reunion in 1974, she was living up north in Doncaster with two children. Never heard/seen her since.

Miss Salmon – She was in the next classroom along with her form group (before she left), and was trained in sewing & needlework. She was there from when Miss Sing started (1939) and then left in 1948 to teach at Welwyn Garden City Grammar School. I think I recall her living on Knella Road, but I can’t be sure. She taught Domestic Science at Welwyn Garden City Grammar School, I do remember her neat and orderly classroom. She was still there when I left in 1959, and they used her partner’s name to get a council house on Woodhall Lane in the 1960s. I don’t think she was ever married or had children.


Miss Sawfield – A vague memory of her high heels, and she must have been at Ludwick for some years I should imagine. I think I heard somebody mention she went to Heronswood Secondary Modern School in 1962 and drove a black Mini. She mysteriously disappeared in 1966 (in the Welwyn Times) and rumours said she went abroad, former pupils remembered she loved travelling. I could’ve got the wrong person but next door to us in the late 1970s and 1980s there was a single woman living next door to us on Ludwick Way with a black Mini that looked from the 1960s. I had a Mini in the 60s. She was quite intelligent and loved making things, especially sewed items.

Mrs Collins – She made her way round the schools of the Garden City. Mrs Collins’s only formal teaching qualification was the 2-year Certificate in Education (Cert Ed) which she completed in 1947 but maintained high grades in every subject so she was taken on as a school teacher in 1947, and taught at all the schools in the Panshanger, Peartree & Handside areas of the Garden City with Ludwick being the longest of 5 years.  She moved to Heronswood Road in 1959 and taught at the two schools in pre-Panshanger before going to Haldens in 1962 then to Digswell in 1965. She eventually moved out of Welwyn Garden to North London (Edgware area) in the late 60s, and in 1974 at the reunion she did turn up with her husband and during our little chat she was still a teacher at Copthall Grammar School which on Google shows it in Edgware. Think she died in the 90s. Her husband Leonald was a coach driver, and she had two girls and a boy. The son became a teacher of craftsmanship (as we called it then) and trained at a teacher training college near Harlow (1968 – 1970), and he did a brief stint at Howlands Junior before going to teach at Sir Frederic Osborn in Panshanger where he lived for many years. One of the girls married an engineering teacher.

Miss McKelvie – Only place I remember Miss McKelvie was at Welwyn Garden City Grammar School. She drove an Austin A35 in the 50s, and another one of our teachers Mr Pedrow lived next-door to her so she gave him a lift (his wife drove their Ford Anglia to work in Hertford). She eventually bought a 1960 Ford Anglia which she absolutely adored, and parked on the kerb in the same spot. Miss McKelvie was quite old when she worked at Ludwick School (obviously did, hence the picture), in her late early 50s. She must have left in 1951 or 1952 because she was certainly teaching History at the Grammar School when I started in September 1953. I remember she drove past Woodhall up Ludwick Way then along Knella Road past our house – certainly no children or husband in sight at all with Miss McKelvie at all. She did move near Cranborne Gardens on Knella Road in about 1965 when she taught at The Howard School but by early 1967 she was living on Sweet Briar teaching at Thumbswood Primary School. She came to the 1974 reunion on her own, but told me she had moved to near the Applecroft School in the Handside neighbourhood and retired in 1972.

Miss Johnson – She specialised in Maths but taught as a primary school teacher at Ludwick until she had her son in mid 1956 (married to Gerald Wright in 1955). They bought their house on Cranborne Gardens from the council for £450 in 1957 on a 5-year mortgage because it came off the council, and soon it was extended to a 25-year mortgage. We used to go round to their house for a cup of tea on a Thursday night every week – such a pleasant couple! Mrs Wright returned to teaching Mathematics at Attimore Hall Secondary Modern School in 1961 and was there until 1968 when the school merged. She did return to teach at Howlands Junior School (1968 – 1971) and at Rollswood Infant School (1971 – 1975) and then they moved away to Worcestershire. Their son lives near Shoplands in WGC.   

Miss Bradshaw – Ivy Bradshaw came to Welwyn Garden City from Wales in 1948 after completing her degree at university in Hertfordshire, and lived on Salisbury Road. She taught at Ludwick Infants (1948 – 1952), and then at Blackthorn Primary School (1952 – 1961). Afterwards, she taught at the College of Further Education for about 30 years (1961 – 1993). She sealed to spouse to a smart looking gentleman who worked at Welwyn Stores, and they lived on Barnard Green together in rented rooms.

This page was added on 20/08/2015.

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  • By the time I started school in 1967 it was known as Holwell JMI. Mr Williams was the Headmaster. Us children were facinated by his 2 fused fingers! The Deputy was Mr Pitt-Keithley. Very strict. I was quite scared of him. I also remember a French woman (Mrs Bourton?) who did spoken french with us a few times a week. Another teacher was Mrs Chuck, who was very involved with choir and putting on end of term performances.The classroom doors were all painted different colours. I left July 1974 and moved away.

    By Jill Britt (30/07/2020)
  • My grandparents lived at 118 Holwell Road and my father Ronald Ward went to Ludwick Infant school in the late 1930’s /early 1940’s and then on to Handside School.

    By Deborah (15/05/2020)
  • Howlands and Rollswood were where my early education occurred.

    Miss Alcock was head at Rollswood ‘Infants’ of which my most distinct memories are three. The light aircraft that had made a forced landing on the playing field that was contiguous across the two schools. Then sitting on the solidly frozen assembly hall floor on our return to school for winter term 1963. Each of us left with wet clothes, as we melted the frost on the floor. (I should only sue HEA for cruelty to minors.) And the day of an explosion on the ICI plant in which three employees were killed. Two miles away we heard ‘thunder’ on a bright sunny day, and subsequently what looked like snow began to fall.

    Then on to Howlands where Mrs Mary Cann was in charge, and was she ever in charge. Education began in earnest here, we were to be stretched in every possible direction, and hopefully to discover what aptitudes and interests might be developed.

    First teacher was Miss Christine Orchard, in ‘temporary classroom’ 12. I suspect this teacher may be Jane Happs pretty woman with the French plait: she was equally beautiful in spirit, and all my recollection is of a very happy time in her class. She didn’t enjoy Cuffley camp that much; it was a miserably wet week, but smiled throughout. In compensation for the wet we saw a swallowhole ‘active’ in the wood, with Michael Cumberlin amazed and enthusing about how lucky we were to see this event.

    I don’t recall so much of my next teacher Ena Robinson. She probably had some time off sick, as we definitely experienced the splendour that was Michael Guinery, every bit as good as advertised above. (Later he would stick his lit pipe in his back pocket during a lesson and actually burn a hole in his trousers. Kids just don’t get that sort of practical education these days.)

    Disaster! Our third teacher was Miss Elizabeth Hudson. In retrospect, my suspicion is that she didn’t have much of a sense of humour; our class ragged her something terrible, and she departed before year end. So we had to endure Mrs Audrey Wheatley instead – she taught remedial reading – and was taking no prisoners with this proven unruly crew of bandits. This was 1968, so we were bang on trend with the students of Paris.

    For our final year at Howlands, Miss Christine Ashley barely 20, very pretty and petite, fresh out of teacher training college, was naturally enough thrown to the lions. And we were eating out of her hand right from the start. It was at this moment that it dawned on me that far from being a ‘grown up’ she really wasn’t that much older then we were. She married at Christmas to some extremely lucky fellow called Fountain, and we had a lovely year. She would swim with us in a very teeny weeny bikini, and was on the Lake District trip led by Michael Cumberlin, and all was well with the world.

    By Paul Jansz (07/02/2020)
  • To Jane Happs

    I lived at 135 Thistle Grove. I went to Howlands about the same time as you. Mr Guinnery was a star. Loved his lessons. I also went to Rhossili with him. I went twice staying in the Youth Hostel at Port Eynon. We had amazing walks across open country and across the beaches. I hated the very cold swimming pool at Howlands although I did get my half mile certificate going round and round the little pool. I think I left Howlands in 1967 to go to Attimore Hall for one year and then on to Sir Fred’s for the second year and onwards. It was a good school then. I can picture where no. 164 was, but I don’t remember you.

    By Kevin Sims (20/12/2019)
  • I moved to Welwyn Garden City in 1962 & lived in Thistle Grove until 1967. My father was a Police Officer & we lived at 164 Thistle Grove.
    We moved to many Towns in Herts from 1953-1967, I attended Howlands Junior from 1962-1966. Four years in the Junior School !
    I cannot remember much about years 1&2 but I do remember a severe Male ex RAF teacher in year 3 ar Howlands ! He used corporal punishment with vigor – Ican remember being made to kneel in front of the black board & being smacked on the back of my legs .
    I was exremely short sighted – which was not picked up until the age of 10, & could not see the board. – but I was still punished for this !
    I can vaguely remember a bright Hall in school & learning traditional English Folk songs & English Country dancing.
    I can remember we had a couple of pretty teachers in School – one had a very 60’s ‘french pleat’ at the back of her head !
    In year 4 we had a wonderful teacher called Mr Guninery – he had lived in Africa & had such an enlightened approach to teaching – very creative, i can remember amazing music & movement sessions in class to ‘the Planets’ & being able to make as much noise as we could to ‘Mars God of War ‘
    Amazing the things one remembers !
    I was absent a little duringg my years at Howlands. Junor (with to silitis & asthma) but work was sent home to complete at home – one project was on Marco Polo in 1966, I remember i bing sen in from home & when i got back to school it was on display.
    The School Educational visirs to North Wales in 1965 (Llandudno) & the Gower in South Wales in 1966 were just magic experiences. Mr Guinery took our year 4 group to the Gower & we stayed at the Port Eynon YHA.

    Howlands school had a ficus on ‘natural history’ & our lessons incorporated observations of the school pond & nature area.

    I still have my workbooks & photos from this time.
    I have bern disappointed not to fnd out more about the teachers & pupils & the history of Howlands School, hence writing this ! I seem to remember that the school was large with an intake of 500 pupils in the 1950’s !
    Almost all the other schools have information about them, but not Howlands ! A mystery !

    For example – was Howlands school built close to Howlands House (hence the name) ?
    I remember a fabulous grassed play area – & walking home through grass & an area full of spaxe & trees.

    Only one friend do I now remember, her name was Sandra. I lost ontact with friends as my parents always moved, after Howlands I went to Broxbourne School.

    By (Elizabeth) Jane Happs (03/03/2019)
  • I went to Ludwick School 1949-1952 I remember the air raid shelters. I left to join the new Blackthorn School which open in 1952 With Mr Edwards as the headmaster, stayed on until 1955, then went to the Howard School 1955 -1959. Was supposed to go the the Grammer School but as all my mates were going to the Howard, my Mother lets me go, what I did not realise was all my mates then left to join Heronswood the very next year, so loss some very good mates, but made new friends. left school in 1959 at the age of 15 to work at E.R. Holloway, Bessemer Road, my Granmother worked there packing Combs.

    By Peter A. Littledyke (08/10/2017)
  • I lived opposite Ludwick Infant School at 128 Holwell Road, and I also attended this school 1947 to 1949.    I have fond memories of Dot Scurfield, and she was very severe, indeed.

    By Georgina Folds (06/11/2016)