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Not Brentford

Brentford Schools, late 19th/early 20th century

The original quest: Julie Jakeway wrote in 2019 "I wonder if there is any information about so-called 'Dame' schools at the turn of the 20th century. My grandmother, Emily Alice Farnham, born 1896, said she had attended a 'Dame' school before going on to the Rothschild School in Brentford High Street."

The Victorian School website offers:
A Dame School was an early form of a private elementary school often found in areas of poverty. They were usually taught by women and were often located in the home of the teacher.

Census searches may not work here: children at a dame school most probably slept at home overnight and would be recorded there. It may be possible to locate a dame school if the woman running it described her occupation as 'school mistress' or similar in the 1901 census and worked from home; of if she advertised in a trade directory, or newspaper.

The first list of schools is from a trade directory: these were run by various authorities. A second list shows those found in the 1901 census and other searches; these were private schools and may include the Dame school attended by Emily Alice Farnham. See also a list of teachers and other education workers from 1899/1901.

Schools in Brentford from Kelly's 1899 trade directory

The directory lists nine schools and provides the school name and location, often a building date, capacity and names of masters and mistresses.

The first mentioned, the Polytechnic, offered free education in a range of skills. Lectures were in the evenings so that working people could attend.

Polytechnic, High Street: lectures on cookery, dressmaking, nursery, carpentry, shorthand, book keeping, plumbing, turnery & type writing every evening; tools and appliances found; no fees (Middx County Council Technical Education Committee, High Street; Montagu Sharpe, chairman, A. H. Pittard, 103 Windmill Road, secretary)

St George's (boys, girls & infants), Pottery Road, rebuilt 1893 at a cost of £3000, for 150 boys, 150 girls & 180 infants; average attendance, full; Arthur Dawes, master; Miss Rachel Edith Dunford, mistress; Miss Louisa Voysey, infants' mistress

St Paul's, Old Brentford, built in 1873, for 774 children; average attendance 187 boys, 134 girls & 318 infants; Hilton Grundy, master; Miss Cox, mistress; Miss M Cole, infants' mistress

National, St Lawrence (boys), The Ham, erected in 1815, for 150 children; average attendance 143; Henry Burgess, master

National, St Lawrence (girls & infants), Halfacre, rebuilt in 1893 at a cost of £1300, for 260 children; average attendance, 107 girls & 137 infants; Mrs Martha Wildbore, mistress; Miss Ellen Garrett, infants' mistress

National, Brentford End (infants), London Road, for 100 children; average attendance, 78; Miss Frances M Dale, mistress

British (boys, girls, infants), High Street, erected in 1850, for 700 children; average attendance 600; Evan Phillips, master; Mrs Emma Phillips, mistress

Catholic, Butts, erected in 1873, for 200 children; average attendance, 140; Misses Mary Quann & Mary Harrington, mistresses

Canal Boatmen's Day (in connection with London City Mission), for 15 children; average attendance, 11; Miss Alice Bamber, mistress

This is an increase of three on the six schools noted in the Post Office Directory for 1866.


Private Schools

This list has been compiled by searches of the 1901 census for those whose occupation suggest they were working in education. Other entries have been found by searches of the British Newspaper Archive, via Findmypast: the private schools often placed adverts. The searches have been limited to around 1896-1901.

In addition to occupation, two columns in the 1901 census help identify those running private schools:

  • 'Employer, Worker or Own Account' set to 'Own Account' or 'Employer'
  • 'If working at home' set to 'At home'

Please get in touch if you can add to this list.

19 The Butts, Ladies School; Principal Eliza Bouts; her daughters Mary A (20) and Lena E Bouts (18) were 'teachers' and presumaby helped their mother (1901 census).

7 Boston Road, Law School at New Grove House; Proprietor Charles Falloway, Private Tutor William G Gorman. The school had 8 male boarders age 16 to 21 in 1901, most born abroad. The census was the Sunday before Good Friday and there may have been other students who had gone home for Easter.
Read more about New Grove House

15 Windmill Road, Girls' School; Principal Emily A Lowe in 1901. She ran a Kindergarten from 14 Avenue Road in 1911, this may be the age group for the Windmill Road school too.

304 High Street; Clara A Sanders was 'Governess Private School' and worked on her 'Own Account' 'At home' in 1901.
Read more about the property and occupants at 304 High Street; it seems Clara Sanders ran a private school by 1891 and up to 1913. The size of the property suggests the school was small (perhaps for younger children).

Middle Grove House, Ealing Road; Collegiate School; Principal Rosetta Sarah Symonds; in 1901 her daughter Laura Elizabeth, 30, was a mistress and daughter Jessie Emma, 29, a music mistress.

There were 12 boarders at the school, age 5 to 17, 10 girls and also two boys, ages 5 and 6, who had elder sisters at the school. The form has scant details regarding their birthplaces; as noted above, the census was at Easter time and some pupils may have gone home.

Middlesex Independent 28 July 1900 carried an advert:
COLLEGIATE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS and SCHOOL OF MUSIC, BRENTFORD highly certificated resident mistresses and visiting teachers kindergarten prospectus and list of successes at the public examinations on application. The Principal Mrs. Symonds is "At home" Wednesdays from 3 to 6 o'clock.

14 The Butts; in 1901 occupied by Miss Ada Brown, 58, schoolmistress, who worked on her own account from home; two girls age 8 and 10 were boarding, both named Parsons, presumably sisters. The property was next to St John's Convent.

In 1891 Ada Brown was a schoolmistress at the same location, her sister Ellen Brown was at the same address, a pianoforte teacher.

Bramley House Ladies School, The Butts; Lady Principal Mrs Knight offered 'THOROUGH EDUCATION and refined home for Gentlemen's Daughters' and, curiously, 'separate beds'. 'Special arrangements for Sisters and Blind Pupils (Braille System).' (Middlesex Independent 28 February 1894).

In 1901 Bramley House was occupied by the Oldham family; a step daughter Ann E Hallon (Halton?), 20, was a schoolmistress but there is no indication Bramley House was still a school in 1901.

Middlesex Independent 02 October 1901 reported the Technical Education Committee were planning to run classes at Bramley House but were delayed until the current tenancy ceased.

Brentford Grammar School; Principal James B Niblock R.U.I. advertised Middlesex Independent 12 December 1896; 'Day and Boarding School ...Sound practical education', 'most healthily situated and within few minutes' walk of Railway Station.'


Brentford Past by Gillian Clegg (published 2002) has a section 'Places of Learning' that covers education in Brentford from the earliest times to early 2000s. It has several photos.

The website has many school photos from around 1906 to the mid-1950s.

The Memories pages often recall school days.

The Occupations page for "Schoolmaster" has additional links.


Page published June 2021