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Not Brentford

Rothschild School Prize Giving, 1906

Thanks to Janet McNamara for sending copies from the Brentford & Chiswick Times newspaper: the article was dated 30 March 1906.

The article is provided in its entirety, and if you have 10 minutes it is worth reading through to get a sense of the times and the issues affecting education: teaching of foreign languages and religious education being two.

Other material on this site relating to the school:

Janet has also provided a School Sports Day article from around the same time - lots more pupil names, to be added as time allows.

I have made the following edits to help make the article easier on the eye: splitting into more, shorter paragraphs and removing punctuation following initials and abbreviations.

You may want to go straight to the list of prize winners.


The Rothschild School
The Annual Prize Distribution
Address by Mr Leopold de Rothschild

The Vestry Hall was filled to almost overflowing on Thursday week, when the 72nd annual prize distribution to the scholars of the above schools took place.

Mr Leopold de Rothschild presided, and he was supported by Mr Bigwood, Miss Bigwood, Mrs Stallabrass, Mr A S Montgomrey, JP, the Rev H F Nixon MA, the Rev W Edwards, Mr J T Taylor, Mr M B Milburn, Mr G H Jupp, Mr Webb H M L, Mr W J Noy, Mr J Clements, Mr H Batley (clerk to the Brentford School Managers), Dr and Mrs Walters, and Mr & Mrs Evan Phillips (headmaster & headmistress).

As usual there was a musical programme provided, the items of which were most creditably rendered by the scholars. It was as follows:

  • Overture – ‘Poet and Peasant’ (selection) – Oscar Verne – The Rothschild School Band
  • Part Song – “Now is the month of Maying” – Thomas Morley 1595 – Solo, Edgar Turner - Boys
  • Display of Physical Drill – Boys
  • Two Part Song = “Night, Lovely Night” – Schubert – Solo Florence Blondell – Girls
  • March – “Kentucky Patrol” – Karl Kape - The Rothschild School Band
  • Part Song – “A hunting we will go” – Old English Air – Boys
  • Display of Physical Drill – Girls
  • Dance and Song – (a) Trio “With a laugh as we go round” (From the “May Queen” – Sterndale Bennett” – Solo – Maggie Purvis – (b) Dance “La Regina” – Blackley – Girls
  • Gavotte – “Les Cloches de St Malo” – W Rimmer - The Rothschild School Band.

The efforts of the children were greatly appreciated by the large audience, and the young entertainers received much well-deserved applause. All did well, but a special word of praise is due to Miss Maggie Purvis for her singing. The school band was under the conductorship of Mr Sydney Shepherd, their able instructor.

The second half of the proceedings was devoted to speeches and the distribution of prizes. The Rev H F Nixon, MA, in the course of a few remarks, said that he had visited the school, and he was truck with the discipline and the bright, happy faces of the children, which shewed that they were not ruled by harshness, but by kindness and consideration (hear, hear).


He then went on to speak in high terms of the work of Mr and Mrs Evan Phillips, the headmaster and headmistress, and said that the British School had turned out many excellent scholars, who were now occupying positions of importance (applause).

Mr Leopold de Rothschild, who was accorded a very hearty reception, said that fifteen years ago he had the pleasure of coming there, and was then very much interested by what he saw and heard. The programme then consisted of lightning calculation and the display of mental capabilities of the scholars, and he was struck by the intelligence and mental quickness.

Now, however the programme has been changed, but they all that evening had admired just as much the music, the graceful dancing, and the admirable manner in which the physical drill had been conducted – (applause) – and they also admired the patience and skill which had been used in bringing them to perfection (applause).

They were, he was sure, thankful to them for the most charming programme. Probably they knew the history of the school far better than he did. Their excellent headmaster (Mr Phillips) reminded him that it was started in 1834, and in 1859 the foundation stone of the present building was laid by his (the speaker’s) dear sister.

His mother, whose whole life was devoted to good work, founded the “Evelina” Scholarship for children of the school in 1867 in memory of Miss Evelina de Rothschild, who had laid the foundation stone. From that day these prizes had gone on, and they had been awarded to children who had well deserved them. He was glad to think that they had been of great help to them, and he knew of some recipients of them who had done well if live (applause).


He had heard from year to year what had taken place in the school, and he had watched with the greatest of interest the zeal and energy of Mr Phillips. He heard from their managers that the school still retained its high position (applause). They had had many good secretaries to the school – Mr Cross and Mr Meyer – and it was now managed by a committee of the most influential men in the town.

The annual report, which would be sent out shortly, would speak for itself. There was one sentence in it which was important. It was, “This is a pleasant school”. He thought that it was a pleasant school for the boys and girls present were all smiling, and that was a sign that they were happy in school (hear, hear). Many of the most successful men in the town, he was told, had been taught at that school (applause), but there were also many teachers in the schools of the United Kingdom who owed a great deal of their success to the training that they received at that school from Mr Phillips (applause).

They were on the eve of a great change as regards the schools, and they did not know as yet what the plan would be. He knew, as a Jew, that he was skating on thin ice if he said anything about religion, but he believed that very parent, whether they belonged to the Anglican Church, whether they were Dissenters or Roman Catholics, wished to have religious education for their children during school hours (applause). It was therefore his fervent hope and wish that some means should be found of bringing about a compromise on what was a very difficult question to solve (applause).

He thought that he was right in saying that they in England were backward with regard to technical education, scientific education, and knowledge of languages. Referring to the knowledge of languages, he said that the greatest difficulty with respect to this was that they had to have foreign teachers who did not understand the habits of the children and the boys and girls did not in consequence pay that attention to them that they showed their own masters.

He thought that the solution of the matter was that English teachers should learn French and German, and then impart their knowledge to the children (hear, hear). He could tell them that the boys of seventeen and eighteen – German and Swiss – came over here to learn business, but they came not with a knowledge of one language, but two, and sometimes three and four. They also had a knowledge of commercial methods, a combination which it was impossible to obtain in England. In conclusion he expressed the hope that the Board of Education would endeavour to meet those points when they framed the curriculum (applause). He then presented the prizes, greeting each of the recipients with a kindly remark.


The list of the prize winners was as follows:

  • Standard VII - Edward King, Harold Ross and Douglas Weeks
  • Standard VI – Gladstone Reeder, Albert Thomas, Fred Wright, Walter Heush, Fred Rogerson, Fred Lewis, James Arthur, Henry Reed, Charles Elkins, Reginald Harrington and Joseph Newsom
  • Standard V – A Fowler, E Hood, E. Fowler, G Lailey, Robert Loveday and W Buck
  • Standard IV – James Atkins, William Gregory, Claude Hidden, Percy Thomas, Stanley Thompson, William Wade and Maurice Ross
  • Standard III – John Warden
  • Standard II – H Devenish, C Harman, H Wade, J Rugg and John Payne

Prizes for Class Work

  • Standard I Philip Moses
  • Standard II Edward Dickenson
  • Standard III Arthur Turner
  • Standard IV Sidney Williams
  • Standard V John Dunnett
  • Standard VI Harold Corke
  • Standard VII Walter Morris

The “Evelina” Scholarship, instituted by the late Baroness Lionel de Rothschild, in memory of Miss Evelina de Rothschild, who laid the foundation stone of the present school in 1859, was awarded to Theodore Mark Bamber.


Special Prizes

  • Field botany – Douglas Weeks
  • Map drawing- Harry Reed
  • French – Theodore Bamber
  • Arithmetic – Douglas Weeks
  • Recitation – Henry Wheeler
  • History – Edward Dyson
  • Composition – Walter Morris
  • Music – Arthur Dyson
  • Geography – James Holland
  • General excellence – Cyril Odell and Thomas Turner
  • Handwriting – Thomas Foreman
  • Conduct – Clyde Horsefield
  • Composition- Fred Sinclair
  • Drawing and brushwork – Ernest Snelling

“Evelina” Prize (girls) – Florence Emmerson

At the conclusion of distributing the prizes he said that he had given Mr Phillips instructions to give all the children a special treat (applause).

Mr A S Montgomrey , JP, moved a hearty vote of thanks to Mr Leopold de Rothschild for his attendance and for distributing the prizes, and referred to the association of the Rothschild family with the school.

Mr J T Taylor seconded, and the vote was heartily accorded.

Mr Leopold de Rothschild expressed his thanks, and said it gave him great pleasure to be present, but he regretted that his wife was unable to attend with him. They were indebted to Mr Phillips and his staff for the care that they gave to the school. There was no doubt that the work of the school went very smoothly and that was due to the attention of the headmaster and the managers. The thanks of the neighbourhood were due to them because children well trained would grow up to be good citizens (applause).

Mr J Bigwood wrote saying that he was unable to be present due to an injured knee. Letters of regret at being unable to be present were also received from Mr C J Cross, JP and Mr B S Gott (secretary of the Middlesex Education Committee).



The account of the prize giving was written for an audience who knew the school and its pupils, but reading it over a century later there are a number of questions:
  • How old were the children at the school?
  • What were Standards I to VII?
  • Apart from Florence Emmerson, did none of the girls win prizes?

By checking the 1911 census for children with more unusual names it was possible to get an idea of the children's ages (assuming I have found the right people of course):
H Devenish, prize winner in Standard II may also feature in "Archive Photograph Series Brentford' . This includes a photo of formidable twin brothers Horace and William Devenish, wearing several medals apiece and with a table of book prizes, two trophies and two cricket bats. 'In 1912 they were awarded £5 by Leopold de Rothschild for completing seven years perfect school attendance'.

1911 census shows the twins were 14 at the time, their full names were Francis William and Edward Horace and they were at school along with a younger sister, Gertrude Olive Mae, who was 13. So in March 1906 the twins were around 9 years old.

A Claude Charles Hidden (Standard IV prize winner) was 15 in the 1911 census, so around 10 in 1906.

A Maurice Leonard Ross (Standard IV prize winner) was 16 in the 1911 census and a solicitor’s clerk, so around 11 in 1906. Harold James Ross (Standard VII prize winner) was 18 in the 1911 census and a commercial clerk,so around 13 in 1906. The two Ross boys were brothers.

The birth of a Robert Edward Loveday was registered in Brentford in Apr-June 1892, and may be the Standard V prize winner: he would have been nearly 14 in March 1906.

A Harold R Corke (Standard VI prize winner) was 22 in the 1911 census and a conductor with the London United Tram Co., so around 17 in 1906. Having checked the likely ages of other prize winners I think there must have been a second Harold Corke. The 1901 census includes a 4 year old Harold Corke, granson of William Chovil, wine merchant, living on Chiswick High Road. He would have been about 9 in 1906 - rather young. FreeBMD offers a third candidate: Harold Johnson Corke, whose birth was registered in Brentford in the last quarter of 1892. He would have been 13 at the time of the prize giving. I will plump for him.

A Walter Heusch (Standard VI prize winner) was 7 in the 1901 census, so around 12 in 1906.

The sole known girl prize winner, Florence Emmerson, is probably the 9 year old living on Brook Road in the 1901 census, so she would have been 14 at the prize giving.

So it is not east to draw a conclusion about ages:

  • Standard II - around 9
  • Standard IV -around 10-11
  • Standard V - around 13 or 14
  • Standard VI - around 12
  • Standard VII - around 13

When I attended a North Yorkshire school in the 1960s, ages 7-11 were grouped into Standards 1-7. Less academic children started in Standard 1 and progressed through Standards 4 & 6, spending two years at one level, whereas the more acadmeic children started in Standard 2 and then spent a year in each of Standards 3, 5 & 7. Perhaps 60 years earlier similar arrangements applied?


Published December 2011