Village School

Blythburgh School opened in 1875. It cost about £700 and accommodated some 110 children. In ninety years it had only four heads. Gwen Long, the last, was there from 1937 until the school’s closure in 1964. A room was added to the original design to cater for children from Bulcamp Workhouse.

As late as the 1940s conditions were still primitive. There was no electricity or water: the caretaker brought a bucketful each day for school use. The school was surrounded by open fields and was very cold in winter. The lavatories were basic and the playground rough grit. Cuts and bruises were common. To pass from one classroom to the other it was necessary to go through the playground or out into the road. A connecting door was eventually provided to make life easier for the single teacher. After Gwen Long’s arrival it was about five years before a pupil passed the ‘scholarship’ and thereafter about one a year succeeded. In 1939 some twelve evacuees with a teacher arrived from Dagenham but most did not stay long.

Gwen Long admitted that the school log books would not throw much light upon her years in Blythburgh: her terse entries filled only half a book in her whole time there, whereas Stella Dean had written five times as much in a shorter period. But she was an enthusiastic photographer and copies of nearly two hundred pictures from her album, mainly of the 1950s and 60s, have survived.

Blythburgh school football team in the 1921-22 season. An active Blythburgh resident, James Nutt, is fifth from the left in the top row.