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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Amersham nursery celebrates 80 years of existence

 Published on: 14th August 2022   |   By: Darius Morgan   |   Category: Uncategorized

Whilst enjoying the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year, Henry Allen Nursery School has been celebrating its own anniversary – 80 years since its foundation by the American Save the Children Federation in 1942.

The nursery was named after the president of Save the Children at that time, Henry Allen, who travelled to Amersham to aid the British War effort. His visit in 1941 initiated the project to create childcare for the children in Amersham, allowing their mothers to work in the local manufacturing plants. The site chosen was a piece of farmland adjoining Mitchell Walk which at that time was an unmade road with one house.

The two classrooms in 1942 were named after the royal princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, who would have been 16 and 12 respectively. The children aged between two and five were given three meals a day and an ample supply of milk, which was fortunate given the rationing. The children also had a two-hour nap after lunch. The nursery was described in a local news report as,” light and airy, but with a fine openly, southerly aspect, and is in every way an ideal spot for its purpose.”

The foundation of the nursery was more firmly cemented in the 1950s when the school gave priority to children of teachers and others whose jobs were regarded as essential to the building of post-war Britain.  The school’s record in nurturing children with additional needs was started with a priority given to children with speech and hearing problems. In the 1960s the nursery became a Designated Nursery with 10% of places made available to children then termed statements of special educational need.

Times have changed but the overriding ethos of the nursery has not. Henry Allen’s letter to Miss Josephine Balls, the first headteacher, he talks of a Mother’s Day tea that was celebrated at the nursery, as we do now.

He stated, “I have a feeling that through the leadership of women like yourself, the nurseries, through which so much thought and service have been expressed will broaden into some form that will give these consecrated efforts a permanent meaning in England.”

Henry Allen has gone through two re-builds, a fire and has survived several threatened closures by Buckingham County Council.

A spokesperson for the nursery said: “It has been wonderful to celebrate our 80th year with the present cohort of children.  We would love to have visits or hear from anyone who came here as a child or worked here in the past.”

 

 

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