FROM mourning a king in the 1950s to the glamorous proms of recent years, hundreds of photographs gathered together for the first time have given a decade-by-decade snapshot of high school life.

Waltham Abbey historians Ray Sears and Jonathan Foster have spent years combing through snapshots for their latest work, Reflections of the Past: King Harold School.

The 256-page book, published this week to mark the school's diamond jubilee, captures everything from sports days and school trips to surprise gorillagrams and World Cup celebrations.

Each chapter and decade is introduced by a former headteacher, governor or teacher.

The bell first rang for King Harold, then Waltham Abbey Senior School, in January 1952.

The school logbook gives a glimpse into its first term, from dreaded medical examinations to girls-only excursions to the Ideal Homes Exhibition.

On February 6 1953 it reads: "The school was shocked to hear during the last morning period that his majesty King George VI had passed away.

"The headmaster gave a talk on the life of HM George VI, stressing his great sense of duty despite difficulties."

With the 1960s come beehives and miniskirts among the staff - and the school's move from Milton Street to its current site in Broomstick Hall Road.


Philip Pennell, a governor at the school since 1959, writes: "What a delight it must have been for the headteacher and his staff who had been so long in the old buildings of Milton Street and Quaker Lane."

Headteacher Len Ball embraced the introduction of the CSEs in 1965 and for the first time King Harold's pupils, like their grammar school counterparts, could leave with a qualification.

The 1970s saw the building of the 15,000 new homes of the Ninefields estate and a boom in the school's population.

Pete Glampson, who taught at the school from 1974 to the 1990s, writes: "Miss Tucker, who had been appointed as our new headteacher in 1972 and had also come from a London school, had very liberal ideas about how she wanted to modernise our school.

"This didn't always go down well with some local parents, but she was determined to change the school into a modern comprehensive."

The final pages of the book feature pictures of jubilant students witnessing England beat Tunisia in the 1998 World Cup, alongside snaps of school proms.

Mike Feehan, who was head from 1999 to 2009, ends his foreword: "I do recall on one occasion that a very well dressed couple arrived in a mid 1900s fire engine. Quite an entrance!

"These young people were a credit to themselves, their parents and to the school."

  • Reflections of the Past: King Harold School is on sale for £12.95 at the academy, Waltham Abbey tourist information centre in Highbridge Street and at Epping Forest District Museum in Sun Street.