Sandhurst School Worthing
28 May, 2014
Sandhurst School was opened by Alice Fletcher in 1907 and closed its doors just over one hundred years later. It was not originally at Brighton Road, but based in a house in Church Walk and moved to bigger premises as the school roll increased. The school only became co-ed in 1946, having previously been for girls only.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the history of Sandhurst School lies with its founder. Alice Fletcher was born in the little town of Sandhurst in New South Wales, Australia. Her parents had emigrated from Britain in 1853, taking other members of their family with them. Alice’s grandfather, George died in Australia in 1876. But overall, the move does not appear to have been a success and the younger members of the family moved back to Britain.
Having first lived in County Durham, Alice finally moved to Worthing where she opened the school with her sister which they named after the town of their birth. Their uncle, Neville Stanwix was also resident in 1911, but whether, at the aged of 78, he was also teaching, is not clear. Several of the pupils at that time had been born outside of England , including India and Africa. Either their parents had returned from colonial service or were still working overseas, which would imply that the pupils were boarders.
Worthing in the early years of the twentieth century had a very large population of ex-colonials, including many who had served in the Raj, either in the civil service or the military. In point of fact, many of their children, having been born in the country, where in fact Indians, although it is doubtful if either they or their parents regarded themselves as anything other than true-born English men and women!
Alice remained headmistress until her retirement in 1938, when she would have been over 80 years old. She continued to live locally in Chesswood Road and died in 1953 and the grand old age of 94. By this time the school was being run by a Miss Hughes.
By 1984 the school was badly in debt and narrowly avoided closure. New trustees raised fees and improved facilities and the school appeared to prosper, but another crisis in 2008 proved insurmountable and the trustees announced that after 100 years, Sandhurst would close. Attempts by parents to open a new school in Shelley Road proved unsuccessful. There were 68 boys and girls aged between two and 13 on the roll at the time of closure. Fees in 1984 had been £240 a term – by 2008 they had risen to £1,347.
Article kindly supplied by Chris Hare – Worthing Historian