AT one end of Wallingford Street, Wantage, stands an imposing Queen Anne House known as Rockwell House which has had two main purposes in its life.

The first of these was as HQ for Rockwell Brewery, which used the extensive grounds of the house for workshop and stables etc.

A brewery had existed in Wallingford Street since the 18th century when Thomas Ansell had a tannery in Cat Street (now Alfred Street) and a brewery here.

By the end of the 19th century the business was owned by Ingold and Lewis and known as the Rockwell Brewery. Three public houses were owned by the brewery – The Shears, The Shoulder of Mutton and the White Horse which was in Grove Street.

Sadly the brewery went into receivership in 1909 and was acquired by Belcher and Hapgood of Abingdon. Rockwell House itself reverted to being primarily a private house.

However by far the best remembered function today for Rockwell House was as St Andrews School, a private primary school for boys and girls which was in existence from 1950-2010.

St Andrews was founded by its first headmistress Miss Barbara Clarke in 1950.

Barbara Clarke was born on November 30, 1909, St Andrews Day – hence name of school and why there were always special events at the school on this day.

She was the daughter of Canon Kenneth Clarke, vicar of Stonegate Sussex, had been educated at Dartford Physical Training College, and was a house mistress at Benenden School in Kent up to 1946.

Miss Clarke had a companion who helped her with the school administration and other activities. This was Miss Margaret Silcock who had trained as a domestic science teacher and had gone to Girton College, Cambridge, where she had gained her MA in mathematics.

She was the person who made the winners' rosettes and ribbons for runners up at the sports days each year.

According to a contemporary leaflet, the aim of the school was to provide a thorough groundwork for girls up to 13 and boys up to 11, and to prepare them for the entrance examinations to grammar school and girls' public schools. The St Andrews course included reading, writing, arithmetic, scripture, English grammar and literature, elementary mathematics , history, geography, French, Latin, nature study, drawing. handwork, needlework and class singing.

Other teachers remembered by this writer (who went there from 1965-70) include Miss Mollie Hart, who took history, Mrs Arbuthnot (plus dog Caspar), Mrs Jollyman and Mrs Sale. Male teachers at the school included Bill Avery who taught music and the Rev(s) Harry Price and Harry Broomfield. The latter took the boys for football and PT. His brother was the manager of Leyton Orient.

A school play or panto was held each year usually at Christmas and at the VC Gallery.

Research into this school is still ongoing. Miss Clarke retired in the late 1970s and died in 1986. The school itself continued until 2010 when it closed due to falling pupil numbers. Please get in contact with me (email if you recognise anyone in the photo here of the school in 1966, or can add to the story of this primary school in Wantage.