WEEKE LOCAL HISTORY
Westgate originally was the Winchester County High School for girls. This school was part of a nationwide initiative under the Education Acts of 1899 and 1902, through which Hampshire was provided with a number of schools. The school initially opened at Exeter House in Hyde Street with the main purpose of training girls to teach with the name the Winchester County School for Girls. Initially there were 46 pupils and half of them were pupil-teachers, under the headship of Miss Cunningham with three assistant staff. By 1909 the course was lasting four years and the exam taken qualified entry into a Training College for teaching in Elementary Schools. Typically those wishing to become teachers spent three days in an Elementary School and the other two at the County School (HRO TOP343/1/385).
The growth of the school resulted in it outgrew the original premises. In 1909 a new site in the Cheriton Road was found and a single storey school built that it moved into in January 1911. The building and furniture cost £9,000. At this time girls were coming to the school from several miles around Winchester and there was a contingent from Eastleigh.
In 1912 Miss Cunningham resigned on the occasion of her marriage. At the time it was the policy that only single women were allowed on the staff. The new headmistress was Miss A. M. Wright and by 1913 there were 150 pupils and an increasing number of staff (HRO TOP343/1/385).
At the outbreak of the first World War, every spare moment was spent in gardening. In January 1915 the school was requisitioned and the girls transferred to the two villas in Hatherley Road (the site of Nethercliffe School).
After the Armistice the girls moved back into the school and used the three wooden huts left by the Army for the expanding admissions. By 1921 there were 200 pupils and forty percent were scholarship holders.
In 1931 the school was enlarged by adding a second storey to the building. This had always been planned when the original building was designed. During the disruption the school was housed in two Weeke Parish Halls. The exams in the Autumn of 1931 took place in Nethercliffe. In January 1932 the pupils returned to the school now capable of housing 300 pupils.
In 1936 the school was renamed Winchester County High School for Girls when the old private High School became St Swithun's (HRO TOP343/1/385).
When World War II broke out there were more than 350 girls at the school. Soon the school had to be shared with 300 girls from the Portsmouth Northern Girls Secondary School which was evacuated to Winchester. Generally the Winchester girls used the school in the mornings (including Saturdays) and Portsmouth in the afternoons (also including Saturdays). The arrangement ended in January 1945 when the Portsmouth girls returned home.
In Easter 1945 Miss Wright finally retired after 33 years at the school and sadly died just fifteen months later. The new headmistress, Miss Browne took over a few weeks before the end of the war in Europe. Her headship saw a growing sixth form and expanded activities for the girls (HRO 363M87).
In Easter 1945 Miss Wright finally retired after 33 years at the school and sadly died just fifteen months later. The new headmistress, Miss Browne took over a few weeks before the end of the war in Europe. Her headship saw a growing sixth form and expanded activities for the girls.
In 1951 Miss Browne was succeeded by Miss Roxburgh. In the 1960s numbers had grown to 900 and a large science block, new hall and classrooms were built. By the sixties it was commonplace for male and married women teachers to be appointed. In 1968 Miss Roxburgh left and Miss Rowe took over and remained right through the seventies and the conversion of the school into a mixed Comprehensive school for 11-16 year olds (HRO WC1/7/22).
This started in 1973 when boys were admitted to the First Forms and the Sixth Forms were phased out.
All Sixth Formers subsequently went on to Peter Symonds which had become a sixth form college. The school was renamed Westgate.It saw the additions of the Science block, a new gymnasium and the so called new building. Subsequent developments since then that have taken place are the distinctive Maths and Science blocks, the Technology rooms, the canteen and the attractive paved and landscaped quadrangles where the old terrapins once stood. Mr P.D. Jenner became headmaster in 1983 and he became one of Hampshires longest serving head teachers. He retired in August 2007 and was replaced by Mrs J. Turvey.
Release 1.0 last update 02/09/08