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Article by Bob Whitworth, Feb2009 - Presented by Karon Rice
Denfield Park Junior School
Photograph of Denfield Park Junior School 2009
Denfield Park Junior School 2009

Background History

The name "Denfield Park" was agreed by the school's shadow School Managers while the school was being constructed. The land on which the school stands was known as "Eastfields", based on the Old Saxon field system. A large stone-built house, occupied by the Denton family, well-known boot and shoe manufacturers in the town, was built on part of the land. Hence the name "Denfield" derives from part of the names "Denton" and "Eastfield", with the word "Park" added.

Photo of Denfield School Sign
Denfield School Sign 2009
The first Head Teacher, Bob Whitworth, (formerly Head Teacher of Broughton County Primary School) was appointed in December 1976 and took up the post in April 1977, although the school did not open until September 1977.

(To read more about Head Teacher Bob Whitworth - click here).

The school was built after discussion with elected councillors of Rushden, together with Managers (now called governors) and Head Teachers of existing local schools in order to meet the need for additional junior school places in the town. It was originally to cater for 320 children but this was later reduced. The main feeder school was the Hayway Infants School.

The building was constructed in the "method" system, clad in brickwork. The basic semi-open plan design was conceived by the County Education Inspectorate and Architects at an intensive "Collaboration in Design" course held at Northampton University in July 1975 and work commenced on site in April 1976. The total floor area is 1028 square metres and cost £191,508 to build. Simcock and Usher of Northampton were the general contractors and the architect from N.C.C. was Mr. Peter Parnell. The semi-open plan design means that eight classrooms open out onto an activity area where children can take part in more creative activities.

While the school was under construction the county council held special meetings in an attempt to thrash out the access problem to the school. There was much local opposition to Victoria Road being used for access and various options were considered but all were too costly and in the end the entrance was by Victoria Road. This has caused traffic problems ever since.

115 children joined the school in September 1977 with 5 members of staff, including the Head Teacher. Other staff were a secretary, caretaker, cleaner and one classroom ancillary. The school was governed by 12 Managers, Messrs. J Osborne, (Chairman), A. Mantle, P.Tomas, D. Leigh, C. Wood, P. Robinson, B. Whitworth (Head Teacher), V. Collier (Deputy Head Teacher), S. Smith, L. Cherry, Mrs J. Bailey and Cllr. Mrs M. Dicks.

Photograph of cHead Teacher Bob Whitworth and Mr and Mrs Cyril Faulkner unveiling the plaque.
Head Teacher Bob Whitworth and Mr and Mrs Cyril Faulkner
unveiling the plaque.

Denfield Park School was officially opened by Mr. Cyril Faulkner OBE (a former Local and County Councillor) in March 1978. The ceremony was chaired by Cllr Mrs Audrey Perkins and guests included Mr Michael Henley (Chief Education Officer for the county) and Chairman of the District Council, Cllr Harold Binder. Entertainment by the children included items by the school choir and about 20 children involved in choral speaking.

After nearly 18 years as head teacher of Denfield Park junior School, Mr Whitworth retired in December 1994 and at that time was the longest serving Head in the county. As a retiring gift from the staff and children, a hot air balloon trip was organised at the end of the Autumn Term. As the Evening Telegraph reported it "Up, up and away....a flight of fantasy set retirement celebrations soaring for school Head Teacher Bob Whitworth". The balloon took off from the school's playing field passing over The Ferrers School, and was forced to land before entering military airspace at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire. In the evening he was guest of honour at a retirement party for 80 people and local artist, Keith Hill who had been commissioned to paint a picture of the balloon against a backdrop of the school, made the presentation.

Mr Whitworth’s successor, Mrs Helen Tite, took over the role as Head Teacher in January 1995.

Photograph of the unveiling of the plague at Denfield 1978.
Mr Faulkner unveils a plaque with the aid of Elaine Rice looking on
are Tracey Denton, Daniel Abbott and Mrs Faulkner .

Evening Telegraph article 15th March 1978.

Teamwork at school praised by Headmaster.

Parents were urged to take part in the education of their children to the opening of a new school yesterday.

Former county and local councillor, Mr Cyril Faulkner was speaking at the official opening of Rushden’s Denfield Park Junior School, which began taking pupils last September.

“I would ask parents to co-operate with the teaching staff and develop a relationship which would be beneficial to all concerned,” he said. Mr Faulker said the school would be an asset to the town, and would fulfil a great need in its own catchment area. He was speaking before an audience of over 150 parents, friends, councillors and education officials who watched him unveil a plaque to mark the opening.

Councillor Mrs Audrey Perkins chaired the ceremony, which was attended by the chairman of the county education committee, and East Northants Council chairman, Councillor Harold Binder.

Headmaster Mr Bob Whitworth attributed the early success of the school to teamwork, and he thanked the staff for helping to “get it off the ground”.

The school was built along a semi-open plan design, with each of the eight classrooms, opening onto an activity area. There are at present only 115 pupils in four classes, but this is expected to increase to 280 within three years.

After the opening which included singing and choral speaking by the children. Guests braved the elements to watch four children – representing each of the classes – planting a flowering cherry tree in the school grounds.

Photograph of School Managers  (March1978)       Photograph of Denfield staff March 1978
School Managers (March1978)
Back Row L to R: Clive Wood, Derek Leigh, Sid Smith,
Bob Whitworth (Head Teacher).
Middle Row L to R : Alan Mantle, Peter Robinson, Len Cherry,
Jim Osborne Vaughan Collier (Deputy Head).
Seated: Peter Tomas and May Dicks.
Teaching and non teaching staff (March1978)
Back Row L to R: Joy Farey,Jeanette Dickerson, Bob Whitworth,
Vaughan Collier, Venessa Adlam.
Middle Row L to R: Jean Halliday, Mr. Britchford (caretaker)
Front Row L to R: Margaret Thompson (secretary)
Mrs. Richardson (cleaner)

Friday, September 2, 1977

Photo of Christopher Luty and Joanne Fowler making their way home from the fist day at Denfield
Christopher Luty and Joanne Fowler make their way home from the
first day at Denfield School.

Editor's note: There was some controversy as to where access to the site should be located. To read the newspaper report, click here.

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