The Downs School

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The Downs School was founded by Miss Lucy Robinson at Redcroft, in Sutton Road, on the east corner of Southdown Road, in January 1901. It moved to a larger site in Sutton Road, on the corner of Alfriston Road, in September 1904. Miss Lucretia Cameron joined the staff in 1913, and became headmistress in January 1914, following the retirement of Miss Robinson.

The school expanded rapidly. A new hall, also used as a gymnasium and dining-room, was built in 1913; Tower House opened as a junior house for girls under 14 in 1915; Maitland opened for girls specialising in modern languages, domestic science and music in 1916; Bydown and Hove-to were added in 1918 and 1921-1922 respectively. The Long Barn at Bydown was converted into the school library in 1923, and was later used as preparation rooms by girls in Bydown. In 1926 three lacrosse pitches were added to the south playing field, Bydown kitchens were extended, and the Sixteen dormitory was built above. The school was enlarged to double its size by new form rooms, dormitories and a new school hall, which were opened by Sir James Parr, High Commissioner for New Zealand, in the presence of the Bishop of Chichester, on 26 November 1927.In 1929 Bydown dining room was built, and The View, Bramley, Rest Harrow, Qu'Appelle, and Elomar, all in Sutton Drive, were purchased. Elomar was used as a sanatorium before the Second World War, and as an annexe to Bydown afterwards. The Bydown stables were converted into a school library in 1930.

The school became the Downs School (Seaford) Ltd in August 1931, with Miss Cameron and Miss V J Pitt, who had joined the school in 1918, as joint headmistresses. The barn on the east of the hard court was converted into laboratories and a games store in 1935.The school was evacuated to Treloyhan Manor and St Eia Hotels, St Ives, Cornwall on 28 June 1940. The Downs, Tower House and the playing fields were requisitioned the following month. Furniture and contents which had not been moved to St Ives were stored in Bydown, but the building was bombed in August 1942. 

After Miss Cameron retired in July 1943, the school returned to Seaford in October 1945, following a reorganisation of the premises made necessary by the loss of Bydown. The library was restored in 1946, following bomb damage, and Bydown reopened in 1950. An outdoor swimming pool was given to the school in 1956.

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Miss Pitt attempted to turn the school into an Educational Trust, and increase the numbers to ensure a viable sixth form, but was unable to accomplish this. The school closed in July 1964, following her illness. The school and its grounds were purchased by Seaford Urban District Council, subsequently the Lewes District Council (for use as recreational facilities, and council offices. The main building is now used as flats with a purpose built leisure centre behind. 

 

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