Parish Clerks Network

Tyneham School

The Tyneham National Elementary School was built in 1856, originally to house 60 children, but when the Coastguard station at Worbarrow closed in 1912, nearly half the pupils left. Numbers remained low throughout the 1920s and eventually, in 1932, when attendance had fallen to only 9 children, the school was closed ‘for reason of economy’. The building was then used as a village hall, and the children were taken, by bus, to Corfe castle school.

The children walked in from the outlying farms and villages, so if the weather was bad, attendance was poor, as the teacher’s log book shows. Similarly, outbreaks of influenza or other infectious diseases kept many away from school, as did busy times on the farms, for children had to help with the harvest and other work, such as hedging, ditching, making gate (the local ‘barways’ made of planks cut with a cross-cut saw and slotted into solid stone posts).

Children from 4 to 14 were taught in the same room. The younger ones used the stage behind the drawn curtain, counting beads on strings or drawing with blunt crayons, usually under the eye of a ‘pupil teacher’. Children as young as three would often wander in to join their brothers and sisters.

There was a very strict regime under Mrs. Pritchard, head teacher from 1921 to 1928 and even her son Arthur, who attended the school, was shown no favouritism. Kathy Wrixon (now Mrs. Barnes of East Stoke) recalls that there was no talking, and knuckles were rapped when the pen was held incorrectly for handwriting. Joined-up writing was practised from the start, with careful attention to spacing of letters. The Union Jack was saluted on entering school.

Winnie Bright (now Mrs. Applin) was a pupil teacher trained by Mrs. Pritchard for four years. Winnie walked to school from Kimmeridge every day, and knew all the best places to find orchids on the way. She caused a stir when she got a motorbike and rode it to school! She was particularly valued by Mrs. Pritchard because she was the only one who could play the piano.

When the school put on an evening show, the unwieldy bench desks were taken outside and the villagers would bring their own chairs. Children sat on the floor or perched on the bookcases at the back watching the show by the light of paraffin lamps.

This text appears in the entrance lobby of the school.


Before the Second World war, Tyneham was just one of many small, isolated Dorset villages, relying on farming and fishing for its livelihood. The local children, between the ages of 5 and 14, were taught together in this schoolroom, oblivious to the future events which would give the village a special place in our history.

Today, the villagers and children have gone, moved out by the Army in December 1943, prior to the area being used for D-Day preparations., then later, as a gunnery range. Only the empty buildings remain, trapped in a time warp which has protected the area from many of the modern developments that, elsewhere, have changed the face of our countryside.

The schoolroom display highlights the wealth of wildlife which can still be seen around Tyneham, much of it familiar to the pupils of the pre-war era. To emphasis this continuity, the old schoolroom of the 1920s has been faithfully recreated, enabling you to step back in time:....... The children are out at play, their nature study books left open on their desks and Mrs Pritchard, the school mistress, invites you in to look at their work.

This project has been produced by Dorset County Council’s Countryside Service, working closely with the Army. The support of the Countryside Commission, Army Range Wardens and many members of the local community are gratefully acknowledged.

Particular thanks are due to former pupils of the school for their encouragement and invaluable help.

This text appears on the plaque outside the school


Tyneham School Teachers





Miss Sarah Ann Hinde


Miss Hester Legg


Miss Hester Legg

Miss Sarah A Hood

Supported by Pupil Teacher Amelia Jane Miller


Miss Mary E Bose

Miss Annie Trent

Miss Rosa M Genge



Mrs Annie E Fry (1858-1910)



Miss Norah Sophia Woodman



Mrs Malvina Pritchard



Miss Leonora Hearne

Final entries in Tyneham School log book

made by Miss Leonora Hearne




The Annual schools examination took place this morning.


The above Examination continued today.


The Rector visited the school this morning & checked the Register.


Term Examination commenced.


Perfect attendance has been made during the week.


Closed school this afternoon.

Tyneham School c.1943

Tyneham Schoolchildren c.1927 with Mrs. Pritchard

Tyneham School from the churchyard 2009

© Copyright WAVP and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Buildings & Places:

Tyneham Village

Double Cottages

Gardener’s Cottage

Gwyle Cottages

Laundry Cottages

Museum Cottage

Post Office Row


Rectory Cottages

Telephone Kiosk

The Ponds

Tyneham Church

Tyneham Churchyard

Tyneham Farm

Tyneham House

Tyneham School

Village Pond

Village Tap


Coastguard Station

Fern Hollow

Gate Cottages

Hill Cottage

Mintern’s Cottage

Rose Cottage

Sea Cottage


The Bungalow

Worbarrow Bay

Worbarrow Tout



North Egliston


RAF Brandy Bay

South Egliston


Tyneham Schoolchildren 1912


Tyneham School c.1975

Tyneham School Reopening March 1994

The teacher talks to the children, watched by former pupils of Tyneham School,

Army and County Council officials

Tyneham School Reopening March 1994

Children of Grove School, Portland

Tyneham School 30 September 2006

© Copyright Antony McCallum and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

We are pleased to report that the school building reopened on Saturday 30 November 2013 following vital repairs to the floor and roof …

10 Aug 13: Ready for stone tiles

20 Aug 13: Lots of work to do inside

20 Aug 13: Working on the roof

30 Aug 13: Concrete base ready for new boards

6 Sep 13: New ceiling

14 Oct 13: Keeping the carpenter busy

1 Nov 13: New floor, panelling & paint

15 Nov 13: Moving back in

24 Nov 13: The teacher is back

24 Nov 13: Ready to open