Darell School was Richmond Borough Council’s first primary school and it is now the only Richmond primary school still in its historic original pre-1914 building.At the beginning of this century, the area around the site of the school was part of the Leyborne Popham estate owned by an absentee landlord and consisted of orchards and market gardens. Houses were then built and the population rapidly increased.
The existing church schools became overcrowded, so in 1904 the council decided to build a new school in Darell Road. The foundation stone was laid in October 1905 and the school was formally opened in September 1906. The site had cost £2,047 and the building and equipment cost £11,982.
It was built in the ‘Queen Anne’ style, of brick with white stone facings. The school was then called Darell Road School and it is still called this by older residents. It was intended for 500 pupils, but it served what was then a relatively poor area with large families, so the new school was soon overcrowded.
It was organised in three separate departments - Junior Boys, Junior Girls and Infants - each with its own Headteacher and staff. Classes were large, often over 50, teaching was formal and discipline was strict. The curriculum consisted of the 3 Rs and religion, with relatively short periods of geography, history, drawing, music, art, handwork, hygiene, singing and games. Girls also did needlework and the older girls were taught housework, home nursing and the care of babies.
Life at Darell Road, however, was not all work. The school has a long tradition in the performing arts: in 1907 it presented its first play, ‘ A Christmas Carol’ and in 1908, its first musical, ‘Rip Van Winkle’. Before 1914, Darell Road School was, for most of its pupils, their only formal education. When they left the school at thirteen or fourteen, they went into employment. Only a tiny minority continued into secondary education.
Much has changed since the early days of Darell Road School. The number of pupils decreased, while staff and teachers increased and classes became smaller. Boys and girls were no longer kept separate and new methods and equipment were introduced.
As the local community has evolved, so has our school community, and our intake reflects the cultural and social diversity of the area.
Darell is a non-denominational primary school.