Glebelands School
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How it all began



On 4th September 1956, Mr John Wiskar wrote in the school log book: 

“This is the first entry on the first day of the existence of the County Secondary (Modern) Mixed School, Cranleigh. I am its first Headmaster. Hitherto it has been the Secondary Modern Extension of the Cranleigh C. of E. (Primary) School. The buildings are the same; so are many children and staff. The site for the new school is beyond the road at the bottom of our Playing Field.”

glebe 2‘The new school’ would become the one we are celebrating this anniversary year – Glebelands – and Mr Wiskar would be its first Head Teacher. 

Then, as now, the school served Cranleigh and outlying villages, although in the 1950s Dunsfold, Grafham, Alfold, Ellen’s Green and Ewhurst all had contributory schools. In 1958, the addition of children from Bramley School meant that, with 317 pupils, the existing space in the original village school and HORSA blocks was not adequate and extra rooms were found in places like the Village Hall. 

The County Secondary published a regular news bulletin, in which the progress of the building work was recorded. With an eye to the environment that remains a hallmark of the school, Mr Wiskar recalls in December 1956 that: 

“Hedges have been levelled, ditches piped and ground ploughed for the Playing Fields. It has been possible to preserve a few of the larger trees.”

Throughout 1957, discussions arose about the need for uniform and a new name. Mary Haynes, an ex-member of staff then known as ‘Miss Hall,’ remembers: 

“The new school magazine, ‘The Crane’, a most professional journal, recorded the care that was taken over the choice of name, the uniform, the rules, the iconic wind-vane; and everything that could be was done in genuine consultation with the pupils.”

glebe 3Pupils, Governors and staff made suggestions for a name, a popular choice being The Crane, linking to Cranleigh’s origins with the craneries at Baynards and Vachery. Ivy Hall was put forward because the site was in the part of Parsonage Farm known by that name. However, the most popular choice with the pupils was ‘Glebelands’ and so it was recognised from November 1958, when the school unofficially made the move to the new buildings. 

In March 1957, a small show was held in the Village Hall with boys and girls modelling school and sports uniform. Mr Wiskar wrote that the garments were: “simple to make, easy in price, smart and suitable.”

Parents agreed unanimously to adopt a uniform. Badges and ties went on sale at Gammons in the village. The badge was the heraldic ‘crane in its vigilance’, holding a rock which would awaken it by splashing into the water, should it fail in attentiveness. Boys were keener on wearing their caps than girls were their berets, or later boaters, but by 1960 they were all almost extinct. 

The Surrey Times and Weekly Press for 1st November 1957 reported: 

“During the past week Cranleigh County Secondary Modern School has been moving into their new buildings. The new school, which contains ten classrooms, is not completed yet, but the pupils have moved to allow modifications to start on the old buildings. When the new buildings are finished and extra staff have been engaged, the children will be able to enjoy meals cooked on the premises. There are facilities for rural studies, metal and woodwork, art and domestic science. Fifteen acres of playing field will be available for sport and recreation.”

Mr Wiskar recorded that: 

“the new building is a fine one, light, warm and airy. The architects are Messrs. Berry Webber, for whom Mr Ferin did the designing... The Clerk of Works for Surrey County Council was Mr Edwards, and the foreman ... for the builders, NEAL of East Horsley, was Mr Hack... To them all, to the many Craftsmen who have worked on our school, several of them parents of our children, ... we say ‘thank you very much.’”

The school was officially opened on 11th July 1959 by Mr G.R.H. Nugent, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. 

Mr Wiskar again: 

“It was a big success and really did surpass all our expectations... The School was spotlessly clean, thanks to the caretakers, ... and combined efforts of the children and staff. Children brought flowers for the classrooms. The new gardens, ... were in fine condition. Prefects acted as ushers. A small touch, much appreciated and commented upon, was made by the two boys at the entrance, Roger Coupe and James Macleod, who opened the doors and welcomed every visitor.”

Over five hundred people attended the occasion in the school hall, listened to speeches and then had a tea served by pupils and prepared in the school kitchens. 

Glebelands has continued to grow. As other memories in this booklet will show, the addition of new buildings to accommodate student and staff numbers as well as changes in the curriculum, contributes to the way the school has been remembered. Behind these changes lies the commitment of four very different Headteachers and their staff to improvement and progress. At their side has been the army of caretakers, groundsmen, gardeners, builders, contractors who have carried out the work. Since 1994, this army has been managed, overseen, negotiated with and budgeted for by Paul Moralee, who is as much a part of the fabric of Glebelands as any brick or shrub. He and his various teams ensure that the ‘light, warm and airy’ place Mr Wiskar describes, with most of its green space intact, remains today in excellent shape for this and future generations of the Cranfold population.