The Oxford Central Girls’ School closed in 1959 but still provokes strong memories among former pupils.

Sheila Jeffrey who was at the school in New Inn Hall Street in the city centre from 1949 to 1954, has produced two pictures from her time there.

Picture 1 was taken in the school playground as she and her fellow pupils left in 1954.

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Many of the girls wrote their signatures on the back of the picture, some of which appear in Picture 5.

Picture 2, also from her collection, was taken in 1949 when pupils were performing a French play.

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Jeffrey, whose maiden name was Beecham, writes: “I am the third one from the right wearing a cape, hat and holding the hobby horse.”

The drawing in Picture 3 is by Hervey Rutherford and shows the school in 1900, while Picture 4 is part of a panoramic picture of pupils and staff taken in 1949.

Oxford Mail:

Many former pupils remember the strict code of discipline imposed on them, both in and out of school.

Oxford Mail:

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They were banned from sunbathing during their lunch breaks, told to stay indoors at home on four nights a week to do homework, banned from shops when in school uniform and forbidden to scream on school premises.

Girls were put into one of four ‘houses’ – ‘O’ ‘C’ ‘G’ and ‘S’ after the school’s initials – and every year, battled to get the most house points and beat their rivals. Members of the houses that fell behind were often rebuked by their teachers.

Oxford Mail:

The school’s roots go back to 1797 when the Rev James Hinton, of New Road Baptist Church, founded four Sunday and day schools in different parts of Oxford, one of which was destined to become the girls’ school. By 1812, the four schools had become one mixed school of 50 boys and 50 girls, known as the United Charity and Sunday Schools, based in Gloucester Green.

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A new school was built in Pensons Gardens, St Ebbe’s.

In 1882, the school moved to larger premises in New Inn Hall Street. It survived until 1959 when it moved to Gipsy Lane, Headington, and became Cheney Girls’ Grammar School.

Oxford Mail:

The New Inn Hall Street premises are now part of St Peter’s College, with the sign ‘Girls’ Central School’, in Picture 6, still prominent on the walls.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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