Harpenden’s history recovered from Clacton skip

A PIECE OF Harpenden history has come to light in, of all places, the coastal town of Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

An old wooden table with a plaque inscribed, “Made and presented by staff and students of Manland School Harpenden” and decorated with an inlaid cloth covered in hand-stitched signatures, including that of a former Lord Mayor of London, has been rescued from a skip in the seaside resort.

The historic item dates back to 1968 and was spotted dumped in the skip, 90 miles from Harpenden, by Terry Geoghegan, a building skills tutor at Lota Training, which specialises in apprenticeships for young people in Witham, Essex.

Terry had travelled to Clacton to collect kitchen equipment to be used by students seeking work in the hospitality trade from an old person’s home which was being demolished.

He explained: “The home was being pulled down and I saw the table and I thought it was fabulous. I was married in St Albans so it was a coincidence that the school was in the same area.”

Terry went on: “It would have been criminal to dump it. It was being thrown out because the home was being demolished. I asked if I could take it. You can imagine all these kids and the Lord Mayor at that time with the table.”

The cloth is covered in different coloured hand-stitched signatures of pupils and staff from Manland School, along with that of then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Charles Trinder.

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Ainsley Hardin, marketing assistant at Lota Training, said: “It is a fantastic piece of history. The table has no personal value to us but we appreciate it may have sentimental value to someone else.”

The centre has contacted Manland Primary School to offer its return. However, former teachers have examined photos of the table and cloth and said that as they did not recognise the stitched names, the table was possibly from Sir John Lawes School, which was formerly called Manland School. Both schools have been in existence for more than 70 years.

If you have information about this interesting piece of Harpenden history please email: debbie.white@hertsad.co.uk