History

Cleve House School prides itself on providing an excellent education for the children of south Bristol for over seventy years. The school has been in the present building since 1948, having moved several times during the war.

Cleve House was originally built by Charles Beavis a successful Victorian entrepreneur in 1887. The house was called Arcadia but was known locally as the “Lemonade Palace” as Mr. Beavis manufactured soft drinks in Jacob Street, Bristol.

King Leopold of the Belgians is reputed to have stayed at Arcadia as a guest of Charles Beavis.

David and Elaine Lawson became Heads in 1987 being the third principals in the school’s history. In 1992 Cleve House extended to include a Nursery and in 2002 added a large assembly hall replacing the coach house. A music room and conservatory playroom followed in 2003.

Craig Wardle became the schools’s fourth principal in August 2015 and looks forward to taking the school into the next exciting stage in its history maintaining the excellent education Cleve House has always provided with traditional values (and lots of fun!!)

Here is a poem written by Debra Dando – “It gives you a little glimpse of what it was like in the sixties. Probably not entirely PC these days, but it might amuse you.”

‘Cleve House School’ by Debra Dando

Pupils couldn’t use the grand front door
In nineteen hundred and sixty four,
That was one of the very first rules
When I attended Cleve House School.

If it had been nineteen o three
They’d have welcomed me like royalty –
For ‘Lemonade Palace’, as then known,
Had been my great ancestral home.
I wouldn’t have been sent ‘round the back
Nor forced to wear a gabardine mack!

The uniform was blue and grey,
Complete with felt hat or beret.
I really loved the duffle coat
– in Winter I kept warm as toast!
Blue check dresses for the Summer
With straw boater & smart blazer.
Leather satchel – books and pencils,
Duffle bag – games kit and plimsolls.
 
A lollipop man, all grey and old,
Would help us cross the big main road.
Once in the yard we’d play and chat-
Skipping, marbles, hop-scotch, tag.
The hand-bell called us into lines
Then, by year, we’d go inside.
Each peer group had its own small class
With pegs outside for coats and hats.
 
Saying prayers is how we’d start,
Then chant times-tables off by heart.
First year rooms had ABCs,
Older years had weird Chinese!
Miss Gregory was then the Head,
Her footsteps coming we would dread –
I’ll never forget the way she looked
When I lost my National Savings book!

Sometimes we’d walk to Redcatch Park
To have P.T. – it was a lark….
We’d have to carry all equipment
Two by two along the pavement.
Much time was spent going to and fro’
– I hated games, so I walked slow!
Rounders I would try to play,
Others High Jump or Relay.
 
The attic held the library –
Storybooks, reference, poetry.
I also went there after hours
To learn to control my ‘Ls’ and ‘Rs’.
In Elocution class I felt so silly
But an Eisteddfod judged me top in the city
For reciting a piece from Paddington Bear –
How fortunate to have climbed those stairs!

Polio sugar-cubes in the kitchen,
Small bottles of milk with paper straws in,
The tiny office – typewriter and boxes –
No computers at all back then to fox us!
We’d go there too if feeling poorly-
The secretary/nurse might read a story!
 
Then Mr. Hanley came along
Bringing music and great fun.
He’d take us down into the cellar
And play us Chopin or Glenn Miller.
You’d remember, if you were there,
How we surrounded the great hall stairs
Complete with grass-skirts, and bongo drums
To perform the amazing ‘Banana Boat Song’.
Then there was the Eleven Plus –
Cleve House School had well prepared us!
We all sailed through with excellent marks,
New grammar schools to go and start.
The last day we climbed up on high
With happy-sad tears in our eyes.
We all said our last goodbyes,
Then threw our hats into the sky
– that’s not the end, so please don’t cry!

My daughter went to Cleve House School
Much later – when the Lawsons ruled.
She only stayed a year or two –
Unfortunately we had to move.
Whilst there she quickly learnt to read
& later studied a degree.
So Cleve House School will always be
Very much a part of me.

Thinking about you all - keep busy, stay safe and keep healthy in mind and body - love from us all at Cleve House!
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