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The History of Bentley West Primary School

Construction of Bentley West School began in mid 1961 and Phase One (six classrooms) was completed early in 1962, but was held up by bad weather in January. The school was very proud to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2012.

The school was commissioned by Staffordshire Education Authority as part of the education provision for the developing Bentley Common area which was, at that time, part of the Urban District of Darlaston.

The picture above shows the Headteacher, Mr Thompson, surrounded by his staff. The school would like to hear from former teaching staff, so if you recognise yourself or anyone else in the picture then please get in touch.

Development of the large area of land known as Bentley was begun just prior to the start of World War II when the land south of the main Wolverhampton/Walsall road was developed as housing by the local authority and a temporary (pre-fabricated) school was provided – Bentley Road North.

The development of land to the north of the main road was put on hold until the late 1940s when extensive clearance was planned for the old houses in Darlaston town centre and a school was planned based on the site of the old Bentley Hall. This school was opened in 1950 and at first was called Bentley South School. This was later renamed King Charles School.

The estate grew rapidly and by 1960, King Charles School was literally “bursting at the seams”. So, as the final stages of the estate were being completed, Bentley West School was opened at a site in Monmouth Road on the western area of Bentley.

The first children at the new school were transfers from King Charles School, mainly those under 9 years of age.

The Headteacher appointed was Mr. Horace Thompson who was the Headteacher at Bentley Road North School. He remained as Head of the school until his retirement in 1973.

The Original Staff at Bentley West School, 1962

Mr. J. S. Smith was appointed Deputy Head having previously been in a similar post at Old Church School in Darlaston. He remained until his promotion to Headteacher at New Invention School, Willenhall, in 1971. By this time, Bentley West was considerably extended both in building and numbers of pupils.

Phase Two of building construction began in 1965 with the start of the Junior School, adding a further eight classrooms, making fourteen classrooms in all.

In 1966, due to boundary changes, Darlaston became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall and education passed from Staffordshire County to Walsall LEA. Plans for Phase Two of the building were modified by the new Authority resulting in the postponement of the final four classrooms and meaning that two classes had to be accommodated in the hall.

At that time there was no nursery provision and no Hearing Impaired Unit.

After 1966 the almost exclusive Darlaston population of Bentley began to change as more families from other parts of Walsall started to move in.

Bentley West retained its original name only after extensive discussions in the early 1960s. Following the renaming of Bentley South School to King Charles, it was felt that Bentley West should have some historical connection – Jane Lane School or Monmouth Road School (Jane Lane being the daughter of Colonel Lane of Bentley Hall, who helped Charles II escape the Parliamentarians pursuing him; Monmouth was the name of the ill-fated Duke of Monmouth who was an illegitimate son of Charles II and tried to seize the crown from James II).

In the end, the historical connection was even older. The old Saxon name of BENT-LEY was retained – an open space (LEY) of rough grasses (BENT).