A Brief History of Yardley Court School.
1898 Schoolmaster Arthur Bickmore and his young wife Lilian launched their new preparatory school with 12 pupils at Yardley Court in Tonbridge.
1910 School roll 60 (30 day boys, 30 boarders).
1919 School roll 84.
1920 School roll 100 (48 day boys, 52 boarders).
1923 Retirement of Arthur Bickmore. His sons Maurice and Eric succeed him as joint headmasters.
1923-8 Major expansion programme including a new wing with a dining hall to accommodate 80, with a dormitory and bathrooms above. 4 additional acres
purchased for playing fields.
1927 New classroom built, plus two new concrete pitches.
1930 Retirement of Lilian Bickmore.
1932 School roll 130.
1934 Record 134 old Yardley Courtiers at Tonbridge School.
1939-45 Second World War. 63 old Yardley Courtiers lost.
1947 Death of Arthur Bickmore.
1948 Celebrations for school’s 50th anniversary.
1956 Purchase of Yardley Crest to provide additional boarding facilities.
1958 Retirement of Maurice Bickmore. John Bickmore created joint head with his father, Eric.
1963 Michael Bickmore created joint head with Eric and Michael.
1969 Opening of first science laboratory.
1973 75th anniversary. First school history written by teacher Norman Crompton. Retirement of Eric Bickmore.
1974 Death of Maurice Bickmore.
1975 Marriage of John Bickmore to Mary Blaikie. First Yardley Court ski trip.
1977 Retirement of Eric Bickmore. Appointment of Mary Bickmore as school matron. School roll 175 (60 boarders). Trees planted to mark Queen’s silver
jubilee plus the long service of teachers Norman Crompton, Charles Tutton and Raymond Reiss.
1979 Death of Eric Bickmore.
1980 New assembly hall and music centre opened.
1982 Death of John Bickmore.
1983 Four additional classrooms opened. John Barber created joint headmaster.
1986 John Bickmore Memorial Pavilion opened.
1987 Yardley Court Association Trust set up to fund scholarships and support sons of old Yardley Courtiers. For many years, Yardley Court School was known
locally as “Bickie’s place” so it seemed appropriate to name the school’s new Pre-Prep, “Bickies” when it was established in the old boarding facilities at
Yardley Crest, in September 1987. This new pre-prep department was for boys aged 4-7. Its first head teacher was Carol Woodmansee.
1988 Michael Bickmore announced plans to sell the original Yardley Court site and move to Somerhill on the outskirts of Tonbridge.
1990 Move to Somerhill.
Retirement of Michael Bickmore.
1991 Yardley Court Charitable Trust set up.
1992 Resignation of John Barber. Acting head Tony Brook appointed headmaster of Yardley Court.
1993 Derwent Lodge School moved to Somerhill.
1998 John Coakley appointed principal of The Schools at Somerhill and head of Yardley Court.
1998 Celebrations to mark the centenary of Yardley Court.
2002 Bickmore Hall opened.
2003 Celebrations for Derwent Lodge Golden Jubilee.
2004 £100,000 project to renovate bridge over the Somerhill lake.
2009 New dining hall and swimming pool opened on site of the walled garden.
2010 Presentation of Tonbridge Civic Society award for new building.
2013 Planning permission granted for new music building and further development of science laboratories.
For much more information about Yardley Court, please see the fascinating book:
Leap of Faith, A History of Yardley Court School, Tonbridge, 1898-2010
written by Jane Bakowski
Gresham Books Ltd in association with Yardley Court School, Tonbridge