Braintree dates back over 4,000 years, to when it was merely a small village. When the Romans invaded, they built two roads towards this area and a settlement developed at the junction of where these two roads met, but which was later virtually abandoned when the Romans left Britain.
Several centuries later, the settlement can be found in the Domesday Book of 1085, recorded as ‘Branchetreu’ and consisting of 30 acres. The town Braintree became was especially prosperous from the 17th century onwards, when Flemish immigrants made the town famous for its wool cloth trade. However, in 1665, the Great Plague of London which spread out across the country, managed to kill off 865 of Braintree’s population of just 2,300 souls –managing to surpass the equally catastrophic outbreak of plague (the Black Death) in the mid 14th century.
The wool trade died out in the early 19th century and Braintree then became a specialised centre for silk manufacturing, when George Courtauld arrived and opened a silk mill in the town. By the mid-19th century, Braintree was a thriving agricultural and textile town and its industries – and population – benefited when a railway connection to London was built.
The wealthy Courtauld family, in many ways acting as typical 19th century philanthropists, had a beneficial influence on the town‘s expansion and supported plans – no doubt donating funds too – for many of the town’s public buildings and communal open spaces; such as the town hall and public gardens, established in 1888.
Yet Braintree also has a more recent industrial heritage, with large manufacturing families setting up businesses in the town, employing generations of the same families – many of those young people having been educated at Tabor Academy.
The original ‘Tabor’ school was known as ‘The Manor Street School’, which later became ‘Manor County Primary School’. Children attended ‘Manor Street School’ until the age of 14, after which they found employment, with only a few of the most able (and better off) leaving earlier and continuing their education at fee-paying secondary schools, such as ‘Braintree High School’ in Coggeshall Road.
This system changed in 1938 when all 11 year-olds not gaining a scholarship to the High School, progressed to the newly built ‘Margaret Tabor School’ in Panfield Lane (now demolished and renamed as the residential area, ‘Porters Field’) and in 1947 the school-leaving age was raised to 15 years and at 11 years old, children took the 11 + (plus exam) and were sent to a grammar, technical, or secondary-modern school.
The current school-site is known locally as ‘Gypsy Corner’, because for many years local farms were visited by travellers who would pick fruit, or work the land during the summer months and who, having parked up their vans on that corner, then called it ‘home’. The present school-building was built in 1992 and boasted some of the best school sporting facilities in the area. When the first stage of building was complete however, the school operated on a split-site until the current building stage was completed in 2006.
Lilac Sky Schools took over the school when it gained Academy status in 2013.
Loxford School Trust took over the school in 2015.