Old Uffingtonians Association (1994)

   Willesden County Grammar School                         Ex-Pupils 1924-1967                    


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Unveiling of Commemorative Plaque




The Unveiling of the Commemorative Plaque

This took place on Sunday March 25th 2007 at the Capital City Academy (i.e. the new school) in front of the above party of Old Uffingtonians, led by Old Uffs' Chairman Brian Gurden.  The plaque was unveiled by Old Uff, Mrs Pat Hillman who instigated the project.  This was followed by a short presentation and tour of the City Academy by the Principal Philip O'Hear, who is shown in the centre of the 3rd photo.

If you have any further photos, please e-mail OldUffingtonians (see above left).


The Unveiling of the Commemorative Plaque - View from David Swayne

There were some 30 or so Old Uffs who turned up for the event and we met in one of the upstairs classrooms.  Apart from someone's 10 year old grandson, Judith Bruni (nee Summers), Richard Willey and myself from the 1963/64 5th Form were clearly the youngest there!  We were eventually taken down by the Head Teacher to the spot where the plaque is sited.

The plaque is a reminder of the existence of the Grammar School during the years 1924 to 1966.  It is situated in the left hand corner near the entrance gate of the Academy.  Words were said by ex-pupil, ex-teacher and now chairman of the Old Uffs, Brian Gurden and the plaque was unveiled.  There were then countless 'group' photos taken some with the Head Teacher and one with the old school colours draped around him i.e. my old school scarf purchased from Myers in about 1965.  It was quite odd as some of the older Old Uffs said that they did not recognise the scarf as it was not like their's had been.  Not surprising as material was probably rationed at the end of the war!  However mine was probably one of the last designed for WCGS, before it lost its Grammar School status.  In fact the only reason that I bought one so late in the day was that it was fashionable (Mod even) to wear university type scarves, and I thought this was as good as any.  But I digress.

We were then led back to the classroom where the Head gave us a Power Point presentation on the Academy.  All quite impressive and he was at pains to stress that although a long way to go, they are doing better than the High School prior to its closure.  One interesting point was that it was not just the pupils whose progress was monitored but also that of the teachers.  Duff teachers were given extra training in areas where they were lacking.  I can think of a few old County teachers that would have benefited from this.

The Academy holds about 1200 pupils and has numerous nationalities in attendance, many for whom English is a second language.  However he was quite confident that the Academy will eventually be an overall success.  Everyone has their own strengths and they work on these.

We were then given a tour of the building.  It is a very long thin construction which starts at Doyle Gardens roughly where the huts stood and goes all the way up to Donnington Road.  There is a slight curvature with the park and for a way it is on a gradient.  There is only one corridor and the classes are on each side.  At the start it is three storeys but then becomes two because of the gradient.  You could almost stand at the start and hit a tee shot all the way to the end.  The Head said that the good thing about the design, only one corridor, no hidden corners etc is that it cuts down bullying and graffiti because everything is in the open.  However with crosswalks connecting the upstairs corridors, the point was made by more than one person that it resembled a prison!

Right at the end is an enormous sports hall which includes seating. There were some local teams of kids playing basketball.  Outside there is an all weather football pitch with would you believe, floodlights.  Where our school stood is currently all grassed over. Going back to the front of the school we went into a theatre which again has seating. That day as most Sundays a local gospel church uses it for its service.  Right at the front by the entrance to the building is the library which is a glass wall affair.  We could see that there were more computer type items than books on display.

Well it is all a long way from WCGS.  My only connection with schools since I left were when my kids went to Northwood School, which was more or less built in the same vein as the County.  So this was quite a revelation to me and difficult to relate to in many ways, but I doubt whether in the Winter month's mornings the kids will have to rely on a Bert Denby to stoke up the boilers for heating.

Try and have a look at the plaque if you are up that way.  A bit of pointless nostalgia?  Perhaps, but it certainly does no harm.  (A piece of the Academy that will forever be the County - a bit twee?)  The Head did say that he would like the Academy to forge links with the Old Uffs.  Personally I think the gap is too great and the High School never had an Old Pupils association, but you never know.

David Swayne