Old Uffingtonians Association (1994)

   Willesden County Grammar School                         Ex-Pupils 1924-1967                    


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Brief School History!

 

Brief History of the  School and Buildings

The First School, Uffington Road  1924
The nine acres of land on which the school was established were purchased soon after the First World War and were earmarked for a secondary school.  The first school, "Willesden County School" - the first of several names - was built as a rectangle of single storey classrooms enclosing a playground.  With an entrance from Uffington Road it was surrounded by massive playing fields mowed in the summer by a horse-drawn cutter.  There was a double classroom which served as an assembly hall, dining room and theatre. 

The school opened officially on September 16th 1924 with 123 pupils divided between four forms and two year groups.  The cost of the land was 5,859, the school itself cost 15,856 and the furniture 1,500.  There were four fulltime, young but inexperienced teachers and five part-time under the able leadership of 40 year old Mr Leonard Wallis.  The caretaker was Mr Williams and his wife the cook.  The first play open to parents was an outdoor version of "Midsummer Night's Dream" in aid of the striking South Wales Miners.  Indoor plays in the "Hall" were fraught with entries and exits perforce through the windows.

The School Extension, Doyle Gardens  1932
The School "Extension" was built in 1931-32 (and the address changed to Doyle Gardens).  It was the entrance and frontage that the school needed as well as classrooms, library, gym/hall with stage and gallery, staff room and offices.  It expanded the accommodation to over 600 pupils and cost 33,000.  It was built by Newly Brothers to designs by the County Architect, Mr William Thomas Curtis (FRIBA).  The Official Opening took place in 1932 when Viscount Burnham was the Guest of Honour.  Three sides of the original buildings were still used and were linked to the main school by internal staircases and the cloisters which enclosed a hard court area.

The War Years
September 1939 saw the school being evacuated with all the others in the borough to Northampton.  One story of the evacuation had a trainload of pupils being wrongly sent to Market Harborough, only being reunited with the rest six weeks later.  Not all the children opted to go, and there was an immediate drift back of unhappy youngsters, which meant there was a growing number in Willesden without schooling.  So the staff spent a year shuttling between Northampton and Willesden trying to service the two schools before settling back in Willesden again in 1940.

There were a few involuntary alterations during the War, when a bomb destroyed four classrooms in September 1940; and a doodlebug on the corner of Doyle Gardens and All Souls caused a 30 minute break in the middle of a French School Certificate exam in 1944.  When Kilburn Grammar School was hit by a doodlebug, both schools shared Willesden in half-day shifts.  Apart from that there was little change except for the inevitable temporary huts.  That part of the evacuated school left in Northampton was called "Middlesex County School".   Following the 1944 Education Act, the school eventually amended its name to "Willesden County Grammar School" during 1947/8.

Post-War
The next big building changes came in advance of comprehensivisation in 1965/66.  The original 1924 buildings and the cloisters were demolished and the hall, now inadequate to house the growing school population, was chopped in half with the stage end blocked-off and divided into teaching spaces upstairs and down, with the other end as the kitchen and dining area.  A new sports hall was built in the playground on the eastern side and a new block and hall were built on the western side  providing more modern and extensive accommodation.  Willesden School of Engineering joined in Easter 1966 and the name was changed to "Willesden County Grammar and Technical School" for only four terms, before incorporating Pound Lane School and undergoing its final metamorphosis into the present "Willesden High School" with 1700 pupils and 115 staff. 

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