Brief History of the
School and Buildings
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
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.
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.
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.
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.