Hackney Downs School

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Hackney Downs School
Downs Park Road

, ,
E5 8NP

Coordinates51°33′06″N 0°03′43″W / 51.5516°N 0.0620°W / 51.5516; -0.0620Coordinates: 51°33′06″N 0°03′43″W / 51.5516°N 0.0620°W / 51.5516; -0.0620
TypeCommunity school
Established1876 (1876)
FounderWorshipful Company of Grocers
Closed1995 (1995)
Local authorityHackney London Borough Council
Department for Education URN100276 Tables
Age range11–16

Hackney Downs School was an 11–16 boys, community comprehensive secondary school in Lower Clapton, Greater London, England. It was established in 1876 and closed in 1995. It has been replaced by the Mossbourne Community Academy.


Grocers' Company's School[edit]

It was founded in 1876 as The Grocers' Company's School. On its transfer to the London County Council in 1906 the school was renamed Hackney Downs School (formerly the Grocers' Company's School).

Grammar school[edit]

Alumni including Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, fellow playwright and actor Steven Berkoff, 1960s tycoon John Bloom and nutritionist John Yudkin. Two current members of the House of Lords are former pupils: (Lord Levy and Lord Clinton-Davis). The school had 600 boys with a sixth-form entry by the early 1970s. Former high jumper and Board Director of London 2012 Olympics Bid Team Dalton Grant attended Hackney Downs School in the 80s.


It voted to become comprehensive in 1969,[clarification needed] and in September it became a comprehensive school. By the time of its closure, over 70 percent of the boys spoke English as a second language, half came from households with no-one in employment, and half the intake had reading ages three years below average.

Decline and closure[edit]

Things came to a head in the 1990s, when the school made national news by being described by the then Conservative government as the 'worst school in Britain'. Eventually, as a result of direct government pressure, the school was forced to close in 1995.

Later use of the building[edit]

The site of the old school is now occupied by Mossbourne Community Academy, founded by Sir Clive Bourne, which opened in 2004. The school buildings of both the original Grocers' Company's School and Hackney Downs School have gone.

Old boys[edit]

The Old Boys of Hackney Downs continue their interactions as alumni through the Clove Club, which meets regularly, has its own website, and sponsors an email group called The Clove eGroup (on Yahoo), and featured on The Clove Club website.[1]

History of the school[edit]

An official history of the school was published by the Clove Club in 1972. An updated edition was published in 2012: Hackney Downs 1876-1995: The Life and Death of a School.


Notable alumni[edit]

Hackney Downs School (1974–95)[edit]

Boys' grammar school (1906–74)[edit]

Grocers' Company's School (1876–1906)[edit]


  1. ^ The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 32.
  2. ^ Times 2003 (paywall)
  3. ^ "Air Vice-Marshal Reggie Bullen".
  4. ^ "Obituary: Frank Cass | Books". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 October 2014.
  5. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/athletics/2009265[dead link]
  6. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article5468904
  7. ^ "MC" (Michael Caine), "A Message from Evacuee Maurice Micklewhite", The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (March 2009): 16. Print. (Sent by Michael Caine to Jerry Pam for publication in this issue.)
  8. ^ Financial Services Authority
  9. ^ Millais Culpin


  • O'Connor, Maureen, et al. Hackney Downs: The School That Dared to Fight. London: Cassell, 1999. ISBN 0-304-70710-4 (10). ISBN 978-0-304-70710-2 (13). Print.
  • Watkins, G. L., ed. The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of the Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School. Print. (Some issues are accessible online at the website of the Clove Club.)
  • Watkins, G. L., ed. 'Fortune's Fool': A Life of Joe Brearley: The Man Who Taught Harold Pinter. Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Eng.: TwigBooks, 2008. Print.

External links[edit]

  • The Clove Club ("Founded in 1884") – Official website of "The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School, formerly the Grocers' Company's School – founded by the Company in its corporate right, in 1876."
  • Social Change and English, 1945–1965 - Hackney Downs is one of three schools in London that are included in this Leverhulme Trust-funded project about the teaching of English in the period 1945–65. The project is collecting oral histories from former teachers and pupils at the school.