Wandsworth School

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Wandsworth School
Wandsworth Grammar School, 1927 building.png
Wandsworth School, 1927 building.
Sutherland Grove, Southfields, Wandsworth

London, SW18 5JF

Coordinates51°26′51″N 0°12′30″W / 51.44753°N 0.2084°W / 51.44753; -0.2084Coordinates: 51°26′51″N 0°12′30″W / 51.44753°N 0.2084°W / 51.44753; -0.2084
TypeTechnical school (1895-1902)
Grammar school (1902-57)
Comprehensive school (1957-91)
Established1895 (1895) (Sutherland Road site: 1927)
Closed1986: Merged with another school
Local authorityLondon County Council (to 1964)
Inner London Education Authority (from 1965)
Age11 to 18
Original 1927 Wandsworth School building in 2019, converted into flats
Wandsworth Comprehensive School blazer badge, with the arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth

Wandsworth School was a local authority maintained boys' secondary school in Southfields, London. Established in 1895, it became a selective grammar school, then an all-ability comprehensive school, before merging in 1986 and finally closing in 1991.[1] From the 1960s it became well known for its choir.[2]


Wandsworth School was founded in 1895 as a Day Science School in adapted premises in Wandsworth High Street, and was renamed Wandsworth Technical Institute Secondary School in 1900.[3] After the passing of the Education Act 1902 the school developed an academic based grammar school curriculum,[4] and in 1908 became the Wandsworth County School. Initially co-educational, the School became boys-only when Mayfield Girls Grammar School opened in 1909.[3] By 1920 the school had over 500 boys and was one of the largest grammar schools in London.[4] In 1927 it moved to a new building in Sutherland Grove in Southfields, and became known as Wandsworth School.[5] During the Second World War, the school was evacuated to Woking and education continued there.[2] While continuing a largely academic curriculum, the technical origins of the school were maintained, and in 1947 Wandsworth School took over administration of the secondary technical school of the Brixton School of Building. This began the process of the school's expansion that continued in the 1950s.[6]

In the 1957 it became a non-selective boys' Comprehensive School when it merged with Wandsworth Technical College,[4] and became one of the country's first Comprehensive Schools.[2] As part of this change, new buildings were opened on the site's playing fields and the school roll increased from 550 to nearly 2,000. The new buildings included a Planetarium, the first in a British school, a swimming pool and workshops for technical and vocational training.[5]

During much of its history Wandsworth School enjoyed continuity of leadership, with only two headmasters in 63 years: Dr H Thwaite from 1900 to 1932, and Mr H. Raymond King from 1932 to 1963.[3] Mr A. E Howard, head from 1963 to 1974, was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1971 New Year Honours.[7]

In 1986, with rolls falling across London, the school merged with Spencer Park School, another boys' comprehensive, and was renamed the John Archer School,[8] after John Archer, the late mayor of Battersea and London's first black mayor.[9] With educational reforms and rolls continuing to decline, the John Archer School closed in 1991.[10] The Sutherland Grove site ceased to be a school and some of the land was made over to housing. The 1957 buildings were demolished, while the original 1927 building was converted into flats.[11] The remaining land was used for a new co-educational secondary school, with Saint Cecilia's Church of England School opening in 2003.[12]

Wandsworth School Boys' Choir[edit]

The 200 strong Wandsworth School Boys' Choir was created and developed by Russell Burgess, Director of Music at the School from 1954 until his death at the age of 48 in 1979.[2][13] The choir performed at a number of major music festivals, including the Proms and the Aldeburgh Festival,[14] and undertook recordings alongside professional orchestras, including the London Symphony, New Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and the Dutch Concertgebouw. Burgess and the choir had a close association with the composer Benjamin Britten and performed several of his works.[5] In 1972 the choir received the award for the Best Classical Choral Performance at the 14th Annual Grammy Awards,[4] while Russell Burgess was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1975 New Year Honours.[15]

Wimbledon Tennis Championships[edit]

The school was within a mile of the All England Club where the annual Wimbledon Tennis Championships take place. Between 1969 and 1986 the school supplied ball boys for the tournament, with the merged John Archer School continuing the tradition from 1987 until its closure in 1991.[16]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Wandsworth Technical Institute[edit]

Wandsworth Grammar School[edit]

Wandsworth Comprehensive School[edit]


  1. ^ Wandsworth School AIM25.
  2. ^ a b c d School history, Wandsworth School Choir.
  3. ^ a b c How your House got its name. The Link, School Magazine. Pages 39-40. Spring 1973.
  4. ^ a b c d Former Wandsworth School choir Bach Cantatas Website.
  5. ^ a b c Wandsworth School Prospectus. Published by Inner London Education Authority 1969.
  6. ^ "The past in the present at Wandsworth". H Raymond King. The Link, School Magazine. July 1970.
  7. ^ "No. 45554". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1971. p. 8.
  8. ^ Spencer Park School. AIM25.
  9. ^ Biography of John Archer. Caribbean.com.
  10. ^ John Archer School. GOV.UK.
  11. ^ Planning application to convert old school building to flats. Old Wandsworthians.
  12. ^ Information on the school. St Cecilia’s School website.
  13. ^ Russell Burgess biography. Bach Cantatas Website.
  14. ^ Reviews, Wandsworth School Choir.
  15. ^ "No. 46444". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1974. p. 13.
  16. ^ Ball Boys and Girls. Wimbledon Official Site Archived 2015-09-05 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Stuart Campbell, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  18. ^ a b c Who Was Who 1991-1995. A & C Black, London. 1996. ISBN 0-7136-4496-6.
  19. ^ a b Who’s Who 2014. A & C Black, London. 2013. ISBN 978-1-408-18119-5.
  20. ^ a b Who Was Who 1996–2000. A & C Black, London. 2001. ISBN 0-7136-5439-2.
  21. ^ a b c Who’s Who 2019. A & C Black, London. 2018. ISBN 978-1-472-94758-1.
  22. ^ "News of Old Boys". The Link, School Magazine. Page 19. December 1968.
  23. ^ "News of Old Boys". The Link, School Magazine. Page 5. April 1969.
  24. ^ a b Who's Who 2001. A & C Black, London. 2001. ISBN 0-7136-5432-5.
  25. ^ a b c Old Wandsworthians Memorial Trust.
  26. ^ Medals of the Nijmegen Vierdaagse.

External links[edit]