Wellingborough School

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Wellingborough School
Wellingborough School.png
Motto Salus in Arduis
Established 1595
Type Independent school
Day school
Headmaster G.R. Bowe
Chairman of Governors Jonathan K. Cox
Location London Road
52°17′51″N 0°41′14″W / 52.2976°N 0.6873°W / 52.2976; -0.6873Coordinates: 52°17′51″N 0°41′14″W / 52.2976°N 0.6873°W / 52.2976; -0.6873
DfE URN 122131 Tables
Students 880~
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Colours Claret and White
Former pupils Old Wellingburians
Website wellingboroughschool.org

Wellingborough School is a co-educational day independent school in the market town of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire. It was established in 1595 and is one of the oldest schools in the country. The school today consists of a Pre-Preparatory School (ages 3–8), Prep School (ages 8–11), Senior School (ages 11–16) and a Sixth Form.


The cast of Colin McAlpin's opera Robin Hood, at Wellingborough School, ca.1885

The original school was a Tudor grammar school in the centre of the town; its original building, built 1617 at a cost of £25, still survives, now occupied by a local cafe. In January 1881 the school moved under the 28th Headmaster to its present 45-acre (180,000 m2) site on the edge of Wellingborough.[1]

During the Great War about 1,060 Old Boys saw action. These included the flying-ace Henry Winslow Woollett, DSO, famous for 35 victories in the air. 181 Old Boys and masters were killed in action, amongst them the former School Chaplain, Bernard Vann, who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.[2]

Between the wars the school's sporting prowess continued, and in 1929 a thatched pavilion was built on the playing fields, paid for out of tuckshop profits. The pavilion has the front door step of the former home of W.G. Grace, acquired in 1939 when his old home in Bristol was demolished. One local lad who sat the scholarship entrance exam unsuccessfully was H.E. Bates.[citation needed]

By 1940 the school was failing. It was saved by the arrival of boys from two other schools. The first comprised 33 boys and masters from Weymouth College, a public school in Dorset which was closing; their arrival was marked by the addition of a House to the school: Weymouth House was originally a House for boys, but it became a House for girls in the late 1980s, as the number of female students increased. The second arrival was a group of boys from Lynfield Preparatory School in Norfolk, with their headmaster Robert Britten, the elder brother of the composer Benjamin Britten.[citation needed] The school was led by Thomas Nevill from 1940 to 1956.[3]

In the Second World War, 95 Old Boys were killed in action. Among survivors was Major George Drew. A serial escaper, he spent most of the war in Colditz. The most distinguished Old Boy was Group Captain James Brian Tait, one of the RAF's most highly decorated bomber pilots, who led the attack which sank the German battleship Tirpitz in 1944.[citation needed]

In 1965 the school received a visit from Her Majesty the Queen. This was arranged by the chairman of the governors, Albert Edward John Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer (chairman 1946-72). By coincidence, the surgeon, Sir William Gilliatt KCVO, who had attended the Queen at the births of Prince Charles and Princess Anne was an Old Wellingburian as is her current Dermatologist.[citation needed]

Until the late 1970s the school was still predominantly for boarders. Girls were admitted for the first time in 1970 and it became fully co-educational in 1979, following the sudden closure of Overstone School in Northamptonshire. After over 400 years of boarding tradition, it stopped offering boarding from the 2000-01 school year onwards.


The school is divided into three sections:

  • The Pre-Preparatory (founded 1990) caters from nursery to Year 3;
  • The Preparatory School (founded in 1913), caters Years 4 to 8; and
  • The Senior School, Years 9 to 13.

The Preparatory School has six mixed gender houses: (current house captains) (current club presidents)

  • Wolves (Louis Jakobson + Hannah Thomson) (B.J. Russell)
  • Panthers (Theo Pemberton + Imogen Kerr) (C. Pickett)
  • Lions (Adam McLean + Lucy Simms) (S. Whitby)
  • Bears (Max Buckby + Rosie Peters) (P. Dennis)
  • Tigers (James Waite + Tyrah King) (S. Allan)
  • Jaguars (Thomas Church + Melanie Loveday) (A. Simmons)

The Preparatory School's current Headmaster is R. Mitchell (who leaves at the end of 2015), whilst the Heads of School are Ollie Bevan and Cecilia Morris.

The Senior School has five boys' houses:

  • Cripps' (1967)
  • Fryer's (1924)
  • Garne's (1924)
  • Parker-Steyne's (1924)
  • Platt's (1924)

There are also three girls' houses:

  • Marsh (1977)
  • Nevill (1984)
  • Weymouth (1940)

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Wellingborough is known for its academic as well as extra-curricular activities in football, netball, rugby, hockey, cricket, cross-country, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, CCF, shooting, drama, art and music. The chapel choir often attend Choral Evensong at various churches, including Coventry cathedral. Recent drama productions include The Hired Man, West Side Story, Les Misérables, Anything Goes, 42nd Street and Great Expectations.

Combined cadet force[edit]

Wellingborough School CCF
Active November 1900- Present
Branch Army, RAF, Royal Navy, Royal Marines
Website [1]
Officer In Command Major S. Garfirth
Supporting Officer RSM W.O.1 S. Moffatt

Wellingborough School’s Combined Cadet Force has a long and distinguished history, having been established in November 1900; on the occasion of its centenary in 2000, the Annual Inspection was covered by BBC television. The CCF has facilities behind the Sports Hall as well as an indoor .22 shooting range. In over a century it has passed through numerous phases often reflecting changes in society. Today Wellingborough School CCF is a compulsory activity for all S9 pupils until the completion of the S10 year after which it continues to attract both boys and girls at instructor level. The annual Presentation Evening in January for the new S9 recruits is usually a memorable occasion, at which serving members of sections provide a graphic picture of the experiences of life in the CCF.

Three major trips are undertaken each year, one of which is compulsory; the others are during holiday time : each year Exercise First Field takes place during the first weekend of the Easter holidays at the military training area in Thetford Forest in Norfolk and all of S9 and S10 travel to the Peak District during the last week of the Trinity Term for a 2 night Adventure Training trip.

Wellingborough School CCF compromises four sections in:

Facilities include a CCF operations area and an indoor .22 25-yard shooting range. The contingent is staffed by officers from the school. The Contingent Commander, Major S. Garfirth, has been in post since 2000. He is supported by Regimental Sergeant Major Warrant Officer S. Moffatt.


The Army section staff consists of Lieutenant Kirk and Lieutenant Baddeley. Head of Section is Hannah Carress.

Royal Air Force[edit]

The RAF section staff includes Flight Lieutenant M. Walker and Flying Officer L. McAuley. The RAF section visits RAF Cranwell every year for the regional Ground Training Competition where they compete against 15 other schools in order to gain a place in the Finals. In November 2009, the Wellingborough School RAF GTC team were awarded 2nd place thus being promoted to the Finals, also held at RAF Cranwell. Wellingborough School RAF section is linked to No. 5 Air Experience Flight at RAF Wyton, where cadets are flown on Friday afternoons in the Grob Tutor training aircraft, and to 616 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, where cadets go on Sundays to fly in the Grob Vigilant motor glider, and where Flt Lt Walker is a C Category instructor. Head of Section is Jack Beaverstock.

Royal Navy[edit]

The Royal Navy section staff includes Lieutenant Commander P. Waugh and Sub-Lieutenant Commander J. Gray. Head of Section is Lucy Palfreeman.

Royal Marines[edit]

Entrance to the Royal Marines section is by virtue of stringent physical tests in the Lent term of S9. As a result, the Royal Marines’ Section is one of the most successful in the country as the performances in the annual national "Pringle Trophy" illustrate. Head of Section is Christian Harper.


Cadre is a Junior NCO training course in which cadets from each section of the contingent (apart from the Royal navy who have their owen version of Cadre) take part in. The cadets involved are always those who wish to stay on in the CCF voluntarily, thus in S11, and learn primarily how to teach others as well as gaining further military experience including fieldcraft and working with weapons. After the Cadre course, which lasts for a school term, the cadets return to their own section and those who showed capability are promoted to the junior-most rank. Other cadets who are not promoted are then trained within their own section and promoted internally once ready. Two important exercises are held in conjunction with the assessment of the cadets; Teaching Practice - a weekend spent teaching other cadets within the Cadre section; Cadre night-exercise - a weekend spent orienteering and completing military-simulated missions at Yardley Chase currently run by WO2 CSM Miles Galloway.

Shooting Team[edit]

Members of the school's CCF are eligible to join the successful shooting team that operates in the indoor .22 shooting range. Many cadets shoot after school recreationally and those that are recognisably good and shoot regularly become part of the Wellingborough School Shooting Team. Usually on a termly basis, the shooting team will visit the National Shooting Centre at Bisley, for training on 7.62 rifles in anticipation for the annual Ashburton Trophy. The Ashburton Trophy lasts for four days, where shooting teams of CCF sections from all over Britain compete.

Old Wellingburian Rifle Club[edit]

Many Old Wellingburians, ex-members of Wellingborough School, were involved in shooting for the school years ago. Many members of the club shoot professional and veteran matches at Bisley but also return to compete with the present Wellingborough School Shooting Team occasionally throughout the year. Some Old Wellingburians participate in the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom Imperial Meeting (held after the Ashburton Trophy), where senior members of the Wellingborough School Shooting Team are sometimes offered the chance to shoot and compete with them, during the Imperial, improving to a more professional level along the way.


For details of some well-known alumni, see List of Old Wellingburians

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A history of the school
  2. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2568589/Clergyman-Bernard-Vann-fought-First-World-War.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help); External link in |website= (help);
  3. ^ 'NEVILL, Rev. Thomas Seymour', Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014; online edn, April 2014 accessed 15 Oct 2017

External links[edit]