Woodberry Down School

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Woodberry Down Comprehensive School was located off the Seven Sisters Road in the Manor House area of North London. The now defunct secondary school verges on three boroughs Hackney, Haringey and Islington. The school was opened in 1955, closing in 1981 when it was amalgamated with Clissold School and renamed Stoke Newington School. The new school was founded in 1982 in the building of the former Clissold School.

A mixed school, the pupils were divided into four houses: Keller (Gold), Curie (Blue), Einstein (Red) and Scott(Green). During the school's first term in 1955 the pupils were tasked to choose the names of the four houses. Many suggestions were put forward by pupils and staff and eventually it was decided to draw up a list of men and women who, by their lives and work, epitomised the school motto, 'Fellowship is Life', and after a campaign, to have an election of four candidates. From 17 international figures Scott of the Antarctic, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Marie Curie were selected and gave their names to the four school houses.

The school motto 'Fellowship is Life' was taken from a quote by early Socialist, designer and poet William Morris: "Fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is hell; fellowship is life, and lack of fellowship is death; and the deeds that ye do upon the earth, it is for fellowship's sake that ye do them."

The School badge was specially designed to represent the area the school was located: the Red Griffin was the Stoke Newington Borough Arms, the Green Trees symbolised the Seven Sisters, and the Blue Water symbolised the reservoirs on whose banks the school was built.

In its earliest days it was regarded as a model school and a contemporary newspaper article even advocated that HRH The Princess Anne attend the new comprehensive to see its state of the art teaching at first hand.[1] former pupil The Headmistress at the onset was Mrs H R Chetwynd and her Deputy was Mr Jack Hackett.[2]

Through most of the 1970s the headmaster of Woodberry Down School was Michael Marland, who was appointed a CBE in 1977 for services to education. He was one of the leading educational pioneers of the second half of the 20th century, making a significant contribution to inner-city education.[3] Marland left the school on its merger to focus on creating a new school, North Westminster Community School.

The school was renowned for sporting achievements, especially rugby, and its alumni have included former professional footballer Marcus Gayle. Many other former pupils have gone on to a diverse range of successful and meaningful careers. Theo Paphitis of television series Dragon's Den also attended, while the '80s band Bad Manners were famously formed at the school in 1976. They commemorated the 1981 closure of the school on the back sleeve of their Gosh It's... Bad Manners album, which reached number 18 in the charts that year.

The school celebrated a Jubilee Reunion on the 2 September 2006. The school building has now been largely demolished and new flats are to be built on the site.

Notable alumni[edit]

   Norman Hart -- 1st Duke of Edinburgh Silver then Gold Award Winner 1958/60
  • Marcus Adam - 200 and 4 x 100m relay sprinter, who represented Great Britain as both a sprinter and a bobsled Derby. He won the gold medal in the 200 metres at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and also won gold and silver medals respectively in the 4 x 100 metres relay at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and 1990 European Championships. He is also a member of the team which holds the British record in the 4 x 200 metres relay.


  1. ^ Dignitaries from around the Commonwealth, including Mrs Gandhi, often visited the school to see these latest teaching techniques.
  2. ^ former pupil.
  3. ^ Michael Marland Obituary - The Independent

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°34′15″N 0°5′25″W / 51.57083°N 0.09028°W / 51.57083; -0.09028