All Change: the 1940s - 1980s

During the 1940s to the 1980s it was all change.

After opening in 1906 the school remained a boy’s Grammar School until 1957, with Mr G. C. T. Giles as Headmaster from 1926 to 1956. By the 1930s though it was clear that the first school buildings built in 1906 were now too small.

In the picture to the right, Mr Bent paints a portrait of Headteacher, Mr Giles, to be presented to him by the Parent-Teacher Guild on his retirement in 1956 after 30 years at the school.

A new school was planned on the playing fields in Gunnersbury Lane. The move was due to take place in autumn 1939 but when war intervened the school was evacuated to Weymouth. In 1940, the school returned to share the new buildings on Gunnersbury Lane with staff of Middlesex Education Committee and it was not until 1945-46 that the school functioned fully and alone – now with 500 pupils.

It was during the war years that Gerald Reynolds (known as Gerry) became a pupil. Gerry would later become the M.P. for Islington North and Minister for Defence, before an early death in 1969.

The new sports hall, added to the school buildings in Gunnersbury Lane, can be seen below.

In 1956 when Mr Giles retired he was succeeded by Mr D. J. Kibblewhite whose immediate task was to prepare for the admission of girls. The Borough of Acton had long felt aggrieved that its girls had to go outside the borough for a grammar school education. The arrival of girls brought dramatic changes. The picture is a drawing from “The Actonian” School Magazine of a dance class in 1963.

In 1956 and with local government change bringing together the three boroughs of Acton, Ealing and Southall into a single Ealing Borough, the school changed to become a comprehensive. Year by year an unselected cohort of children was admitted and by 1974 the school was fully comprehensive with pupils numbering just over 1,000. From the 1970s pupils came from more diverse backgrounds, enriching the life of the school. Pictured courtesy of the Ealing Gazette are dancers at the school in 1979.

In 1974 there was a wholesale re-organisation of education in Ealing into First, Middle and Higher Schools. Acton County School became an enlarged establishment for pupils of ages 13 to 19 years. It was renamed Reynolds High School after distinguished former pupil, Gerry Reynolds, and Mr W. G. Morrell took over as Headmaster. The school was still in the 1939 boy’s grammar buildings but with considerable additions, including workshops, home economics rooms and a sixth form block to provide for over 1,000 pupils.

Click through the photos below to explore what the school was like during the 1970s & 1980s.

The Duchess of Kent opened the new sports hall, pictured above, on the 17th February 1981. This was the first of two royal visits to the school with Prince Charles visiting in 1998. Courtesy of the Ealing Gazette you can see the Duchess of Kent visiting the school below.

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