The First School: 1906

The first school was opened in 1906 and named Acton County School. It was designed by Mr A Hessell Tiltman, F.R.I.B.A, and built by local builder Mr G. Bollom. It was sited in Woodlands Park and much of the building can be seen today on the Mill Hill Road side.

The original school building is pictured to the right.

Origins of the school:

  • The rapid growth in population which turned Acton from a village to a town between the 1850s and 1900s.
  • The 1902 Education Act brought into a single system all local schools funded by ratepayers and run, until then, by elected school boards, with the 14,000 voluntary schools, funded nationally and operated by the Church of England and the Catholic Church. This sweeping new law was extended in 1903 to cover London. It set up the Local Education Authorities in County Councils to manage the schools and appoint teachers, and they had the power to set up grammar schools. In Acton, the Urban District Council wasted no time in lobbying for a boys' grammar school.

In 1903 a committee under the auspices of Middlesex County Council was set up, chaired by County Councillor W. King Baker, to plan the school. They agreed "for a school to be built at a cost not exceeding £8,000 to accommodate 250 boys". The school was three years in planning and building, with costs rising about £2,600 above budget.

Leopold De Rothschild, who owned Gunnersbury House, provided £600 for building and equipping the gymnasium. The Goldsmiths' Company gave a grant of £1,000 for furnishing and equipping the chemical and physics labs. 

You can see inside the first school, as it was in 1906, below. To look inside just click on each image.

By 1905 the first boys were applying. Fees were £6 a year. School inspection records show 82 pupils enrolled in 1906, rising to 205 in 1907. Headmaster Mr G. H. Clarke (formerly of Hymer's School, Hull) was appointed at a fixed yearly stipend of £300 together with £1 per boy above pupil number of 100. He started in January 1906 and the school was formally opened on 28th April 1906.

In his report to the Governors in June 1906, the Head of Acton County School complained that the "standard of boys entering this term was deplorably low. Hardly any could work simple sums in decimals, few knew any Latin, German or Science." 

The very first Boys & Masters in 1906, when the school opened, are pictured below. The Masters are Thomson, Whittam, Clarke (Head) and Morgan.

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