A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Sixteenth-century grammar schools at Highgate and Barnet served Finchley boys, although the places may not have been taken up. (fn. 1) In 1682 there was at least one schoolmaster at Whetstone. (fn. 2) Ann Orme (d. 1704), who lived in East End Road, was a schoolmistress. (fn. 3) A small charity school existed by 1719 (fn. 4) until shortly after 1785 (fn. 5) and may have been the 'academy' kept by William Smallbourn (d. by 1790) on the common in 1784. (fn. 6) In 1795 education was available only in the free school in neighbouring Highgate (fn. 7) or in small, short-lived dame schools in Finchley. Schooling for pauper children, in the poorhouse (fn. 8) or in dame schools, (fn. 9) was provided by the vestry, which made payments to help individuals to start schools until well into the 19th century. (fn. 10)
There were abortive attempts in 1804 (fn. 11) and 1809 (fn. 12) to set up a parochial charity school. A 'villager' in 1813 (fn. 13) commented that no parish within 300 miles of London had a greater proportion of its inhabitants in a more deplorable state of ignorance'. Methodists had opened a school at their chapel, where two young men came on Sundays from London to teach. In 1812 concern about dissenters' influence led the bishop to recommend that a church school should be established, whereupon the vestry proposed one school at Church End and another at Whetstone. The second was not opened until 1833 but a National school was founded at Church End in 1813 and, with 100 pupils from a population of nearly 1,300, was thought adequate in 1819 for all the poor who desired education. (fn. 14) By 1833 the two National schools had 135 places. (fn. 15)
Educational wants were 'considerable' in 1846 (fn. 16) and the remaining hamlets, East End, and North Finchley, received National schools in 1847 and 1869. In both districts they were preceded by Congregationalist foundations in 1842 and 1864. At Whetstone Puget's schools, formally undenominational but connected with chapels, had started in 1825 and 1842. By 1870, with a population of 6,000, there were nearly 1,300 places in six maintained and four private schools. (fn. 17)
The 1870s saw Church and dissenters in dispute. Everyone desired more places, especially in East End, (fn. 18) but Anglicans vehemently opposed a board and in 1876 the vicar of Christ Church reported that they had 'beaten the life out of the school board movement'. (fn. 19) Congregationalists at East End and North Finchley, however, set up a joint committee to press for a board in 1877. The Church then found that it could not raise enough money to cater for the increasing population, partly because the newcomers were mainly lower-middle-class, replacing the wealthier patrons of the early Anglican schools. (fn. 20) A school board was established in 1881 (fn. 21) and immediately was offered the use of the nonconformists' two schools as temporary board schools. (fn. 22) The Church continued its opposition, the rector complaining of heavy expenditure in 1882 and the vicar of Whetstone, whose parish adjoined the still boardless Friern Barnet, appealing in 1884 for funds to keep the school board at a distance. (fn. 23)
The board had built only two schools before its replacement under the Act of 1902 by the education committee of Finchley U.D.C., (fn. 24) which opened elementary schools in 1906 and 1913. North Finchley, which in the 1880s had seen an outbreak of rowdiness in the schools, (fn. 25) in the 1890s and 1900s became an upper-middle-class suburb, where builders advertised not the maintained schools but Christ's College and many new private establishments for girls. (fn. 26) Roman Catholics also founded private schools and in 1926 opposed the U.D.C. when it proposed to build a large school on the Woodhouse site, as an alternative to which the Roman Catholics offered a much cheaper school of their own. (fn. 27) Both schools were opened and in 1931, when reorganization took place under the Hadow Report, Finchley accommodated 2,900 children in council schools and 1,700 in voluntary schools. (fn. 28)
Under the Hadow Report only the one Roman Catholic school remained an all-age mixed school. Christ Church was made a senior school, the three other church schools becoming junior schools. One council school, renamed Martin, was made a junior school and three others, renamed Manor (later Manorside), Alder, and Northside, were divided between seniors and juniors. Summerside, for juniors, was opened in 1933. Middlesex C.C. was responsible for Finchley county secondary school and for two grammar schools (Christ's College and Woodhouse). Under the Education Act of 1944 the county schools became grammar schools and the borough council's senior schools became secondary modern. Two Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided schools, Finchley Catholic grammar and St. Michael's convent, became grammar schools for boys and girls respectively. In 1956 Alder was reserved for boys and Manorside for girls, while Northside, renamed Hillside, moved. Four primary schools opened after the Second World War and a mixed secondary modern Roman Catholic school in 1963.
Barnet L.B. became the education authority in 1965 and introduced a modified comprehensive scheme in 1971. Two comprehensive schools were formed but other schools remained outside the scheme, partly because of the local M.P., Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, then secretary of state for Education and Science. (fn. 29) In 1975 Barnet approved a scheme for all the remaining schools except St. Michael's convent, making Woodhouse a sixth-form college and planning a comprehensive school at Brooklands to replace Alder and Christ's College in 1978. In 1977 Christ Church was planned as the upper and Friern Barnet county as the lower school of another comprehensive school. (fn. 30)
Elementary schools founded before 1881. St. Mary's or Finchley National school opened for 35 boys and 30 girls in 1813 in an old building in Hendon Lane leased from the charity estates; the building was extended in 1824. (fn. 31) In 1816 the school was united to the National Society, which made it a grant. (fn. 32) A small annual grant from the charities and school pence were also received but most income came from subscriptions. (fn. 33) In 1843-4 standards were very low (fn. 34) and although by 1846 they had much improved, the premises consisted only of two small classrooms for 67 boys and 32 girls. (fn. 35) The new rector, T. R. White, gave glebeland near the church in 1848, where a school-house was opened in 1853. The National Society refused a building grant because there were nonconformists on the school's management committee (fn. 36) but one was obtained from the education committee of the Council, (fn. 37) which made annual grants from 1865. (fn. 38) In 1878 the inspector viewed a lesson in digging and remarked that if the boys' arms were as well trained as their brains, 'Finchley ought to blossom as a rose'. (fn. 39) After a gradual rise, the average attendance increased sharply from 175 in 1880 to 258 in 1884. (fn. 40) Extra classrooms were built in 1897 (fn. 41) but overcrowding continued as a result of suburban growth. (fn. 42) In 1905 an infants' school was built on adjoining glebeland, increasing the total accommodation from 379 to 534. The average attendance rose from 387 in 1906 (fn. 43) to a peak of 463 in 1922, the infants' school being amalgamated with the juniors' in 1933. (fn. 44) More classrooms were added in 1949 and 1967 and St. Mary's primary school, then Voluntary Aided, had 415 children on the roll in 1975. (fn. 45)
Puget's schools originated in 1825 with a foundation by Mrs. Catherine Puget (d. 1842) of Poynters Grove on family land in Totteridge Lane, in Hertfordshire, midway between Totteridge and Whetstone. It contained 40 boys and girls in 1833. (fn. 46) Catherine's son J. H. Puget (d. 1897) built a school for girls and infants in Blackhorse Lane (later Oakleigh Road North), near the Great North Road and just within the Finchley boundary. The girls were taught plain needlework and the sole income was from pence until 1877, when Puget's son Lt.-Col. John Puget (d. 1894) applied for a parliamentary grant. (fn. 47) The school in Totteridge Lane closed c. 1883, (fn. 48) probably accounting for an increase in numbers at the Oakleigh Road school, then called Col. Puget's school, from 77 in 1880 to 119 in 1884. (fn. 49) Despite its name that school received less support from the colonel than it had from his evangelical father and by 1890 was controlled by the vicar, aided by 'a lady bountiful'. Although average attendance rose to 146 in 1901, lack of funds led to closure in 1904. (fn. 50)
St. John's National school, Whetstone, opened in 1833 in a building in Totteridge Lane belonging to Joseph Baxendale. (fn. 51) It was a Sunday school and dayschool for 29 boys and 30 girls, supported by voluntary contributions, pence, and small grants from the charity estates and the National Society. (fn. 52) In 1863 a parliamentary building grant enabled a new school to be built in Britannia Road, on land bought by the minister of St. John's. (fn. 53) In 1869 the new incumbent closed the school, whose buildings were neglected until their reopening in 1874 and their enlargement, mainly at the expense of two local ladies. (fn. 54) Annual parliamentary grants were made from 1878-9, when 57 children attended. (fn. 55) In 1884 the vicar of Whetstone paid for another classroom and asked the National Society to help buy the small infants' school in Friern Barnet Lane which had been built as part of Friern Barnet National school in 1859. (fn. 56) The Friern Barnet Lane school received separate grants until 1888 (fn. 57) but later closed, probably in 1905, when the accommodation in the main school was raised from 198 to 274, including 90 places for infants. (fn. 58) Average attendances at St. John's rose from 92 in 1881 to 149 in 1888 but dropped to 100 in 1899, (fn. 59) rising again to 265 in 1932 when the school was enlarged. A new school was built in Swan Lane in 1972 and was Voluntary Aided in 1976, when it had 254 children on the roll. (fn. 60)
East End British, (fn. 61) also called Chapel Street, school opened for infants in a room behind the Congregational chapel in 1842. The education committee of the Council, in contrast to the British and Foreign Schools Society, made a building grant, although most of the money was raised privately. (fn. 62) Subscriptions enabled a second schoolroom to be built overhead for older children in 1850 and, with pence, maintained the school (fn. 63) until government grants were made from 1867. In 1875 the chapel and school, then attended by c. 66 children, (fn. 64) were burnt down. Although the building was restored, the chapel could not afford to reopen the school and in 1881 offered the premises as a board school. Adapted by the board, they accommodated 219 children and were attended by an average of 193 in 1884, when they were replaced by East Finchley board school. (fn. 65)
Holy Trinity or East End National or industrial school (fn. 68) was built in 1847 on demesne land of the bishop of London in East End Road near High Road. The architect was Anthony Salvin, one of the original managing committee, and the builder was Mark Plowman, also active in local affairs. The school accommodated 252 children, divided equally into boys', girls', and infants' departments. (fn. 69) Designed to give a vocational as well as an academic education to poor children of East End, (fn. 70) the school was one of the first to seek a grant under the resolution of the education committee of the Council in 1846, (fn. 71) although it was never an industrial school like those in the northern manufacturing towns. Boys were taught husbandry and animal-keeping and girls domestic service, in spacious buildings (fn. 72) whose grounds furnished boys with their own garden plots. Inspectors lavishly praised the importance of an experiment (fn. 73) which kept older boys at school. (fn. 74) Money was raised from the National Society, the charity estates, local endowments, contributions, and school pence (fn. 75) and there were several parliamentary building grants. (fn. 76) As the first wealthy subscribers left the district, they were replaced by tradesmen and clerks who wanted a conventional education for their children. (fn. 77) In 1877 the industrial section, no longer officially subsidized, was closed. (fn. 78) The school was enlarged in 1881, 1887, and 1898, (fn. 79) when it reached its maximum of 565 places, (fn. 80) although attendance was always well below 300. In 1976 there were 270 on the roll at a new building in Market Place to which Holy Trinity primary school, then Voluntary Aided, had moved in 1974, the older buildings being used by a private school of English.
North Finchley Congregational day-schools (fn. 81) were built in 1864 in Dale Grove on land given by J. H. Puget, who maintained them until his death in 1867, when a managing committee was set up by the church. The premises originally consisted of classrooms for 40 infants and 40 older children (fn. 82) and by 1870, when annual parliamentary grants were made, the average attendances were respectively 64 and 93. (fn. 83) From 1881 until 1884 North Finchley's building was a temporary board school. (fn. 84) Congregationalists used the buildings for a Sunday school until 1893, when they sold them to the Baptists. (fn. 85)
Christ Church National school opened in 1869 as a mixed school in the old Lodge Lane building belonging to Mrs. Newman. Supported by voluntary contributions and pence and also used as a Sunday school, (fn. 86) it was regarded as temporary. In 1874 the vicar asked the National Society for a grant to build a larger school, drawing attention to the well built Congregational school near by. (fn. 87) The new school opened in Stanhope Road in 1875, with places for 225 children of all ages. Parliamentary grants had been received since 1872, when the average attendance was 60. (fn. 88) By 1884 the average attendance of 161 at Christ Church was only 73 per cent, the lowest percentage in Finchley. (fn. 89) The inspector thought standards poor and in the 1890s the vicar, who personally supplied much of the finance, felt that he was competing unequally with the better equipped board school. (fn. 90) The school was enlarged in 1904 but council houses brought many extra children (fn. 91) and in 1932 average attendance was 421. In 1933 the National Society made a grant for two new classrooms, entitling Christ Church to recognition as a senior school under the Hadow Report. (fn. 92) It became a Voluntary Aided secondary modern school under the Act of 1944 and had 450 children on the roll in 1976, in a new building in Hilton Avenue to which pupils had moved in 1968. (fn. 93) It was proposed to make it part of a comprehensive school in 1977. (fn. 94)
Elementary schools founded 1881-1945.
East Finchley board school, replacing the temporary Chapel Street premises, opened in 1884 in Long Lane for 500 boys and girls and 250 infants. (fn. 95) Average attendance rose to 603 in 1893, (fn. 96) the accommodation to 1,116 by 1898 (fn. 97) and 1,200 in 1903, (fn. 98) and attendance to 1,101 in 1907. (fn. 99) Only 692 pupils, divided into mixed and infants' departments, attended in 1919 and the school was reorganized into senior mixed and infants' departments and renamed Alder council school in 1931. (fn. 100) It became a mixed secondary modern under the Act of 1944 and a boys' school in 1956. There were 300 boys on the roll in 1976, still using the yellow-brick board school building. (fn. 101) In 1977 a comprehensive school to replace Alder was being built at Brooklands. (fn. 102)
North Finchley board school in Percy Road, often called Albert Street school, in 1884 replaced the temporary board school in the Congregationalists' buildings. (fn. 103) The school could accommodate 750 in mixed and infants' departments, (fn. 104) was enlarged to take 930 in 1898, (fn. 105) and in 1922 had an average attendance of 784. In 1923 it was reorganized into senior and junior departments, with a total of 1,004 places. The name was changed to Northside in 1932 (fn. 106) and the senior department under the Act of 1944 became a secondary modern school, renamed Hillside in 1955 and moving to Summers Lane in 1956. (fn. 107) The juniors stayed in Percy Road, where 470 children occupied Northside primary school in 1976. (fn. 108)
The first school built by Finchley U.D.C. was Squires Lane in Church End, which opened in 1906 with 600 places divided equally between mixed and infants' departments. (fn. 109) By 1919 there were senior, junior, and infants' departments with a total of 980 places and an average attendance of 817. In 1922 it was reorganized into boys', girls', and infants' and in 1932 into senior mixed and junior mixed and infants' departments, changing its name to Manor and by 1936 to Manorside council school. (fn. 110) The senior school became a mixed secondary modern school under the Act of 1944 and a girls' school from 1956. (fn. 111) After the girls merged into Manorhill school in 1971, Manorside junior and infants' schools remained in Squires Lane in 1976, with 253 and 123 children on their rolls. (fn. 112)
The Great North Road council school opened in 1913 in High Road, East End, where adjoining buildings accommodated 500 seniors and 500 juniors and infants. In 1931 the seniors moved to Long Lane, reducing the accommodation to 488, and by 1936 the name had been changed to Martin school. (fn. 113) After reorganization under the Act of 1944 the junior and infants' departments were regarded as separate schools, (fn. 114) which in 1976 had 270 and 241 children respectively. (fn. 115)
Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic school, for 224 children of all ages, opened at Bow Lane in 1929. Extensions were built in 1956 and older children moved to the new Bishop Douglass school in 1963. In 1976 there were 335 children on the roll, some in temporary annexes at the school and in the grounds of Manorhill school. (fn. 116)
Summerside council school, with places for 450 juniors and infants, opened in 1933 at Crossway to serve the municipal estate in north-east Finchley. From 1939 a new building next to the original one housed the infants' department, which thereafter formed a separate school. After alterations and extensions in 1968-9 and 1973, there were 260 juniors and 130 infants on the rolls in 1976. (fn. 117)
Primary schools founded after 1945.
Moss Hall school, built in Moss Hall Grove to serve the area between Church End and North Finchley, opened in 1952. There were 410 juniors and 305 infants in adjacent buildings in 1976. (fn. 118)
Tudor school opened as a combined junior and infants' school in Queen's Road, North Finchley, in 1952. An extension to the building was used by other schools (fn. 119) until 1975, when it became a nursery for Tudor school, which in 1976 had 260 children on the roll. (fn. 120)
Brookland schools for juniors and infants, established at Hill Top near the North Circular Road in 1954, (fn. 121) were the first council schools in the southern part of Finchley. There were 292 juniors on the roll in 1976. (fn. 122)
St. Theresa's Roman Catholic school, a Voluntary Aided school for juniors and infants, was built by the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice in the grounds of Manor convent to replace their independent school in 1966. There were 260 children on the roll in 1976. (fn. 123)
Secondary and senior schools founded before 1971.
The earliest public secondary education in Finchley consisted of science classes in a laboratory built by the school board at Long Lane school in 1894. In 1896 60 pupils, aged 12 to 16, were taught in the evenings by the head of the board school. By 1900, although still in Long Lane, the classes were recognized as a higher elementary school, which in 1902 was attended by 101 pupils. (fn. 124)
Finchley county school originated in a new school, west of the Great North Road and more central than Long Lane, in 1903. It accommodated 330, thus qualifying for a regular parliamentary grant, (fn. 125) and in 1909 was acquired from the U.D.C. by Middlesex C.C., which administered it as a mixed secondary day-school. (fn. 126) After additions, Finchley county school had 400 pupils on the roll in 1971, when it was merged into Manorhill comprehensive school. (fn. 127)
Christ's College, an independent boys' school in Hendon Lane, ran into financial trouble (fn. 128) and in 1909 was taken over by Middlesex C.C. It became a county grammar school and in 1976 had 600 boys on the roll. (fn. 129) In 1978 there were plans to combine it with Alder in a boys' comprehensive school at Brooklands. (fn. 130)
Woodhouse school opened in the house of that name near the Friern Barnet border in 1922 as a mixed selective central school with 320 places. It became a grammar school in 1925 and in 1976 accommodated 632 pupils in the original building, to which laboratories had been added in 1921 and 1960. (fn. 131) In 1977 it was expected to become a sixthform college. (fn. 132)
Finchley Catholic grammar school, originally an independent Roman Catholic school, became a direct grant school in 1939 and a Voluntary Aided grammar school for boys in 1945. It had 600 pupils in 1971, when it became part of the comprehensive Finchley Catholic high school. (fn. 133)
Hillside, a mixed secondary modern school, opened in 1956 in Summers Lane in north-east Finchley. It had c. 550 pupils on the roll in 1971, when it was merged into Manorhill school. (fn. 134)
St. Michael's convent grammar school was established in 1958 as a Voluntary Aided girls' school in a new building in Nether Street, where it had existed as an independent Roman Catholic school since 1908. The school expanded in 1964, 1971, and 1973, and in 1976 had c. 630 girls on the roll. (fn. 135)
Bishop Douglass, a mixed secondary modern Roman Catholic school, opened with Voluntary Aided status in Hamilton Road in 1963. In 1969 it merged with the independent Manor House convent school in the near-by East End Road, which thereafter housed the sixth form of the expanded school. New buildings were added in Hamilton Road in 1969, 1973, and 1976, when there were 1,140 pupils on the roll. (fn. 136)
Comprehensive schools founded after 1971.
Finchley Catholic high school was formed in 1971, when Finchley Catholic grammar school merged with the independent Challoner school. There were 400 boys on the roll in 1976. (fn. 137)
Manorhill, a mixed school, for 1,200, was formed in 1971 by the amalgamation of Finchley county grammar with Hillside and Manorside secondary modern schools. The lower forms were housed on the old county school site in High Road and the upper in the former Hillside premises in Summers Lane, which later were extended. (fn. 138)
Oak Lodge, one of the earliest public special schools, opened in 1916 in a former private house in Oak Lane. Pupils, who were educationally sub-normal children from Finchley, Hornsey, and Wood Green, numbered 70 by 1918. Extensions were made until 1974, when the school, retaining its old name, moved to Heath View. In 1976 there were 130 children on the roll, from Barnet and Haringey L.B.s. (fn. 139)
Private schools. (fn. 140)
Of 444 school-children in 1833, more than half were educated at their parents' expense, in six boarding and four day-schools. (fn. 141) Boarding schools were attended by 460 pupils in 1871 (fn. 142) and private schools by 385, compared with 1,468 at maintained schools, in 1881, when another 253 children were taught at home. (fn. 143) There were eleven private schools in 1882, 20 in 1920, and c. 25 with 2,000 places c. 1933. (fn. 144) The number of schools later declined, especially after the Second World War. Some entered the state system but most were small and short-lived, in large houses such as Elm Tree Lodge, Falkland House, the Gables, Cambridge House, Court House, Yverden, and Glencairn.
Abraham Cousins (d. 1831) had a school in Ballards Lane by 1802. It passed to his son Frederick (d. 1841), by 1841 was called Union House academy with 42 boy boarders, and survived until the building up of the Moss Hall estate in 1879. (fn. 145)
William Fanning in 1819 opened a boarding school for young gentlemen at the Manor House in East End Road, which was taken over by Henry and Charles Worsley in 1838 and closed in the early 1860s. (fn. 146) Many of the boys went to the school opened by the rector in 1857 at Finchley Hall, later Christ's College. (fn. 147) East Finchley College in East End Road was opened by Edward Cox in 1861 (fn. 148) and survived until 1890, when it was probably succeeded by East Finchley grammar school in High Road until 1930.
Girls' schools, more numerous although probably smaller than boys', included those run by Abraham Cousins's daughter Louisa Cousins (before 1845 to 1871), Miss Isabella Claridge (c. 1851-c. 1889), and Miss S. Pearce (c. 1874-c. 1920). Among those founded c. 1880 were Clydesdale (c. 1882-c. 1899), Alexandra House (c. 1882-c. 1909), which specialized in music and languages, and Saxonhurst, later at Hertford Lodge (c. 1882-c. 1939). Boys' schools of the same period included Allandale (c. 1882-c. 1930), Fern Bank (c. 1883-c. 1967), (fn. 149) Finchley high school, formerly Bellbrook (c. 1899-1939), and Holmewood (c. 1899), one of the few to survive in 1976. Preparatory schools and kindergartens were advertised from c. 1899. Some schools opened junior departments and new schools included Lamorna (c. 1909-c. 1939), Leas House, which moved from Golders Green to Kingsley Way in Hampstead Garden Suburb in 1934, (fn. 150) and Annemount, which opened in Holne Chase in 1936 and had 78 pupils in 1976. (fn. 151)
Religious orders opened several fee-paying schools, although there was no public Roman Catholic school until 1929. Apart from St. Margaret's industrial school for girls, which for a short time c. 1870 used the Good Shepherd convent in East End House although served from Hendon, (fn. 152) the first Roman Catholic school was opened in 1908 by the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus. St. Michael's convent school in Nether Street took girls of all ages and small boys, until in the 1930s it was reorganized into girls' secondary and preparatory schools. The secondary school was a maintained school from 1958 but the junior school remained independent until its closure in 1964. (fn. 153)
In 1921 the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice opened a small day- and boarding-school at Manor House, the former Bibbesworth manor-house. The school, for girls of all ages, was extended in 1932 and accommodated 650 in the late 1950s. It was merged into Bishop Douglass school in 1969. (fn. 154)
Finchley grammar school opened in 1926 under the auspices of St. Alban's church and moved into Woodside Grange in 1927, later acquiring the adjoining houses. Originally for boys aged 8 to 18, it became a direct grant school in 1939 and Voluntary Aided in 1945, when an independent preparatory school, St. Albans, was founded next door. In 1949 the parish priest of St. Alban's founded Challoner school as an independent Roman Catholic school for senior boys who failed to enter the grammar school. Challoner was amalgamated with the grammar school in 1970, leaving the preparatory school as the only independent Roman Catholic school. (fn. 155)
St. Joseph's school for maladjusted senior girls opened in 1951 at the Good Shepherd convent, where the nuns had housed, although not formally educated, disturbed and destitute girls since the convent opened in 1864. The school closed after a fire in 1972. (fn. 156)
Jewish schools, mainly for children of nursery age but including a junior school at Norrice Lea, were founded in the 1950s and 1960s in connexion with several synagogues. (fn. 157)