School Memories from the 1960s

Christopher Wren Secondary Modern School.

Years 1 to 3

The plans for two new interconnected schools in Shepherds Bush were revealed in 1952 with a projected cost of £633,000. The old North Hammersmith Secondary School on Bryony Road would be incorporated into the design. The schools would be named Hammersmith County (for girls) and Christopher Wren (for boys).
My brother left Christopher Wren School in 1959 and two years later I joined the school. At that time the form rooms for the senior boys were based in the old North Hammersmith School building with the entrance on Bryony Road. The 1st to 4th year boys were based in the new building, which is now the Phoenix Academy. The entrance was on Bloemfontein Road, which is now the entrance to the Phoenix Fitness Centre and the Janet Adegoke Swimming Pool. The Hammersmith County School entrance was on The Curve.


When I was at Ellerslie Road Junior School there was no uniform and most boys wore shorts throughout the year; and yes even in winter. The move to Christopher Wren meant we all had to wear a school uniform including long trousers, a black or navy blue blazer with a school badge, white shirt and, horror of horrors, a tie. The designated school outfitters was Speake Brothers which had a large shop at Savoy Circus, East Acton.

For the purposes of inter school competitions the school was split into four houses named after famous people contemporary with Christopher Wren; Clarendon (red), Dryden (green), Gibbons (blue) and Newton (yellow). On joining the school each pupil was allotted to a house and remained in that house throughout their time at the school. I was in Clarendon House, again following in my brother’s footsteps.


School badges


The Secondary Modern curriculums were very wide and varied covering all traditional subjects as well as various trades. For boys this included technical drawing, woodwork, metalwork and bricklaying. There were purpose built art rooms and several workshops, three large playgrounds, a small sports green as well as three fully equipped gyms.
Morning assembly took place in a large hall mid-way between the boys and girls schools. There was also a theatre where smaller assemblies took place. This was in a separate wing which also included the dining rooms for teachers and pupils. Morning assembly was followed by four 40 minute lessons and after lunch there were three further 40 minute lessons. If your next class happened to be at the opposite end of the building or three or floors apart then 10 minutes could easily be wasted changing classrooms.
Class sizes tended to range between 28 and 32 pupils. Being an inner city school meant that there was an enormous difference of backgrounds. Each class had at least one Polish, Italian or Jewish boy whose family were in Britain in part as a consequence of the Second World War. Also the children of the Windrush generation were starting to join the school adding to the mix of cultures and races. Every class had a swot, a joker, an entrepreneur, and at least one budding criminal. There was a lot of petty thieving particularly from the corridor lockers, which ironically had been made without locks. Of course no one used them and we all carried our heavy bags from one lesson to another.


Section of my first school report
(note the class size of 31)


Twice a week we had PE on site and once a week we were taken by coaches to a sports ground near Sudbury for football or rugby. However, most times we had to go cross country running over Horsenden Hill. There was always some reason such as the pitches weren’t ready, or they were waterlogged, frozen or too dry. Looking back now I believe it was a chance for the teachers to have a nice rest in the clubhouse while we went running. Very occasionally if the weather was good we were taken swimming at Bloemfontein Road open air pool.
On the whole most of the teachers were very good but there were a few exceptions; one eccentric science teacher brought in what he claimed was a satellite that he had found on Wormwood Scrubs. Although he sounded very convincing it was of course a complete fantasy. Incidentally, he was the same teacher who took my brother’s class to Wormwood Scrubs to count pigeons for a complete lesson. One day a particularly accident prone chemistry teacher created a huge cloud of choking smoke. As he dashed to the door with a handkerchief over his mouth he shouted over his shoulder ‘don’t breathe it in’.
Oddly, one woodwork teacher was building a canoe in the workshop but there was no way he could ever have got it out without dismantling a complete window frame. Not surprisingly it was still there when I left the school several years later.

From the 3rd year classes were graded towards your final years at the school. I was in a ‘G’ class meaning that I would be studying towards my GCE O Levels (General Certificate of Education – Ordinary Level). But real swotting would begin in the 4th year.

To be continued …….

Blog post written by Peter Trott, LBHF Local Studies & Archives volunteer.

This entry was posted in Archives & local studies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to School Memories from the 1960s

  1. Paul McNally says:

    Peter is an old school friend of mine, I have thoroughly enjoyed the blog. It has bought back lots of memories from that time. Looking forward to the year 4

    • Great! Pleased is has brought back fond memories!

    • Stefan du Maurier says:

      I was also at Wren from 75/76 and remember the blue coaches that would take us to Warren Farm it was also thanks to the school that I got in to cycle racing when they took us to Paddington Rec.

      Looking forward to the next instalment, would be nice to add who the famous miscreants where that went through Wren.

  2. David Martin address 1945-1954 13 Elmcroft Close Bedfont Middlesex says:

    Does anyone remember a John Gardner at Christopher Wren School. He attended there in the md-50’s 1954c

  3. Shahida Haleem says:

    I went ellerslie school in 1969. The only other person I remembered was Wendy Curtis

  4. Shahida Haleem says:

    I went ellerslie school in 1969. The only other person I remembered was Wendy Curtis I luv to know how she’s doing

  5. Anonymous says:

    hello i went to wren school from 1957 to 1962 on the whole had a great time
    clifford webber

  6. Steph Gregory says:

    Does anyone remember my dad CHARLES GREGORY who was there around 1950? He thinks the school was called Hammersmith school of building and the headmaster at the time was Christopher Boot? It would be great to hear if anyone remembers him xx

  7. derek owen says:

    i went to wren in late 60s dryden house remember mr eden house manager building section

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.