A HISTORY OF DRAYTON MANOR 1930 - 1980
By Mr J. Barker
- from Phoenix 1980 [Drayton Manor's 50th Anniversary]

The history of Drayton Manor may be divided into three phases; The first phase saw the beginning in 1930 of a traditional grammar school inspired by the example of the Public Schools of the 19th century and by the Education Act of 1902. The war years of 1939-45 brought severe disruption, but whether evacuated from London or not the School continued to fulfil its original role. The second phase began in 1946 with the end of the war. Teachers returning from the Services, both political parties committed to building a Britain different from that of the 1930s and the new ideas of the Education Act of 1944 all contributed to a feeling that there was to be more and better education. It was during this phase which lasted till 1974 that very considerable expansion of the school took place. Then came the third phase when Drayton Manor began to be transformed into a comprehensive school. The last six years have been the busiest in its history.

The opening of Drayton Manor on 8th November 1930 was a triumph for the councillors and people of Hanwell who had agitated to have their own county secondary school. Alderman H. J. Baker, former Hanwell councillor and then Mayor of Ealing, who opened the school, spoke of the pleasure that he and his colleagues felt when they learned that the school badge was to taken from the crest of the seal of old Hanwell with its Phoenix and that its motto, "Nee aspera terrent" (Let not hardships cause dismay), was also to be adopted.

The school building, costing without furniture 41,171, was on the site of Hanwell Park House as confirmed by the local historian, Sir Montagu Sharpe, who had been the former owner of the land and remembered the old derelict house still standing in his boyhood. The new building provided on the ground floor 10 classrooms, science laboratories, craft rooms, a combined assembly hall and gymnasium with a raised classroom at one end that could be opened and used as a stage. On the first floor were more science laboratories, an art room, the library, five classrooms, and at opposite ends of the corridor were the separate masters' and mistresses' common rooms, the senior mistress's room and the headmaster's room. Though the school was to be coeducational, the masters and mistresses were not expected to mix in their common rooms and when a mistress married she was obliged to resign. The total number of pupils was to rise to 450, but to start the school there were three First Forms and one Second Form comprising 127 pupils.

The purpose of the school in the 1930s was to offer a secondary education up to 16 or 18 years of age to at least a part of the child population who might be considered willing and able to go beyond the limits of an elementary school where education stopped at the age of 14. It was "liberal", that is, free from any specific vocational training, with strong emphases on foreign languages and the sciences and most pupils were expected to enter the professions having obtained a School Certificate for which passes in a broad range of subjects were required. The more academic pupils might hope to "matriculate", that is, obtain not just passes but credits or distinctions in a range of subjects including mathematics, English, a foreign language and two other subjects. A select few would stay for two years in the Sixth Form and take three or four subjects for the Higher School Certificate with a view to entering university.

Drayton Manor was fortunate to have a dedicated and able staff from the earliest years. Sewell Allenby was a persuasive, dignified but approachable headmaster striving to create a friendly, moral tone. Miss Redman as senior mistress accomplished much in establishing the English department and the Drama Society. Mr. Arnold became senior master. Other "originals" were Miss Dutton running the history department and Mr. Barbanel who laid the foundations of a strong foreign languages department. Miss Scott, appointed as school secretary, was to stay for 42 years. Soon Mr. Behmber arrived to take mathematics and exercise his many-sized talents in chess, running and fencing. Mr. Wright came to run the geography department and was later to become deputy head. Many others like Mr. Cherry and Mr. Hislop joined in the 1930s, of whom a remarkable number stayed for the rest of their teaching careers and so gave the school an air of permanence.

To encourage competition and cooperation between the pupils, Houses were introduced with the names Athenian, Roman, Spartan and Trojan as suggested by Mr. Barbanel. Societies such as the Drama, History and Debating, Chess, Science and Geography Societies, and a school orchestra flourished. Their activities are too numerous to describe here, but one society, however, should be mentioned in particular; namely the Phoenician Society, founded in 1935 with its own Football, Lacrosse, Chess and Drama sections. The School pavilion, erected in 1937, proved to be a very useful addition for both pupils and the Phoenicians.

Ill-omens of the coming war appeared as early as 1935. The school staying in Koenigswinter in the Rhineland was given a taste of National Socialism by the local Nazis but the meeting had to be abandoned when the discussion became too heated, and later at Easter 1939 the party going to Annecy in southern France found their coaches had been commandeered by the French Army for fear of war provoked by Mussolini's invasion of Albania.

The war took everyone by surprise in the summer of 1939. Not only was there no warning of the Russo-German Friendship Pact of 23rd August which, had it come earlier, would have alerted both authorities and the school to the imminent danger, but the declaration of war on Germany came on 3rd September, just before the autumn term had begun. The LEA had given no instructions except that if an emergency arose all the schools should remain closed. Drayton Manor was allowed to open on 21st September, but only for the number that could be given adequate shelter from enemy bombing-100 pupils. Not till December 1939 were there sufficient air-raid shelters to accommodate the rest of the school. By then the school was expanding to 600, taking in groups from Ealing County School for Boys and Ealing County School for Girls (now Ealing Green and Ellen Wilkinson High Schools) who numbered 130. Another thirty came from Acton County and twenty from Chiswick County Schools. These extra pupils were the remnants left behind after the majority of their schools had been evacuated from London.

The evacuation of Drayton Manor did not begin till October 1940 when the German bombing of London became intensive. A party of 150 pupils joined with Greenford County in setting up in Torquay what became known as the "Middlesex Grammar School" or sometimes "Green Manor". Miss Redman took charge while Sewell Allenby commuted between the two sections of the school. The evacuees were billeted in private homes and taught in local schools, first Audley Park School and later West Hill School. Their feelings about being away from home may be gauged by their cheerful memories in later years of the club where they could run their own activities and buy buns for a half penny each to supplement the radons in their billets and the pantomimes written and produced by a member of staff.

Meanwhile in Hanwell Mr. Barbanel organised that part of the school which remained behind. School began at 10.00 a.m. to allow for sleep lost during the air-raids and whenever the siren gave warning of approaching bombers, all the classes took refuge in the air-raid shelters and tried to continue their lessons. There was a total of 183 sessions in the shelters lasting from five minutes to four hours. The night-bombing meant that fire-watchers stayed in the school throughout the night and in fact three of them, Mr. McGarrick the school keeper and two Sixth Formers saved the building when the hall and masters' common room were hit by nine incendiary bombs. In 1944 Drayton Manor had roof-spotters to give warning to examination candidates to get under their desks. The strain on the staff was considerable. Nevertheless Mr. Barbanel (Flight Lieutenant) and Mr. Behmber (Flying Officer) found the energy to inspire and run a branch of the Air Training Corps with Sewell Allenby in the background as Squadron Leader. To remind us of the human cost of the war there is a bronze plaque at the entrance to the present hall to commemorate the names of the 36 ex-pupils who fought and died.

An entirely unexpected development during the war was the harvest camps organised by Mr. Wright. The farmers short of labour were relieved to have school parties camping and labouring among them to dig up their potatoes and stook the sheaves of wheat. The attraction of hard work in the open air, extra pocket money and enormous meals encouraged these camps to continue after the war till 1949.

On March 22nd, 1947, Mr. Allenby, at a simple, dignified service, unveiled in the School Hall the War Memorial and read from the bronze tablet the names of those fallen. They watch over the new generations of pupils whose liberties they had defended.
Peter F. Bicknell
Ernest C. Bieri
Edwin G. Branchflower
Alfred J. T. Copping
Stanley J. Dudley
Roy W. Ellis
Dallas A. Forder
Denis E. Hamlyn
Donald Harding
Laurence Hillier
Kenneth C. Hutchins
Joseph A. C. Kite
Charles H. Ladd
Norman J. Lock
Charles P. Lovatt
Angus J. McDonnell
Norman W. Mawby
Richard H. Ames
Ian Moderate
Kenneth H. Morrell
Arthur J. Powell
James G. Price
George P. M. Pridie
James A. Prior
Donald L. B. Ross
John Shelton
Charles R. Sweeting
Charles E. R. Tanner
Frank Taylor
Joseph W. Thompson
George Tull
Albert E. Winn
Peter S. Woodham
Derek Woods
Kenneth Davis
Leonard J. Griffiths
Extract from Phoenix, the School Magazine, 1951


The second phase of the school's history began in 1946. The visible signs were the men on the staff returning from war service (there were seven including Messrs. Arnold, Cherry, Hislop and Russell all of whom remained at Drayton Manor until their retirement from teaching), the retirement of Sewell Allenby who had completed 16 memorable years as head master and the coming of Mr. Emmott as the new headmaster. But more significant for the new phase was the 1944 Education Act which was encouraging the education authorities to develop three types of schools all enjoying what was called "parity of esteem". The secondary modern school would give a broad education with the freedom to experiment to the majority of pupils, the junior technical schools would provide a more practical bias to those pupils who had the aptitude for a technical education and thirdly the grammer school designed for the child with a "mind interested in learning for its own sake; which can take in argument or a piece of connected reasoning, is interested in causes, whether on the level of human volition (man's willing to do anything) or in the material world; it cares to know how things came to be as well as how they are; it is sensitive to language as an expression of thought, to a proof as a precise demonstration, to a series of experiments justifying a principle; it is interested in the relationship of related things in development, in structure, in a coherent body of knowledge. It is willing to suspend judgement, recognizing that sound criticism must be informed; it is willing to be detached in attitude in order that criticism may be impartial and free from sentiment. In short, it has that prerequisite of all successful pursuit and use of knowledge, the power and will to ask relevant questions" (Norwood Report 1942).

This somewhat grandiloquent description of the grammar school pupil defined the role of Drayton Manor for the next 28 years. What was essentially new was that such children would receive far more encouragement and support than ever before. The Sixth Form began to grow. During the 1950s pupils were urged to complete not five but seven years of education and then to aim at further education at a university or technical college. Grants to cover all expenses (subject to parents' income) became readily available from both the Government and local authorities. By 1960 a plan materialised for a considerable alteration and expansion of the school to provide a new kitchen and dining hall, gymnasium, three new science laboratories, extended handicraft and domestic science rooms and a new hall.

These developments coincided with the regime of Dr. R. L. Evans who had become headmaster in 1950. A scholar himself, he was keen to promote scholarship at all levels in the school and at the same time consciously to perpetuate the moral and friendly tone that had marked Sewell Allenby's headship. It was partly a measure of Dr. Evans' success that the Ealing Education Committee had decided to expand the school.

In the meantime the General School Certificate was introduced in 1951, which brought about a greater freedom for the pupil in his choice of subjects by making the certificate simply record the subjects taken to a rather higher standard than the old pass level. This was a considerable change from the former School Certificate which had required passes in a group of subjects. The effect was to allow pupils to drop subjects in which they failed to achieve progress, at the peril, however, of not satisfying the requirements of certain professions and employers. In order to give a wide choice of subjects, timetabling became more complicated than ever before. Towards the end of this phase Dr. Evans retired, having given 20 years' service to the school and Mr. C. J. Everest succeeded. It was fortunate that the changeover came when it did because very shortly massive changes were about to be made to both the buildings and the intake of the school. The new headmaster was to prepare for these changes and make them as unsettling as possible to the existing body of pupils who felt some apprehension, and at the same time to establish policies which would ensure that Drayton Manor became a successful comprehensive school.

It was in September 1974 that the Borough of Ealing, taking heed of the Ministry of Education's Circular of 1965, which required the local education authorities to submit plans for making their secondary schools comprehensive, now began the transformation of its schools. Drayton Manor High School (as the school was henceforth to be known) received 170 pupils in the Third and Fourth Forms from those secondary modern schools which were closing down.

The controversy over what kind of schools Ealing should have was to subside now that the decision to "go comprehensive" had been taken. The arguments for the larger resources of comprehensive schools, the widening of opportunities for all pupils, the abolition of a selective examination at the age of 10+ and for schools which more truly reflected the social mixture had prevailed.

A new era in the history of the school had begun. Drayton Manor was in effect to adjust to the new society that had been taking shape since the beginning of the war. Growing affluence meant more wealth could be invested in education, that parents were more willing to keep their children at school till the age of 16, and that people's expectations were rising. The coming of the comprehensive schools was not so much the result of dissatisfaction with the grammar schools, but rather a sign of a growing appetite for higher education.

Drayton Manor was in a fortunate position to take advantage of these changes. It was a former grammar school with a well established Sixth Form, possessing the necessary facilities and staff for advanced work and, what was to prove equally important, with room for expansion.

The additional buildings came rapidly in three stages. First, in October 1974 the Sixth Form Centre came into use. Its provision for making refreshments, the purple carpeting and the large social area made a deep impression on everyone at the time. The second stage came in the autumn term of 1975 when the Craft and Arts Block was opened. The staff had been allowed three days before the beginning of term to have it ready and they felt quite exhausted by the time the pupils arrived. It too made a strong impression at the time because of its spaciousness and equipment. The third stage was the New Block opened in April 1977 with its social areas, store rooms and twelve classrooms for the English, Geography, History and French departments.

In the meantime the extra pupils were joining the school year by year. The newcomers of autumn 1974 who went into the Third and Fourth Forms found the transfer unsettling at first, but care had been taken to have them assimilated into the body of the school as rapidily as possible by avoiding any kind of segregation. In the autumn of 1975 the first "comprehensive" intake of 180 12 year olds arrived from 28 different middle schools and very soon made a favourable impression on the staff, although there was ome concern lest the extra year in the middle school might have caused "slippage" in the cumulative subjects like French and mathematics. By the autumn of 1978 the intake of 12 year olds had risen to 240. The total numbers in the school had grown from 600 in 1974 to over 1,000 in 1980.

As the staff expanded in number so it was found necessary to provide extra accommodation; the staff office, study room and the general staff room came into being in 1978. It was soon noticed that only the staff room or the old library were big enough to take a full staff meeting. But much of the friendliness of Drayton Manor survived, helped by the end of term gatherings, the Christmas party and the Christmas dinner for which special occasion the staff room was taken over.

The House system which had lapsed in the late 1960s was re-introduced in the autumn of 1974. It led to a new development within the staff of Housemasters and their assistants. The Houses (named after two national and two local men of distinction, Newton and Shaftesbury, Brunel and Coleridge) would help the pupils to have a sense of belonging which for some might be difficult within the framework of the whole school and they would provide a competitive setting in many activities such as games, athletics, drama and music which would encourage the pupils to make the most of their talents. What is known as "pastoral work" now assumed great importance in the life of the school and constituted an interesting aspect of what was now considered to be a school's responsibility.

It was at this time, 1974-75, that the school achieved remarkable success in football by not only winning the Middlesex Schools' Tye Cup and the London Schools' Ebdon Cup but going on to reach the final of the National Individual Schools' Competition, drawing 1-1 with Mayesbrook Comprehensive School in Essex. It was an encouraging sign for the new Drayton Manor.

The accompanying changes in the curriculum and the organization of teaching groups reflected the policy of continuous development. Paramount has been the aim to maintain and improve the standard of scholarship originally expected of a grammar school, but wider provision was made in remedial education, in extended commercial and craft courses and, in the Sixth Form, of further courses for those who did not aim at the Advanced Level. The General Studies course with its optional residential study week and the introduction of authoritative visiting speakers strengthened links with the community.

The varied activities and the widening curriculum of the school today make the historian's task difficult. History merges into present policy, but it is already clear that Drayton Manor is offering to its pupils an education that embraces scholarship, the arts, crafts, links with the local community and society at large, games and athletics all of which have long established traditions in the school's first half century.

The historian is tempted to look forward to the School's Hundredth Anniversary in 2030. The technique of teaching will certainly change. The classroom teacher's role will surely be quite different. Pupils may become rivetted to the screens of their teaching machines, the printed word in books become old fashioned, word processors taking the place of pen and paper, and each mathematics room have its standard mini-computer. Less change, one might perhaps hope, will be seen in our music and drama. Perhaps there will be closer links with Europe. But whatever the changes will be, may the School continue to serve the community and pass on its traditions to the pupils of 2030 and beyond, as it has in the past.


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