Updated April ’23

Site visitors are encouraged to suggest comments, corrections, events etc. to supplement the content of this, fairly meagre, school history.

‘Blackwell’ was a coeducational, County Secondary school, based in Headstone Lane, Harrow.  The name was retained from its inauguration in January 1950, until its demise in July 1974.

Name derivation

The Blackwell family of the Crosse and Blackwell Food Company.  The family lived at the Cedars Mansion, Uxbridge Road, Harrow Weald until 1940, then the tudor-gothic 'Hillside’, Brookshill, Harrow Weald until 1955.


‘Stand for the truth’ or ‘Acorns grow into Oak trees’.


Stand for the truth, in its all wide world domain.

School Houses

Dyke (blue), Oxhey (bottle green), Priory (yellow), Weald (red).
In September ’59 new, alphabetically sequenced house names emerged: Austen, Byron, Churchill, Dunant, Elgar and Faraday.


1948/49 - The London County Council procured The Cedars Estate to be allocated to new housing, shops and a secondary school.  Whilst Blackwell School was being built (adjacent to Headstone Lane), pupils were housed nearby in temporary accommodation:

1948 (September) - The ‘Headstone Annex’, a temporary hut in Whitefriars School (a junior school), was established.  Sixty pupils were educated for a term by the two teachers, Mrs Mitchell and Mr Smith.

Although over a thousand PoW camps were designated in Britain during WW II, only about five hundred were ever built.  ‘Hatch End’ was number ‘122’.  There were about 250,000 PoW in Britain in 1944.  Contravening the Geneva Convention, some detainees were not repatriated until 1948.  Some 15,000, especially those whose hometowns had been absorbed into the Soviet bloc, chose to stay in Britain - as ‘displaced persons’.

From Thresholds of Peace: "At Hatch End in Middlesex the camp chaplain, Pastor Wallmann, remembers how some 500 out of 800 were invited to families that Christmas and those that had no invitations were simply hauled in from the streets, although it was against regulations.  All returned with touching tales to tell…"

1949 (January) - The Headstone Annex group moved to a new site, The Camp School, a redundant German Prisoner of War camp in Uxbridge Road [off Oxhey Lane - now a sports centre].  Accommodation was the site’s Nissen huts. - Marion Moore and Robert Riscovitch.  Four prisoners could, with a fair wind, erect a Nissen hut in under 10 hours, apparently. - CP

The pupil-complement had increased to 270 by the end of the first term.

1950 (January) - The newly-built, predominantly single-storey, complex, standing in 13 acres, began to accept pupils.

Herbert Keen Olphin was appointed Headmaster; Deputy Heads were Ronald Vicary, acting head at the Camp School, and Edith Oyston who had transferred from Chandos Girls Secondary.  The Caretaker was Joseph Pitt.

The site admitted 328 pupils at the start of the first term on January 10th - some pupils transferred from nearby schools.  A group of pupils, that would eventually decant to Downer Grammar School (DGS) when their purpose-built complex in Shaldon Road, Edgware was completed in 1952, was also temporarily housed at the site and under Mr Olphin’s Headship (see message thread on MSN’s DGS site - defunct since 2009).

The Main School Building (originally built for 900 pupils)
Architect: Cecil Stillman, Middlesex County Council.
Builders: W. S. Try Ltd. High Street, Cowley.
Consultant Engineers: F. J. Samuely BSc (Eng).

The flat-roof, covered walk-way, corrugated aluminium cladding design - similar to Aylward and DGS, also designed by Stillman - reflected the post-war building material shortage.

1953 - A terraced auditorium, The Great Hall, was completed on site.
Architects: John and Elizabeth Eastwick-Field.
Builders: The Anglo-Scottish Construction Company Ltd..
Consultant Engineers: F. J. Samuely and Partners Ltd..

GCE ‘O’ levels were introduced into the school curriculum.

1958 (February and March) - "Festival of Recorded Music.  A concert of live and recorded items, including some stereophony, is being given in The Great Hall of the Blackwell Secondary Modern School, Headstone Lane, Harrow, Middlesex on March 14th.  The audio equipment is being lent by Lockwood and Co., of 27 Lowlands Road, Harrow, Middlesex, from whom programmes price 2s are obtainable.  Proceeds are for the school swimming pool." - Wireless World Vol. 64; The Gramophone.

(June) - The swimming pool, built by pupils and volunteers from the Parent/Teacher Organisation, was opened.  Ms Judy Grinham (Olympic Gold medallist in 1956) attended the inaugural celebrations (see photo - under 'Documents’. - Harrow Post.

1959 (27 February) - "A number of manufacturers, including Acoustical, Leak, BTH, Decca, EMI, and Garrard, are co-operating with Lockwood & Co. to provide a concert of recorded music - including stereophony..." - Wireless World Vol. 65.

1960 - The project to build Blackwell’s swimming pool came third in a televised, schools competition.

1961 - Staff member Mr A. P. Finlay designed and, with the help of students, constructed a telephone system - using surplus telephony equipment - to cover the sprawling school complex. - Harrow Observer.

A-level courses were introduced enabling pupils to gain entry to university when they left Blackwell at age eighteen.

1965 - Lessons in road safety and driving were included in the school curriculum.  Tuition was provided by the Automobile Association and the Metropolitan Police.  "As part of a pilot scheme, launched at Blackwell Secondary Modern School, Harrow, arrangements were made for free tuition in road familiarity and driving instruction to be given to senior pupils by experts from the Automobile Association outside normal school hours." - The Autocar Vol. 123.

1960s - The school gets its own, dismantled, Compton organ. - Music, Vol 1 and 2, 1966.

1970 - Mr Olphin retired.  Mr Douglas S Clark, formerly of Downer Grammar and latterly Lascelles, was appointed as his replacement.

1972 - The pupil complement exceeds 1100. - Education Committee’s Year Book, 1973.

1972 - Mr Herbert Keen Olphin was honoured with an OBE for his achievements at Blackwell.

1973 (December) - Douglas Clark departed to become the first Principal of Harrow Weald 6th Form College.

1974 (January) - Beryl Littler was appointed Acting Headmistress.

1974 (September) - Comprehensive Education was introduced across the whole of Harrow in September 1974.  Blackwell was re-born as Hatch End High School.

"I was elected to the Council in 1971 as part of a parental backlash against the old grammar school and secondary modern system which was forcing quite a lot of children with reasonable abilities to go to the latter because there were inadequate spaces in the former.  I was Chair of the Governors of Downer, Camrose and Chandos at the ripe old age of 23." - David Brough, Head Boy at Downer Grammar 1965/66.

Most historical research by Russell Mius BA, September 2009.