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History in the making

6 September 2021

As more young people become part of Westminster City School’s history this autumn, our current pupils have been looking back at the history of our School.

During Trinity term 2021, our then Year 7 cohort were tasked with exploring and examining the history of our School. All took up this challenge with gusto but work by one pupil, James OE, was much praised by Ms Slater, Subject Leader for History. James is now settling into Year 8 but his historical findings, written before the summer holidays, are below:

"Westminster City School is located in central London at the heart of Westminster. Its location provides a lot of opportunities for learning and fun trips. The School is close to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The School currently has 797 students, with 7% of these being girls and the remaining 93% boys. However Westminster City School used to be located elsewhere, as it used to be in the former gardens of Lady Dacre’s Almshouses. We were known as the ‘black coats’ which is why we wear black blazers today.

"Westminster City School has not always been like it is today. For example, the original school building was an almshouse built by Lady Dacre. Another difference is that its priority in 1600 was to take care of children rather than to educate them. However, a similarity between the historic school and the modern school is that they both clothed and fed the children. The current Dacre building was built in 1877 with the assembly hall being added on in the early 1900s. Waterlow was built in honour of Sir Sydney Waterlow who helped to found the school. The Kings building was built to honour King Charles II who set the foundation for the school to develop into an educational institution in the 17th century. Lastly, in 2018, the Pouchot building was built 100 years after the death of Jack Pouchot who it was named after. All of the aforementioned individuals have been very significant for our School as they have helped it to develop into what it is today, with the exception of Jack Pouchot who was a student here between 1911 and 1913.

"The School has seen many significant events, one of these was during the Second World War. In the summer of 1939, the School was on its summer holidays. While some students did not stay in London, 369 students practised the walk from the School to Victoria station. On the second official day of World War Two, Westminster City School students were evacuated by train to Edenbridge in Kent. While 235 students went to look for houses, the rest of the 134 students stayed in Edenbridge. The School was also directly affected when in 1944, a highly explosive bomb hit the front of the School, making the Dacre building nearly unusable. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

"We studied the original School magazines and registers for the School, and found out a lot about the pupils who joined in 1916. For example, Edward George Rivett’s father was a clerk and the family lived in Wandsworth. After Edward left, he went to Whitelands College and then onto the University of London to become a motor car salesman, at a time when the motor car industry was only just beginning! This shows that anyone who comes to Westminster City School has a chance to succeed and go to university.

"Westminster City School has seen a major historical event during my time here. Since I began in 2020, there have been at least two lockdowns which has hampered significantly my and the School’s trajectory. There have been improvements since School has reopened as now students do not need to wear a mask any more although some do continue to do so due to safety reasons. I love all of my classes in School and love participating in class."

Thanks to James and all our Year 7 historians, for their fascinating research into Westminster City School!

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