Harrow County School for Boys

Harrow County School, the beginning…

by Alex Bateman

At the time Harrow County School was opened, the policy of the Middlesex County Council towards education was one very different from today.  Where existing Grammar Schools stood, emphasis was placed on improving them, insuring that instead of failing or dying out, they in fact increased in stature and standing.  With regards to Harrow, the School of John Lyon was already well established, and the hope was that finances and determination would be directed towards them.  Despite a generous offer of several thousand pounds by a Harrow School benefactor (who controlled John Lyon School) an expansion programme could not be agreed.  With the local population in Harrow growing, a different proposal, one for a new County School was put forward and eventually accepted.

After almost a decade of wrangling, Harrow County School was finally opened on Saturday January 21st , 1911, by County Alderman Colonel Bowles.  The John Lyon connection was particularly strong at the time, with the choice of head master in Ernest Young.  He had previously been head of our neighbour.

The building consisted of a 'North' block (housing hall, Science and Art rooms, and Library), a 'South' block (the rest of the classrooms), and 'Central' block containing cloakrooms, head masters and staff rooms, canteen and kitchen.  Outside stood a tarred playground, and playing field of some five acres.  Nominal roll was of 75 boys.

Almost immediately the new School appeared in the press, and continued to do so continually over the years.  Many innovations appeared (for example the first School Scout Troop in November 1911), and the teaching methods of Ernest Young were almost revolutionary.  He allowed a certain amount of experiment with his staff and pupils, and much of the early years of success at HCS were due to this.

With the onset of the First World War, the School turned its hand to several  war related activities.  Almost all of the first 75, and several masters saw service, 18 making the ultimate sacrifice.  Of those masters who returned to the School afterwards, almost all retired due to ill or failing health.  With so many away, women teachers had begun to appear, including a sports mistress, something that must have initially raised an eyebrow in a boys school!

Upon opening, the age of entrance had been eleven, but by the summer this had been reduced to ten on the suggestion of Young.  A further suggestion to lower it still to nine was not passed however.

Competitiveness was encouraged, and 'Commended Tickets' awarded to those gaining 75% or more in particular subjects.  Several trophies had also been acquired by the School, some donated by parents or locals, and this fostered the spirit, and high standards achieved.

Extra curricular activities were also encouraged, and many sprang up in the first few years, organised by the boys themselves.  At the same the need for social service was instilled in the boys.  All this meant that by the time the first decade had passed, Harrow County had gained a considerable reputation, and much praise for its high standards.  This was due entirely to the ideals of Ernest Young, and the enthusiasm with which the boys carried them out.

With Young retiring from the School at the end of the First World War,  a new head, Randall Williams, took hold of the reins.

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