Bexleyheath school Townley Grammar revels in 75th birthday

PUBLISHED: 14:54 20 September 2012

A science class in the 1950s

A science class in the 1950s


High standards have prevailed at Townley Grammar in Bexleyheath which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Head teacher Desmond Deehan, Bexley Mayor Cllr Alan Downing and former pupil Baroness Amos at the 75th anniversary celebrationHead teacher Desmond Deehan, Bexley Mayor Cllr Alan Downing and former pupil Baroness Amos at the 75th anniversary celebration

Officially opening Townley Grammar School in 1939, Lord Cornwallis made no secret of what was expected of the girls who were on the roll there.

“It cost £78,500 to build, which is a lot of taxpayers’ money,” he declared to the pupils. “What I want to impress upon you is that it is your duty to make every possible use of the school and the opportunities it offers.”

It was founded as Bexley Technical High School for Girls in Townley Road two years earlier and notable alumni include weightlifter Zoe Smith, one of the young stars of the London 2012 Olympics and former MP, and current United Nations humanitarian under-secretary, Baroness Amos.

Zoe, 18, took her GCSEs at the school and started her A-levels but deferred in 2011 to concentrate on her training.

A performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream from 1939A performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream from 1939

She said: “Townley Grammar has always shown me total support and I have some great memories from my time there. I still meet up regularly with my old school friends.

“I will always look back at my time in the school with a smile on my face and now my schedule is a little less hectic I would consider going back to finish my A-levels.”

Lord Cornwallis would have been delighted that 75 years after the school was founded, its academic standards have stood the test of time.

More than 90 per cent of this year’s A-level students gained A* to C grades, while every single GCSE candidate got five A* to C grades.

Townley Grammar as it is todayTownley Grammar as it is today

A high point for the school was in 2008 when four Townley pupils were accepted into Oxbridge to study medicine, one of the most prestigious university courses in the country.

Eileen Taylor, who attended the school from 1943 to 1946, said: “We were known as Miss Collins’ ladies and we were expected to behave as such.”

The ethos is something the school has tried to nurture. Headteacher Desmond Deehan, who has been at the school since 2010, and is the sixth head (and the first male), says: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the school and that it’s still going from strength to strength is fantastic.

“We have had former pupils come from as far afield as America and Australia to the school to mark the 75th anniversary.

“The message seems to be that people enjoyed their time here.”

Everybody connected with Townley has their fingers crossed that the school will still be enjoying similar success when it celebrates its century in 2037.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bexley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bexley Times