Salvatorian College 1926 - 1966

Few would be able to recognise the house in the picture below. There may still be a few parishioners of Saint Joseph's, Wealdstone who can recall it. There were at least 13 boys who remember it as the Salvatorian Community House and College of 1926. In the picture, reading from left to right, in the front row we have - Fr. Charles Pradarutti; the late Fr. Osmund Becker; Father Gabriel Enderle, the founder of the school; Fr. Donatus Muller; Fr. Eberhard Miller. Standing at the back, from left to right are - the late Brother Trudo; 3rd in the row is Father Clement Mercer; 6th in the row, the late Father Aidan Peaple and at the end of the row the late Mr. McCue. These were the priests, novices and students (apart from those who were studying in Germany) who formed the complete Salvatorian force in England in1925.

Back Row: Brother Trudo; 3rd is Father Clement Mercer; 6th is Father Aidan Peaple; at the end is Mr. McCue.
Front Row: Fr. Charles Pradarutti; Fr. Osmund Becker; Father Gabriel Enderle; Fr. Donatus Muller; Fr. Eberhard Miller.

In September 1926 it was decided to open a small private school, a decision prompted by the wishes of many people in the locality, and an initial group of thirteen entered the school. The school! At the extreme right of the picture there is what appears to be a bay extension; this was the community chapel and it was to become the first classroom of the Salvatorian College. Even the front of the house would not be recognised by present day pupils at the College, for the simple reason that what was once the front of the house has now become the back, and the gradual extension of the College has swallowed up all the surrounding land and gardens. The entrance door as seen in the picture now faces the new cloister to the rear of the Art room, while the former entrance from the High Road, to the left of the present church, is now permanently closed.

Within a matter of a few years extensions were built which brought the school accommodation to what is now the administrative block, comprising the Headmaster's office, Secretary's office, Staff Room, half the present library, the Deputy Head's office and the Medical room, and also included the room which is now the Community Refectory. Meantime a small wood and corrugated Iron church was erected to accommodate the growing parish and a similarly constructed parish hall was erected on the site which is now the area beneath the Assembly Hall. In 1930 the building of a new church was undertaken at a cost of 17,000 - an astronomical sum for those days - and this church was opened in 1931. The boys at the school have had the use of this church since its opening. When the former church fell into disuse, it was in turn the home of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides; a temporary Secondary Modern school, until the opening of St. Gregory's at Kenton; again the home of the Scouts and Guides and finally it served as a rehearsal and green room for the parish Dramatic Society and for school drama preparations.

In 1942, while Father Xavier Howard was Headmaster of the school, another building leap forward was taken with the erection of a concrete Hall at the rear of the school, on a site now occupied by the Games store, Pottery room and Printing shop. This served as the Assembly Hall and Gymnasium as well as a Concert Hall for the school. The parish Hall was still used by the school for the provision of school meals and for Drama productions. There was never any worry about filling the Hall in those days - one had to worry only about the crowd bursting the Hall at its seams. It was also a very cold trek in the winter or early spring from the dressing rooms in the old chapel to the parish hall, heated more by the audience than by any more customary means.

From the number of applications for places at the school it soon became evident that further extensions must be undertaken and this task fell to the lot of Father Thomas who came as Headmaster in 1947. Almost immediately plans were set afoot to build a new Classroom and Science block at the Whitefriars Drive boundary of the College property. The architect engaged for the work was Mr. John Strubbe and the plans he produced were so favourably received by the profession that they found a place in the Royal Academy The site was cleared in 1950 and work was begun; regrettably steel was still in very short supply and alternative material had to be sought. It was decided that the whole building would be erected in cantilevered concrete and a view of the skeleton construction gives some idea of the nature of the undertaking. The building consisted of four classrooms, each with its own store, on the top floor and two Laboratories, with Preparation Rooms and new toilets on the ground floor. This building was opened by the late Cardinal Griffin in 1951 and thereafter was referred to as the 'New Block'. Sadly, especially for those who had the pleasure of being the first students in the new building, no present day pupil would be likely to know where the 'New Block' is.

Even while the 1951 building was in course of construction investigations were going on as to the possibility of future extensions; long and arduous investigations, months and years of frustration and delays, before it was possible to begin the final phase in the school's building programme.

Two pictures here [above] - one taken from the High Road looking towards Athelstone Road; the other, taken from Athelstone Road and looking towards the High Street, indicate some of the clearing operations that had to be undertaken. Whereas up to now the extensions had been undertaken outside the teaching perimeter, as it were, these extensions were now to surround the existing school. The whole kitchen garden, the pride of the late Brother Trudo for so many years, had to go; so also did the Parish Hall and the old Chapel; the Xavier Hall and the Girl Guides Den. Planning permission was given and the actual building began in 1959, a building planned to bring the school up to a Two Form Entry Grammar school. These extensions were blessed and opened by Bishop Cashman in June 1961, by which time the school had become a Voluntary-Aided Grammar school and could offer places to those Catholic children in North West Middlesex, who had qualified for Grammar school. Cardinal Godfrey, who had been unable to come for the official opening in June, graced us with his presence later in the year and paid his personal tribute to the work of the Salvatorian Fathers in the parish and school over the years, recalling the first Salvatorians who came to minister to the people of this area in 1901.

But the thirst for education is never satiated and growth of the Catholic population in the area cried out for still more places, so that before the dust had settled on the processional route at the Blessing in 1961, the builders were back on the site to erect the extensions necessary to bring the school up to Three Form Entry status. This required a Sixth Form Block, Art Room, Technical Drawing Office, Six Classrooms, Music Room and a Biology Laboratory. These extensions were completed on schedule and accepted by the Local Education Authority in January 1963 and Solemnly Blessed and Opened by His Eminence Cardinal Heenan in June of that year.

Needless to say the area of scholastic activity and the numbers involved in them have changed considerably over the forty years of the school's growth, and the documents I have before me bear this out in statistics which are mole compelling than any words of mine. At the first public examination for which pupils were entered - the Sheffield Local Examinations in December 1928, the following eight candidates were listed:-

Denis Bevington; Denis Bunyan; George Heath; Charles Slark; John Rush; Tom Kennard Brown; Bernard Campbell and Jack Bacon. They had offered papers in Scripture; English; Maths; French Latin and Art.

At the recent examinations of the Oxford Board in the General Certificate of Education 116 pupils offered the following subjects at Ordinary Level:- English; English Literature; Latin; French; Spanish; German; Economics; British Constitution; British History; Foreign History; Geography; Religious Instruction; Mathematics; Additional Maths; Physics; Chemistry; Physics with Chemistry; General Science; Biology; Technical Drawing; Woodwork; Metalwork; Art. At Advanced Level, papers were offered by 28 boys in English; Latin; French; History; Economics; Geography; Pure Maths; Applied Maths; Physics; Chemistry; Technical Drawing and Art.

The achievements of the past forty years were not won easily and the physical extension of the school demanded great sacrifices from all the Fathers who taught here and from a most loyal and energetic lay staff who gave their services without stint. A considerable financial strain was put on the whole Province by the decision to enlarge the school to its present dimensions and it is a burden which will be with us for many years to come. But it is to the enterprise of those early Fathers, Teachers and Boys that we raise a special salutation in this the fortieth year of the school's existence, and hope that the spirit which inspired them will be recorded of us when the centenary of the school is being celebrated 60 years hence. In the course of these pages you will find articles from some of those who knew the early days and here I would like to express my personal gratitude to them for their contributions.

The Headmaster.

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