A Brief History of Eltham College

Eltham College has its origins in the Boys’ Mission School, founded in 1842 in Walthamstow, Essex, as a boarding school where Protestant missionaries serving overseas could send their sons. Ten years later the school was re-established in Camden, North London, and from 1857 to 1912 it occupied purpose-built premises in Blackheath in Southeast London. During this time the first day boys and non-missionary boarders were accepted into the school.

In 1912 the school moved again when it took over the former premises of the Royal Naval School in the suburb of Mottingham, two miles from Blackheath, and renamed itself Eltham College. At the heart of the RNS had been a country house named Fairy Hall, built around the turn of the eighteenth century; the school had added a chapel and ranges of buildings for dormitories and classrooms and these were now incorporated into Eltham College. In 1944 the school became a Direct Grant school, accepting day pupils whose places were subsidized by local councils. When the scheme ended in 1976 the school became fully independent and gradually reduced the number of boarders.

Other major developments since the War have been the development of a separate Junior School for pupils aged 7-11 (1960), the admission of girls into the Sixth Form (1978), the ending of boarding (2004) and the construction and development of new facilities, including a swimming pool (1979), performing arts centre (1988), sports hall (1996), library (2000), music school (2005) and art gallery (2012). Both the Junior and Senior Schools have also benefitted from brand-new classroom blocks (opened in 2002 and 2019 respectively) and the school’s playing fields have also undergone considerable expansion. In 2020 girls were accepted into the lowest years of both schools for the first time; the school will be fully co-educational across its whole age range (7-18) by 2024.