Eltham College

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Eltham College is an independent school situated in Mottingham in south-east London. Eltham and Mottingham once formed part of the same parish, hence its name.

Early history

The school dates back to the early Victorian era, when it was founded as the London Missionary Society's School for the Sons and Orphans of Missionaries. A girls' school had been established in Walthamstow in 1838 and a boys' school was opened in the same place at the beginning of 1842. The boys' school later relocated to Mornington Crescent in 1852 and then to a purpose-built location in the centre of Blackheath in 1857 (the old school building became the headquarters of the Church Army and is now a private hospital). Missionary David Livingstone sent his sons to the school while it was in Blackheath.<ref name="Rhind, N. 1993 p.118">Rhind, N. (1993) Blackheath Village & Environs, 1790-1990, Vol.1 The Village and Blackheath Vale (Bookshop Blackheath, London), p.118.</ref>

Current site

The school moved to its present site - centred around an 18th-century mansion (Fairy Hall) in Mottingham - in 1912. The building had previously been used by the Royal Naval School from 1889 to the end of the summer term in 1910.

Eltham College began life as a small boarding school catering for children of missionaries serving overseas, mainly in India, China and Africa. Since the 1950s, the college has become primarily a day school for boys with a co-educational sixth form since 1981. Reflecting the origins of the school, each of the four houses is named after a prominent LMS or BMS missionary, namely Carey, Livingstone, Chalmers and Moffat; coloured blue, green, red and yellow respectively.

The school buildings have been progressively modernised and extended over the last few decades, with the addition of new sports facilities, science labs, theatre, a music school and Junior School facilities. A floodlit astroturf hockey pitch has also been recently opened, and the Dining Hall doubled in size. The grounds now cover over 60 acres.

Mandarin Chinese is now taught at Eltham College and links with China are growing.



The school's headmasters at Blackheath were:

  • 1852-1866: William George Lemon
  • 1866-1868: James Scott
  • 1869-1870: Charles Dugard Makepeace
  • 1870-1875: Revd Edward J Chinnock
  • 1875-1892: Revd Edward Waite
  • 1893-1914: Walter Brainerd Hayward


  • 1914-1926: George Robertson
  • 1926-1930: Nevil Wood
  • 1930-1959: Geoffrey Turberville
  • 1959-1983: Christopher Porteous
  • 1983-1990: Christopher Waller
  • 1990-2000: Malcolm Green
  • 2000–present: Paul Henderson

Guy Sanderson has been appointed to start in September 2014


Henderson has continued the school's programme of building and development started by Christopher Waller, including a major redevelopment to the front of the College, the Junior School and Music School. The most recent addition is the Gerald Moore Art Gallery, built at the back of the school near the Eric Liddell Sports Centre. Named after the Old Elthamian Gerald Moore who generously provided part of the funding, it displays his work as well as that of students and other artists. The gallery opened in the spring of 2012.

Notable Old Elthamians

Template:See also Template:Refimprove (in alphabetical order)

  • Cricket statistician Philip Bailey
  • Mountaineer George Band
  • Philosopher Piers Benn
  • Criminologist Sir Anthony Bottoms
  • Politician Fenner Brockway - one of the last pupils to attend the school when it was located in Blackheath<ref name="Rhind, N. 1993 p.118"/>
  • Sir Michael Buckley (civil servant)
  • Author and broadcaster Charlie Connelly
  • Prof Stephen Dunnett, neuroscientist, and Professor of Biosciences since 2005 at Cardiff University
  • Physicist Frank Farmer
  • Organist Stephen Farr
  • Nick Ferrari, radio broadcaster
  • Sir Simon Gass KCMG CVO, Senior Diplomat, Ambassador to Iran 2009-11, and to Greece from 2004-9
  • Jamie Harris, Newport Gwent Dragons rugby player
  • Jim Knight former Labour MP, Minister of State for Schools in the UK Government, MP from 2001-2010 for South Dorset
  • Matthew Le Merle, venture capitalist
  • Olympic athlete Eric Liddell, after whom the sports hall is named
  • Peter Luff (campaigner)
  • Johan Malcolm, Leicestershire county cricket player
  • Phil Packer, MBE - Former soldier turned fundraiser
  • Prof Philip Page, Professor of Organic Chemist since 2007 at the University of East Anglia
  • Gormenghast author Mervyn Peake, after whom the library is named
  • Prof Geoffrey K. Pullum, Professor of General Linguistics since 2007 at the University of Edinburgh
  • Organist David Sanger
  • Anglican priest and hymn writer, Rev Canon Michael Saward
  • Dr Andrew Sentance, Member, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, 2006–11, and Chief Economist from 1998-2006 at British Airways
  • Revolutionary human geneticist and genealogist Bryan Sykes, known for discovering the genes which bear the cause of diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Notes and references


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