Tulse Hill School

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Template:Infobox UK school

Tulse Hill School was a large comprehensive school for boys in Upper Tulse Hill, in the London Borough of Lambeth in south London, England. The school spanned eight floors and had almost two thousand pupils.<ref name="THSWeb"/> It opened in 1956 and closed in 1990. Notable alumni included Ken Livingstone, ex London Mayor.


The school was opened on 11 September 1956<ref name="LCCSS24"/> under the Headmastership of Mr. Clifford Thomas.<ref name="THSWeb">Tulse Hill School Website</ref> Student management was originally based on Public School lines employing a House System, and having Prefects (both School and House). Originally, there were Upper and Lower Schools, and within the sixth forms Upper and Lower Sixth, with the Lower Sixth being called the Remove similar to its close neighbour Dulwich College.

Later, the School moved away from a House system, replacing it with pastoral group units. The school operated this system until its closure in 1990. Changing population figures for the area have been argued as the reason for closure.


Originally, the school had a very broad curriculum providing for the normal grammar school academic courses, including Latin, Greek, French, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and other general subjects<ref name="LCCSS24">London County Council, Secondary Schools: Division 8, April 1962, page 24</ref> These subjects were taken to the advanced level (A-level) of the General Certificate of Education examination.

Special facilities were also provided for work in engineering, building, art, music and commercial subjects to prepare boys for industry, commerce and the professions. Pupils were also prepared for student and craft apprenticeships.<ref name="LCCSS24"/>


The school drew from South London suburbs - including Streatham, Brixton, Herne Hill, Clapham and Brockwell Park.

School Badge and Motto

School Badge

60pxThe school badge depicts paschal lamb supporting a cross atop a strip of blue and white wavy lines. In itself atop a shield decorated with blue and white wavy lines. The top half of the emblem (the lamb on the strip of blue and white wavy lines) is borrowed from the crest of the London Borough of Lambeth in which the school was situated. The only difference being that the Lambeth crest has a Pennon flowing from the cross, whereas Tulse Hill School's emblem has no pennon. The lower half (shield decorated with blue and white wavy lines) is the bottom half of London County Council's Arms. The blue and white wavy lines represent the River Thames (with which the Borough has considerable frontage); the paschal lamb with cross has always formed part of the seal of Lambeth (be it the late Vestry or the Borough Council), and in heraldic terms is a "canting" or punning reference to the name of the Borough.

School Motto

The Latin Ad unum omnes was employed meaning All for One; One for All.


Thomas's of Herne Hill and Clapham South, and later Temples' of Brixton and Streatham, presented themselves as Outfitters to the School offering Bespoke Tailoring linked to Exclusive Craftsmanship. The School Badge could be bought as a single item and then sewn to a proprietary blazer although this was hated by Mr Thomas as he claimed it looked more like a wolf than a lamb.<ref name="THSWeb"/>

In the 1960s the 6th Form tie was dark blue decorated with multiple images of the school emblem and the Upper School tie was royal blue with diagonal stripes, the stripes being dark blue with a white centre . One striking feature of the early years of Tulse Hill School uniform were the house colours displayed on school caps. When the school first opened the boys had to wear a black school cap with the school badge on the front section and the house denoted by a coloured button at the apex of the cap. In later years (c.1958) the cap was redesigned with the rear section in one of eight house colours.

All students were expected to wear school uniform with the exception of sixth formers (who in later years (after 1966) were allowed modest discretion. House prefects had a measure of disciplinary control over pupils in the same house and were distinguished by small oak leaves sewn under the school badge. School Prefects had greater authority and wore large oak leaves. In the late 1950s school prefects also wore a short gilet style gown with blue facings around the school. This gown was worn by School prefects until at least 1966.


Games and social activities were originally organised on a House system, with boys being allocated a house on entering the school and thereafter being guided by a housemaster.<ref name="LCCSS24"/> It was the House masters job to get to know their individual house members and there were often house meetings after morning assembly. Inter-house sporting fixtures were another feature of school life, together with house outings and social activities. The house system at Tulse Hill was eventually replaced by pastoral group units.

The eight school houses were named after eminent men who had associations with the borough of Lambeth.
Each house had its own colours:

House Founded Colours Named After
Blake 1956 Light Blue William Blake
Brunel 1956 Pink Isambard Kingdom Brunel Engineer
Dickens 1956 Green Charles Dickens
Faraday 1956 Black until about 1959, then Dark Blue Michael Faraday
Temple 1956 Yellow William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury
Turner 1956 Maroon Joseph Mallord William Turner, Landscape Artist
Webb 1956 Grey Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb
Wren 1956 Brown (56-79) Christopher Wren

Cadet Forces

Unlike most comprehensive schools, Tulse Hill established detachments of the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps. The Cadet Corps had regular weekend training and annual camps away from the school grounds. Initial accommodation in the school was non-existent but a permanent building was erected at the end of the cycle sheds in 1962 with each unit occupying half.

The Army Cadet Force unit was established as 23 (City of London) Company, affiliated to the Royal Fusiliers. After 1968, this changed to 74 Company South East London ACF and the regimental affiliation was changed to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The first Officer Commanding was Captain A J "Jerry" Hall who was also a German language teacher in the school.<ref name="THSWeb"/>

Buildings and Grounds

To house in excess of two thousand boys attending the school, its buildings were necessarily large, the main focus of which was a large glass clad building of eight floors, serviced by four lifts (until the late 1970s a lift operator would press the desired floor button for the students).<ref name="THSWeb"/> In an attached annex was the Administration Block which also contained the kitchens and the Great Hall. Morning assembly was held in the hall which boasted an entirely professional stage lighting system by Strand Electric. Off this hall were a number of music rooms equipped with an orchestra of instruments. The massive ex-Rose Hill Gaumont Cinema organ, a two-manual Compton which had such entertainment effects as drums, cymbals and whistles removed before re-installation, had pride of place in the Great Hall and provided a unique musical experience as it blasted out items including the Trumpet Voluntary and the school song. Cracks which developed in the rear wall of the building were thought to have been caused by enthusiastic use of the lower registers on the instrument.

In addition to the main educational building there was a gym block, containing 6 gymnasiums, and a workshop block where woodwork, engineering and building trades were taught.

The main building suffered from serious structural subsidence in the 1980s and it was necessary to install huge wooden props at the Great Hall end to stabilise the structure. (actually wooden props in the great hall were in place in the early to mid-1960s and were there in 1966 due to severe cracks in the building - It was a common rumour amongst the pupils that the original design was for two four storey buildings but cost led to them being combined as one) The buildings were demolished in the early 1990s. Following demolition, the site was bought by a housing association and homes for 160 people have since been built on the ex-school site, most infamous as the estate from which Jean Charles de Menezes emerged on the day of his fatal shooting. As at 1997, the school entrance and the caretaker's cottage remained on site. House builders on site said that the school building basement (plant) level remained, as it had simply been "filled" in.<ref name="THSWeb"/> After the school had been demolished in the 1990s, excavations revealed an early Saxon settlement which included eight sunken-floored buildings.

Sporting Facilities

Sport was seen as an important component of school life from its very inception even though the restricted size of the site did not allow for the provision of the required facilities for field sports. The school had six gyms, extensive paved grounds, coach transport to Priest Hill Playing Fields at Ewell, and use of a boathouse at Putney. An on-site swimming pool was mooted in the early sixties but that proposal never matured as the Headmaster somewhat controversially devoted fund raising efforts towards the purchase of the school organ. Sports played included football, cricket, hockey, tennis, field sports and athletics and even fencing.

Offsite Activities

Tulse Hill School displayed a commitment to off-site activities. School trips around the UK were common and there were other trips to various parts of Europe - and even to the Caribbean and the USA- for cultural, sporting, artistic and social purposes were common. Chief sites were Priest Hill Sports Grounds at Ewell, The Croft at Etchingham, and Davos in Switzerland.

The Croft

The Croft was Tulse Hill School's study centre situated in the village of Etchingham in Sussex. It was a former hotel, converted in 1971 during Ray Long's time as Head for the School's use and stood in Template:Convert of its own grounds. Every Monday in term time a party of up to 30 boys with one or more teachers would leave the school to spend up to five days at the Croft on specially designed study courses. Activities for first-year students included visits to Bodiam Castle and Hastings, visits to farms and route-finding exercises using the Croft's own resources, which included an assault course. Cycling enthusiasts at the School would bike the Template:Convert to the Croft and back some weekends. The Croft continues in operation as a Lambeth Council initiative.<ref name="THSWeb"/>

Trips Abroad

Tulse Hill School sent pupils to a number of foreign locations for sporting, educational and recreational/cultural activities. The school sent a cricket team to Jamaica (where they lost every game of cricket but won every game of football played as an unofficial addition to the trip), a Rugby XV to the USA, and a drama production to Berlin when the school's version of The Tempest, adapted as a Caribbean Musical, was selected to represent Britain at an international Youth Arts Festival in that city.<ref name="THSWeb"/>

Other locations included: Germany; the Netherlands; Italy; France; Norway and Belgium.


  • Linton Kwesi Johnson - the world's first reggae poet<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Danny Williams – Boxer and current Commonwealth Heavyweight champion<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Ken Livingstone – Mayor of London 2000-2008 and Politician<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Steve Bucknall - One of England's finest ever basketball players, played in the NBA and Captain of the English team<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Insane Macbeth - veteran of the UK Hip Hop scene<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Smiley Culture/ David Emmanuel – Musician; UK-based reggae artist<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Dennis Bailey - Played for Queens Park Rangers (New Year's Day 1992 hat-trick vs. Manchester United)<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Les Briley - Footballer (Midfield/Striker)<ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Michael Alldis 79/82 boxer. Former British & commonwealth champion
  • Nick Chatterton - Footballer, Crystal Palace & Millwall

Former Teachers

  • Ken Morley - Actor <ref name="THSWeb"/>
  • Kenneth Cranham - Actor<ref name="THSWeb"/> - Pupil
  • Douglas Fielding - Actor (Z-Cars) - Pupil
  • Mike Edwards (Ex-Deputy Head) – Played Cricket for Surrey (between 1961 and 1974); Director of cricket development at

External links



Template:Schools and colleges in Lambeth