SHEPHERD’S BUSH – SAWLEY ROAD SCHOOL

8 April, 2021

An area that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves nevertheless there is plenty for us to consider in Shepherd’s Bush.  The next few articles have been written by Peter Trott who you may have seen recently on BBC talking about a very narrow house. 

This is about a new school at the turn of the last century.

Sawley Road LCC Temporary School

Sawley Road was officially named in 1904 and the road was laid out in the following years. In 1909 proposals were put forward to build a recreation ground on Sawley Road which would be named either Oaklands Park, Old Oak Park or Wormholt Park. Confusingly council minutes referred to it as Sawley Road Park but eventually it opened as Wormholt Park on 27 June 1911.

Sawley Road Map 1915When the park opened there were actually no houses built on Sawley Road but work on the Old Oak Estate west of Wormholt Road was in progress. Ellerslie Road School had opened in 1894 but the amount of new homes being built to the west meant further schools were needed. So probably just before the park opened a temporary school was built on Sawley Road close to the junction of Bloemfontein Road and opposite the proposed park gates.

Although it was officially named the Sawley Road LCC Temporary School it was nicknamed the tin school. Temporary schools of that period were usually part constructed of corrugated iron and one or two rare examples still exist in
the UK. At the time of writing this I have found very little information about the school itself. It was certainly in use by 1912 and is shown on the 1915 OS map.

Sawley Road School Photo 1921 (2)An aerial photograph taken in 1921 (Britain From Above) clearly shows the school which appears to consist of three large buildings. They may have been separate schools for seniors, juniors and infants. There appears to be some small buildings at the rear which were probably toilets and sheds. The photo also shows that there were still no houses on Sawley Road which suggests that all building worked stopped when WW1 broke out.

The war started in July 1914 and in September the school held a sports day in
Wormholt Park. On 11 September 1914 The West London Observer reported:

‘It is difficult in these days of international turmoil and excitement for one to turn
one’s thought, even for a brief period, exclusively to social events – such as are
in progress – let alone organise such a thing as a sports meeting and to carry it
through with phenomenal success’

And further wrote:

‘Undoubtedly the handsome prizes which were offered for competition
provided a stimulus to the children, and among the awards was a handsome doll
which had been dressed by the girls of the top class. Eileen Talbot, a little girl of
10 years of age, whose father is serving with the colours at the front, set her
heart upon winning the doll, and although smaller than many of her competitors,
she ran pluckily in the event that the doll was a prize in, and won a splendid
race. She was heartily cheered for her achievement’

At that time the Headmaster was listed as Mr A Saywell who was also the
president of the National Association of Head Teachers.

WW1 ended in 1918 and the following year work commenced on the
construction of Wormholt Park School. Eventually it would accommodate the
children from the proposed East Acton Estate. In 1921 there was a children’s
fancy dress party held at the hall at Lime Grove Baths and over 1,000 dancers &
spectators attended from eight schools, including Sawley Road School.

Wormholt School opened in 1922 and some of the first entrants were the pupils
from Sawley Road School which then closed down. A Wormholt School report
from December 1922 stated that Headmistress Miss Howlett, spoke very
encouragingly of the good work already done in the short time since the Schools
were opened and reorganised in June upon vacating the temporary buildings in
Sawley Road.

The old Sawley Road School was still standing in 1923 when William Gordon
Wilson of Galloway Road was charged with being on the enclosed premises in
the yard of the school.

Between 1926 and 1928 the LCC built 783 houses on the Wormholt Estate and
it is probably during that period that the Sawley Road site was cleared and the
houses were finally built. Interestingly when Sawley Road was planned it was
intended that houses would be built on both sides of the road. However in the

interim period Wormholt Park was built where the even numbered houses
would have stood.

The old school site is now occupied approximately by numbers 1 to 17 Sawley
Road, the small triangular green at the junction of Sawley Road and
Bloemfontein Road and numbers 52 and 54 Bloemfontein Road.

Dunraven Road and Collingbourne Road were built in the late 1890s and when
the houses on Sawley Road and the two semi-detached houses on Bloemfontein
Road were completed an alleyway was incorporated to connect the four roads.
Recently a volunteer urban garden group named The Green Project Shepherds
Bush have transformed the triangular green into a delightful garden.