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Highgate Primary School began life as the British School in Southwood Lane, which had a reputation for being overcrowded. The newly formed Hornsey School Board took over the school while new premises were built on our current site. Highgate Board School moved to the new building in North Hill on 20th December 1877, when the old premises were sold by Highgate Congregational Chapel to Highgate School to become laboratories. Mr Haines, headmaster at Southwood Lane, took over at North Hill becoming our first headteacher. The school originally accommodated 213 children, but a series of expansions increased the school roll to 877 by the end of the century.

In her book, Memories of Highgate from a Keeper’s Lodge, Liza Chivers describes the school during the early part of the last century:

‘The school was a rather forbidding looking building with windows set up high to prevent a child from looking out instead of attending to his lessons. We sat at desks, fifty to a class, with the teacher at a table to the front. Each classroom had a large coal fire but if you sat at the back of the classroom you felt no warmth from it. We were taught with the emphasis on the three R’s and I cannot remember any child by the time he was in Standard One being unable to read and read well.’


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