Greenwich, Surrey?

I know there’s a problem with school places in the area, but I’m stumped on an Ask The Phantom I got over the weekend.

I’ve been working on a friend’s house over in Cobham for the last week, with one day when he left me in Weybridge, with time to kill, while he went to attend a meeting.

I couldn’t think of much better to do than visit the Elmbridge Museum.

Purely by chance I came across a reference to a place called Hatchford Park – a real huge country pile from the Victorian era – and asked at the desk if it still existed. I was not only told ‘yes,’ but was also given a file with various press clippings about the place, on the assumption I might be interested. From the late ’40s to the early ’90s it was a special needs school.

Surprise #1 was finding a letter from a recently redundant headmaster, to the museum, saying “I am being asked by Greenwich to let the estate agents have [various research papers about the building and surrounding land] to show to potential buyers. I am not inclined to do this as no one will ever see them again if they go there.”

Ummm. Greenwich? Greenwich what!?

Surprise #2 was digging a bit further and finding that the school had indeed come under the charge of Greenwich Council, in 1990. (Until its closure just three years later.)

Hmmm. Not quite sure how a school in Surrey could come under the auspices of Greenwich Council, but apparently it did. Could almost make one wonder how many other assets they might’ve got – or might’ve once had – outside the borough?

I have absolutely no idea why Greenwich would effectively ship-out special-needs students to Surrey (and to be fair that headmaster wasn’t clear on the idea either). I’ve had one of those Monday-morning-real-work-beckons-cursoy-glances and all I can really find is that it’s luxury flats now and that it was once a Dr Who film location (for the 1970 Spearhead From Space/ Planet of the Spiders, when the Doctor was in his Jon Pertwee form if you’re interested).

Clearly Greenwich Council also thought better of the idea of exiling special needs pupils to the other side of London too, as it didn’t last long. But I have no clue whether they own any other random assets outside the borough. I know that Greenwich Hospital does (a post on that coming soon…) but the council?

Maybe someone else knows? Just to add oddness to the mix, The Phantom Webmaster tells me that in some of the old censuses Greenwich was referred to as “Greenwich,
Surrey”. Makes no sense to TPW either, but might be a line of enquiry they had some very odd county boundaries back then?

13 Comments to “Greenwich, Surrey?”

  1. Capability Bowes says:

    Sounds like a case for a Freedom of Information enquiry.

  2. Rob says:

    I was in the Heritage Centre last year doing some reading about a Hotel that the council once owned by the seaside and it got me interested to know what properties were currently owned now that are outside of the borough.

    I put in a FOI and here’s the answer (as of last July):

    Site Ref Site Address Postcode
    10115 Brantridge (Staplefield Place) School Staplefield-NR.Haywards Heath RH17 6EQ
    10118 Margaret McMillan Field Centre Gravesend Rd TN15 7JN
    11869 Platt Hill Wood Fairseat Lane TN15 7QB
    11737 Parkway, 53 (Brantridge School) 53, Parkway RH10 3BS

  3. Dave says:

    I dont know why anyone would be surprised that local authorities have educational facilities outside of inner london boroughs.

    Whether they were for field trips or residential facilities for kids who had special needs or family or bahavioural problems at home . it is no secret that education authorities and other agencies would intervene to help in difficult times.

    There may be less of these places now due to cuts etc.

  4. frankh58 says:

    Before it got realigned some years ago there used to be an old road sign (set into the wall of a bridge over an extict canal) on Plough Way in rotherhithe that marked the boundary between Kent and Surrey. Not saying that means Greewich was ever in Surrey, mind.

  5. The historic boundary between Surrey and Kent is much further west than Greenwich. See this 19th century map

    (Thanks to for the link)

  6. P & D says:

    I remember that as a child and when I was a pupil at Eglinton Junior School in Whitworth Road, SE18 way back in the 1970′s that the school always sent us off on field trips/jollies to a centre in Wrotham, Kent. Now, thinking back, I do believe that this place was owned/run by LGB. I can’t be sure but I think that it isn’t uncommon for councils to own these sorts of places. No idea if the Wrotham place still exists…

  7. P & D says:

    “I do believe that this place was owned/run by LGB.”

    I do, or course, mean London Borough of Greenwich (LBG). Doh!

  8. Rob says:

    “No idea if the Wrotham place still exists…”

    Margaret McMillan Field Centre from the list above is in Wrotham, so I reckon that will be the place and yes, still exists. More info on it here:

  9. Mary says:

    I don’t know anything about that Surrey School – but – the Inner London Education Authority owned many country houses which were used as special schools of one sort or another. When ILEA was abolished they were handed out to the boroughs – some got this, and some got that.
    Greenwich Borough – like others – has or has had a number of country and seaside sites, mostly used for school trips – the centre at Wrotham, one at Swanage. I also understand that at least one Greenwich secondary school owns one itself.

  10. Sven Ellis says:

    The then Greenwich Council’s hotel was in Westgate on Sea, and provided subsidised holidays for the borough’s elderly. It was helpfully called the Greenwich Hotel.

  11. Creepy Lesbo says:

    I may be able to answer this, after finding out a similar thing about Dulwich College. Seemingly back in the wars, Dulwich College sent a lot of their school children out to Sussex as evacuees to get them out of the way of the bombs. They opened a Dulwich College down there in Sussex, because technically it was the people involved up in Dulwich who were dealing with it. Despite it being in Sussex now. Once the war was over, the majority of the kids came back but the college in Sussex kept it’s name.
    Perhaps a similar thing happened for those who had been housed/schooled in Greenwich – Cobham was a place evacuees went under the Greenwich banner, as such.

  12. sw says:

    Hatchford Park was a residential special school for severely disabled pupils. the building transferred across to Greenwich Education Service when the ILEA was abolished. The school accepted pupils from across inner London based on their needs.

    The building was set in it’s own grounds with a swimming pool, staff houses and a long drive. The building is still visible from the M25, but only in the winter. The house was build for a rich industrialist towards the end of the 19th Century but soon became an institution, as so did a lot of other large houses, when their owners ran out of money during the beginning of the 20th Century.

    It became a teacher training college, hospital and convalescence home during the world wars. Finally ending up as a residential school. ILEA has quite a few similar buildings and centres that were distributed to the London Boroughs during 1990. After it was closed, it remained empty for a few years before being sold to a developer.

    Interested buyers appeared from all the world, due to its close proximity to Central London and leafy Surrey. It almost become a Russian ballet school but that offer fell through. Not long after it was eventually sold it caught fire but apparently it has now been rebuilt.

  13. [...] couple of weeks ago we were talking about a school in Surrey that was briefly owned by Greenwich Council and we were discussing other places the council owned [...]