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?