The History of Tollington School

Now Fortismere School

The old school building in Tetherdown, now part of the much larger Fortismere School, used to be called Tollington School, but the name did not start in Muswell Hill. In 1879 William Brown, B.A., bought a school for 50 boys in Turle Road, near Finsbury Park. At that time Stroud Green was a new suburb, still being built, New streets were being completed each month, all full of parents ambitious for their children's success, but few secondary school places available. The Compulsory Education Act of 1870 had provided elementary education to the age of thirteen, but not Grammar Schools. These were still privately run, and too small to cope with the increasing demand, so the pressure for the few places was intense. Soon William Brown's School expanded, adding an extra floor and a chemistry lab in 1890. In 1897, a brand new building for 200 boys was opened in nearby Tollington Park. As each new street was built it added to the pressure for school places, so that this building too had to be expanded several times.

In 1901 Campbell Brown, son of the founder, established a school with the same name in Muswell Hill, to serve the new population flooding into this district. What Finshury Park had needed in the 1880s, Muswell Hill required twenty years later. The same name was given to both schools and they were regarded as parallel institutions. Campbell Brown took over 'Thorntons', a big house in Tetherdown which does not appear on the 1865 map, shown on the next page, but is on the 1894 one.

At that time the 'Waste', or common ground, beside Telherdown had been grazed for years, but only Muswell Lodge, Woodside, and one other house had been built on it. 'Thomton's is shown on the 1894 map as a large house set well back from the road, the road, with a large garden in front and a strip cut out of the Coldfall Woods behind, to make a T-shaped site. The Old Gravel Fit, where the geological finds mentioned in the St James School chapter had been made, was just behind the school. Tetherdown had been built up, with two rows of cottages and a few larger villas with fair-sized gardens.



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