Central High School, Bushy Park was created when the high school was split from the Bushy Park Dependents School. For the initial eleven years Central High which would become London Central High was located at Bushy Park, adjoining Hampton Court Palace at Teddington, Middlesex. The buildings for the high school were part of a converted military installation which had housed General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s headquarters during World War II. During the first years, both dormitory and day students attended the school.
The 1955 yearbook has a picture of the school. According to the 1957 Vapor Trails:
The initial morning of its official existence dawned on Central High school with scurrying teachers frantically laying bricks, stitching curtains, hammering, cleaning—unsuccessfully trying to finish the school buildings before the first semester began.
The atmosphere changed during the next year from uncertainty to a pervading feeling of establishment, almost permanency. The Senior Class acquired the beginnings of a tradition: the class trip.
During the third year the National Honor Society came to Central, bringing with it confidence in the scholastic standards of the school.
Central’s fourth year was in many ways a fulfillment. Despite overcrowding, both in the dorm and in the school, an epidemic of measles, and even the Junior Revue, we managed to graduate a class of about seventy people. Several of them had been here throughout the previous four years, thus ending Central’s “apprenticeship” as a high school.
The fifth year almost seemed like a repetition of the first. School unfinished; teachers in work clothes; all just as before. It soon became clear that a change was in the air—no more lockers to stumble against; new classrooms; more teachers, and a new administration. The surface is still turbulent with people coming and going, new faces appearing and the old faces becoming fewer—but underneath there is a unity which continues and grows stronger.
The first principal for Central High, Bushy Park was Mr. V. Edgar Farned. The faculty numbered eighteen and there were approximately two hundred seventy-five students in grades nine through twelve. The girls’ dorm held between sixty-five and eighty students and the boys’ dorm had between seventy and eighty students. There were many extracurricular activities available to the students. These activities included clubs for International Relations, Industrial Arts, Arts, Debating, Library and Panamericano. Sports activities included cheerleading and boys’ basketball.
The enrollment remained about three hundred for the next two years. The summer of 1954 the dorms, which had been WAF barracks, were redecorated and updated for the students. The National Honor Society and Junior Red Cross were organized during the 1954-55 school year as well as foreign language clubs, a film club and a printing club.
For the 1956-57 school year grades seven (five sections) and eight (three sections) were added to the school. The seventh and eighth grades were only at the school for one year. The new administrative team was Dr. Albert A. Simay, principal, Mr. Raymond Forstan, vice-principal and Mr. Warren Fairman, vice-principal for the junior high school. Central High School now had thirty-nine faculty members and twelve dorm supervisors. The enrollment for grades nine through twelve was almost four hundred students. Several competitive team sports were added including rugby and volleyball for boys, girls’ hockey and volleyball and a junior high soccer team for boys.
According to Bill Cooper, a student at the school, about half of the classrooms in the Central High buildings had double doors that opened to the outside. In the early autumn and spring, the doors would be opened to the outside to provide the best and only kind of air conditioning in 1950’s England. The building was also remembered by some for silliness such as the yellow line down the middle of the main hallway and the traffic arrows. In the autumn of 1956, the principal decided that the best way to cut congestion in the hall was to remove the lockers, paint a yellow stripe down the middle of the hall and paint arrows on either side to show students where to walk.
For the 1957-58 school year the high school had grown to encompass the entire block and there were almost five hundred students in grades nine through twelve. The girls’ dorm was called Thames Hall and the boys’ dorm was Hampton Hall. Miss USA and Miss Utah visited the school. Mr. John Edward Harris was the assistant principal.
The next school year, the administrative team was principal Harold Matthews and assistant principal Marie Woerner. The school reached a peak enrollment of 700 students. Both dormitories had an annex added. For the first time, the high school had a football team. It was flag football since the competition was from squadrons on the base.
The last year of the school there were thirty-seven teachers and the high school offered forty-nine different courses. The school had a regular tackle football team for the first time.
At the end of the 1962 school year, Central High School was moved to Bushey Hall.
Information from school yearbooks and DoDDS School Information Guides