FORMER students and teachers are gathering next week to mark the 75th anniversary of Pinner County Grammar School, which taught more than 7,000 pupils over the years.
The Beaulieu Drive school opened in 1937 as Pinner County School and later became Pinner County Grammar, then was Pinner Sixth Form College until its closure in 1982 after a long battle with the authorities.
Among the musical alumni are Reg Dwight, from Pinner, better known as Elton John, and Simon Le Bon from 80s pop band Duran Duran and Ron Goodwin, who wrote a number of scores for famous films, though it was not a specialist music school.
It has a thriving Old Students group which is bringing out a book to mark the special anniversary.
Joyce Quarrie has been editing the book, which is a collection of photographs and memories from over the years and said many former pupils look back fondly over their time there.
The 61-year-old, who was at the school in the 1960s and now works as a freelance editor, said: “I am always amazed about what people remember. I think the reason people have such strong memories and feelings about the school can be related back to something that the first headmaster said.
“It was really simple and he talked about kindness. He said: ‘Kindly actions, true friendships and real sportsmanship will mean that future recollections will be happy ones’, meaning that if you are a nice, decent person then your life will continue to be happy and that pretty much sums up the ethos of the school.
“So many people have fond memories. My best friends are still my best friends from school, we are still all pals and go away together and celebrate birthdays together.”
After many of the ex-pupils and staff became connected over the internet in the late 1990s, the Old Students community began to grow, which has led to many more reunions and a book for people to keep for posterity.
Ms Quarrie, who said she was always in trouble at school for not wearing her beret, said: “After [the website] Friends Reunited came along people all came together.
“People are really interested in the history of the school.”
A common theme of these shared memories is the dedication of the teachers.
She said: “All the staff were fantastic.
“I am just putting the finishing touches on the book and it has really shown how much work they put in.
“They probably didn’t get paid for all this extra-curricular stuff they did like organising trips and after school clubs.
“We are up to about 45 societies and there was no way I could include all of them in the book as there were just too many.”
Eric Dodge, of Nower Hill, Pinner, was assistant headteacher and taught geography at the school from 1961 until it closed in 1982.
The 86-year-old said: “It was really an excellent and very caring school.
“The way it was run was fabulous, with a great educational atmosphere and everyone joining in with things. That was part of the culture, I did a lot of rugby and athletics and all the teachers were involved with other activities.
“It was a very happy place with a wonderful headteacher and when people came to the school they really enjoyed being there. It was one of the best schools in the borough.”
Margaret Stevenson, 86, started the year the school opened.
The Newcastle resident said: “I particularly enjoyed French and we had such great opportunities.
“I am still in touch with my French pen pal and one year I cycled from Pinner to the Lake District with a group of French girls who had come over.
“I also remember a term when the boys and girls swapped and we did woodwork and things like that and the boys all did cooking and sewing. That was really great fun.”
She added: “It was a wonderful school to go to. We all led happy lives and made great friends. We weren’t angels though, and I do remember a lot of high jinks going on.”