The Twickenham Museum

Fortescue House School 1937 - 1971

This school was one of the original Shaftesbury Homes for boys. It was first established in 1878 in the original Fortescue House which stood at the junction of Amyand Park Road (previously Shoe or Shews Lane) and London Road in Twickenham.

The house was probably named after Lord Fortescue, an early resident.

In 1937 the boys from Fortescue House moved to Wellesley House in the Hampton Road, previously occupied by the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage. The extensive grounds were bordered by Wellesley, Hampton and Stanley Roads. Many of the boys from the Police Orphanage stayed on and joined the boys from Fortescue House.

The school now took the name of Fortescue House School. It was also known as a 'barrack school' since the Shaftesbury Homes (from its various schools) provided 200 trained and disciplined boys for the armed services each year.

The main buildings were demolished and the land redeveloped with housing in 1971.

Former pupils remember

Bob Ray writes:

Detail: I cannot remember in what year I first attended Fortescue House, around 1943/4 I would estimate and left in 1951 when I reached 15. I quite enjoyed my years there certainly I have no impression of any real negatives. I remember shortly before I left doing duties in a small room adjacent to the front door to answer it to callers. If I remember correctly the houses, whilst I was there, were Greeks, Romans, Trojans and Saxons, rather an odd selection. I remember that if it was raining, playtime would be held in the big hall with a stage at the end, this hall also contained numbered lockers for all the pupils, mine was number 57, a number I have since used all my life as it is so easy for me to remember.
I was also in the cadets where I learnt how to shine boots the army way. this became very useful when I did my National Service.
I have many memories of my time there, far too many to recall here.


Harold Rushton writes: I attended the above school from 7/1/1947 to approx. 13/9/1950 when I was transfered to Bisley,still part of Shaftesbury Homes but I must say my time spent @ Fortescue was the happpiest and most memerable of my entire school life. I know many of the boys found it unpleasant but I wish my entire school life had ben @ Fortescue House. Yes it like most schools had bad staff but in general times were good. Yes treatment of children just would not be allowed in todays world but times then didn't do me any harm. Yes if funds had been available my children would have attended a boarding school & I feel they would have done better than they have done.
Telephone: 01775-767863

Kenneth Larner remembers the school in Fortescue House in the London Road, in 1935: I entered the School When it was in Twickenham on the 9th November 1935.At the age of eight. MR Pearce(Kenny)the boys called him.Was the headmaster an ex army Major. The school and us boys moved to the old Police Orphanage at Strawbury Hill in 1937.I believe a cinema was built on the old site. Shortly after the 2nd world war broke out we were joined by the boys from the Gordon Boys Army School. I was enrolled in the school army cadets wearing the uniform of the Gordon Boys blue trousers and red tunics. At the age of twelve I was working part time learning to repair the shoe's of the boys and by the time I left at the age of 14 making shoes as well. Other boys worked in the tailors shop. I went on to the other Shaftsbury Home at 164 Shaftesbury Avenue London where I undertook 3yrs apprentership for Cordwainers city and guild.

Peter Perrin writes"I was a boy at this school for 4 years from 1943 until I left aged 14 in 1947. I remember the Headmaster's name: Mr Pierce or Pearce, some of the Housemasters: Mr Spillman, Mr Hamlin, Mr Page (the tailor), Horobin and a day teacher: Miss or Mrs Emerson. My time at the school was during World War 2 and I remember a flying bomb [doodlebug] exploding on the playing field. We were moved twice for safety reasons, first to a disused army camp at Bucklesham near Ipswich and then to a Bevan Boys Camp in Pontefract Yorkshire. The school had its own air raid shelters and I remember spending quite a lot of time in them. I think the school had about 200 boys living-in, some of whom came from the Channel Islands fleeing the Nazi occupation."
Telephone: 01708 403325

George Pickering writes: I attended this school in the 50's with lots of boys that are on the web site with lots of pictures of the grounds and students. It seems to me that alot of the history of this school has been lost in time, as we all attended St. Marys Parish Church, making weekly walks on Sundays and sitting in the balconies for all to see.(That is the engravings in the seats) I guess we are forgotten to the people of Twickenham for some reason. We have been getting together the last three years in Twickenham. Any pictures you may have of the school would be nice for us to see. Regards, George Pickering Tomlinson. Great Falls Montana USA.
Telephone: 1-406-788-6799

"I was at this school from 1959-1961. I had come from Oldham Lancs. It seemed that most of us came from broken families and I was told that I was lucky to be there. I did enjoy lots of sports and the walk to St Mary's church on Sunday. Apart from church, going to Bushy park was the only time we were out of the school grounds."

Edward Backler writes: I went to this school between 1964 - 1968. Had visit from The Queen Mother (Don't think she liked the look of me). Shorted out the the main electric feed. I liked the place! Boys will be boys !!"

Gerald Jones writes: I was a pupil in this school from 1942 to 1947. I remember the war years vividly. Spent many a night in the air raid shelter. If we could evade the housemasters we would climb onto the roof of the top band annex and watch the raids over London. A flying bomb hit the playing field and blew all the windows in at the back of the school. I was in the ablutions in a bath when it happened. Several of the boys were badly injured by flying glass, but I was uninjured. After the next bomb landed on a pub near the river, we were evacuated to Bucklesham, right alongside an american bomber base. We used to count the bombers and fighters taking off and count them coming back. There were always fewer returning than left. We were moved again to Pontefract, alongside the Wilkinson liquorice factory. The girls used to throw boxed of sweets over the chain link fence for us poor orphans. Can remember many of the housemaster's of that time. Mr Spillman (Spillbeans) Mr Hall (Gaffer) Mr Heywood (Twiggy) Mr Page (Froggy) Mr Merrit Mr Hamlin (JAH)from his initials, Mr Bastin (Spike)very tall man. Mr Pierce (Major)headmaster, and the RSM who was the drill sergeant and known only as TEN TA. When he ordered the parade to attention it came out to us as TEN TA. Mr Parvin, Mr Horovitch, and Ms Emerson are well remebered from the schoolteachers. All fondly remembered, even now I am in my 70's.

Mitch Johnson writes: I don't remember the exact time I was there. It was in the late 60's early 70's. What I remember the most is when Benny Hill came to the school to film some episodes of his show. I also remember Guy Fawkes night, it was always incredible.

Stephen B P Frankling writes: My brother John and I started at Fortescue in 1952 and left in 1955 to go to Bisley Boys School, in Bisley Surrey. Bisley also a Shaftesbury Home was later converted into a Prison ! We were very happy at Fortescue House, this was shown in our letters home. I was not an orphan, my parents however were both in the forces, and away most of the time. My first day I received a block of dates, as a sweet, I never forgot this. I climbed every tree in the school grounds, the cedars, the chestnuts etc. This was the fifties, and just after the war, children were treated very well then,people had seen enough dead children to last them their life timetime. I took my Daughter to see the grounds three years ago. Most of the trees are still there, the playing fields, and lots of the out-buildings. I liked the small Church of England School that replaced Fortescue. A humble but happy start to life, all my letters home and my brother John also agrees happy carefree days. I went on to Imperial College. London. Studied Geological Sciences. But went on to be a Certified Accountant, which I am still. John studied at Southampton University. Became a boffin in the brain department ! Our Father was born in Edmonton Workhouse. London. Our Mother a servant in a large house. John and I have both been married over 30 years each. Have a happy relationship with our children, my daughter still at home after University. So you see it's not your start, it's how the world has treated you. We were lucky enough to have our start from Shaftesbury Homes. Which I have always been grateful for.
Telephone: 01189 423151

Lindsey Mann writes: What a miserable place. A few good masters and a few who should have been imprisoned!!!! It should have been closed down years before it was. I was there for 11 yrs, and feel that it was like a prison sentence.

Stephen Hobden writes "I was a pupil at this school from 1956 to about 1965. I can remember the Headmaster who was Mr Ollerenshaw. When I was 19 I joined the Royal Artillery, and wrote to Mr Ollerenshaw as an 'old boy' to let him know my progress in life. He replied to my letter; and it transpired he himself was in the Royal Artillery and retired with the rank of Major. Some many years later, I had occasion to visit Twickenham, and went to see the school. To my bitter disappointment, it was gone! There is now a housing estate on the site. Many happy memories, and some bad ones as well which I won't mention. The school also had a training ship TS Arethusa, in Kent, which the pupils went to in the summer holidays."
Telephone: 07915236114

Michael Bourne writes: I was at this school from 1954 to 1965, My best friends were David Warren,John Hughes and Paul Cook we were very close mates,i remember visiting days being the first saturday in every month and often went out with Davids mum.The head was Mr.G.Ollerenshaw also remember alot of the staff ,Mr.White the art teacher,Mr.Page the taylor,Mr.Asquith the games teacher,the Rev Briscoe the chaplin.also Dr,Sherman.i have a lot of good and bad memories about the place you neaded your friends there,mine were great shame we lost touch. Email:
Telephone: 07922049549

Anthony Grant writes: I went to FHS in 1956, and left in 1958 when I passed the old 11 plus exam. My best friend there was called Alan Butterfield who used to sing in the school choir, we lost touch after I left> My brother was also there, his name is Clive, I think he left a year later. My first form master was a Mr Cook, then later Mr (Jack ) Horner, House master was a Mr Redfern, who left while I was there. Does anybody remember Mr Rowbotham? he formed a morris dancing team for some bizzare reason, I was fortunate? enough to be in it, we went to other schools to do demonstrations etc. Bonfire nights were always a delight, blazing torchlight parades, and the fireworks.the website is a bit bare, but if anybody remembers me please get in touch.

Evan Jones writes: I was transferred to this school from the Royston one, probably around 1947/8, and subsequently moved to Bisley round about 1952/3. My memories of F.H.S. were of long hot summers, good sports facilities and a few good mates. Having read previous experiences on this website, none of them have mentioned one of my vivid memories : At lunch time (& other times ?) a boy would march out in front of the main building & play a bugle call, to denote "time", much like a school ma'am would blow a whistle in the playground, to get the kids in! I remember we were in "Houses", but strangely I cannot remember the names of them. I can remember the Bisley ones tho. I also remember the walks to Church on Sundays, and through Bushey Park, where we used to stop briefly to watch the club cricketers. I remember also, my mum, who lived in London, would come down and take me out to tea, in Twickenham, by the River, and Eel Pie Island. The miserable feelings of homesickness would then assault my senses, when she took me back to the school. I never knew my father, and as an only child,I suppose it was better for me to be in a boarding school, but at the time, I was pretty unhappy. I finally left school at 15 (from Bisley), and within two years I had joined the RN, in which I served for 23 years. Thence 15 years service with the Police. Now retired and living in N.Devon, been married for 43 years in January. Two daughters, and 8 grandchildren. My name at school was Evan Corner (now Evan Jones).

Rupert Jenkins writes: I attended the school with my brother Simon for just two terms, late 1960-61 or 61-62. I was only 8 or 9 and I hated the place. It seemed very Dickensian to me. I remember the smell of stewed swede in the dining hall, the boys dressed in grey sweaters and shorts, what seemed like an enormous hall where the headmaster would occassionally cane a runaway. We got a one shilling "tab" to spend on sweets or stationary each week. My brother and I thought we were going on an adventure when we were enrolled and had no idea that it was a school for kids from broken homes (our mother had died and our father couldn't cope with us); we had visions of a holiday camp like Butlins - when we arrived it was a terrible shock. I remember cold Saturday mornings outside in the quad, old movies with hot chocolate in the hall Saturday nights, crocodile walks along the river, an old rocking horse in the junior's room (Rosebud anyone?) and yes, bonfire night with the torch parade. We were so happy to get out of that place!

Keith Robinson writes:

I attended FHS from about 1954-57 then went to Bisley from about 1957-59 and then finished my schooling back at FHS when Bisley was closed. The 'New Dormitories' were added as I recall when we 'Bisley Boys' returned! I entered Fortescue House as a 'dunce' and graduated with 6 'O' level GCEs (the most that had been achieved at that time, a fact of which which I am still proud!). When I found this website and started reading the letters, the memories just came flooding back. Ollerenshaw (olly) Rowbotham (roughbum) Haywood (twiggy) Horner (little Jack) Cook (??) Edwards (??) Humphries (don't remember a knickname;he had a Beagle and he would hit you if you sang 'greensleeves',something to do with an old girlfriend). Ollerenshaw was headmaster. Haywood, Humphries, Redfern were housemasters. I was in Ashley house at FHS and Greek house at Bisley. Rowbotham taught History and Geography. Horner taught Mathematics. Cook taught Science. Mr.Edwards wife was the nurse in 'sick bay' she was beautiful and I'm sure I was one of many teenage boys that fell in love with her! I have lived in Canada since 1969 and holiday in England every 3-5 years. On my first return trip I visited FHS and it was the day it was closing! Guy Fawkes night, competitive sports teams, smoking on the roof, walks by the river on weekends, visits to Eel Pie Island; most of my memories are happy ones!(except being on the dentist list!). Paul Parkin was our school sports 'star' in athletics and rugby. Walking to church in 1961 I saw my first E-type Jaguar. I have a panoramic photo circa March '58 from Bisley if anyone is interested. I had two main friends: Trevor Collier (good kid) and Clive Beasley (a bully, bad kid) but we all had fun. I live near Vancouver now and will be in England in 2008 or 2009 and would be pleased to hear from any of my peers.


Barry Holloway writes:

I was at Fortescue House from 1964 to 1971 when it closed. I was in Jersey House the master was Mr Midgley. The headmaster was Mr Ollernshaw, art teacher was Mr White, wood work teacher Mr Kneebone (chippy) sports teacher was Mr Davis.
Boys I remember were Peter Coles (he lost his short during the swimming gala) John Clark, Sidney Spencer, (had a brother called Paul). I was there with my brother (Ivan).
While I was there I thought it was hell but as I have got older I realise it stood me well in later life, they taught me right from wrong and to respect my elders.
I remember the ATS Arethusa, I was there in 1966 when we watched the World Cup in colour. Could never forget Bonfire Night and the parade. Also remember walking to St.Marys church every sunday after breakfast with boiled eggs in our pockets to eat during long service. I also remember the tuck shop with its tokens, will not forget the weekend we made our own tuck tokens from a John Bull set, when we finally got caught we all got caned but not before emptying most of the stock. When the school closed in 1971 they kept 30 or 40 boys in dwellings behind the kitchen in Stanley Road by the Lord Nelson pub, we were sent to different local schools (I went to Hampton School) until I left aged 16.

Victor Knight (formerly Steiner) writes:

I remember attending Fortescue House School from 1945 to 1950. The houses were Roman, Trojan, Greek and Saxons. Some of the teachers were: Mr Pierce and his wife, Piggy Souton, Mr Page the tailor, Mr Horobin,  Mr Horovitch  and a rather attractive school secretary (Miss Smith, I think) - we used to think was rather a 'dish' The education standard was quite good (I was only caned once!). The school homework was conducted in the classrooms. I joined the school band and the Bandmasters from the nearby Royal Military School of Music (RMSM) used to come and recruit the band-boys into the army bands. I joined an army band in 1950 and went straight from school into the army. I served for 25 years, playing at such venues as the Queen's Coronation (1952), the Queen's garden party and numerous seaside bandstands. I also remember the Sunday walk to church in Twickenham and our weekly attendance to the Twickenham open-air swimming pool. We also did long walks to Bushey Park in 'crocodile' formation.  I recall the annual Open Day Galas, when the parents would watch the parade of cadets led by the band, swimming (we had our own pool) and gymnastic displays. Other memories are sneaking out of our dormitory to go mid-night swimming and the 'Stinker's ' dormitory (I think we were pretty cruel.)  The dorm I was in had a big coloured glass window depicting the Prince of Wales feathers (ich dien).  Mr Pierce had a fruit garden, and we boys picked the fruit when they were ready (no eating of the fruit mind)!  We made dens on the playing field, digging big holes and stripping the trees of branches and grass to make the roof. I remember my locker number was 81, which like a previous letter writer, I still use today in web passwords. I was one of the trumpeters who would march out and sound the call to meal times, there was a big 'monkey puzzle' tree in the grounds. Many more memories are: run-away boys who let the Headmaster's car tyres down before they absconded,- our handkerchiefs were called 'stooks'- happy times spent in the shoe shop, metal and woodwork rooms,- making our own way down to Strawberry Hill train station to start our holidays (what bliss - freedom!),- visiting the Pears soap factory,- watching Korky the Cat films and travel talks by some chap who had been to the Straits of Malacca in the recreation room,- cleaning rows of black school shoes in the open fronted shed in the yard.  I too, went back to have look at the old school, only to find that it (and the monkey tree) had been demolished and housing erected on the site. One of the new streets is named Fortescue. All in all, enjoyed my time there, we were well looked after and discipline instilled in us. When one hears of some of the horror stories of modern day schools, I, for one, am grateful.