Royal opening 80th anniversary

Royal opening 80th anniversary

Queen Elizabeth’s School this term celebrated the 80th Anniversary of the official opening of its main building on the present site.

On 3rd November 1932, Prince George, fourth son of King George V, was the Royal Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony and symbolically unlocked the School’s front door.

The School has been digging through the archives to discover how it was reported at the time.

QE had made its home on Wood Street in Barnet from 1573, but by 1929 “it was decided that the accommodation of the old school was inadequate for modern needs …The Hertfordshire County Council therefore decided to erect entirely new school buildings worthy of the traditions of the old” (from the official Opening Ceremony Programme). The former School building on Wood Street, Tudor Hall, remains the oldest building in Barnet.

There was much excitement generally in Barnet on the day of the Royal visit. The Barnet Press of 5th November 1932 reported: “This was the first ceremonial visit of Royalty to Barnet, and the Prince had a most enthusiastic reception. Flags floated gaily from the principal buildings in the town, and the main streets formed a perfect panorama of decorative designs, all signifying a warm welcome to the Royal visitor….’Here comes the Prince!’ was the joyful message passed along the large concourse of people assembled in the grounds of the new Grammar School…” Once at the School, the official Programme provides that “The Prince George will unlock the door of the School with a key to be presented by the architect, and proceed to the main Hall.” There followed speeches and a hymn: “Prince George was received with prolonged applause when he rose to make his speech.

He said: “I am very pleased to be here today to open the new buildings of this historical school… here you have a fine range of classrooms, laboratories, hall, and gymnasium; also a large playing field… the modern school system… offers an opportunity for all those attending public elementary schools to obtain, by competition, a free place at a grammar school. Then it offers access to the universities, and is a stepping stone from elementary schools to these seats of learning. The excellent results… bear out the success of this system… I now, therefore, have great pleasure in declaring these buildings to be open, in the hope that within their walls new generations will carry on the fine traditions of the last three hundred and fifty years.” (from the local News Chronicle, 4th November 1932)

Prince George, accompanied by the Headmaster E.H. Jenkins and various dignitaries, “then made a tour of inspection of the new building. The Prince displayed a keen interest in the various departments, and a great admiration for the general planning and equipment of the school”. The company were then “provided with refreshments from buffets installed in the dining hall and gymnasium. From 5 p.m. onwards the school was opened to the public for inspection, and large numbers of people took the opportunity.” (News Chronicle).

Since 1932, many additions have been made to the School site, including the Fern and Heard buildings, the Friends’ Music Room, the Clark Laboratories, the Martin Swimming Pool and the Shearly Hall. The new Food Technology suite has recently been completed, and work is underway to create a new Library and Dining Hall.