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Celebration of 'girl power' as Bromley High turns 130

PUBLISHED: 14:05 28 February 2013 | UPDATED: 14:05 28 February 2013

A classroom scene from Bromley High School in 1911.

A classroom scene from Bromley High School in 1911.

Archant

In the same year Bromley High School first opened its gates, the Orient Express made its first journey, Life magazine was first published and Italian dictator Mussolini was born.

l to r Tazkia Rahman 17,Louise Simpson (Head),Claire Norton 17, Ajibola Alao 14, Eloise Bonds-Tschuetscher 11,Tamara Elliot 12 and Olivia Naish 12l to r Tazkia Rahman 17,Louise Simpson (Head),Claire Norton 17, Ajibola Alao 14, Eloise Bonds-Tschuetscher 11,Tamara Elliot 12 and Olivia Naish 12

Celebrating its 130th birthday this year, the school was opened in Elmfield Road by the Girls’ Public Day School Company to provide affordable day time schooling for girls.

At a time when Bromley had 15,000 residents and was a town covering just 4,700 acres, an emphasis was put on male education, as seen in the Bromley Directory of 1887.

Adverts for boys’ schools boasting Oxford graduate teachers and a focus on music and science contrasted with those whose only entry requisites were that they were “daughters of gentleman” and where they would not receive the same calibre of education.

Bromley High has a proud history of “believing girls can do anything they want,” says headteacher Louise Simpson, and despite relocating to Blackbrook Lane, in Bickley, back in 1981, Bromley High’s history can still be glimpsed if you know where to look.

Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking and Bromley High alumniMargaret Hodge, MP for Barking and Bromley High alumni

“The buildings might not have a feel of history, which is a shame, but we have tastes of the history around the school,” said Ms Simpson.

“We recently dug out the original school’s architectural designs, so we put them in a frame and we also have bits of brick work from the original building too.”

To mark the birthday, Ms Simpson is encouraging pupils and staff to give 130 minutes or hours to help the community.

Whether it’s carrying someone’s shopping, mowing lawns or running marathons – all good deeds will be counted for the pupils, who range from four-years-old to 18.

Ms Simpson said: “We spend a lot of time celebrating ourselves and our achievements, but it’s no real good if it doesn’t help anyone.

“Individually and in groups, our girls will go out and give something back to the community. This is a great way to mark the occasion.”

The school has had just 11 headteachers since 1883, including Ms Simpson, with some keeping their post for as long as 25 years.

Though predicting where she will be in 2025 might be a stretch too far, Ms Simpson maintains the school feels like home after three years.

“I had never worked in a girls’ school. It was a challenge yet I settled quickly.

“We had an inspection in my second week and it was a shock – but everyone pulled together and it gave me a benchmark to aim for.”

Bromley High has produced a list of illustrious alumni that range from prominent politicians to notable television directors.

The school will hope to invite its currently crop of students back in 20 years’ time as Olympians, political leaders and household names for the 150th celebrations.

n Are you a past pupil? Tweet us your memories @bromleytimes or email kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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