Edward Betham's Gift
In 1780, Edward Betham was 71 and only 3 years away from dying. For some reason which we don't know, he had a really good idea!
He decided to give some of his money to found a school for the poor children of Greenford. Perhaps he was a kind man who wanted to help other people? Perhaps he had a vision of what education might do to change the life of the village children? Whatever the reason, we are all here at Edward Betham School because in 1780, Edward Betham gave £1600 of his own money to build a school and pay the teacher so that poor boys and girls could go to school for free. In those days, £1600 was a very large sum of money indeed.
The school house was what we now call 168 Oldfield Lane, the white building close to the Nursery classroom of the Infant Department. The central section was built first. Then, as more children wished to take advantage of the school, the two outer wings were opened to create more space.
The school worked well for many years, but slowly, the population of Greenford started to grow. For over 100 years the school continued in the house built by Edward Betham in Oldfield Lane, providing an education for the children of Greenford, Perivale, Northolt and Hanwell.
In 1876 Betham's school became an Elementary Public School in accordance with the Education Act of that year. Two years later, as the old school house was becoming overcrowded, the Inspectors made further grants conditional on new school buildings being provided and these were built on Rickyard Field, a little further along Oldfield Lane.
'For over 100 years the school continued in the house built by Edward Betham in Oldfield Lane, providing an education for the children of Greenford, Perivale, Northolt and Hanwell.'
This phase of building included two classrooms underneath the clock tower and a small building with two more classrooms , which we now use as the Nursery, with a large playground between them. So, on 29th April 1878 the School assembled in the New Building after the Easter Holidays. This was a building of brick with a clock tower and a bell which was rung at 8.45 a.m.
This is the building which we now know as the Edward Betham Infant department. People sometimes call this building the "Clock School."
The Boys and Girls toilets were in the playground. The other parishes now had to provide their own schools, although children still seem to have come from Perivale, Northolt and Hanwell to school in Greenford, much as they do today.
In 1925 when Albert Blount was appointed headmaster, the school was still housed in the two rooms of the clock tower building. Because of the increasing numbers of pupils the school decided to hire rooms in the Village Hall.
In 1932, a Hall was built after financial subscriptions from the Church and other organisations. This is what we now call the Infant Hall. It was built as a Village Hall and was used for dances and other social activities as well as for children. At this time, Betham School was an Elementary school, educating children from 5- 13 but soon after, it was made into an Infant School and children arrived aged 5 and then crossed the Oldfield Lane at the age of 7 to be educated in Coston Junior School, or one of the other local Junior schools.
In 1975, the Betham Trustees sold the original school house, and with a loan from the London Diocese, purchased Coston School for Boys from the London Borough of Ealing. They did this in order to provide a Middle school for children leaving the First school. The Coston School for Boys was opened by the Bishop of Willesden as Betham Middle School with Mr. Colin Neville as the first Head Teacher. That is the building we now call Edward Betham Junior Department.