Return to About Us


History compiled by Mrs. P. Carnell and Mr. D.G. Pugh

Dean Henderson’s vision in 1930 was for a Church School for girls and one for boys. The senior departments of St. Michaels, Christ Church and The Abbey were to be incorporated to form the new schools. The Churches involved were St. Michaels, Christ Church in Verulam Road, The Abbey and St. Saviours.

The chosen site in Townsend Drive (now occupied by the Music School) was inspected and the raising of funds began, with parishioners subscribing freely.

The boys and girls took to school their “pennies for bricks”, giving from their pocket money, knowing that many of them would never attend the new building.

The Foundation Stone was laid in 1932 and the building began. In June 1933 a Fair opened by Princess Marie Louise was held in the Abbey Orchard and £1,000 was raised.

By September 1933 the building was completed, except for the Dining Hall, which was built later. There were no grounds staff but the boys worked during their gardening lessons and the girls spent their dinner hours taming the rough clay and creating a rockery, flower borders and a rose bed.

Miss Rollin was the first Head Teacher of the Girls’ School, with five members of Staff and 180 girls in five classes.

Mr. Watson was the Head Teacher of the Boys’ School with three members of staff and 111 boys in three classes.

The War period of 1939 – 1945 was a very difficult time. Once a week each member of Staff had to remain at school all night after a day’s teaching on “Fire Watch” and continue teaching the following day. Pupils kept their coats, gas masks and cushions in their desks so that in the event of an alert they were able to leave carrying their cushions and masks and enter the air raid shelters in perfect order and silence. Suitable lessons would continue in the air raid shelter until the “all clear” sounded and the pupils returned to their classrooms.

Miss Rowland took over as Head of the Girls’ School in 1953. Her enthusiasm, planning and endeavour led to the new building at High Oaks.

The Foundation Stone for the new building in High Oaks was laid in September 1963 and the opening of Townsend Girls’ School took place in June 1965.

Townsend Boys’ School took over the whole of the site in Townsend Drive, remaining there until July 1974.

In September 1974, Miss Legerton who had followed Miss Rowland as Head Teacher of the Girls’ School in 1973, became Head of the merged school. The official opening of the Townsend Church of England School at the High Oaks site, was performed by the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester in May 1975.

The Original “Foundation Stones” from the previous school sites, can be found in the “Founders Entrance”.

Early in 1979, The Heathlands School for the Deaf in St. Albans, set up a Secondary Department..

After approaching several other secondary schools in St. Albans unsuccessfully, they were welcomed by Townsend and their Secondary Department started using the Townsend School facilities in September 1979.

September 1983 saw the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the setting up of the first Townsend School.

In February 1987, Mrs. S. Greenfield became the Head Teacher and within eight weeks of her taking over, the school was threatened with closure by the Local Education Authority.

The next few years at Townsend were very stressful for everyone.

The threat of closure fused all those who loved Townsend into a dynamic driving force.

Students, past and present, teachers, parents and governors fought a long and vigorous campaign to keep the school open.

In 1991 the long term future of Townsend was finally secured.

September 1993, saw the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the setting up of the first Townsend School. The occasion was marked with reunions, a Charity Walk and a whole School photograph.

Mr. A. Wellbeloved our present Head Teacher was appointed in 1995. He already knew the school well, as he had been the Deputy Head Teacher for the previous four years.

In the 1990’s after the threat of closure had been removed from the School, the school numbers grew quickly.

Infact, the pupil numbers increased so quickly that there was not enough classroom space to house them.

In September 1996 a new building, housing the Learning Resources Centre, Sixth Form Study room and five English classrooms was opened. The official opening of the new building complex was performed by The Bishop of St. Albans, The Right Revd. Christopher Herbert in April 1997.

1996 also saw several classrooms converted for the specialist use of the Heathlands hearing impaired pupils.

Recent years have seen the continued growth in popularity of Townsend Church of England School, with all years in the School now being oversubscribed.

  • In 1999 and again in 2005 Townsend was awarded the prestigious “Charter Mark” for excellence in Public Service by the Prime Minister.
  • In 2008 Townsend was awarded the Gold “Sports Mark” for excellence in Physical Education.
  • In 2001 and again in 2005 Townsend gained the “Investors In People” award.
  • In 2002 and again in 2005 Townsend was awarded the Silver “Arts Mark” for excellence in Art, Drama and Music.

Townsend continues to go from strength to strength.

2003 - 70th Townsend Reunion

2003 – 70th Townsend Reunion

More than 700 students and staff from all of the decades, the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s were present at the 70th Anniversary Celebrations.

In 2008 Townsend gained the “Eco Schools” award.

Eco-Schools is an international award programme that schools can achieve on their sustainable journey. It helps embed these principles into the heart of school life.

In 2009 Townsend was awarded “Humanities Specialist School” status

Townsend Church of England School has been designated a Specialist Humanities School. As a Humanities School we strive to foster an understanding of human values and attitudes, past and present and how society is organised, developed and changed.

In 2010 Townsend gained the “International Schools” award.

The International School Award is an accreditation scheme for curriculum-based international work in schools. The award provides recognition for schools working to instill a global dimension into the learning experience of all children and young people.

In 2011 Townsend School remodelled the Learning Resources Centre which was built as part of a new development in 1997. This new remodelled area has been re-branded as the Discovery Centre and houses modern extensive IT and media facilities as well as an extended library facility.

In 2011 – 12 an “Eco” garden was developed beside the Music rooms. This garden was set up as part of the Schools Humanities Specialism. The garden is maintained by each subject area on a rolling programme and provides food for the Food Technology department and the main school canteen.

New Developments

In 2012 two major projects took place:

Sixth Form Centre

The creation of a dedicated Sixth Form Centre, which includes, a Study Room, Common Room, three Lecture Rooms all with wireless connectivity.

Technology Centre

The redevelopment and refurbishment of the Technology Centre, which houses: Electronics, Plastics, Food and Resistant Materials rooms in a modern dedicated centre.

2014 Saw the culmination of a long term external project

The Installation of an all-weather Canopy outside the Large Canteen and Covered Walkways between Technology and Science and Science and the main teaching centre

2015 The St Albans Music School relocates to the Townsend site

During the February half term, the St Albans Music School started migrating to the Townsend site. During the summer holidays the Music Centre and the western end of the main teaching block will be refurbished to meet the specialist needs of the Music School.

Things seemed to have moved full circle, as it was the Music School that moved onto the original Townsend School site in Townsend Drive when Townsend boys moved up to join the girls on the High Oaks site in 1974. It all feels just right!

Why not keep in touch? or by writing to Pat via Townsend School.

“Best Wishes
to All Past Students and Staff
From All at Townsend”