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Lochinver House

Our History

History of Lochinver House Preparatory School

Lochinver House Preparatory School was first established as an independent boys' prep school in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire in 1947 in the large house and its present location. It was initiated by Mr Bayley who, on the relocation of Ayelsford House Private School to Sandridgebury when its lease expired, had decided to establish a separate school more accessible to the boys from Enfield and Potters Bar.  As a speculation he bought the house at Potters Bar complete with the name ‘Lochinver’ on its broken gateposts. The house itself, (which would have been pulled down but for the war and bomb damage), was being used by a pharmaceutical firm as a warehouse for Nivea Cream and bomb. In May 1947, Mr Bayley asked Willoughby Salter, an existing Aylesford parent to take on the leadership of this new venture. Mr Salter’s first job was to camp in the building in order to clear its broken contents and to make repairs. With materials hard to come by, due to post-war shortages, he utilised naval packing cases to repair floors and windows.

By the evening of Saturday 27th September 1947, the first room was decorated and a kitchen established to working order. Thus the Salters were able to invite the parents of their prospective pupils on Sunday 28th, and even to give them tea while Mr Salter outlined his plans. Surprisingly everyone invited turned up and all agreed that their sons would begin two days later. There were six boys from Aylesford House, and thirty other boys. More boys were accepted each term, and the following September the school opened with 96 boys.

The school colours, pink and grey, were the same as Aylesford House, so that the six boys from that school could continue to wear the same uniform, and new boys could be supplied from existing stocks modified only by the appropriate change of badges on caps and blazers. Of interest to note is that at one stage when pink dye was found to be unsatisfactory, a proposal for change was put to parents at a meeting, but not one of them favoured any alternative.

The school had the use of a football field at Little Heath, and in the summer could play cricket at Northaw; and later when Mount Grace School was being built were allowed to make a pitch on part of the land designated for their playing fields. It was three years before Lochinver House was able to buy the land around the school. Meanwhile mortar rubble salvaged from a number of derelict greenhouses near the school building, was used to make a small playground.

Probably the most critical time in the school’s history was around about 1950, when even the optimistic Mr Bayley nearly gave up the struggle; but Mr and Mrs Salter determined on a final effort. During that period they got the school inspected and recognised by the Ministry. They also succeeded in running the school on its fees and by Easter 1953, had made a profit of £7. At the end of that school year Willoughby Salter formally took over the school. Between 1955 and 1957 he made plans to pass it over to a Trust when the time came for him to retire in 1961.

Since 1961 a great deal of development has taken place.  Under the headships of Michael Timpson (7 years), William Herbert (2), Richard Armitage (19), Patrick Atkinson (11), Jeremy Gear (9), and Ben Walker (current) the Sports Hall (1980), the Salter Block (1988, which has developed into the Pre-Prep Department), the Dining Hall and Theatre complex (1998) which was developed from what was the gymnasium (1970) and a Music Centre (1985) have been built. An ecology area was added in 2006. Many other areas of the school have been reconstructed to keep the school moving forward. The playing fields at the bottom of Green Meadow were purchased in the early 1980s, providing extensive facilities for all the major sports. All-weather facilities for long and high jumps were built by the PE and ground staff in 1985, updated and re-laid in 2006 and re-opened by Commonwealth silver High Jump medallist Martyn Bernard. In the summer of 2010 a complete modernisation of our 2 Science labs took place. In 2011 our Pre Prep ‘Dream Garden’ was established by the PTA and in November 2011 our Music rooms were extended and opened by Laura Wright (Soprano).

In 2014 the Sports Hall block was substantially extended and refurbished to create larger Computing and DT Rooms, to add an RS room, new changing rooms and to reconfigure and improve the general internal provision. Such luminaries as Sir David Willcocks, Lord Putnam, John McCarthy (an old boy), Norris McWhirter (a parent) and Stephen Mangan (past Head Boy) have been prevailed upon to open or lay foundation stones for the new constructions.

The Headboys’ Charities lead the fundraising for those less fortunate, involving all boys from Year 3 upwards in the decision-making process. These began in 1997, led by Anthony Tyndale (32 years’ service to the school). By 2015 they had raised in excess of £350,000. Indeed in June 2014 Anthony Tyndale, the now retired Deputy Head, was invited to have Tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.