History of Kilmorie
Kilmorie Primary School was built in 1902 and has been through a number of incarnations over the past 100 years. The school's first incarnation was as Kilmorie Road School, spanning 1902 to 1939 and was a school for all ages of children from infants through to its senior school. It included provision for a ‘Manual Training Centre’ which gave boys essential skills to help them find work in local industry. The school expanded under local authority supervision in 1914, and remained a flourishing centre for the community into the 1930s. It included an adult learning centre, for ‘evening continuation classes’, and was competing in Musical Competitions from at least 1915, with rehearsals of the South London Orchestra taking place on Tuesday evenings.
The Second World War saw Kilmorie Road School being requisitioned for the war effort, with the RAF occupying the Infants' Department; a Warden’s Post in the playground and the Ministry of Works using it for vehicles. It was used as a temporary refuge for people made homeless by the Blitz, and itself was badly damaged by bombing between October 1940 and June 1941, with the rear of the school and a dozen houses in Elsinore Road destroyed, probably by a lethal parachute bomb (compare the photos from 1910 and 2017 to see the loss of the Edwardian facade).
After the war, the school became Kilmorie Secondary Modern, from 1947 through to 1964 and local residents recalled fond memories of being at school, playing on the bombsite at the back, and seeing it gradually rebuilt under the auspices of the headteacher Mr Wynn Jones, including an annex for cookery and housewifery.
In the mid-1960s this mixed school took on its third incarnation as a single-sex boys’ school. The newly created Roger Manwood Secondary, which was a merger of Kilmorie Secondary and Crofton Park Secondary. There was already talk in Parliament, by John Selwyn Gummer, in 1973 of Roger Manwood Secondary being used to relieve the pressure on schools, because of the shortage of spaces in Lewisham. The school apparently had a bit of a reputation in the area and pupils from Forest Hill Boys School remember the fear they felt when they heard that ‘the boys from Roger Manwood are outside’. But under the headship of Mr Morgan, it still held on to its musical tradition and even had a steel band.
1990 saw the opening of the fourth incarnation, Kilmorie Primary School, which shared the site with the Lewisham Education Centre. It has been a primary school for over 30 years and retains those characteristics that have kept it at the heart of the community of the ‘triangle’: its musical tradition is still thriving and Singmorie Voices is probably the biggest primary choir in Lewisham; it is still open for adults from the community to use the space for their own learning; it still has the creativity and flexibility that has meant it is able to reinvent itself with the needs of its community and it has expanded and improved its learning environments to accommodate the needs of Lewisham’s families whilst retaining its spark and special ethos.