Celebrating 50 years since the school's move to Elmbridge
Most old city schools have moved to more spacious premises away from crowded city centres. Sir Thomas Rich's is unusual in that it has moved twice. The original School, known as the Blue Coat Hospital, was in Eastgate Street where the Guild Hall now stands, and was accommodated in Sir Thomas Rich's family house. And it continued on this site when new buildings were erected for it in 1807.
In 1889, as the number of boys increased, the School moved to a larger site in Barton Street and further class rooms were added in succeeding years. The premises were rarely adequate and were described as deplorable following a Government inspection in 1946. They were then judged to be the worst of all secondary schools in the south-west of England!
But a poor environment did not prevent high achievement and it was in this setting that the character of the School was forged. The last class to complete its schooling at Barton Street included several future university professors, a Fellow of the Royal Society, which is the highest honour for a scientist in this country, and despite the two and half mile treck to and from the Elmbridge playing fields the School rugby team won the prestigious Oxford Sevens in 1963.
On 14 May 1964 the School moved for the second time, to new purpose built premises at Elmbridge and the challenge to the Headmaster Mr J. A. Stocks and Deputy Headmaster Mr G. R. Sheard was to ensure that the ethos of the old School continued on the new site.
To commemorate the move fifty years ago, a Service of Thanksgiving was held in the Cathedral on 14 May 2014. The School opened in the morning for all Old Richians who experienced the move to look around their former classrooms.