Markhouse Secondary Modern School, which served it’s local young people in a variety of guises over the near 100 years of its existence – including, between 1955 – 1977, the home of what became the Markhouse Drama Club!
Markhouse opened as a Secondary School in 1891 and was, at that time, under the auspices of the Essex County Council Education Department. It was one of the oldest schools in the Borough and, as can be seen from the inscription in the photograph in the Gallery below, it was rebuilt in 1907
The School primarily served the young people living around St James Street, Edinburgh Road/South Grove and parts of the Walthamstow Market area, although some pupils attended from a little further afield.
In the latter part of the 1950’s, Markhouse was amongst the very first to give secondary modern school pupils the chance to ‘stay on’ for a fifth year and sit for GCE examinations – an opportunity that gained increasing support from parents and, importantly, a growing level of successful results over the ensuing years. However, despite its pioneering role, Markhouse was not required to play a part within the re-organisation of secondary education in 1966 and this, regrettably, brought about its closure – with the last groups of pupils leaving in that same year
Fortunately the Markhouse doors were left ‘ajar’ and the premises were soon put to other educational purposes – including housing the ‘sitting tenants’ – the Drama Club – in the upper part of the main building. This development was linked to the nearby Marsh Street Youth Centre as part of the Walthamstow Youth Service ‘Evening Class’ programme – so it still very much remained a part of the aim of ensuring the personal development, skills and interests of the local young people. The lower floor became an Education Centre serving a variety of uses over the ensuing years, including at one time the Borough’s Multi Lingual Services and even – for a very short while – the Waltham Forest Youth Theatre!
Alas – all that is now left of the school, excepting our memories, is the front and rear gate posts and railings – as shown in the Markhouse School Gallery below!
Mark House School
- Markhouse School Gallery
- Films from Walthamstow Amateur Cine Video Club
- Markhouse School Teaching Staff
- Full Class & Class Groups Photographs
- Prize Giving & Speech Days
- School Teams
- Walthamstow Guardian & Walthamstow Independent Newspaper Reports
- McEntee Award Winners at Markhouse School & The Drama Club
- ‘The Headmaster’s View of Events’ Extracts from Les Smith’s account of his time at Markhouse School between 1957 – 1966
- The Closure of Markhouse as a School – What was this really all about?
- ‘A Farewell to Stan Raynor – Warden of the Marsh Street Youth Centre and Honorary Member of Mark House & The Drama Club!
Click all photographs to enlarge, scroll and see captions
Markhouse School Gallery
Films from Walthamstow Amateur Cine Video Club.
Cyril Malyon teaching in Room 4
Don Testro teaching in the Biology Room (Upper Hall)
Copyright:These two films are included on the website with the kind permission of the Walthamstow Amateur Cine Video Club
Full Class & Class Group Photographs
All of the above class photographs, and one of a group on a school Fieldwork Trip, include a good number of former MDC members – and several of the teaching staff. If you have any school photographs that you would like to see in this part of the website, then please get in touch via the Contact Page.
Prize Giving & Speech Days
Walthamstow Guardian & Walthamstow Independent Newspaper Reports
Markhouse School & Drama Club Members – The McEntee Awards
The McEntee Award Scheme was established in Walthamstow as a way of recognising the achievements of young people in the Borough – particularly in relation to their contribution to the school, college, club or community organisation to which they belonged – or indeed for their services to the wider community.
The Award was given annually to one young person in each Secondary School and one ‘from across the Borough’
The following Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper Reports are of several MDC members who received this award
1958 -‘McENTEE GIRL AND QUEEN’s GUIDE – NORMA GAINS A DOUBLE HONOUR’
Walthamstow Guardian Report: Norma Evans
A smiling Norma Evans shakes hands with Ald Lady McEntee as she receives the McEntee Award at Willowfield Secondary Girls School
‘Less than 24 hours after she had received the highest honour it is possible to gain in the Guides, 16 year old Norma Evans, of 31 Thorpe Crescent, Walthamstow was presented with the highest award it is possible for a Walthamstow schoolgirl to obtain – the McEntee Award
After being presented with the Queens Badge on Thursday evening, Norma received the McEntee Award from Ald Lady McEntee at Willowfield Secondary Girls School on Friday morning.
Norma, who moved to Willowfield School in 1953 from High Hill Primary School, received the award for her qualities of ‘loyalty, integrity, perseverance and service to others’
These qualities were listed by Ald S N Chaplin in a short biography of Lord McEntee and the story of the award which was instituted as a memorial to him in 1953. Cllr Mrs S Candy, chairman of the school governors, added ‘Norma Qualifies in every respect of this award’. After receiving the award, which consisted of a certificate and several books, Norma, who plans to become a teacher, said that she hoped that she could live up to all that had been said about her.
Among those present were Mrs I Phelps, leader of the 23rd Walthamstow Guides who had seen Norma receive her Queen’s badge from County Commissioner Miss E Blyth at Higham Hill Baptist Church the previous evening.
Norma, who gained the badge in the remarkably short time of three year, is a patrol leader and Sunday school teacher at the church’
1959 – JOHN GETS TOP SCHOOL AWARD.
Walthamstow Guardian Report: John Dunn
Sixteen year old John Dunn, head boy at Mark House Secondary School, Walthamstow, was presented with the coveted McEntee Award on Friday. The presentation was made by the Mayor, Alderman S N Chaplin, before a packed audience of boys and girls and members of the school staff, in the school hall
The Mayor, who was accompanied by the Mayoress, was introduced by the Headmaster Mr L A Smith. Also on the platform were Mr and Mrs Dunn
Alderman Chaplin said that he made a similar presentation at the school about twelve months ago and went on to explain why the award is made
The late Lord McEntee, he said, came from humble beginnings and rose to become a national figure. But throughout most of his life his greatest interest was in Walthamstow. He became the first Mayor of the borough in 1939 and was re-elected to the office for a second term in 1951. He died in 19**
He became chairman of most Council committee’s and was given the Freedom of the Borough. Another high honour he gained was the C.B.E. Alderman Chaplin added, ‘Although he was createda Baron to everyone in Walthamstow he was known simply as ‘Mac’
Mr Smith said that it had been a particularly difficult job choosing someone to receive the award. ‘Almost the whole of the fifth form had shown outstanding work’ he said, ‘and the fourth year have also done very well’
Award winning John, who lives in Theydon Street, Walthamstow, has been a Markhouse Road for five years. He was previously a pupil at St Saviours. When he levaes school next month he hopes to become a junior clerk in the Patents Office.
1962 -‘BOY FROM CYPRUS WINS McENTEE AWARD’
Walthamstow Guardian Report: Costakis Apostalides
For the fifth time in the history of Mark House Secondary School, Walthamstow, a boy has won the Lord McEntee Award. He is 15 year old Costakis Apostalides, of 11 Grove Road, Walthamstow, a Cypriot who came to this country with his family when he was four.
The award is presented to the boy possessing qualities of integrity, loyalty and perseverence. He has also to show willingness to act in the service of others.
At the presentation ceremony on Monday, Ald W Savill said: ‘I am very proud to see that the school, for which I am the chairman of the governors, has turned out another boy who has won this award.
But there was more to it than just selectingthe boy. In fact, two boys were so close that the teachers had to hold a secret vote to decide the winner
The other boy was Bernard Page* of 12 Maude Terrace, Walthamstow, who left the sixth form at the school in February. But the school presents a second prize, the Mark House Award, and runner-up Bernard received this for being so close to ‘Cosi’ as he is popularly known.
‘Cosi’s’ father, Mr Apostalides who attended the ceremony, said he was extremely proud of his son. If he passes two more GCE Exams, Costakis will be going to the Sir George Monoux Grammar School, and finally hopes to study economics at university.
Said Bernard: Of course, I’m disappointed in not winning the award, but I’m very glad it went to ‘Cosi’. I could not have been beaten by a nicer person’
* Note: After leaving Markhouse, Bernard Page became a Marine in the Royal Navy
1963 – ‘SUSAN – BOUND FOR NEW YORK – GETS McENTEE AWARD’
Walthamstow Guardian Report: Susan Riches
‘Pretty 16 year old Susan Riches – soon to be Walthamstow’s Ambassadress to New York – stepped up to receive the Borough’s top teenage honour from its Number 1 citizen on Monday. Susan was presented with the Markhouse Secondary’s School McEntee Award by the Mayor, Ald Mrs W M Palethorpe in front of hundreds of school pupils.
The ceremony took place nearly three weeks flies out to take up a scholarship at Sewenhaka High School, Floral Park, New York on Thursday July 25th.
The McEntee Award is made to the boy or girl in each secondary school showing most the qualities of integrity, loyalty, perseverance and service to others, which are amongst the reasons she was awarded the scholarship.
An exemplary pupil, Susan was chosen to spend the seven months in American offered by teachers Mark and Arlene Abels, who spent a year teaching at Mark House. They will pay all her expenses while she is away.
Susan flies first to Montreal where she will be met by the Abels and taken on a 5000 mile holiday tour before settling down in New York to study English Language and Literature, American History, Arty and household economics. Her fares will be paid by the Chamberlain Foundation and a fund set up for her in Walthamstow. She will next see her parents, Mr & Mrs Peter Riches, sister Judith and brothers Michael and Christopher when she comes home to 232 Markhouse Road in February.
Once back she will study at Mark House for another one or two years before taking up a career in the Air Force.
Award to Head Girl
At Monday’s ceremony Susan was praised for her efforts by Mark House Headmaster Leslie Smith who also had a word for 16 year old Head Girl Eileen Loneragan of 310 Priory Court, and the many other boys and girls who had been in the running for the McEntee Award.
Eileen, in fact, received the Mark House Award, for similar qualities shown by Susan, from the Mayor. She has been Head Girl for 18 months and is a brilliant pupil who hopes to take up a post in local government.
Susan’s mother and father and Eileen’s mother were on stage with the girls when they received their prizes.
£20 Fare Boost
The fare fund for Susan was given a £20 boost on Thursday when her youth club, St Saviour’s staged a cabaret-dance at the Chestnut Tree Hotel, Lea Bridge Road. She will be keeping her school pals in touch with her life, American style, including details of a Christmas-time trip to Florida, by way of regular contributions for the Mark House news-sheet’
1969 – ‘AWARD WINNER’
Walthamstow Guardian Report: John Oatham
A young man of many interests, is 18 years old John Oatham of 26 Park Road, Walthamstow, who has been awarded The Lord McEntee Award for Services to the Community
The award comes in recognition of John’s untiring efforts for Marsh Street Youth Centre Drama group where he was the driving force behind the scenery manufacture and ‘props’ art work for the group’s presentations. He was also responsible for the re-wiring of the stage lighting.
Since 1964, John has been a keen cross country runner and rock climber.
John, who now works for the GPO, is also interested in experimental lighting and at present he is occupied with oil paints and chemicals in producing these surprisingly animated coloured effects used by several pop groups.
AND – There are some other Drama Club members who received this award and these include Janet Grace (1964) and Pat Payne who all won the ‘Markhouse Award’ – plus Dave King, also in 1964, who was one of three joint winners of the prestigious ‘Borough Award’.
It is hoped that the respective newspaper reports for Janet, Pat and Dave will, in due course, be found and reproduced within the website
‘The Headmaster’s View of Events’
Extracts from Les Smith’s view of Markhouse School 1955 – 1966
Closure of Markhouse as a School – What was this really all about?
This new Feature and Gallery about the closure of Mark House as a school is presently being written and will be added into this page of the Website early in the new year (2023). The initial feature will include as much information as is currently known, along with a few Walthamstow Guardian Reports from between 1961 – 1965. that are already in the possession of the MDC
It is intended to undertake some further research on the circumstances behind the closure which, it is hoped, will be found in the Minutes of the Council Meeting between these daters which are now held at the Vestry House Records Office in Walthamstow.
It is also hoped that along with those current MDC members who were directly affected by the closure, those teaching staff from that period who are still involved with the MDC, will also be able to add to this story. It is hoped that our research will shed light on the feelings and effects upon those involved at that time; also on what may well have been a diverse range of opinions and reasons within the Council about the decisions that were made – and the lives of those who were affected by them.
For more Mark House ‘Memories’
Go to ‘Walthamstow Memories’ & ‘Walthamstowhistory.com’ on the Websites Homepage ‘Related Links’
Both of the above website links have some additional information and photographs of Mark House School – with the latter being Dickie Dunn’s original site. For ‘Walthamstow Memories’ go to the ‘Memories’ link on their Homepage.
And – A Farewell to Stan Raynor – Warden of Marsh Street Youth Centre and an ‘Honorary’ Member of Markhouse and The Drama Club
following Walthamstow Guardian Report is of the ‘farewell’ to Stan Raynor who was the Warden of Marsh Street Youth Centre at the time that it became linked to the Drama Club at Mark House – and, indeed, to several other forms of activity that were developed with the school over this period!
In fact, Stan Raynor and the Youth Centre might well be described as a ‘life saver’ for the Drama Club when the School closed in 1966, as it was through his efforts that the building was placed under the auspices of the Walthamstow Youth Service. The whole of the Upper Floor of the building was given over to the schools ‘sitting tenants’ – who took no time at all in taking advantage of their new found scope for developing both their range and frequency of productions – and in creating what was subsequently described in the press as a ‘Little Theatre’ – albeit that those who then ‘trod it’s boards’ will know that whilst indeed ‘little’, the revamped versions was still around 100% larger than the original!
Much of his continued support to the Drama Club was behind the scenes and, like Cyril, he seemed very comfortable about giving the members plenty of scope to be creative – and was even known to come to the rescue with some funding when a few oversights in the overall development of the ‘theatre’ occurred – such as when members of the stage rebuilding crew overlooked the fact that a bigger stage would need a bigger set of front curtains!
Albeit this is a Mark House Drama Club Website, it does seem appropriate to equally recognise that in addition to all that he did for the Drama Club, Stan Raynor ran a hugely successful Youth Centre at Marsh Street; this housed in yet another ex school building similarly converted by the Youth Service and just a half a mile or so ‘up the road’ from the school
Research of the Walthamstow Guardian archives for Drama Club memorabilia has equally revealed the extremely high and varied range of activities that was an offer at the Youth Centre; with mention made of its activities in almost every weekly edition. The programme ranged from fashion shows, pop concerts, foreign trips, numerous sports teams and vocational classes.
As is also mentioned in Les Smith’s own account of his Headship at Mark House and his membership of the Youth Centre Management Committee, the Guardian Archives also reveal that the early external RSA and other examinations that began to be offered as the school developed it’s ‘Extended Course, were in fact, organised through the Youth Centre. Clearly the Stan & Les, whilst very different types of people, had a good and creative working relationship – so there is much to thank Stan Raynor for!
It just seems a pity that ‘we’ were not as aware of this contribution at the actual time – but it is good to at least be able to acknowledge and provide an ongoing record of this at this later date.
Thanks Stan – we hope the Australian adventure went well!
And – for the record!!!