It is thought that Loughton School started life around 1876 under the name of St. John’s College, at a little house in the High Road, corner of Upper Park Road,Loughton. Unlike many private schools it was specially built for its purpose. The proprietor and headmaster was the Revd. W. L. Wilson, of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The school was planned on ambitious lines. The Bishop of St. Albans was patron and there was a council which included Col. Lockwood, M.P., of Bishops Hall in Lambourne. Among the subjects taught were Latin, Greek, German, French, Science, and Bookkeeping. ‘Many pupils take up commercial pursuits and a large number join the ranks of the medical profession, some proceed to the universities, to the naval service and the Indian Civil Service.’ During the next 13 years it changed hands several times and moved to 1 Park Villas and then again to 6 Park Villas. In 1895 the School building that we all remember, then known as St John’s College became available and was promptly taken, it had been purpose built as a school. At around the same time a School Magazine was started by a Mr A.V. Batman and was known as ‘Loughton School Chronicle’ and was produced monthly. ( Several editions still exist and are in the possession of Mr Meredith Houston).
In the summer of 1889 Mr William Vincent had taken over the School (then known as Madras House) from a Mr Girling and had one small corrugated iron classroom at the side of the building capable of holding about 24 boys. William Vincent was born in Camborne, Cornwall, the son of a Cornish tin miner, he had a brother & a sister, all of whom were bright. William showed great promise as a boy and wanted to Matriculate (the forerunner of GCE’s & GCSE’s). William Vincent remained owner and headmaster until his retirement in 1924. His first teaching job was at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate were he met a fellow teacher Mary Pither and they married in 1889, two days later he opened Loughton School ( no money for a honeymoon) The marriage was a happy one and they produced 4 children. William Vincent died in February 1925 at the age of 63, he never really got over the death of his wife Mary.
In 1924 William Vincent decided to retire and the School then passed into the hands of two joint Headmasters Mr E.E. Sly & Mr Oswald George Johnson (better known as OGGIE) who at the time was unmarried, but shortly after taking over at the School he married in 1926. Mr Sly was already married but in 1926 he & his wife decided to leave Loughton School to take up a scholastic life in Croydon. For those who new OGGIE he was held in high regard and was very well respected. He was responsible for bringing in the School uniform for all pupils and made it compulsory for all Masters to wear their gowns
In 1952 OGGIE announced that he would retire at the end of the summer term after 28 years as Headmaster and announced that his successor would be Mr Douglas Eric Wink worth, who had been at Hitchin Grammar School with Mr Johnson some years earlier and they had become great friends during their time together.
Mr Wink worth was a true academic with interests in History and French, he was also a strong on discipline and esprit de corps which influenced the manner in which he decided to run the School which was along Public School lines. He was also responsible for introducing School Continental holidays and the annual School Garden Party.
In 1954 M.J.K. Houston joined the teaching staff and because of the increased administration formed a partnership with DEW, so once again the School had two Headmasters. Mr Winkwoth applied himself to the ever increasing workload of Administration & Finance while Mr Houston was in charge of the Academic day-to-day running of the School.
Mr & Mrs Winkworth moved to Hove in Sussex and shortly after that he relinquished his position of Headmaster and devoted his time to writing more books, he had not enjoyed good health in later life and died of a heart attack in autumn 1975. His last appearance at Loughton School was the Annual Prize Giving in December 1966.
Mr Houston (better known as HARRY) undertook extensive modernisation plans at the School and was responsible for introducing a co-educational system in September 1972 and was oh the opinion that the School benefited greatly both socially & academically by being co-educational. Sadly the School closed in 1990 when the administration became even more intensive and was also becoming uneconomical financially.
It is recorded that there were 140 boys in 1924, 168 in 1952, and 190 in September 1953. There were seven forms, of which the first was for boys of ages 7 to 10.
NB: There are various historic photographs of Loughton School in the School Photos section.