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The history of Belvedere Junior School

Belvedere Junior School is now a part of The Pioneer Academy Trust (TPA).  In September 2012, our school became the second school to join the trust.  TPA now includes ten schools across the boroughs of Bexley and Croydon, as well as one school in the local educational authority of Kent.

Joining TPA was the most significant event in the school’s history since the school moved site in 1987. 

September 1987

In the Autumn of 1987, Belvedere Junior School opened its doors to its eager pupils.  The pupils of the school were previously taught at West Street Junior School which was built in 1901, so the children were all very excited to be moving to a newly-built school which was equipped with brand new tables and chairs, along with many other changes.

Government Visit

To celebrate the opening of the school, the Education Secretary – Kenneth Baker – made a special visit.

Can you guess which classroom this is?

Kenneth Baker is pictured here talking to the Head Teacher – Mr Evans and Mrs Wyatt – a Year 4 teacher and the school’s Music Lead.

Former pupil, Mrs Kalsi and now a member of SLT, remembers the fantastic Mr Evans as her Welsh Head Teacher whose booming voice meant that he commanded authority throughout the school.  When he covered some classes, many children particularly enjoyed his debating lessons.  All former pupils talk of Mr Evans with fondness, he led the school through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

As you can see from the photograph, Mrs Wyatt was passionate about including music in the lives of the children.  Friday afternoons were for singing, when Mrs Wyatt played the piano and everyone sang along to old favourites such as, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles.’

Mrs Wyatt was also passionate about children learning their times tables!  Mrs Kalsi says that Mrs Wyatt is the reason that she developed a love for maths, particularly mental arithmetic.

Kenneth Baker talking to the children.  Can you guess which classroom this is?

Have you spotted this plaque in our school reception?

West Street Junior School

In July 1987, West Street Junior School closed its doors for the final time and was replaced by Belvedere Junior School.  Since 1901, the school - which was located in West Street, Erith - had served the local community.

West Street Junior School – Erith

The magnificent Victorian building is fondly remembered by former pupils.  Most notably, the spiral staircases are recalled as being a great and fun feature of the school. As can be seen from the right-hand view of the building, parts of the school were finished in semi-circular style.  The three floors of the school provided the pupils and teachers with three halls that were used for different purposes.

The history of West Street Junior School

West Street Primary School at the beginning of the 20th century.

West Street Primary School was founded in 1901.  It was built opposite the prominent local landmark – St John’s Church – which can be seen just behind the school in this picture.  Children from the school were invited to hold their Christmas and Easter services at the church which has been a part of the local community since the 12th century. Belvedere Junior School continued this relationship with the church by holding its Christmas carol services at the church.

In 1938, the school was divided into three departments: one for boys, one for girls and one for infants – each with its own head teacher.  In 1959, the boys’ and girls’ departments merged to make a combined department.  The juniors occupied the middle and top floors of the building and the infants were based on the ground floor.

In 1973, the infants transferred to a new building in Mitchell Close in Belvedere and West Street Primary School became West Street Junior School.  The two schools operated as two completely separate organisations for the next 46 years.  It was only in September 2019 when Belvedere Infant School joined The Pioneer Academy Trust (TPA) that the two schools became part of the same family again. 

The unprecedented school lockdown which came as a result of Covid-19 in March 2020 means that the two schools are now operating under one roof for a few months – albeit for a very small number of children.  

Past pupils

Our local Councillor Sally Hinkley (Chair of Governors for Belvedere Junior School and Belvedere Infant School) is pictured standing in the top right hand corner of this photograph.  Remembering her time at the school, Sally said:

“I remember my time at West Street Juniors as being magical and I have so many happy memories.  The building was in the old site in West Street and it was like a very tall castle with turrets in each corner and had huge, high windows in each of the classrooms, so the inside was always bright with daylight.  There was no grass, like there is at the new site of Belvedere Juniors, so playtimes were always on the hard surface, which meant I always had grazed knees!  The school was in a busy corner, surrounded by the railway line on one side, with the trains passing very close to the school and the road.  There was always something of interest to see and the big trees in the playground, next to the railway line, made great spots to hide during games. 

I loved every moment I spent at West Street and I felt very disappointed at having to leave during the third year, as I’d moved with my family to another house.  My new school was very nice, but it just wasn’t as special.”

Mr Binder Singh attended West Street Primary School during the 1960s. This is what Binder said about his time at the school:

“I remember travelling to England from Punjab when I was three years old. A couple of years later I joined the Infants at West Street School. The building was magnificent, not quite Harry Potter – but almost as magical!  The winding staircases at either sides of the school were brilliant, as well as the halls on the three floors.  When I was at the top end of the school, I used to play badminton with the Head Teacher -  Mr Evans and the Deputy Head Teacher.  I felt happy and safe at the school.”

This great start in Binder Singh’s schooling led to a brilliant academic career for him and he went onto complete a PhD in Computing and Mathematics!

A Year 5 classroom in 1985

Mrs Kalsi, now a current member of the school’s SLT, attended West Street Junior School during the 1980s.  Here she fondly recalls her time at the school:

“I have nothing but great memories of West Street Junior School.  I joined the school in the middle of the Autumn term of Year 3.  Prior to me and my sister joining West Street, we had attended another school in Erith.  At the other school, we were called racially abusive names at times.  From the moment that we arrived at West Street, we felt as though we were at home.  The diversity of the school was a source of comfort and we felt welcomed and included from day one.  Even today, it warms my heart so much when visitors to Belvedere Junior School comment on how welcome they have been made to feel – to me this is evidence that the school has held onto its wonderful qualities throughout the decades.  As you can see from the photo above – we completed lots of artwork (which I was never very good at) and I loved the singing that took place throughout the school week.  I passionately believe that my time at West Street Junior School provided me with the confidence to be unapologetically me. It gave me the grounding to believe that my opinion is just as valid and worth offering as anyone else’s -no matter what my background is.  Now that I am member of staff at Belvedere Junior School, my overriding aim is to help children develop their self-belief and confidence in themselves so that they can achieve anything that they set their hearts on.  I feel blessed to be able to work with my local community and aspire to create equally wonderful memories for our pupils today.”

Achievement Assembly 1980s style!

Mr Lucas – Deputy Head & Miss Gee – Year 6 teacher


West Street Junior Boys – 1920s


West Street Junior Girls – 1920s