'Fresh start': West Hampstead Primary School unveils new name

West Hampstead Primary School

Beckford Primary School has officially rebranded as West Hampstead Primary School - Credit: Richard Olszewski

A West Hampstead school has unveiled its new name in time for the beginning of the school year. 

Following a vote last year, Beckford Primary School has officially rebranded as West Hampstead Primary School. 

The school in Dornfell Street had been named after former London mayor William Beckford, whose wealth came from the slave trade.

Last year, parents, pupils and staff voted on a new name for the school, with 55 per cent of student votes choosing West Hampstead Primary School.

Chair of governors, Madhavan Raman, called the rebrand “quite exciting”. He told the Ham&High: “We’re moving away from the old name, but not the ethos of the school. 

“It’s the same friendly learning environment. It's a fresh start for the school, and we’re really looking forward to it.” 

Despite the school community voting against renaming the institution after its former headteacher Beryl Gilroy - one of the first Black principals in the country - the chair confirmed she would still be honoured. 

Madhavan said: “It was always the plan to have a mural of her to celebrate her life and what she contributed to the school.”

Beryl Gilroy, London's first black headteacher. Picture: Beryl Gilroy Estate and Peepal Tree Press

Beryl Gilroy - Credit: Archant

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The mural should be unveiled by the beginning of October. Camden Council's cabinet member for finance and transformation, Cllr Richard Olszewski, reiterated Beryl’s significance to the school’s history. 

The Fortune Green councillor said: “Beckford primary school has always been a fantastic school and it will continue to be so under its new name.  

“It has a place in history for having Beryl Gilroy as the first Black head teacher in London.”


Cllr Richard Olszewski - Credit: Kareen Cox

Cllr Olszewski went to the building on Wednesday (September 1) to photograph the “impressive” new signage, and said it was “great” to see the rebrand take effect at his daughter’s former school. 

“Changing its name to West Hampstead Primary School was an important local step in acknowledging Britain’s colonial and slaving history,” he added. 

“I commend it for acting quickly and securing the support of its parents and children for the change.” 

Governors decided to change the school’s name last June. This followed the Black Lives Matter movement which instigated a reassessment of the country’s colonial and racial past, and how this was reflected in the names of public institutions.