St Aloysius College: Archway school welcomes old boys back for 140th anniversary
PUBLISHED: 10:58 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:25 27 June 2019
Current and former students of an Archway secondary school chatted about their shared experiences at a party to celebrate its 140th birthday last week.
St Aloysius College in Hornsey Lane welcomed dozens of old boys for the bash.
The boys school, which now takes girls at sixth form, was founded by the Brothers of Mercy - a Roman Catholic order officially also known as Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God - as a boarding school in 1879.
"Apparently there's still a monk who haunts the upstairs," the school's head of history Geraldine Rimmer told this paper.
Ms Rimmer, who has taught at the school for 36 years, has obviously never seen the ghoulish apparition herself, nor does she believe in it, but she "just tells the kids that" - and so the myth of the undead monk is passed down through the year groups.
In 1960 the De La Salle brothers took over the school, and it became a comprehensive in 1971. Thirteen years later it merged with Cally's former St William of York boys school and the De La Salle brothers left in the 1990s, after the school had gone into a decline that culminated in its sixth form being closed. It reopened in 2010.
The school also has an extensive old boys network, and the history department gets pupils to research their predecessors who died in world wars, before making pilgrimages to lay flowers at their graves.
Ms Rimmer added: "We pay quite a lot of attention to the world wars. And we have done quite a lot of trips to the battle fields. We go every year.
"We did a big project a few years ago and found out where some former pupils had been buried.
Students recently found a photo of one alumnus, a war hero named B A Jones, during a trip to the Somme, in France. The school passed this on to his family, who had never seen a picture of him before.
"Somebody asked me at the party why I've stayed 36 years," she said. "It's because this is a community. There is a very strong, positive relationship between staff and pupils - sometimes it's challenging but we challenge each other to move forward. There is a huge amount of respect."
Associate head Andy English added: "It helps to build aspirations for our current students that our school has actually [taught] people who have gone in to lead interesting and successful lives - and they can do that."
"At the party we had old boys looking at old photographs, picking themselves out from the 1950s and reminiscing and talking about their peers."
The school has been in the Islington Gazette and Ham&High regularly over the last few years. First, veteran head Tom Mannion was arrested and suspended over suspected fraud, before being cleared of any wrongdoing last year.
Earlier this year students from Year 11, 12 and 13 went on strike over alleged mistreatment of staff by the executive head.
Asked if the school has a history of protests, Ms Rimmer said: "No. We're a staff that's very dedicated and wants the best for our school and we work very closely with senior management and we have a clear vision of where we are going."
She wouldn't be drawn further. But she added: "Our old boys association is really big and we always have Remembrance Sunday, where all the old boys go to the war memorial in Hornsey Lane. It's a really special day."
The old boys network also includes famous sports stars, two Roman Catholic archbishops, and more recently Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya. It is also used by the National Theatre for auditions and courses.
Ms Rimmer added: "Peter Sellers came to the school in the 1930s or 1940s but I know he was a troubled man and apparently in the '60s he would come back to the school and brothers would let him in to his old class.
"He would sit there all night and brothers would bring him sandwiches."