West Lodge was founded in 1940 and is now an educational trust. The main building is a Victorian house, well adapted to use as a school, whilst still retaining its homely atmosphere. Facilities include a fully equipped gymnasium, science room, art studio, music rooms, computer suite, library, SEN room, French classroom and Crèche. West Lodge is a co-educational school.
The History of West Lodge School
The late Margery Corke, founder and Headmistress of West Lodge School, wrote the following:
'My family came to live in Station Road, at No. 51, when I was three. My two sisters and my brother and I went to school at Sidcup High School on the corner of Victoria Road - the building is now the Music Centre. We passed West Lodge daily on the way to school and always admired the roses in the front garden and the large wrought iron gates with WEST LODGE welded into the design.
When I left school, I trained as a Froebel teacher in London. My first post was in Dublin where I worked until the war. In 1940 many children were evacuated from Sidcup because of the bombing but the parents of some of the remaining children asked me to teach them.
I started "The Kindergarten School" in one room in a house called Benhurst, opposite where we lived in Station Road. There were six pupils: Malcolm Brown, Vernon Coate, Janet Davidson*, Delia Fulford, Jennifer Heywood and Alan Ridge, (previous Chairman of the West Lodge Governing Board), all aged 3 - 4.
By the end of the first term the number had grown to fifteen, so another room was needed. However all the children went into the back room whenever there was an air raid warning as that roof had been shored up to give extra protection.
When the school grew too big, we moved to No. 42 Station Road - Penwith, where we had the use of the whole ground floor and my pupils were then aged up to seven.
On several occasions the windows were blown in by bomb blast but we carried on with plastic over them until the men arrived to repair them.
As the school continued to grow, still larger premises were needed and as West Lodge, 36 Station Road was for sale, I went to view it. A Russian family lived in this very elegant house, where there was staff of five servants - a butler, a gardener, a cook and two maids in black dresses with white aprons and caps. At one time there had also been a groom living above the coach house and stable, with horses and carriage below.
On that first visit the entrance was just as it is today, with lovely mahogany doors and stained glass with birds. To the right I was shown into the drawing room furnished with chairs and a screen covered with exquisite tapestries of roses on a black background. The beautiful fireplace still remains today. On the left of the hall I saw the dining room with highly polished table and chairs and the sideboard displaying silver.
Next on the left I came to the kitchen with a dresser and range and a bell indicator over the door. This room led through to two sculleries and a coalhole - now a cloakroom! The conservatory at the back led to the billiard room, with separate cloakroom and through French doors to a small study.
On the first floor were four bedrooms, a dressing room, a bathroom and a separate lavatory on the half landing. On the top floor were three bedrooms for the staff.
The walled back garden was very beautiful, beyond the balustrade was a huge rose bed in the middle of the lawn and beyond that the cedar trees were flanked by shrubs and two walnut trees. There was an orchard at the rear, with two large greenhouses on the left, one containing a black grape vine.
I recall my grandmother telling me that, when she was a young girl, West Lodge was the first house in Station Road and she used to see the coachman driving the horses and carriage down the gravel road. He wore a black silk top hat and a black coat with tails.
After the school moved to West Lodge, the house next door (no. 38) was destroyed by fire and I acquired that site to add to the school grounds. The house was pulled down and the area made into storage sheds, a playground and extra garden.'
* Janet Davidson is the sister of our previous Chairman, Christopher Davids.
Below are the details from the first official prospectus of 1944. The school was established in 1940:
West Lodge Preparatory School
Nursery Class and Kindergarten,
Recognised by the National Froebel Foundation, Jan. 1943 and the Ministry of Education, Jan. 1944.
36, STATION ROAD, SIDCUP, KENT.
Buses 228, 241, 51 pass the School.
GIRLS 3 - 11 years. BOYS 3 - 11 years
HOURS: 9.30 a.m. - 12.15 p.m. 2.15 p.m. - 3.30 p.m.
There are three Terms in a year, each of 12-13 weeks.
FEES per term including stationary, books and handwork:
NURSERY and KINDERGARTEN (mornings only) - 4 1/2 guineas
ALL DAY SCHOOL - - - - - 6 1/2 guineas
OVER 7 YEARS OF AGE - - - - 7 1/2 guineas
OVER 8 YEARS OF AGE - - - - 8 guineas
DANCING (Optional) - - - - 15/-
PIANO LESSONS (Optional) - - - - 2 guineas
Fees are payable during the first two weeks of Term, a reduction is given for more than one child from the same family.
A Term's notice is required before the removal of a pupil.
Any case of infection must be notified immediately.
MEALS. Dinners will be provided at 1/3 per day or 6/- per week. Milk 1/2 d. per day for 1/3 pint or 1 d. per day for 2/3 pint.
N.B. 1 Guinea = £1.05; 1/- (one shilling) = 5p.