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History of St Luke’s

St. Luke’s School has been in existence since 1866 when the school was an extension of the Sunday school of St. Luke’s Church, Millwall, which had been built two years earlier in 1864.

In these early days, the school was what was called a Dames’ school. There were no trained teachers, but local ladies did their best to teach the children the alphabet, handwriting and simple arithmetic. Of course, most children could not afford to pay, and the school was very small.

The building of St. Luke’s Church was made of iron, and it was known as the Iron Church. Slowly, the numbers of the children increased and holding lessons in the Iron Church became extremely difficult.

The Reverend Jesse Hewlett, who ran the school with its 200 children, struggled hard to find the money to build a new ‘proper’ school. He went to the National society, the Church of England’s own organisation for the building of new schools and was given £250, although he needed £3000. Even though Lord Stafford had donated the land and £50, Hewlett still did not have sufficient funds. He was not daunted and went to the local gentry and finally managed to raise enough to build the school. His troubles were not over, even after the grand opening by Lord Enfield in 1873, as there was not enough money for school furniture. The children and parents helped by continuing to pay their weekly pence, but Hewlett had to go back to the National Society for more funds.

The school flourished. In 1909 there were 456 children on the school roll. By 1939 it had risen to 483. Generations of children passed through the old building, and teachers stayed for decades. The old St. Luke’s was open until 1971, nearly 100 years.

St. Luke’s was badly damaged in the war but remained undaunted in an area where the old Millwall population had been dispersed away from the Island, or re-housed in Cubitt Town.

In the 1960’s a complicated chain of reorganisation began. Seven Mills School was built for the children growing up in the new housing estates in Millwall. Cubitt Town School moved into a refurbished Glengall Secondary school, and St. Luke ‘s moved into the Cubitt Town building which had been renovated in 1951,after having suffered terrible damage and loss of life in the war, when it had been all but destroyed in a bombing raid.

We recently celebrated 150 years of St Luke's School - take a look at our pictures here!

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