End of an Era for King’s High School, Warwick
Muddy joins the momentous procession as all 650 pupils and staff close the iconic blue door on their historic former home for the very last time and walk to their stunning new £43m campus.
Words by Rhiannon Pursall
Mounting humidity echoed rising anticipation in the shadows of Warwick East Gate clock tower. Stood in front of the entrance to King’s High School in Warwick, sipping espresso in the calm before the storm, I could only imagine the charged atmosphere behind that iconic blue door.
This was a pivotal stage of Project One Campus: Wednesday, July 10, moving day. The whole school would say goodbye to their historic old building and walk to a super-duper new £43 million home alongside Warwick School and Warwick Prep. Flocks of parents and residents were gathering. Reporters and photographers were scooting about. The BBC were driving around trying to find a parking space on crowded Smith Street. This was a big deal.
A striking red curtain hung on the wall of Landor House. Behind the swathes sat a new blue plaque that would forever mark the prestige of the site where this highly-rated school (Sunday Times Good School Guide’s West Midlands Independent Secondary School of the Year 2019. You can read our school review here) was established 140 years ago. Everyone I spoke to had tremendous respect for those involved in King’s High’s success story, from the women who fought hard to establish it in 1879 to the ‘kind-hearted and sparky’ girls of today. Headmaster Richard Nicholson explained the significance: ‘The new school represents the biggest investment in girls’ education nationally in decades and a major investment in education for the Midlands.”
Eventually, to a cheering crowd, the girls filed out and lined up neatly in the road, Sixth Form descending to Year 7. Emotion was clear on many faces and Headmaster Nicholson referred to tears shed about leaving the charming, Tardis-like building.
The space quickly becomes crowded as the rest of the school, parents and well-wishers gather outside for their final farewell…
The ceremonious duty of closing the door fell to three pupils: outgoing and incoming Head Girls and the youngest pupil. Head Girl Emma Jane Taylor-Watts (sister of rising singer-songwriter James TW) then locked it. “It was incredibly moving leaving King’s High for the last time, and really emotional, but we are all looking forward to our new adventure. King’s always makes you feel you can do anything, and I know that will continue,” said Emma Jane. The grand procession commenced, with girls in pairs flowing through the streets of Warwick. The trills of St Mary’s bells and the booms of Warwick Castle’s canons rang out a special chorus.
Not something you see every day! The predominantly female procession parades over the bridge. Car horns pipped and on-lookers gawped at the spectacle.
The new site on Myton Road was a real riot of excitement as Warwick Prep welcomed their older sisters with frenetic flag-waving, spirited squealing and energetic high-fiving.
Richard Nicholson high-fives the jubilant Prep pupils on arrival and the Mayor of Warwick, Cllr Neale Murphy, proved a particularly big hit, inviting pupils to pose in his selfie, below.
The throng included children due to start Prep in September – what a seriously cool introduction to their new school! Bet they spend all summer nagging to go back…
Once ensconced in the courtyard of their spectacular new campus, girls buried time capsules and the entire company sang Jerusalem. The air of poignancy abruptly exploded in incredulous delight as teachers burst into a flash mob performance of Don’t Stop Me Now. A fly-past sealed the deal on an epic Wednesday morning. Mr Nicholson spoke of his appreciation and anticipation: “King’s High has sat at the heart of Warwick’s community for 140 years and it was very moving to mark that with the whole community and pay homage to an ending and an exciting new beginning. King’s High is at the start of a new, transformative journey.”