About the OBA – 1955 – 2005
Burwood Park School was a secondary school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, for deaf pupils, almost all of whom went into full-time employment and most of whom undertook further education. Later Norfolk House sixth form college was added.
In 1954 Lady Boyd heard from her friend, Mrs Long, that her deaf son Michael had applied to the Mary Hare Grammar School, but that there were not enough places for him to attend. Lady Boyd realised that there would be many other boys in a similar position. A Guinness Family Trust owned the Mansion in Burwood Park, Walton on Thames, Surrey, which was then occupied by the Eagle Star Insurance Company. This building and its grounds were suitable for conversion into a Secondary School for the Deaf and Lady Boyd consulted Professor and Lady Ewing of Manchester University, who advised on the preparations. The school opened on September 19th 1955, with an intake of 35 pupils from across the British Isles, aged from 11 to 15.
Mr William E. Wood was the first Headmaster.
In 1959 the numbers rose to 43 and later 45 boys. Over the years attempts were made to include girls, but until Woodford School closed in 1991 the Ministry felt that this was not appropriate.
In July 1961 the first meeting of the Old Boys’ Association was held after the Old Boys cricket match. 12 OBs, Lord and Lady Boyd, Mr Wood, Mr Norfolk and 5 teachers attended.
In the 70s a Sixth Form was started in the school. In September 1973 Norfolk House College was opened by the Education Minister, Mrs Thatcher.
Mr Wood retired in 1976 and was succeeded by Mr P. Green. Mr D. Thomas, the Deputy Head, became Headmaster in 1981.
Mr Thomas retired in the summer of 1986. Mr Kell became Headmaster and introduced a new plan for the school, which involved introducing girls. The Ministry finally allowed the school to take girls when Woodford School closed in 1991 and the size of the school rose to 57, the highest ever.
When the school closed in December 1996, due to lack of pupils, the numbers were 44 with 14 girls.
Octagon, which specialises in renovating listed buildings, bought the building and site in 1999. They built some large houses nearby and worked on the school buildings, demolishing all but the main structure. This returned the building, more or less, to how it had been in the days of the Frederick family in the 19th Century. The interior was then restored, as a single residence, to a very high standard indeed, and when it was complete in February 2002 a group of 50 members of the Old Burwoodian Association were invited to tour ‘The Manor House’ thoroughly, inside and out. The OBA has a comprehensive video / DVD of this visit.
Lady Boyd died in May 2001, but not before she received a copy of the History Centre’s official index to the complete microfilm record, demonstrating that the Archive was a reality. Members of the OBA representing the Association attended her funeral.
The Old Burwoodian Association Committee decided on a bronze plaque as a memorial to Lady Boyd and, by arrangement with the present Lord and Lady Boyd, bought a Turkey Oak to stand in front of Ince Castle. The plaque was attached to a boulder, placed in front of the Oak. On 17th May 2003 members of the OBA were invited to Ince Castle and a small dedication ceremony was held.