History

Expansion of pupil numbers was matched by an extension of the curriculum offered, together with increased accommodation. Varied but aesthetically pleasing additions to the traditional buildings of the school included four new classrooms in the Upper Yard and the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ in 1928, the ‘new’ Science Block in 1936, the new teaching block and gymnasium in the Lower Orchard in 1955-56, the Open Air Theatre built by staff and pupils, further extensions to the Science and Technology areas in 1974, 1987 and 1998 and new art studios in 1994.

The School became fully independent in 1975, when the Direct Grant system was abolished.

From 1947, the principal area for team sports was the King Harry playing fields, originally leased from Lord Verulam, a descendant of Sir Nicholas Bacon. The 400 acre Cheapside Farm, situated just to the north of the city, was purchased by the School in 1991. Part of this site was developed to create the Woollam Playing Fields, to provide a 73-acre outdoor sports facility for the School and the Old Albanian Club. HRH the Duke of Gloucester officially opened the playing fields in October 2002.

Another exciting development was the admission of girls to the Sixth Form in 1991, when just one girl joined the School. Today’s Sixth Form has 40 girls in the Lower Sixth Form and 39 girls in the Upper Sixth Form in 2016-2017.

In 2004, the School was granted planning permission to build a sports hall and swimming pool on the city centre site. Positioned in the Lower Orchard, thus avoiding any clash with the sightlines of the historic city, the Sports Centre was completed in July 2012. The Olympic Gold Medallist Duncan Goodhew opened the Sports Hall and swimming pool in the Orchard.

2012 also saw acquisition of the adjacent Aquis Court buildings, formerly the St Albans HQ of accountants KPMG, which were converted into a brand new Sixth Form Centre, Art Department an extensive suite of classrooms and offices. This enabled the transformation of the former gymnasium into a refectory, which in turn permitted the evolution of the 'New Hall', built in 1967 as a multi-function space, into a Centre for the Performing Arts.

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