Pinewood was the brainchild of the Reverend F F Brackenbury. He founded the school in 1875 at Maiden Erleigh in Berkshire. In 1883 it was moved to Farnborough, Hampshire and the school remained there until 1938.
During the Second World War, the school led a gypsy-like existence moving sites four times, finally settling at Postbridge in Devon in 1941. The Headmaster at the time, Mr Cecil Ranger, sadly died during term time, an event which stuck in the memories of Old Pinewoodians at the school for a long while. The school became a limited company and in 1946, under the Headmastership of Mr G Wakeham, the search began for a permanent home. After five years on Dartmoor, this new home was found in the form of the Bourton estate, originally in Berkshire, (changing county boundaries mean the school is now on the Oxfordshire / Wiltshire borders) which was purchased from the Butler family. There was a railway station on the London-Bristol railway line only half a mile from the school, at the end of the avenue at that time, which made it a very convenient location. The school began its first term there on May 7th 1946 with 75 pupils and reverted to the original name of Pinewood.
In 1958 Mr G A Walters became Headmaster and the school enjoyed a very happy and stable period with developments taking place such as the conversion of the stable block into science labs and a gymnasium. He was succeeded in 1978 by Old Pinewoodian Mr H G C Boddington (1947-1952). Henry Boddington led Pinewood through a huge amount of change and transition, reflecting changing national trends in boarding and prep schools more generally. The school started taking girls, with his two daughters leading the way, in 1978 and day pupils were added to the existing boarders. Additional facilities were added such as the Music School and the construction of the “Junior End”, known today as Lower School. The Pre-Prep was opened in 1993 taking over the stable block and welcoming 3-7 year olds to the school for the first time.
Henry was succeeded by Jim Croysdale in 1997 and, following an interim year where the school was led by Chris Stewart-Clark, in September 2002 Philip and Henrietta Hoyland took over the running of the school. With the arrival of the Hoylands and the implementation of a new strategic vision for Pinewood designed to lead the school towards 2020, a significant building programme and academic restructuring of the school has taken place. This started with the astroturf in 2004 and ended with the Teaching & Learning Centre in 2020. In September 2020 Neal Bailey took over the headship of Pinewood, joined by his wife Nicola and their two boys.
1875-1899 Rev F F Brackenbury
1899-1919 Mr H Bull
1919-1927 Colonel Shirley
1927-1941 Mr C A Ranger
1941-1958 Mr G Wakeham
1958-1978 Mr G A Walters
1978-1997 Mr H G C Boddington
1997-2001 Mr J Croysdale
2001-2002 Mr C Stewart-Clark
2002-2020 Mr P J Hoyland
2020-to date Mr N Bailey
1875: Pinewood founded
1946: School moves to its current site in Bourton
1954: 23rd July – The Queen visited the school
1974: Day pupils added
1975: 105 boys on the roll
1978: Co-education arrives
1993: Pre-Prep Opens
2000: The 125th Anniversary was celebrated
2020: 400 pupils on the roll from 3-13
Pinewood during the Second World War
The situation in Europe in 1938 was becoming ominous with war imminent. As a consequence it was decided that Pinewood should move to a more suitable location from it’s site in Farnborough which was adjacent to the Farnborough air base.
Old Pinewoodians recall watching the build up of military aircraft increasing. In the September of 1938, Pinewood moved to Motcombe House in Shaftesbury, Dorset (which now houses Port Regis Prep School). However, Motcombe proved to be unsuitable and so the school returned to Farnborough in the Spring Term of 1939.
Farnborough was becoming more and more militarised and a permanent move became necessary. To that end, Melchet Court, near Romsey, West Hampshire, was purchased by Mr Ranger and the necessary alterations and additions were made. The move to Melchet Court was a deliberate move west and to a safer environment. It was to facilitate this move that the school was turned into a Limited Company. The school started its life at Melchet Court in the Christmas Term of 1939.
In the summer of 1940, coincident with the collapse of France, many boys left for safer climes. Only a few boys remained at the school, but they were soon joined by evacuees (including girls) from Gosport. In July, the army requisitioned the school, so they moved to Devon for the rest of the summer. Melchet was de-requisitioned by September and the returning pupils were joined there by Sandrock Hall, a prep school evacuated from Hastings. It wasn’t long, however, before Melchet was requisitioned yet again, this time by Government, forcing another move.
After much searching the school relocated to Postbridge on Dartmoor. The boys were based in two hotels, 100 yards apart and gained a healthy lifestyle travelling between the two and swimming in a pool in the East Dart river, only a stone’s throw away. St Gabriel’s Church in the village was loaned to the school for their Sunday morning services and there are two pews inscribed with the school’s name to commemorate their time there. Possibly all the moving around was bad for Mr Ranger’s health as he died whilst the school was in Devon.
Ranger was succeeded in 1941 by Mr G R Wakeham and, soon after, Melchet Court was sold and the school name, which had been changed to Melchet, reverted to Pinewood. The school chose St Peter as their patron saint and his feast day in June became a school holiday, which was celebrated by joining “Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all” in a trip to Widdecombe-in-the-Moor. With the end of the war in 1945 it was also now decided to look for a permanent home for the school of a small, family nature.
After five years on Dartmoor, this new home was found in the form of Bourton House, the school’s current location in Bourton on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire border (in those days it was actually in Berkshire). The estate was purchased from the Butler family and the school moved in the summer of 1946.