Although it has changed site several times within the E1 postcode, Bishop Challoner School has been teaching young people in the East End for over 100 Years.
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The first Convent of Mercy Opens in Mercers Place, E1.
‘Bishop Challoner Girls’ School’ operates from its first site in Johnson Street, E1.
Bishop Challoner at this point was based in Redmans Road, E1. Many Tower Hamlets students were evacuated from the city during the Second World War. The East End was bombed due to its proximity to the docks and Saint Mary and Saint Michael’s School next door was badly bombed after only being open for a few years. When the evacuees returned the schools in the area got on as best they could as the area recovered from the war damage.
The school moves to Christian Street, E.
Bishop Challoner is split between two sites. Once the Girls in the lower school at Christian Street reached 15+ they would be moved to Bishop Challoner Upper School in Damien Street (a mixed school in previous years) for their further education. The Damien Street School in this respect was our first 6th Form.
Sr M Joseph Cleary retired from the headship of Bishop Challoner, a post she had held since 1933. By then there were 15 forms with 450 students overall.
The Upper school moved from Damien Street to a new building on Lukin Street (the schools current site) partially paid for by the school salaries of the sisters teaching there. These new premises were opened and blessed by Cardinal John Heenan on 28th June.
Trusteeship of Bishop Challoner transferred from the Sisters of Mercy to the Archdiocese of Westminster in preparation for Sister Berchmans retirement as head and the appointment of Mrs Myers, Bishop Challoner School’s first lay Headmistress.
Bishop Challoner Boys’ School opens in September, located in a very small corner of the Shadwell Centre, Commercial Road and teachers that taught in both schools had to walk back and forth between the Shadwell Centre and Lukin Street sites. This went on two years, with numbers of around 90 boys, but when in 2003 the number swelled to 180 the Shadwell Centre site became untenable. After much negotiation a temporary school was erected on patch of green space near the railway arches near the Lukin Street School. The building was a 3 story steel structure and although temporary contained a dining room, kitchen and school hall.
Major restoration work starts take place on the Bishop Challoner site and £28,000,000 is spent on a new building. The sports hall, theatre and dance studio were built first, followed by the eastern part of East/West Building and the southern part of the North/South building. The dining room and the rest of the school were the last bits to be completed.
The completed school was dedicated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols (then Archbishop) on 22nd January in a packed Saint Mary and Saint Michaels Church. The service was full of friends, staff and pupils past and present. A special setting of the Mass, ‘Missa in Honorem Episcipi Challoneri.’ for choir, congregation, orchestra and organ was composed by Dr Maxim for the occasion.