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5th October 2020

The History of Buchanans House

Last month, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Wharflands House. This month we turn to the second of our houses who have a special anniversary this year: Buchanans. This year celebrates the 45th anniversary of Buchanans as a school boarding house.

The house which we now know as Buchanans was built as a private house in 1929 by the then headmaster W. L. Sargant.[1] It was known as Orchard Close. In 1975, the property was brought by the trustees from the school doctor, Dr. T. D. Brentnall, due to the growing number of pupils as a result of the introduction of co-education in 1971.[2] During his 1975 speech, J. D. Buchanan proclaimed that the purchase of the property ‘“in the present harsh economic climate” was seen […] as “dramatic witness to the trustees’ faith in the immediate future of the school and its capacity to attract customers”’.[3]

During October 1975, the first housemaster, Michael Stevens, moved in. This was soon followed in January 1976 with Orchard Closes’ first boarders:

·         Jacqueline Hunter (Prefect; Form 7)

·         Julie Fane

·         Laura Jones

·         Fiona Kennedy

·         Jill Rose (all Form 5)

The house went through a period of modernisation during 1976 with existing rooms and garages being converted into a new sitting room, kitchen and several study bedrooms.[4] Initially, seventh form girls had a prefabricated building out the back to suit their needs as they lodged in buildings around the town.[5] In 1976, the house could accommodate 16 boarders (with 14 of the first boarders being in the 6th form).[6]

Initially, Orchard Close did not have prefects as it was seen that there was ‘less need for them’ seeing as the house mainly consisted of 6th and 7th formers.[7]

Before Orchard Close, Round House was the only girl’s boarding house on campus. The addition of Orchard Close was welcomed although some girls did feel that it’s location, at the very north of the campus, made them feel isolated.[8] But it seems that the girls quickly made the house a home.

By 1978, the house had undergone ‘considerable alterations’ with a large new wing to the north. Now 65 senior girls could be a part of the house: 36 boarders, 12 pupils who would live out and 17 day pupils.[9]

1982 saw some of the biggest changes to the building in its history. A new wing was built in order to house girls who had previously been residents of College House.[10] The two story extension provided bedrooms for 20 girls and a new tutor’s flat.[11] Ready for occupation in January 1983, the new wing was officially opened by its namesake, John. D. Buchanan on the 23rd February 1983. The house which had previously catered for the 6th and 7th formers, now switched with Round House, taking in middle school girl pupils.[12]

From then on, Buchanans continued to grow with more pupils and updated interiors, including a new common room in winter 2000.[13]

Buchanan Housemasters

Winter term 1978 – Summer term 1979

Michael Stevens

Winter 1979 – Winter term 1982

Mr & Mrs Roger M. Blackmore

Spring term 1983 – Winter 1989

Dr & Mrs A.G. Wheway

Spring term 1990 – Summer 2004

Mrs P.A. and Mr A.P. Craig

Winter term 2004 – Summer term 2007

Ms Fran L. Cove & Dr S.P. Diggle

Winter term 2007 – Summer 2011

Marilyn Nichols

Winter term 2011 – today

Carly L. Latham


Some of the housemasters of Buchanans House from left to right: Michael Stevens, Roger Blackmore, Pat Craig, and Carly Latham.

Are you a former pupil who was part of Buchanans? If so, please do share your stories and memories with us!


[1] Oakhamian Magazine, Winter, vol. 103, 1976, p. 45.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Oakhamian Magazine, Winter, vol. 101, 1975, p. 3.

[4] Oakhamian Magazine, Winter, vol. 103, 1976, p. 45.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Old Oakhamian Magazine, vol. 40, 1978, p. 8.

[10] Old Oakhamian Magazine, vol. 45, 1983, p. 3.

[11] Oakhamian, Winter/Spring, Vol. 115, 1982 – 1983, p. 3.

[12] Ibid. p. 10.

[13] Oakhamian Magazine, Winter, vol. 160, 2000, p. 52.

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