Trinity School Digital Archives

Welcome to Trinity School Archives

Trinity School is proud of its heritage and indebted to our Founder, John Whitgift.

Image of John Whitgift

Archbishop John Whitgift, who came to know and love Croydon in the reign of Elizabeth I, was a generous benefactor and set up a Foundation in 1596 making provision for both a hospital and a school in the borough. By 1850, the educational side of the Whitgift Foundation had unfortunately diminished, and the School Room had been let to the National Society without fee. However, in 1856, with Croydon growing rapidly, the Whitgift Foundation gave approval for the building of two schools, and the Poor School opened in Church Road in the heart of the Parish. This site in Old Town Croydon is often referred to as ‘Pump Pail’.

The Poor School was for boys aged 7 to 14, who lived in Croydon and who were ‘able to read and not afflicted with infectious disease’, for a maximum fee of 4 pence a week. Under the Headmaster, William Ingrams (who remained in post until 1905), the school was very successful but, changes in the Education Act meant that primary schooling had to be provided elsewhere.

Early in 1881, the Poor School closed briefly but, later in the same year, reopened again in Pump Pail, off Scarbrook Road, with the name of Whitgift Middle School.

The following advert appeared in the Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette on Saturday, December 24th 1881:

Image of Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette advert

Whitgift Middle School was a Third Grade Secondary School - the grade reflecting a specific purpose not quality, and was geared to providing education for those leaving at 14 or 15 years of age to enter ‘commercial occupations’. It was a popular and successful school in spite of the inadequacy of the buildings and, in the 1920s, it was intended to move the school to bigger premises at Haling Park, South Croydon. However, the Foundation Governors eventually decided that the school would move to North End in the centre of Croydon, to the premises occupied by Whitgift Grammar School. The move from Pump Pail happened in September 1931, with the boys and staff walking up from their old premises to their new home through the watching crowds.

The school name changed again in 1954, to Trinity School of John Whitgift, remaining at North End until 1965 when it moved to Shirley Park. The school in central Croydon was razed to the ground and is now the site of the Whitgift Shopping Centre. The school is now referred to simply as, Trinity School.

From this brief history of the school’s development, it is impossible not to realise that there is an enormous amount of history and heritage relating to the school. Unfortunately, due to the changes that have taken place since the mid-1800s, a great deal of the archive material has been lost. However, there is a catalogued collection of our memorabilia with photographs, artefacts and documents in the designated School Archive, and much of this material is currently undergoing the process of digitisation, so that it can be more easily accessed via the School’s archive website.

Some of the archive memorabilia is on display and can be seen by staff and pupils as well as by visitors to the school. Our Archivist, Laurie King, is happy to respond to enquiries from the public and particularly welcomes contact from former pupils of the school, who would like access to our digital archive or to arrange a tour of the school buildings.

Book: History of Trinity School

David Urmston, a retired member of Trinity staff, has written ‘The History of Trinity School’ which is available to purchase for £10, including postage and packing. Request for copies can be made to Laurie King, Trinity Archives, with cheques made payable to Trinity School.

Trinity and Whitgift Middle School Alumni

There are now events throughout the year for School Alumni to attend. At these times, they will be able to visit the Archives and tour the school. For a diary of our alumni programme, please contact

For further information, please contact: / 0208 656 9541 Ext 747

Laurie King
Archivist, Trinity School, Shirley Park CR9 7AT

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