The Blessed John Roche Catholic School, London, March 2010


This explore was a classic example of being lucky. The day before I’d spent researching numerous potential other explores in the area, and when the day finally came we discovered this place by walking past en-route to somewhere else.


The school was original known as Cardinal Griffin School, until 1991. The school was designed by the Architect David Stokes and built on the site of a former catholic church which was bombed in the war.

The foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Westminster and the school opened in September 1951. Architectural the design is very interesting as the classrooms were laid out in the ‘finger plan’ style to the north of the site to allow for landscaping of the south, providing a pleasant environment and open space for the local residents. In addition the internal spaces of the class rooms were kept free of load bearing walls, so that the design of the school could be more easily changed in the future. The whole building reflects the gothic style of tradtional catholic churches with features like coloured glass, vaulted ceilings and heavy weight structure. The school was mainly built with in-situ concrete and was completed on time and within budget, and was therefore seen as a small triumph over  ‘pre-cast’ structures which epitomised post war Britain.

The school also featured in the film: One Wish Too Many in 1956.


The site is vacant and awaits demolition for 490 new houses.

[Edit AUG 2010] The site has now been partly demolished, the main hall is no longer

orriginal plans of the school

the art department

coloured glazing in the entrance hall, akin to a church

my favourite space in the school

the vaulted corridors, akin to a church


Leave a Reply

  1. The lights still work?!

    It’s incredible how all of those things have just been left as if the people would return tomorrow.

    Oh, and I think the stuff on the whiteboard is actually physics. It has equation triangles for speed, density and other stuff that I can’t read ;)

  2. Love your website, I’m new to this caper…until I require my laptop, I couldn’t even use the internet…I’ve always had a keen interest in derelict and abandoned buildings. Unfortunately I have never been on an investigation, it all looks very interesting to me…but I’ve still got a long way to go before I’ve mastered the super highway of the Net. My other half found your website, and is helping me to improve my skills and knowledge in acquring the navigations as well as used to using the commands on the laptop! Probably on day I may get confident to go out and do some urban exploring myself…until then, I’ll just surf the net (with the help of my other half) and enjoy the sites…and the interesting information accompanying them.

  3. Thank you for your comments Michelle, and glad to see you’re mastering the internet. Urban Exploration (UE) is great fun, you and your other half should certainly give it a go.

  4. My son sent me this link – he and his brother and sister attended BJR covering the years 1990 – 2001. As a parent, there was good times here being part of the PTA and the staff was great. Seeing these pics have brought back good memorys but I doubt if my family would agree!
    Have you taken a trip to Jersey and see the derelict Pontins holiday site at Plemont Bay – it’s so sad, especially when you remember the good times there. By the way, this is an interesting site – will take a closer look when I have more time.

  5. i worked in this school from 2001 great memories …. apparently haunted :-] i used to explore it every day and always found something new about the school ……… so sad now it has gone . i was on site about 2 months ago and it has all but gone .

  6. wow now this is so bizarre seeing all these pictures, i was in the last year of the legacy that was BJR. loads of memories in this school one of the best era’s of my life!!!

  7. I was the Science technician at the school from about 1993 until it closed in 2005. It’s a shame that it’s being demolished. Whatever we lacked in term of equipment, it was more than made up for by the dedication of the staff and the good natured students!

  8. Omg, seeing those pics brings back memories like i sat there, this that happened there. Anyone know how i can get in touch with P.E. teacher Mr. Pritchard? Let me know please.

  9. omg cannot believe its gone i was in the second to last yeaqr of the school before it closed would be good to get in touch with some of my teachers jd if you do find pritchard can you give him my email PEEEEAAACE!!!!

  10. What a place some of my best times hear. I did not want to b their half the time bk then but now its gone I miss it like hell. when I walk past now and it aint their it puts a lump in my throat.. Big memory s thanks to the ta s and teachers for putting up with me and the rest of the boys big up 2 bjr peace out

  11. About 1982-1987 I went to this school when it was St Philip Howard R.C. Secondary. The first couple of years the head teacher was a Mr O’brian and it was a well regarded school and actually a great school to go to, good teachers, well planned out classes, and respectful pupils. Mr O’brian left and a complete bitch named Miss/Mrs Cook took his place along with a deputy head whose name I can’t remember that was an utter knob end.
    All the best teachers left soon after and the school rapidly went down hill, what with stand in’s and new young teachers fresh out of the box it became pretty much a free for all. We never knew what teacher we would have from week to week for many of our classes. By the time I came to the end of my ‘education’ at that school I could’nt wait to get out of there.
    So many of the teachers there at that time seriously seemed to hate kids, a couple of times friends of mine were actually assaulted by teachers, one boy virtually being lifted of his feet by the throat by a well built P.E. teacher because he would’nt stop talking while we were all waiting outside class.
    We even had a nun for R.E. that would swear and curse at us if we were a bit roudy!
    It is good to read that some of you have good memories of this place as the Blessed John Roach. Me, I lived just round the corner from it and hated going past the place once I’d left. My only happy memory now is when they knocked the shit hole down.

  12. I was with BJR school for the last 4 years until the closing of the school at 2005. I used to be the IT Manager at the school. I must say it was one of the school which had a wonderful team of staff, almost like a family! It is a shame it had to close. I still remember my colleagues Starting from Corinna, Kim, Ian, Angie, Barry, John, Vanessa, Sheila, Tina… Seems like it was just the other day! I live very nearby now and every time I pass the school premise (used to be), I see a very newly built property block. Even the graveyard just next to the school is been taken over by the construction!! This is the act of time in fact :) Nothing remains as it was ……

  13. Does any1 know first name for mr. pritchard so i search for him on facebook.? I think i do remember him being called 1ns as spencer. Could someone please confirm please

  14. I used to watch the TV show MI High when I was a few years younger and I know for a fact this school was used in filming 3 series, I have always wanted to visit the place, and as some point actually thought about buying it!

  15. I went to this school in the early 80s when it was called St. Phillip Howard
    THe headmaster was called Mr. Brian and my memories was a awful school with bullies and fights at lunch time. Teachers could not careless in regards to students. There was a num teaching RE. Her name was sister Christine. The PE teahcer was Mr. Prichard and Mr. Lions. It was a horrible time of my life.

  16. My mum, grandmother and great aunt all worked at this school in the admin office. All three of them were there at the same time back in the days when it was St. Phillip Howard and then it was just my mother when they rebranded to Blessed John Roche. During the summer holidays when Mum would be working, she’d bring me along and I’d rollerskate around the main entrance hall or the school hall in front of the stage. It was brilliant!

    I remember there was this biology teacher/lab tech…I wish I could remember his name…but he would take me up to the lab and show me shelves upon shelves of specimens in jars. Birds, reptiles, fish – everything! I’d never seen anything like that before and I LOVED it! It was that experienced that sparked my interest in natural history and biology.

    I’m not surprised it failed. The headteacher was a first class pillock, by all accounts.