Our wonderful school was first opened in 1890, replacing an earlier Ham Village School. Originally called St Andrew’s School, we were situated in what is now St Thomas Aquinas Church on the corner of Ham Common. Funds to build the school were raised by local charities, subscriptions and the National Society, a Church of England body for the promotion of church schools and Christian education.
When it opened, the school had capacity for 100 boys and 101 girls. As Ham Common at the time had so many activities taking place, including horse racing, the children were often distracted on their way into school every day!
Mr Alfred Hedger, Headmaster between 1919-1940, would entertain the children with stories of his holiday climbing expeditions to the Matterhorn mountain in the Alps.
Then as now, the school had a very successful football team called ‘The Hammers’.
On January 5th, 1966 (the year England won the World Cup) the school re-opened on the Wates Estate, our current site, as St Richard's with St Andrew's Primary School. The cost of the new building, which could accommodate 320 children, was £61,600. On the first day, 140 pupils moved across from the old school.
The Headmaster from the old site, a Mr E.R. Page, also moved to the new site. He retired two years later in 1968.
Mr Alan Dudeney served the school as Headmaster from 1968-1988 and was the Choirmaster for the very successful and famous St Richard’s with St Andrew's School Choir for 20 years. The children would rehearse every day at lunchtime. Children enjoyed singing with the choir so much that even ex-pupils would return to sing with the larger choir.
The school choir sang on television and radio many times, often with famous faces including Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Sir Harry Secombe and Sir Cliff Richard. They appeared on Pebble Mill four times. The choir travelled to the BBC and ITV Television Centres, sang by the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square for television and performed at Southwark Cathedral, the Dome in Brighton and the Royal Albert Hall.
The 100th and final performance was in 1988 when a 70-pupil strong choir sang their final song which was “May the good Lord bless and keep you”.
The school swimming pool was opened on Saturday 13th May, 1972. The £4,300 cost of the swimming pool and changing rooms was raised by pupils, staff, parents and friends over three years.
On the day, there was a Grand Opening by Mr Hugh Wheldon, Managing Director of BBC Television, who opened the pool with the words, “This project is a monument to enterprise. These people have done it themselves. Let this be an example to others”. There was a swimming gala to close the Grand Opening and the winning team received a trophy.