AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 A/NLC
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Date(s): 1887-1896
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.08 linear metres
Name of creator(s): North London Collegiate School for Girls


Administrative/Biographical history:

In April 1850 Frances Mary Buss opened the North London Collegiate School for Ladies at 46 (later renumbered 12) Camden Street. Camden Town was then a professional neighbourhood near both Hampstead and the City, and 35 daughters of gentlemen and 'the most respectable' tradesmen assembled on the opening day. The girls received an education which from the first included Latin, French, natural science, and periods of recreation; German, Italian, and music were extras. The teaching encouraged thought and observation rather than learning by rote, and its success was immediate. By December 1850 there were 115 pupils and Miss Buss had founded 'the model for girls' Day Schools throughout the country'.

In 1870 Miss Buss decided to transform her flourishing private venture into a public grammar school for girls by transferring it to a trust which would carry on the work when she was no longer able to do so. New premises were acquired at 202 Camden Road; here there was a large schoolroom which could be partitioned by curtains, a similar room upstairs, two classrooms, and long passages for 'musical gymnastics'. The move allowed Miss Buss to found a second school, the Camden School, in the accommodation left vacant in Camden Street. The changed status of the school was confirmed in 1875, when a scheme for its administration was prepared by the Endowed Schools Commission. An appeal for an endowment fund for the two schools brought in gifts from several City companies, notably the Brewers' Company, which provided 20,000 for buildings and 600 annually from the Platt Charity, a Brewers' charity, while for scholarships there was an additional 2,000 from Dame Alice Owen's Charity. This enabled Miss Buss to proceed with her plans for a new school building in Sandall Road. The Clothworkers' Company granted 105 a year for scholarships and 2,500 for an assembly hall, which bore the company's name. The new school was opened in 1879 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. The latter had been the patroness of the schools since 1871. Meanwhile the Camden School had moved into new buildings in Prince of Wales Road in 1878.

Miss Buss was a pioneer in other directions, encouraging gymnastics, swimming, skating, hockey, and athletics. She incorporated in the new buildings the first gymnasium designed for a girls' school and obtained the use of the St. Pancras baths, but her proposal to make the girls 'really bold swimmers' by capsizing a boat in open water was not adopted. She started a school sports day, and in the interests of dress reform organized a tug-of-war between girls who wore stays and those who did not; the latter won. Miss Buss had little time for fainting girls, for whom she recommended the cold water treatment. She also encouraged the more usual accomplishments such as art, music, needlework, cookery, and handicrafts.

By present-day standards discipline appears to have been very strict; talking seemed to be the main evil, and 'every moment, almost every movement, was ordered'. There were many rules, breach of which involved signing the 'Appearance Book', but any form which went for half a term without a signature was allowed a 'gratification'-half an hour's free time-as a reward.

Miss Buss' successor at North London Collegiate, whom she had designated as early as 1878, was Mrs. Sophie Bryant, a mathematician and a brilliant teacher. In 1884 she had become the first woman D.Sc. and in 1894 she was one of the three women appointed to the Bryce Commission on secondary education. Miss I. M. Drummond, who was appointed to succeed Mrs. Bryant, was a former member of the staff of North London Collegiate and had been latterly headmistress of the Camden School. Miss Drummond relaxed some of the regulations and encouraged the free choice of creative activities in the arts and in school societies. In 1929, with the assistance of the Middlesex County Council, the school acquired 'Canons', a Georgian house standing in extensive grounds at Little Stanmore, and soon a section of the school was travelling there each morning of the week for lessons and games. Eventually it was decided to move the whole school to Canons, and the foundation-stone of a new building extending behind the house was laid in May 1939.

Source: 'Schools: The North London Collegiate School', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, pp. 308-310 (available online).


Scope and content/abstract:

School reports for Hetty Lee, 1887-1892 and Margery Lee, 1894-1896, pupils at the North London Collegiate School. Some reports bear the signature of Frances M Buss, Headmistress.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:


Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received in 1952 (AC/52/037).

Allied Materials

Related material:

The school maintains its own archive which can be consulted in the School Library, contact Mrs Karen Morgan, Archivist, North London Collegiate School, Canons, Edgware HA8 7RJ, Tel: 020 8952 0912. Email:

Publication note:

Scrimgeour, M.A. ed., "North London Collegiate School, 1850 - 1950", (Oxford University Press, 1950) and Watson, Nigel, "And Their Works Do Follow Them: the Story of North London Collegiate School", (James & James, 2000).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"