Ashburnham’s current buildings and location date from the early 1970s, when the school was created as part of the World’s End Estate development. You can tell from the distinctive brick stock that the school, the estate and the Chelsea Theatre are of the same era. However, the school name and association with the area go back much further.
The school’s name comes from John Ashburnham, second Earl of Ashburnham, who acquired land near the river in 1767 and built a house there.
This land passed through many hands, and eventually became Cremorne Gardens, a lively and colourful pleasure garden, including restaurants, entertainment, dancing and balloon ascents, that was popular from 1845 to 1877.
After the gardens’ closure, the area was redeveloped into low-rise Victorian terraced housing, and the original school was built as part of this, opening in 1885. The original buildings were on Lots Road, in the shadow of the famous Power Station, opened in 1904. The station eventually powered most of the London Underground, and was only de-commissioned in 2002.
The current school was built in 1972 and was designed by Eric Lyons (1912-1980) who was a President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. His designs were typified by their generous use of open space, a legacy which benefits the school in the form of the largest primary playground in Kensington and Chelsea. It is also the only school in the borough with no steps or stairs.
The original buildings no longer exist as they were demolished in 2009 to make way for the new Chelsea Academy.