Haberdashers Federation

Our History

Our History

Our Trust stems from the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers’ vision to provide opportunities for all children to be educated.

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South stems from the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers’ vision to provide opportunities for all children to be educated. Our Haberdashers’ roots go back as far as the 1680s when our founder, Robert Aske, left a sum of money to build a school for 20 underprivileged children.

In 1689, Aske left a £20,000 charitable fund to the Haberdashers Company to buy a piece of land within one mile of London in order to build a 'Hospital' (almshouses) and a school. In 1690, a site was purchased in Hoxton, just north of the City, where the original Hospital and school were built. In 1824, these were demolished and a new school and almshouses were built. In 1874, the almshouses were closed and the buildings were enlarged to become a day school for 600 students for both girls and boys.

At around the same time, land at Hatcham, near New Cross, was bought at the top of Plowed Garlic Hill, which we now know as Telegraph Hill, and plans for a boys' and girls' schools were drawn up. This was not an easy task for the builders because at that time, there were no roads that passed the site.

Bad weather at that time made moving up the hill difficult, but the development was a success and in October 1875 the two schools were completed on the single site. In 1889, further land was purchased in Jerningham Road and a school was built for 300 girls, and the school at Pepys site became a school for 300 boys.

In 1898, the original Hoxton site became unsuitable and was sold; new sites were then purchased in Hampstead and Acton. These schools are now known as Habs Girls and Habs Boys (Elstree) which were created from the same Aske charitable fund as our own Trust.

Following the 1944 Education Act, the two Hatcham schools became voluntary controlled grammar schools. In 1979, they were once again reorganised as comprehensive schools, and then combined as a City Technology College in 1991.

In 2005 the multi-academy trust was set up with Hatcham College and Knights Academy in order to increase the availability of education to more students and make a wider use of the strengths that the Haberdashers have to offer. The Trust has grown since then and today we are proud to be a family of five primary and four secondary schools.

In 2021, it was discovered that Aske was a shareholder in the Royal African Company, a trading company set up in 1660 and led by the Duke of York (future King James II). This information was taken seriously by the Trust and Haberdashers’ Company, and so a robust and wide-reaching consultation was undertaken. Following the consultation, there were two significant outcomes; the motto ‘Serve and Obey’ was dropped by the Trust and by our schools; ‘Aske’ was removed from school names and on the Trust trading name but was retained in the formal, legal name of the Trust, in recognition of the significant and continuing contribution made by the Aske charity.