LEYTON Sixth Form College has undergone various incarnations since it first opened in 1929.

As the college prepares to celebrate its 80th birthday, CLAIRE HACK finds out more.

Leyton Sixth Form College began life as a selective grammar school in Essex Road for boys aged 11 to 18, some 55 years after a school board was formed in Leyton.

From 1874, secondary education began to take shape in the area and by 1929, when the college opened under its first incarnation, several schools had already been opened.

The college was enlarged in 1934 and again in 1957 before reducing its intake to 14- to 18-year-olds, while becoming less selective.

The school did not begin admitting girls until 1986 and in 1988 it became sixth form-only.

November marks the 80th anniversary of the original Essex Road site, which was once nothing more than open fields, belonging to the Barclay estate.

Originally opened on November 28, 1929, by the Prince of Wales, the school's pupils soon gained a reputation for sporting prowess and dramatic talent.

Photographs and documents, to be exhibited at the school during a special celebratory open day, show the prince meeting local dignitaries along a procession route on the opening day.

Famous alumni include TV presenter Jonathan Ross, actors Derek Jacobi and Frank Muir, and musician John Lill.

Former pupil John Everard was at the college, then Leyton County High School for boys, from 1960 - 67.

Mr Everard, now retired from a career in banking in the City and living in Essex, said: "I was founder member and secretary of the school rowing club during the only two years of its existence from 1965 to 67.

"We learnt to row at Eton Mission Rowing Club down on the River Lea at Hackney near the Matchbox Toy Factory.

"I learned with interest this year that one of the last First World War veterans, Henry Allingham, was a member of this club in the years before before the war."

He added that the club competed at Eton School, as well as against college teams from Cambridge University.

The school is now undergoing further transformation after becoming one of only 13 colleges in the UK to secure funding from the Learning and Skills Council.

It will see major changes to facilities but is also aimed at preserving historic buildings on the site.

The open day is to be held at the school on November 28 from 1pm in the school's main hall.

The exhibition of photographs and documents will be displayed there and ex-students and residents will also be invited to take a tour of the campus.

About 2,000 students now attend the school, both male and female, most of whom are aged 16 to 19.

Are you a former pupil? Get in touch with the Guardian – call Claire Hack on 07768 507 739 or email chack@london.newsquest.co.uk