The Palmer Academy - History and Heritage

The Reading British School was built in just two months in 1810.

By 1902 it was considered unsuitable accommodation for a Board School (yet the building still stands today in Southampton Street, Reading.

For 80 years before education was provided free in England, Reading’s children benefitted freely from this Quaker initiative.

George Palmer, a co-founder of Huntley and Palmers Biscuit Factory (Readings biggest employer for over 50 years) actively supported the Reading British Free School as did many other local industrialists.  George Palmer’s involvement was of a practical nature as he remained Secretary and Chief Officer to the school for half a century, as well as holding many other public offices in the town – including Mayor, Alderman and Member of Parliament. 

He held annual treats in the grounds of his Reading home (The Acacias which is now part of Reading University) and visited the school on a regular basis until just prior to his death in 1897.  

Ten years later the replacement school was build and named George Palmer School in his honour.

In 2004 the old school was demolished and the school now known as The Palmer Academy was build.

However, there is still a part of the old school in use.  In a project by Rob Bruce (Family Support Manager), the original bell from the old George Palmer Primary School was relocated to a specially designed garden to the front of the new school, The Palmer Academy.

First installed in the bell tower of the George Palmer Primary School in 1907, 111 years later, on 18th June 2018, Reading Mayor, Deborah Edwards dedicated the Palmer Bell to remind everyone each time it rings, of The Palmer Academy’s fine history, heritage and tradition of educating “Enquiring Minds for Inspiring Futures”.