Kettering Grammar School

Kettering Grammar School was a boys' grammar school (selective) that had a number of homes in Kettering, Northamptonshire throughout its history.

Kettering Grammar School
, ,
NN15 6PH

Coordinates52°23′19″N 0°42′39″W / 52.3887°N 0.7108°W / 52.3887; -0.7108
TypeGrammar school
Closed1976 (completely in 1993)
Local authorityNorthamptonshire
Age11 to 18
PublicationThe Cytringanian



The school was based in a building in Gold Street which, together with the master's house, was completed in 1857.[1] It then relocated to Bowling Green Road, a building designed by John Alfred Gotch in the neoclassical style and completed in 1913. The building was occupied on the left side by Kettering High School (for girls) and on the right side by Kettering Grammar School (for boys).[2]

After the school moved to Windmill Avenue, to the east of the town north of Wicksteed Park, in 1965,[3] the Bowling Green Road building became the Kettering Municipal Offices.[4]



In later years the Windmill Avenue buildings housed Kettering Boys School, with many of the same teachers as the Grammar School but no longer selective, and now part of the area's Comprehensive education system. It operated on two sites – a lower and upper school. The Kettering High School became Kettering School for Girls on Lewis Road (near Wicksteed Park) and then Southfield School for Girls on Lewis Road.[5]

Further education college


The Windmill Avenue site has been occupied by Tresham College of Further and Higher Education, (Kettering Campus),[6] since 1993. The former Grammar School buildings were knocked down in 2007 to make way for the Tresham's new block.[7]

Space research


In the 1960s, Geoffrey Perry, head of the school Physics department experimented with using satellite signals and the Doppler effect as an aid to teaching. The activity soon grew into regular monitoring of Soviet-launched satellites and expanded into an international collaboration that became known as the Kettering Group. The group was headed by Perry, who by then had become Head of Science Teaching. On the technical front Perry was partnered by the head of the chemistry department, Derek Slater – a Radio Amateur, G3FOZ.[8]

The activities of Perry and his team created considerable interest: an article which had been published in Aviation Week magazine in 1957 revealed that the U.S. had been tracking Russian missile launches from advanced long-range radar units in Turkey. The article caused a furore, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower's special assistant for National Security Affairs, Robert Cutler, referring to the article as "treasonable". It was claimed that the story started with Perry and his students and that Perry had advised a writer at the magazine that a radar in Turkey was doing important space intel tracking, so the writer dug deeper into the story. A Kettering contribution to the 1957 story would not have been possible at the time because the tracking team was not formed until 1964 and its analyses of the Soviet space programme only started to appear a couple years later.[9]

In 1966 the project went international when Swedish student Sven Grahn contacted the group with a recording of the signals from Kosmos 104.[10][11] The same year it discovered Soviet launches from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, officially unacknowledged until 1983.[9]

In 1969, a group used simple radio equipment to monitor the Apollo 11 mission and calculated its orbits.[12][13] According to the group, in December 1972 a member "pick[ed] up Apollo 17 on its way to the Moon".[14]

In 1973 the group tracked Skylab[15] and in July 1975, the team supported ITN in their coverage of the Soyuz – Apollo link up which took place 140 miles over Bognor Regis on 17 July 1975.[16]

In 1978 the group predicted the crash of Kosmos 954 spacecraft.[17]

In May 1985, Geoffrey Perry talked about the project in the Radio 4 programme The Kettering Project. In March 1987, Channel 4 featured the Group in the programme Sputniks, Bleeps & Mr Perry.[4]

Pictures of the school's space tracking team, originally published in The Times newspaper, would later find their way onto record covers of The Wonder Stuff for their album, Construction for the Modern Idiot.[18]

Notable alumni


See also



  1. ^ "Public Opinion and Kettering Grammar School (1883-1888)" (PDF). Northamptonshire Record Society. p. 333. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Northamptonshire Past and Present" (PDF). Northamptonshire Record Society. 2013. p. 28.
  3. ^ "History". Kettering Old Grammar School Foundation. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Explore Kettering" (PDF). Kettering Civic Society. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Southfield School for Girls". Northamptonshire County Council. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Kettering – Tresham". 15 April 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Tresham college, Kettering (C) Michael Trolove". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  8. ^ Cytringainian Farewell, Kettering Grammar/Boys School (1577–1993)
  9. ^ a b "When Aviation Week Was Accused of Treason -- The Back Story Revealed". Aviation Week. 26 August 2016. Archived from the original on 28 August 2016.
  10. ^ "A Short History of the Kettering Group". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  11. ^ Grahn, Sven. "How I caught The Space Bug". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  12. ^ Perry, G. E. (1968). "A school satellite tracking station as an aid to the teaching of physics" (PDF). Physics Education. 3 (6): 281. Bibcode:1968PhyEd...3..281P. doi:10.1088/0031-9120/3/6/301.
  13. ^ Roberts, G. (1986). "The Amateur and Artificial Satellites". Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of South Africa. 45: 5. Bibcode:1986MNSSA..45....5R.
  14. ^ Christy, Robert D. "Kettering Group Timeline". Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  15. ^ Sven Grahn. "Tracking Skylab". Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  16. ^ "Kettering Group Timeline". Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  17. ^ New Scientist. Reed Business Information. 2 February 1978. p. 268. ISSN 0262-4079. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  18. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Construction for the Modern Idiot". All Music. Retrieved 3 March 2021.