Tonbridge School’s transformed Smythe Library has been officially unveiled by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra – over 50 years after she opened the original building.
The library, which was constructed in 1962, has been extended and refurbished to reflect the growing school, changes in the curriculum, the use of modern technology and the need for flexible teaching spaces.
The £6.1million project has seen a new mezzanine level added to the building, spaces built for the Careers and University and Learning Strategies departments, the creation of the Chan Café as a community gathering area and the construction of well-equipped teaching areas. There is also more room for the School’s collection of almost 23,000 books.
Watched by almost 800 boys and 300 guests, Princess Alexandra unveiled a commemorative plaque outside the building in the nearby Cloisters, following an official welcome from Headmaster Tim Haynes and Chairman of Governors Jonathan Cohen QC.
During the visit, Princess Alexandra was reunited some of the Old Tonbridgians who met her in 1962. They included Peter Canney, (Head Boy 1962), Mike de St Croix (Deputy Head of School 1962), Richard Malins and Colin Heathcote (1962 tour guides).
Her Royal Highness also met with staff, governors, architects, representatives from the Skinners’ Company and local dignitaries, as she was shown around the new building by the School’s current Head Boy Oscar Pullen and Deputy Head Boy Finn Kinsler-O'Sullivan.
Princess Alexandra was then presented with a posy by six-year-old Lucie van Wensveen and given commemorative programmes of both her 1962 and current visit by Mr Cohen.
An honour guard of boys from the Tonbridge Combined Cadet Force served as the School’s farewell to the princess.
Mr Haynes said: “The transformation of the Smythe Library in many ways reflects the changes that have happened to the School over the past 50 years. The same outer shell of the building may exist, but inside a revolution has taken place.
“I would like to thank Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra for coming back to the School. I would also like to thank our architects, contractors, school staff and our many supporters and friends for making this project such an enormous success.”