History of St Columba’s College
In 1939, as World War II loomed, Mr Phillip O’Neil founded the College in central St Albans and later moved the school to Iona House. Sixteen years later, The Brothers of the Sacred Heart came from New England in the US to establish St Columba’s as a unique school within a worldwide community.
Overseeing an ambitious building project – which included the hands-on participation of boys and staff wielding wheelbarrows and brick trowels – the Brothers applied their inspiration to developing St Columba’s as a thriving independent Catholic school for boys through the 1960s.
Since those early years, we have continued to extend and enhance our facilities and greatly expand the curriculum, especially in the Sixth Form, where twenty-two subjects are offered at A Level. The school is now composed of 800 students across the Prep and Senior Schools between the ages of four and eighteen, drawn from a wide area across North London, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, including a Sixth Form of 124 students.
Mr O’Neil might not recognise the modern, outward-looking College that we have become, but those early Brothers would surely see a strong cord of continuity binding their vision to the Columban values we celebrate today.
The development of the school over seventy-five years has been tracked through wonderful documents and photographs in the Columban Archives, managed by Brother Nelson Dionne. Until the Spring of 2020, the archives were managed by Brother Clement Pelletier, who was one of the four Brothers who established the College in 1955. In 2017, many of these records were made available to view on the St Columba’s Connects website, and show College life throughout the years, from school productions to Columban Fayres.