Founded just over 100 years ago, Pangbourne College is a thriving, co-educational day and boarding school which is home to 430 boys and girls aged 11-18. Pangbourne offers a stimulating all-round education, embracing academic rigour and a diversity of sport, music and co-curricular activities, in a small school environment where every child can shine.


In 2017, the College celebrated its Centenary Year, with a look back over 100 years of fascinating history and change. The brief history below explores some of the major changes in the past 100 years.

Pangbourne College was founded by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt in 1917 as The Nautical College, Pangbourne. The school was founded as a training ground to produce high quality officers for the British Merchant Navy and prepare boys for the rigours and demands of life at Sea. Links were quickly established with the Royal Navy, and from its foundation the cadets (as they were then known) wore the uniform of the RNR Officer Cadets. The tradition of the uniform continues today, with our pupils wearing the No2 uniform for their day-to-day uniform, and the formal No1 uniform for major College events. 

A major shift occurred in 1969, when The Nautical College Pangbourne became Pangbourne College. This change reflected changing times, with the reduced importance of the Merchant Navy to British industry, and an increase in applications to university and careers outside of the Merchant or Royal Navy. Today, only two or three students leave the College with the intention of a career in the Armed Forces each year, and almost all go to university as their first destination.

Among those alumni educated prior to 1969, many achieved success in the Forces, with 20 Admirals, two commanding officers of the Royal Yacht Britannia, and one Second Sea Lord.  Since 1969, Pangbourne alumni have achieved success in a wide variety of business, sport and other industries. For example, two have become Lord Mayors of the City of London, and several have represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games.

Another major shift occurred in 1996, when Pangbourne College welcomed its first full intake of girls and became fully co-educational. Since 2007, there have been two Chief Cadet Captains of College (Heads of School) per year, one boy and one girl. Today, 35% of the pupil body are girls, with plans in place to increase this further.

In 2006, the College adopted seven Flag Values, which underpin everything we do as a College and describe our ethos and outlook. They are Kindness, Resilience, Selflessness, Moral Courage, Integrity, Initiative and Industry. Our ethos is that of a pupil-centred, nurturing community, aiming to develop skills including teamwork, leadership, self-discipline and service in our pupils.

The principal aim behind all of Pangbourne’s activities – whether academic, sporting, musical or extra-curricular – is to develop one or more of these values. Students take pride in being part of the College and are made to feel involved and valued in its close-knit community.