The History of Lane End Conference Centre
In 1969 Lane End Conference Centre, then known as HTS Management Training Centre, opened its doors for the first time. The purpose built conference venue was one of the first of its kind and the objective was to offer dedicated meeting facilities conducive to learning and development with the highest standard of equipment, catering and above all dedicated training rooms.
The 26 acre site enjoys a colourful history dating back to 1864 when a civil servant named Charles Forgett purchased the land after his retirement from the Bombay Police. He purchased and called the property "Cowasjee Jehangir Hall" after the well-known Parsi philanthropist, who gave so generously to educational and charitable institutions in Western India. The original building was designed with a strong influence from Indian architecture to serve as homage to the Country where Forgett grew up and contributed so much to public safety.
Forgett, who was appointed Superintendent of Police in 1855, was of Anglo-Indian parentage and was brought up in India. Some records state that he was partly of French descent and that his black hair and sallow complexion enabled him to mix with the Indian natives and pass as one of them. In this way he managed to get in close touch with the men who were acting as go-betweens and receivers of bribes. Through these men he contrived to test the integrity of individual members of the force, consequently bringing down a whole system of corruption in the Government. Forgett did much to improve public safety and was well respected in Police and native circles. It was said that he was the first efficient chief that the Bombay Police ever had, and one hesitates to imagine what might have happened in Bombay if a man of less courage and ability had been in charge of the force."
It is unclear what happened with the property after Forgett passed away in London on January 27th 1890, but his admiration of the Parsi philanthropist's dedication to educational purposes might have had something to do with the school that opened in later years.
The Wycombe Court Garden School was a boarding and day school for girls. One of its most famous pupils was the film star Julie Christie and hundreds of friendships were rekindled when women from all over the world attended the Wycombe Court School Reunion on December 18th 2000.
During the 1960's the school fees were set at £50 per term and in the school handbook it states "although the majority of pupils take the orthodox meat diet, a strict vegetarian diet is also provided for those who require it". We continue to deliver this standard at Lane End Conference Centre today. Games were played daily, rounders and tennis in the summer, hockey and netball in the winter. Parents who wished to visit could usually do so on a Saturday or Sunday after 12 noon but notice of a proposed visit was required by the Principals.
The school educated hundreds of girls over the years, until its closure in 1965. The main school building went up in flames in February 1969 when it was set alight as part of the demolition; soon after the current Wycombe Hall conference building was erected where many successful conferences, training courses and events have taken place to this day.