Although born in Essex, Eleanor Macdonald (1910 - 2004) lived in Croydon for most of her life and attended Woodford School. With her brother Ian, An accomplished fencer, she founded the Croydon School of Fencing on Wellesley Road in 1928 with her brother Ian and which took her to Paris where they worked on routines for stage and screen. The School of Fencing continued until 1939 when she volunteered for war duty. Her work in intelligence resulted in her being awarded an MBE. After the war she gained qualifications in business and rose to become the director of a number of Unilever group companies.
In 1969 she founded her own consultancy business, Women in Management, which encouraged women at all levels to learn techniques of effective management and self development. Her work earned her the OBE. Her autobiography, Nothing by Chance, was published in 1987. She lived at Mapledale Avenue and attended St Andrews parish church. Among her interests was the history of the theatre in Croydon. She never married.
Woodford School was a private day-school for girls. A few boarders were also taken. Boys were taught in the preparatory classes. The school originated in 1867, established by Miss Annie Waters, who was joined shortly afterwards by her sister, Jennie Waters. It was originally located in the family home at 9 George Street, Croydon; but in 1878 the family and school moved into a new house at 8 Dingwall Road. This was named Woodford House after the village of Woodford, Wilts, where the family originated. The school subsequently expanded into the two neighbouring houses, 7 and 9 Dingwall Road. The Misses Waters retired in 1900, and Miss AHB Walford became headmistress; she was succeeded in 1927 by Miss Mary Horsley, an old girl of the school, who had taught there since 1919. The name changed in 1916 from Woodford House School to Woodford School. The school went into decline during World War 2. The Senior School closed in 1942; and, after Mary Horsley died in 1945, the surviving Junior School also closed.
The Old Girls Association (WOGA) was established in March 1902. It went into abeyance during World War 2; and was wound up after the death of Miss Horsley, and the closure of the school, in 1945. It was revived in 1951 by Phyllis Fretwell (nee Densham) and Valerie Williams, who became joint secretaries. It established strong links with Mary Horsleys sisters, Misses Margaret and Gwendolen (Dee) Horsley: Margaret, who had been Secretary of the school, was elected President of WOGA. The Association was finally wound up in 1984.
Eleanor Macdonald founded the Croydon School of Fencing to ease her family financial situation. It was based at Wellesley House on Wellesley Road from 1928 until it was closed due to the Macdonalds war service in 1939. Eleanor and Ian Macdonald built up a national and international reputation in tournaments, exhibitions, consultants (including for motion pictures) and publications on fencing.