In 1885, Harding Bonner founded the Forest Gate School of Music , which took over John Curwen’s Tonic Sol-fa College, continuing the aim of educating those who weren’t lucky enough to have experienced a formal music education.
In 1906, the Forest Gate School of Music was renamed the Metropolitan Academy of Music.
When Harding Bonner died, soon afterwards, his son, Frank took over the college, expanding its reach until , in 1916, it boasted 12 branches throughout London and Essex, with a membership of about 2,300 students. After World War I, this rose to 5,000 – peaking at an impressive 5,600 in 1926 – the largest music institution in the country.
The Metropolitan Academy closed during the Second World war and never re-opened. The building stood behind Earlham Hall,which was a concert hall hosting many successful concerts for up to 500 people.