Over 100 former pupils and teachers attend Open Day

Group photo of our visitors to the Open Day

Who said history is boring? Certainly nobody who was at North Primary School on Saturday 11th May for the second CXXV Open Day. For three hours former pupils and teachers took a trip down memory lane, and what a fabulous journey that was for them and for the staff and pupils listening to their stories, making recordings and taking their photographs for the archive. In turn they were treated to refreshments served by the NSA and provided by Tesco Hythe.

They were also entertained by present pupils singing and dancing – a reprise of their performance at the Colchester Children’s Music Festival back in March. Our visitors thoroughly enjoyed the pupils dancing and singing performances, it brought back many fond memories of what they used to sing, the country dancing, Morris Dancing and even sword dancing.

Pupils performing for our guests

Nicola Burrell, one of the two artists on the project, led a workshop making card models inspired by subjects taught at school, which was enjoyed by the younger visitors.

By our project artist Nicola Burrell.

These beautiful figures were inspired by a former pupils memory when older children read to younger children on rainy days.

Lexden History Group showcased a range of toys and books dating back to the late C19th. These were enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Lexden History Group’s display of toys and books

One of the delights was watching people who had not seen each other for many years – some 40 years – talk about their childhood or experiences of working at North. One former pupil, Brenda Cant, nee Trace, who attended North from 1939, was worried about returning to the school in case the grandeur of the Victorian building had not been preserved. She was very pleased that she did come and fortunately for us she was impressed with what she saw: a building that respects its history but is fit for purpose in the 21st century. And she has something else to be grateful to North for:- she met a boy at the school when they were 11… and when they were adults they got married!

Brenda Cant

Clive Blanchett remembered that in the 1950s there used to be a medical room where the nit nurse checked your hair – yes that was a job – this is now the kitchen. Mrs Skinner’s class, used to be Mr Boyes classroom, he taught the handicraft lessons.

There were some great reunions. Frances Fisher, nee Miss Ellie, (pictured with Mrs Nicholls and former teacher Mr. Betts), who taught at North between 1956 – 1969, visited her classroom which is now the ICT room.

Three generations of teachers – Anthony Bette, Ash Nicholls and Frances Fisher.

Our visitors travelled great distances to join us for the open day. David Gane came all the way from Newark, (about 150 miles away), meeting up with his classmate from the 1960s Susan Wilson. They were delighted to meet up with their former teacher Mrs Fisher and reminisce about the past. David said: every inch of this school has a memory.

It was great to see the Year 5 pupils Ellie and George put their oral history training into practice with Mrs Jasper, Mrs Wood and Miss Griffith recording visitors’ memories.

Our project historian Claire Driver was kept very busy with so many people sharing their photographs. The memories, photographs and oral histories will be added to the school archive, retelling its 125-year history. All this information will gradually be added to the project website or you can follow us on Facebook North School CXXV. If you have a memory to share about your time at North Primary School, we would be delighted if you complete the memory form and uploaded any photographs.

The success of the day was down to the support from the project team, teachers, governors, NSA, pupils – and of course, all of our visitors. A big thank you to them all!


School Celebrates Lottery Funding

Daily Gazette and Essex County Standard:
‘CHILDREN are embarking on a project to unravel 125 years of their school’s history.

North Primary School in Colchester was awarded cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project.

Teachers and pupils will work with historian Claire Driver, to explore the school’s archive at Essex Record Office, which includes maps, architectural plans, photographs, log books and admission registers.

The school also plans to hold events and open days in which they will invite current and former staff, pupils, families and older residents, to help it identify its social history and its place in the community.

Head teacher Alan Garnett said: “This amazing building has seen so many wonderful people pass through it and I am looking forward to learning their stories with our pupils. Not only will it be informative for them, it will a fascinating lesson in the important part a school plays in the formative life of a child, its family and their community. A history to which they will be inspired to make their own contribution.”‘

125 Years gets off to great start

Photo: Pictured appropriately below our Homecoming artwork: Rosina Hawes (2005) grand-daughter of Gwenda Read (1947) Jill Holland (1948), Susan Wilson (1959) and David Holland (1945)

CXXV is North Schools new two-year initiative involving families pupils and staff past and present in a project to capture and share memories of school and community since it opened in November 1984. Here’s an extract from the school Newsline:

“The first community event of our anniversary project was a great success. 102 former pupils, staff and governors signed up to be involved. There were people with connections going back to the earliest days. In the photo above everybody organised themselves in order of when they started at North, up to the present day in Reception. Visitors enjoyed the opportunity to explore the school, meet old friends -two men had not seen each other for 50 years. Some brought photos which were copied and added to the archive. Whilst the older visitors reminisced there was plenty for children to do. They could look at lots of artefacts brought in by artist Lisa Temple-Cox and members of Lexden History Society. There was a photo puzzle to complete and they could make a cardboard model of the bell tower with Nicola Burrell. Refreshments were provided by Tesco’s and served by our NSA.”