Former pupils share their memories

September 02 2016

FORMER pupils of Hillfields Park Infant and Junior Schools shared their memories on a tour of the buildings this summer.

Old school

FORMER pupils of Hillfields Park Infant and Junior Schools shared their memories on a tour of the  buildings this summer.

The schools are to be knocked down to make way for a new building on the Hillfields estate  for Minerva Primary Academy.

Principal Peter Hallam and his team invited residents to come and take a look round before demolition began.

“We wanted people to have one last trip down memory lane,” he said. “We have now found out there will be a bit of a delay, so we are planning another open event in the autumn, which really will  be the final look round!”

Participants in the summer visit included ex-pupils from several generations, from the 1950s to the 1990s. All found things they remembered – and things that had changed.

Janet Jones (nee Stephens) was a pupil from 1950 and was one of a family of six siblings who all went to the schools.

“My eldest sister Barbara would have started in 1940 and the youngest in 1959,” she said.

Janet remembered taking part in music and movement sessions in the hall, with music broadcast on the wireless. “That was quite modern then,” she said.

Paul Dukes, who was at the school from 1989, recalled the TV room, while pupils in 2016 now use interactive whiteboards.

Paul said he had friends to this day whom he met on his first day at Hillfields Park. His memories included the climbing frame, egg races in  the corridor and going to the rec for sports day.

“Some of the school is very familiar. It’s all flooding back,” he said, before poring over the school’s extensive collection of photographs down the decades.

The visitors also met school cook Mandy Hooper, who has worked there for more than 40 years and before that was a pupil there herself.

The infant school opened in 1927 and the junior school in 1929. The most famous ex-pupil is Arthur Milton, who was a county cricketer for Gloucestershire and gained six caps for England as well as playing football for Arsenal and Bristol City, gaining one England cap.

The infant school will be the first part to be demolished, with children and staff moving into portable classrooms.

The new school will be a two-storey building with 15 classrooms and a dining and assembly hall and studio space. It will have a low energy air management system and solar electricity panels.

Mr Hallam said: “We will also have a community room, an after school club/art/DT/cookery room. We will be making the most of the extra outdoor space by providing outdoor adventure areas and covered spaces for outdoor learning.”

It is hoped the new school will be ready for use by the end of 2017.

* Anyone with old photos or memorabilia to share with the school is invited to contact the school office or to get in touch with Fishponds Voice.  Look out in future editions on our Facebook and Twitter pages for details of the final memory lane event.