Frenchay Primary's 175th anniversary

August 03 2018
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A PRIMARY school has marked its 175th anniversary with a day of celebrations.

Frenchay Primary School first opened its doors in September 1842 and to mark its landmark academic year the school threw a party, starting with a ceremony to unveil a new flag designed by two reception and Year 1 pupils.

A huge birthday picnic for the children, staff and parents on Frenchay Common followed, with birthday cakes and music from the Bristol Veterans’ Band.

The focal point of the celebration day on June 29 was a service of thanksgiving held at St John the Baptist church, which started with head teacher Katherine Marks joining predecessors Sandra Allen and Carol Thorne to read the school prayer.

Children from the school’s Griffin class made a presentation about the history of the school, telling the congregation about its first days, with a single class of 99 children, and the dark years of the Second World War, when nearly eight hours of learning was lost to air raids each week.

There was also a memorable performance by the Bristol Renewal Gospel Choir, led by Kim Samuels, who sang at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and a celebratory quarter peal by the Frenchay Bellringers.

Teacher Chris Strawson, who coordinated the day, said “It was wonderful to see all the different elements of the day come together to make a fantastic celebration. Everyone who took part and enjoyed themselves seemed to be having a great time.”

 “We should all be extremely proud of our school and the place it has in the local community.”

The school has remained in the same building since 1842, although plans to move to a new, larger school on the former Frenchay Hospital site are currently in the pipeline. South Gloucestershire Council held a consultation on the plans, which would see the number of places offered by the school rise from 140 to 420, earlier in the year and a decision is expected in the autumn.  

Mr Strawson said: “Despite many alterations inside, and some additions in the school grounds, much of the daily life of our school still takes place in much the same surroundings as it did 175 years ago. Worship and lunchtime are still in the original school hall, the youngest children learn in what would always have been one of the classrooms and of course the whole school still enjoys using the Frenchay Common for sports and games and has close links to the village community.”