School celebrates 50 & 125 years at the heart of its village
There has been a school in Ampleforth in one location or another since 1833 and recently we have been celebrating 2 anniversaries. St Hilda’s moved from the Village Hall site where it had been since the 19th century. The new school (Station Road) opened its doors in 1965 with 43 children on role. Miss Barnes was Head and Mrs Dobson was teacher. It was officially opened on 22nd November 1965 by Joan Maynard JP MP. This move was commemorated at a 50th Anniversary event on Sunday 22nd November 2015. The 50th Anniversary coincided with the 125th Anniversary of the school being set up in what is now the Village Hall. In the early 1980’s the school numbers went up and an extra classroom was built. In recent years, this building has been used for a Nursery class which opened in 2005.
The children in current Class 1 were visited by past pupils and staff who told them about life at the Village Hall School and at Station Road over the years. Some of the memories they shared were of the old school being heated by a stove and pupils remember warming bottles of milk by the stove and listening to stories as they drank milk. They didn’t have a playground, but played in the lane which led to a cow field so they had to avoid standing in the cow pats! The school is now fortunate in not only having a playground but also a field and wildlife area.
Mrs Sprakes, the school cook, has worked at the school since the 1980s. She recalled the changes from cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients to using frozen and processed food and now back to using mainly fresh ingredients.
The event was attended by past pupils and staff. A common theme amongst the past pupils was the enjoyment the got from listening to stories being read by their teachers. Some recalled carrying books, other resources and even chairs from the old school to Station Road as part of the move. The links with the Church have always been strong and Vicars through the ages have come into the school to lead worships. This year the children will be going to Church for a Nativity just as they did 50 years ago. Then, as now, some pupils were transported to school by taxi. Fanny Benson provided this service for many years and was remembered fondly. Generations of families have passed through the school and one of the current teachers, Rosemary Wood, spent her primary school years as a pupil at St Hilda’s in the 1960s, returning to the school in 2014.
The school continues to change. Last year a new outdoor area was built and the children in Nursery and Class 1 now have a wonderful place to experience learning outdoors.
To mark the anniversary we are planning on planting a tree in the school grounds and filling a time capsule to commemorate the events.