ST PETER’S C E (VC) FIRST SCHOOL – A BRIEF HISTORY
According to our first school log book, Marchington National School was opened on 3rd May 1875 by J Walter C Beeby. 26 “scholars” were present that morning. Each day the master recorded, in his copperplate handwriting, details of what had happened that day and how many scholars had been in school. Also recorded in the log book are the Scripture Reports report written by the Diocesan Inspector whenever he visited the school.
The original school building still stands to the right of the current school entrance, and is currently a private house. A wing of the school used to stand where the current school driveway is and appears very briefly on a film made of the opening of the village hall in 1960.
Although no direct reference is made in the log books to the start of World War I, it is recorded that 11 Belgian refugee children were admitted to the school on 9th November 1914, and that a school holiday was given in honour of the victories gained at St Quentin Canal and at Ramicourt.
On 19th July 1939 the Assistant Diocesan Inspector noted “the excellence of the singing” – a tradition that we are pleased is continued today.
In September 1939 due to the start of World War II and the influx of children who had been evacuated from Manchester, the local schools were reorganised with St Peter’s taking pupils up to the age of 11 years. The Marchington pupils alternated with the evacuees, attending school in the morning one week and the afternoon of the next so everyone could attend school. In October 1939 the overspill of children was accommodated in the Men’s Clubroom that existed across the road from the school – where houses and the village hall now stand. In June 1946 a further 26 evacuees arrived from Ramsgate in Kent and then in October 30 more came from London. Again the Clubroom came into use as a classroom.
The very serious explosion at Fauld on 27th November 1944 caused plaster to fall from the ceiling of the school room and the school log book records that fears a second explosion might follow, meant the children remained outside at play from 11.10am until 3.40pm. In December 1948 the “school was condemned as it was considered unsafe”. The school was closed until 10th January 1949 when it reopened in the Men’s Clubroom temporarily. In September classes were moved to an Army building on the then Army Camp – what we now refer to as Marchington Industrial estate. This building also had its problems with the Headteacher recording on 25th September 1962 “I today informed the Director of the unsatisfactory condition of one of the external walls of the main school building. This wall is bulging in the centre and coming away from the floorboards and from the dividing wall….”. He was advised in November of that year that “no major repair work will be undertaken in the present buildings as the new school is scheduled. No activities likely to set up vibrations should be carried out.” The new school was not ready until 2nd November 1964.
In the autumn of 1970 it was announced that the school would became a First School, with children in Years 5 and 6 moving to a newly created Middle school in Uttoxeter. In May 1975 the school held celebrations for their centenary – a service was held in St Peter’s church, an event in the village hall and an exhibition in the school to display old documents and photographs. By the start of September 1975 the school had the full age range of a First School with plans for a Nursery class to open in November 1975.
We hold the four school log books covering the period from May 1875 until July 1994 and they make fascinating reading.