HistorySch_02

Here is an account of the fire that destroyed a large part of the school in May 1988 written shortly after the event.

fire_3_may88a.jpgOn 3rd May 1988 a catastrophe occurred: some time during the night a fire broke out near the Library in the old main corridor and swept along either side of the library to engulf the whole of this corridor. The back of the Assembly Hall was demolished and damage done to the Dinning Hall, front foyer, Music Room, Careers Office, etc.

Some of the damage was caused by the fire Brigade's use of water; some by smoke. When the staff arrived on the morning of the 4th May, they found a shell remained of the back corridor; there was no electricity, telephones, hot water. Pupils were sent home to await further instructions and staff, LEA officers, utilities workman, surveyors and architects spent the next few days trying to sort out the damage.

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The back corridor, which had been completely gutted, was removed and a new building planned for the site. Men, machines, dust and noise occupied the space where once had stood classrooms and a library. The new building began to take shape behind the corrugated screens. One day, the playground lost its fences, equipment and temporary caravans and plants of a different sort appeared on the slopes outside the new building.

Exactly two years after the fire, on 3rd May 1990, the new building was finished. Parents, friends, pupils and ex-teachers were invited to an open evening to see round the new rooms, and the next day a celebration lunch was held in the Assembly Hall. Access to the whole school was now possible without walking all the way round it (although some people did for weeks afterwards). The new rooms were filled with books, computers, tapes etc and after a while everyone settle down to normal working procedures. However the memories of the fire and the difficulties it caused will not be forgotten by the pupils and staff who endured them.

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In a surprising short space of time, telephones and electricity were temporarily back in working order; a new path had been made around the building and maps drawn up of the new walk-ways. Pupils were contacted, with the help of parents who acted as postmen, and told when to re-start school. They were sent maps, room changes etc so that when they returned they could get down to work immediately.

The 5th Form were even more disadvantaged, in that they missed the last few days of revision time in school and some of them had their English coursework destroyed in the fire. The exam desks in the hall were damaged and new ones had to be ordered and set up in the Sports Hall ready for GCSE and "A" Level exams. Orals and practical's planned for early May had to be re-scheduled, with the "A" Level French oral taking place in Mrs Lakeman's house. Everything was finally re-arranged and all the exams took place; fortunately the list of marks for the GCSE English exam had not been burnt and was sent to the exam board. It had been suggested that the school be moved to other premises, but there was enough room for everyone to stay, because the Fifth Year did not need their classrooms, having taken early exam leave. The Youth Centre was used at break times and lunch time, as the canteen had been damaged. Gradually parts of the building which had been completely destroyed were brought back into use, but this was delayed at times due to asbestos being found. All this had to be removed before decoration could be carried out. The hall was beautifully restored with a new floor, curtains etc and the Dining Hall was put back into use.

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