In this year of special anniversaries and events, Derby’s Firs Estate head teacher Carol Moore tells us about celebrations at her school, asks readers to share their photos and memories and invites former pupils and staff to a reunion.
THIS summer sees the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic Games but there is also one other important event – Firs Estate School celebrates 125 years.
We are organising a week of activities and events during the last week of May to celebrate this very special anniversary.
This will include a reunion for ex-pupils and staff, as well as a special fayre, with a Victorian theme, to be opened by the Mayor of Derby.
A search is also on to find the schoo’s oldest former pupil to take part in the celebrations. Do you have any memories of staff Mr Timms, Mr Balkwill, Miss White, Mr Dingley, Miss Hawkes or Mr Hough? If so, we would love to hear from you.
Firs Estate is in extremely good heart and, as it has always been, very special to the strong, closely-knit community it serves.
Having a building which is still so wonderful to learn and teach in after 125 years is something to celebrate but, most important, are the people who have been involved with the school over the years â€“ pupils, parents and staff.
We are keen to hear of people’s memories of the school and receive copies of any photographs former pupils and staff or their families may have.
Great care will be taken of photographs which will, of course, be safely returned.
The school’s present building was opened in 1887 to replace the original temporary wooden building which stood at the corner of Dean Street and Harrison Street.
Firs Estate School was opened in 1887, the year Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and has served the community well during the reigns of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and our present Queen.
Firs Estate is the only Derby school which has kept its original name from when it began in Victorian times. The name was chosen because the school and surrounding area stood in the estate or grounds of The Firs, a large mansion on Burton Road.
Since then, there have been changes in teaching styles, subjects taught and discipline but, despite the changes, the school’s original values of working and playing hard and respecting and caring for others are still at the heart of everything we do.
Today’s pupils and teachers are confident with modern technology.
White boards, computers and the internet are things the Victorians, with their slates and black boards, would not have even dreamt about.
It is amazing to think how different the world and everyday life was when the school opened. There was no electric light or telephones and no cars, radios, aeroplanes, votes for women, televisions and modern medicine.
Derby County was a recently-formed football club, the Stockbrook Brick Yard would have been working (we think!) and tape weaving was an important local industry in the nearby mills.
The 1870 Education Act introduced popular compulsory education for the first time. In the Act, the Government ordered that groups of local people, or School Boards, were to be established to levy local rates to build schools in places where they were most needed.
The cost of our school building was Â£12,000, funded by a loan from the Local Government Finance Board, which was repaid over a period of 50 years.
The school’s weather vane still carries the initials DSB which stands for Derby School Board, the group which organised the building of the school. Local councils became responsible for all Board Schools in 1902.
The school has gathered quite a lot of information about the building and most help is wanted to provide information about the people and events over the years so that they can be recorded for the future.
Can any readers give any details of former pupils who died during the world wars? What memories do readers have of the staff and school lessons and activities?
Has anyone any memories of the evacuees from Walthamstow, London, who came to Firs Estate to escape the threat from V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets towards the end of the Second World War?
The school is keen to welcome ex-pupils and staff to a reunion at Firs Estate on Wednesday, May 30, beginning at 7pm. Tickets are Â£5 and include soft drinks and light refreshments. They need to be bought in advance by sending an SAE to The School Office, Firs Estate Primary School, Raven Street, Derby DE22 3WA and marked 125 Celebration.
The Victorian Fayre is on Friday, June 1, starting at 2.30pm. Everyone is welcome.