By Rach Griffiths
The much loved Ludford Street school is in the final stages of its life this week as demolition crews have started to make their way across the Badger avenue landscape for the commencement on the last part of scheduled work to prepare the land for more housing in the town.
The school was originally built in 1931 and then opened in 1932 to replace Hightown Senior Council School.
The boys’ and girls’ departments were merged in 1970 to form one school.
This school closed in 1978 and was replaced by Victoria Community County High School which consisted of four sites which were Ludford, Newdigate, Meredith and Oakley.
As an ex pupil of the school, I visited the Ludford site myself last week with hope of seeing the remaining section for one last time.
Every child moans about going to school at least once in their lifetime and I was probably one of those that did more than my share of moaning about it.
Now I’m older I have been surprised to have found myself uttering those words that you have heard your parents saying time and time again, they are the words that you vowed you would never ever say which were ” Don’t moan about going to school, you will soon wish you were back there one day”.
My chance has gone now and it makes it even worse for us ex Ludford kids because our school is about to disappear forever but the memories we have will never leave us.
I think that turning something sad into something more positive would be a good idea and want to give the thousands of kids that have passed through the Badger gates a chance to share their memories.
I decided I would try to locate some of my teachers that were there during my time at the school which was 1989 – 1994.
I heard from a friend that Mr Gwyn Evans was still in the area so I tracked him down and we met up.
He was pleased to share his memories about his time at the school.
I left school 19 years ago and I had a great time chatting with him about all kind of things.
Mr Evans said:
I first started at the school on August 8th 1963, I was 21 years old at the time.
I spent my whole working life at the school and I will admit that I’m sad to see it go.
I was born in Wales into a farming family and welsh is my first language.
Moving to a town to teach was quite an experience at first, I soon settled in and went on to become one of the longest serving staff members.
I must have taught around 9000 pupils during my time working there and remember a lot of them.
I have seen them go on to do some amazing things.
As most of you may remember, during my earlier years at Ludford I taught P.E and I was heavily involved in football and rugby.
1967 was a superb year for sport at Ludford Street.
One particular pupil I remember was Alf Smart, he scored an amazing 65 goals in just 13 matches for our team.
We had some great victories that year.
Swimming was another sport I liked to be involved in.
I remember we used to get the pupils to meet up at Crewe swimming pool as early as 7.20 some mornings so we could have an early session before school started.
I went on to ask him about his memory of school trips and the places that they went to over the years and if there was anything in particular he liked about them.
I loved the school trips, the atmosphere was very different.
It was fun to be standing there waiting for the coaches to turn up with the kids all lined up on the front yard.
We used to take groups to a place called Hythe in Kent.
Our accomodation was a christian brotherhood hostel and we would stay there for a week.
We spent the week visiting places in the area such as outings to Hastings, the Dymchurch railway and we always made sure we took the kids to a cricket match in Canterbury which usually went down very well.
Of course during the 1980s and 1990s we would all go off to the Menai centre and that was a brilliant place to be.
Everyone who went there had a packed week full of things to do.
After his retirement he told me that he had gone on to become a parent governor at a local school in Crewe and he has also kept up with his passion for Rugby which he is still heavily involved in to this day.
He also told me that the last time that the cane was ever used on a pupil was on the 29th March, 1984.
The school had to keep a record of all punishments.
I left Mr Evans knowing more about him than I ever have before and it was quite surreal meeting him again as an adult to chat as friends.
My next port of call was Mr Glynne Jones who during my time was the head of CDT.
He was at the school during its VCHS years and eventually moved to the new Sir William Stanier school where he still teaches what is now known as DT (Design Technology).
I wanted to hear his thoughts on teaching at a more modern building and to talk about his memories.
Mr Jones said:
I started at Victoria Community High school in 1987 as a Craft, Design and Technology teacher.
CDT was a range of things such as Metalwork, Woodwork, Technical Drawing and Food studies back in those days.
I had previously taught at a school in Chester and then had the opportunity to teach in Crewe where I first started at Ruskin High School.
After a few years I took a post at Victoria where I was eventually promoted to become the head of CDT.
My room was based in the Newdigate centre and I really enjoyed my time there.
I moved to Sir William Stanier when the school closed which was by that time known as Victoria Community Technology School (VCTS) and carried on teaching DT which I love doing.
I asked Mr Jones what the differences are between this school and VCHS and what its like teaching in 2013 in the era of mobile phones and gadgets..
I love working at Sir William Stanier, although I loved my time at Newdigate I think that this school is a lot more secure due to the fact that my old school was a community centre and people could just come and go.
Many dinnertimes I would stand at the crossing by ASDA sending pupils back to their allocated school sites during lunch breaks.
It is so much better for the children here as we have lots of greenspace for them at breaktimes which is an important thing to have.
There are lots of areas within the school for them to be in safely and we heavily monitor who is coming in and out of the school.
The environment here is very bright and airy and we are lucky to have a lovely new building with modern facilities.
Most kids have phones these days which can be distracting but as time moves on so does the technology and we have to move with it too.
It was then time for Mr Jones to go and teach his next class so as he walked me out he took me over to the benches that are on the school yard.
He pointed out that the benches have blue plaques on them with the name of the VCHS head governor whose name was Jim Golding.
Now straight away I remembered this man, every year on the very last day of the term before the summer holidays the whole school would convene up at the Oakley centre for an end of school year assembly before we broke up at 2pm.
Mr Golding always did a speech during this assembly.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Sadly Mr Golding is no longer with us but he did leave some money to the school when he passed away.
When the new Sir William Stanier school was built to replace VCHS, the money was used to pay for the benches at the new school and plaques were put on in memory of Mr Golding.
The fact is that as the next generation of kids will be travelling through the Sir William Stanier doors, there will always be memories of the Ludford building during all eras and many of the names the school has been known by throughout its many incarnations.
Ludford will be remembered by thousands of people and for a long long time to come.
Ex pupil Ian Davies managed to get some photos just before the demolition took place and has kindly given permission for me to use them in this story.
There was still artwork on the walls and a few fixtures and fittings remained in some of the four sites.
Newdigate and Meredith at present remain empty and unused.
The sports hall in Oakley remains in use for the time being.
A big thank you to Mr Gwyn Evans and Mr Glynne Jones for talking to me about their time as teaching staff.
Thank you goes out to Karl Goodwin and Ian Davies who are also ex Ludford pupils for helping me on my quest to bring the memories of the school to you, the help is much appreciated.
A special thanks goes to both Ian Davies for the internal pre-demolition photos and Mr Gwyn Evans for the school pupil photos.
Photos are from their private collections
If you have any memories of the school and you wish to get your views added to this website please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can comment on the story below.
How many teachers/friends can you pick out? When were you there?
**Update July 16th**
Since this story was published I have been chatting with a friend who is also an ex pupil and we are organising an evening of Ludford street memories with Mr Evans followed by a Disco for ex-pupils of all years.
We have now spoken to the venue and can confirm that it will take place at the Oakley Centre in Crewe on October 19th.
I have once again met with Mr Evans and he has agreed to come along to start the evening off with a fabulous talk about his time at the school and will answer your questions.
There will be other things happening too but are in the planning stages.
It will be a ticket event and all the money raised will be going to two local charities that Mr Evans has chosen.
Please let us know if you will be interested in coming along!
Story ©Rach Griffiths 2013
Building Photos ©Ian Davies
Pupil Photos ©Gwyn Evans