Past and present pupils of Colley Lane celebrated the school's centenary by going "back to the future". Jill Guest and Nigel Brown were there for this report .
On 11th April 1902, Miss R. L. Wright, Headmistress of the Infant department of the British Schools, Cradley, wrote these words in her logbook :
I leave these premises at High Town today and commence work in the new school at Colley Lane, have worked in this wretched hole for 13 years.
One hundred years later it is to be hoped that the present headmaster, Mr. Greaves, does not have similar thoughts with the building of the new school.
To celebrate the centenary of anything by knocking it down and building a new one is an event in itself. When so many pupils have passed through Colley Lane Schools, it becomes an event tinged with sadness at the passing of the old, and happiness and hope with the coming of the new.
For me the celebrations began with a special school assembly on Wednesday 17th April 2002, when Muriel Bennett and I, representing the Cradley Then and Now group, presented a black and white drawing of the school as it is today by Mr. Bill Hazelhurst to the headmaster, Mr. Peter Greaves, which will hang in the new school.
The celebrations began in earnest the week beginning 24th June, when the children and staff not only dressed in Edwardian clothes but also had lessons as they would have been a hundred years ago. Everyone entered into the spirit, and even the cleaners were dressed accordingly. The children also enjoyed old playground games.
On the Tuesday some of the younger children were shown how to podge rag rugs by ladies from the Cradley Then and Now group, some of whom were former pupils themselves.
On the Wednesday the ladies returned to make peg dolls with more of the pupils, and to show corking to some of the older children. Some freedom of choice was allowed, which resulted in peg dolls of David Beckham, most of the English football team, and Harry Potter. It is difficult to say who enjoyed themselves the most, the children or the ladies.
The celebrations were featured on the Midlands Today News on the Friday evening, as well as in the Black Country Bugle.
The celebrations continued the following week, when the school entertained over 120 former pupils and teachers, not only from many parts of this country but from also from Canada and the West Indies. Because of the lack of space and the building work going on in the playground, it was not possible to hold one celebration for everyone, so around 40 people arrived on each of the three days, Wednesday 3rd, Thursday 4th and Friday 5th of July 2002.
The day began with coffee in the old Infants or Girls school hall (depending on your age), and a chance to look at some of the old photos on display. There was then a special assembly, with the children singing "All Things Bright and Beautiful", which may well have been sung a hundred years ago.
We were then shown the children at various lessons including I.T. (Information Technology), and also the new school building. Unfortunately the children showing us around would be going on to secondary schools in September, so would not actually move into the new school themselves. We then returned to the Infants Hall for an excellent buffet lunch provided by the catering staff - nothing like the school dinners which I remember! After lunch there was an opportunity to look at any of the classrooms, or to just to sit and chat.
Next, we returned to the main hall for a concert in which children from the nursery and reception classes, as well as the older children, took part.
I have never heard "Land of Hope And Glory" sung with such gusto and enthusiasm. We were all then presented with a Colley Lane Mug as a souvenir of a very enjoyable day.
I was privileged to have been present on all three days, meeting new and old friends. On the Friday I was especially pleased to meet Mrs. Margaret Harris (nee Timmington), who had travelled up from Burnham-on-sea with her husband specially for the occasion. The last time we had met was 45 years ago when she taught me at Colley Lane before flying off to America for a year on a teacher's exchange trip.
It is hoped that a calendar will be produced with pictures of the celebrations, as well as a book of the history of Colley Lane.
The new school is expected to be finished early in 2003, when sadly the old school will be demolished. It is however hoped that the original infants' department on the other side of Colley Lane will stay. Below is a diary produced by a child in Year Six detailing their experiences of the week.