A historian has penned a fascinating booklet about a former school in Bury St Edmunds on which there are few surviving records.
John Saunders spoke to 50 former staff, parents and pupils for the 53-page ‘Ahead of its time’ about St Alban’s Catholic Primary School.
Dubbed in the booklet as the ‘school that time forgot’, it opened on the Howard estate in Beard Road, now the site of The Albany Centre, in 1971 and closed in 2000.
Mr Saunders, of Bury, said: “What it created for those who went to St Alban’s was an incredible community that bonded and fostered friendships which have lasted life times. It became a very close knit school which had good teaching and certainly produced some excellent pupils.”
After publishing a history of St Edmund’s Catholic Primary in 2000, people suggested he look into St Alban’s.
It proved a challenging task for the former police officer as he discovered that the majority of the school’s records have ‘disappeared’.
With help from former teachers Eileen Baskett and Maria Oliver, he was able to speak to former pupils to document an era of great social change.
With families moving from London to Bury, St Alban’s was built to create extra capacity for Catholic pupils and it aimed to take all Catholic children who lived north of the railway line. However, this didn’t happen and dwindling pupil numbers led to the school’s eventual closure.
Among former pupils Mr Saunders interviewed was drummer Afrika Green, who has performed with artists including Goldie and the Pet Shop Boys.
“It played a masssive part in integrating those who moved to Bury in the 1970s which in turn did a lot for the community,” he said. “The school, in terms of what it was there to achieve, was ahead of its time.”
The booklet can be bought by emailing Mr Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01284 767894. It is £5 if collected or £7 by post.