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Former pupils recall school days as St Peter's in Devizes prepares to close
Margaret Bevan (former infants teacher), Yvonne Baber (ex-head of infants), Lorna Bishop (reception teacher), Sue Bilton (teaching assistant), Edith Pickering (ex-deputy head), Brian James (ex-head), Sue King (catering supervisor), and Maggie Grimshaw
MANY reunions between former pupils and teachers of St Peter’s Primary School in Devizes took place at an open day to mark its impending closure.
It will be the end of an era for the school, in Bath Road, when it closes at Easter.
The school, which opened in 1870, will be replaced by a new primary school, to be called The Trinity C of E Voluntary Aided School, by the new houses at Quakers Walk, opening after the Easter break.
More than 150 former pupils, parents of pupils and staff members took the opportunity to visit the school last Thursday and share their memories.
Among them was Lisa Hopgood, of Devizes, who was a pupil in the 1960s.
She said: “The headteacher was Percy Greed. He had a cane. We used to sit next to the old heaters and the big crates of milk were put near them so we always used to have warm milk!”
Her sister, Laura Clifton, of Calne, left St Peter’s in 1974, and she saw a black and white photograph of pupils, including herself, at the official opening of the current St Peter’s School building, which was previously Devizes Grammar School.
Andy Sheppard, owner of Rangebourne Pet Care in New Park Street, attended St Peter’s from 1958 to 1963 when Mr Greed was head.
Mr Sheppard said: “Whenever Mr Greed drove in or out of the school, we had to stand outside and salute him. Mr Greed was strict, but fair. I have many happy memories of my time at St Peter’s. It’s part of Devizes and it’s a shame to see it go.”
Brian James, who was headteacher from 1968 to 1991, and Edith Pickering, deputy headteacher from 1964 to 1989, were among many ex-members of staff who attended.
Visitors were treated to hymns sung by the current school pupils, followed by a tour of the school site.
Some of the pupils were dressed in Victorian clothes while others were in the existing school uniform to reflect the past and present.
Pupils also sold refreshments and cakes in a Victor-ian tea shop in the school.
Headteacher Catherine Davis said: “It’s been a really lovely atmosphere. This was a chance for our extended family to say goodbye to this site but the family of our school goes with us.”
The new school will be linked to three churches as it will be in a different parish and hence the change of name. St Peter’s Church, which is next door to St Peter’s School, will retain its link with the new school and the new churches linked to the school will be St John’s with St Mary’s and St James’.