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Some Memories of 50 Years
Ash Vale Primary School 1909-1959

Ash Vale Primary School This article was written by Mr FA Poulter for the Golden Jubilee edition of the school magazine "The Owl". Ash Museum has a copy in the History Room (332/3), along with a copy of the first edition (332/1). Mr Poulter was Chairman of Governors, and had previously been a teacher at the school.

This school closed in 1993 and most of the pupils transferred to Holly Lodge Primary School.

Ash Vale School was opened in 1909 filling a great need in this part of the village. Before 1897 those boys who lived in the Vale had to make their way, if they went at all, to the old Ash Street School near the old rectory. From 1897 the boys and girls from the Vale went to Ash Common School. Many of course did not go at all, as was noted by Mr Moore when he opened the school and found that boys admitted between the ages of 10 and 12 had never been to school.

Two of the early managers were Mr John Andrews and Mr James McLaren. The former, irreverently known to the boys as "Long John", was a well known figure in the Vale, being connected very closely with the old tin church of St Mary and with the present one. Later he went to live in Canada. Mr McLaren was Chairman for many years and when he died he left a sum of money to be spent annually in prizes at the school. Other well known managers were Mrs Strachan, the Rev FG Lacey, Dr Wright, Dr Stirling, Rev HC Aubin and Mr JH Morgan, each of whom contributed much to the school's welfare.

For years the school had a fine scout troop run by Mr PR Marsh, assistant manager at the school, but it ceased to function as a scout troop during the 1914-1918 war but was renewed for a time in the 1920s. Of its headmasters, and there have been only four in fifty years, one could write much, but as an old stager one remembers most its first head, Mr JV Moore. "Johnny" to his friends, was a great companion. Full of anecdotes and with a fine sense of humour and a love of the English language, he could enliven even the dullest of lessons in the old curriculum. Mr Oyston and Mr Betts both played their parts well, as Mr Watkins is doing now.

Of the days of a crowded school with two classes in the hall a great deal could be written. We all survived and there must have been something about the old school, for there are living today four people who served as teachers for over 30 years: Miss Moore, Mrs Benstead, Mrs Bannon and the writer of these scrappy notes.

Looking back, one wonders to what parts of the world scholars have gone. Some are living in the Dominions and other parts of the Commonwealth. Some have gained honours in special studies: Charlie Rees, Paul Cody and John Bass to mention a few.

In sport many a grand tussle with our old rival Ash Common took place with lads training on the road for want of a ground. One remembers them and their keenness. Honours were won occasionally, as in the case of Jack Meade who represented the county on a number of occasions at football. One remembers the canteen, the walk to Holly Lodge (House) round the road when it was too wet to cross the field (our supposed playing field), and the walk back in time to start school again.

One could ramble on. May the school continue to prosper, and may those who continue to live and work there be as happy as we were in the old days.

Ash Vale School Roll of Honour

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