Retro: Changing face of county schools

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As young people in the county head back to class this week, these pictures show how schools in our area have changed through the years.

The modern, well-equipped school campuses – including the glittering surroundings of institutions such as Kettering Buccleuch Academy, opened in 2013, and Corby Business Academy – are a far cry from many of the former dilapidated buildings.

Prime Minister John Major at the opening of Corby's Brooke City Technical College in February 1992

Prime Minister John Major at the opening of Corby's Brooke City Technical College in February 1992

Sites of former schools are dotted throughout the towns of the north of the county.

Buccleuch Academy replaced Montagu School and Avondale junior and infants schools. A planning application to build new homes on the latter site has already been submitted, although Kettering Town FC have also investigated whether a new ground could be built there.

Elsewhere in Kettering, former homes of the grammar school include a site in Gold Street now used for retail which was knocked down almost exactly 50 years ago. The stone building, which dated to the mid-1850s, was razed inside a day in November 1964.

Despite the building’s age, an Evening Telegraph editorial said: “As one of the oldest and most picturesque buildings in the town centre, its passing will be regretted, particularly by older residents. But it was not an historic edifice or even a protected building.

“So far as Kettering is concerned, it is to be hoped that what has now become the old grammar school site will soon see some substantial and worthwhile development. It must not remain just another derelict eyesore, waiting for some important but vague future use.”

The borough council offices in Bowling Green Road were also used as schools for boys – after the grammar school left Gold Street – and for girls.

Another former school site in Kettering is the business exchange building in Rockingham Road, which formerly housed the girls’ secondary modern, before standing empty for a number of years.

Kettering is not alone in having borne witness to a host of changes in its schooling.

In February 1992, Corby received a Prime Ministerial visit when John Major came to officially open the Brooke City Technical College (CTC).

Only the second CTC to be opened by the PM, the £10m Brooke College – which at that point had just 320 pupils – was chosen for the high-profile opening, seen as a coup for the town. An exuberant Mr Major was full of praise, saying: “I must say this place is rather splendid. It has exciting facilities for teaching sports, recreation and every aspect of education.”

Brooke College is now Brooke Weston Academy, and most secondary schools in Corby now hold academy status. Huxlow Science College in Irthlingborough, The Ferrers School and Rushden Community College, as well as Weavers Academy and Sir Christopher Hatton in Wellingborough also hold the status, among others.

Many now boast top-of-the-range facilities – but evidence of Northants schooling in days past has not yet been entirely destroyed.