A sod-cutting ceremony has marked the beginning of construction of a new specialist science and technology campus at Oundle School.
Moments before headmaster Charles Bush broke the ground on the site of the new SciTec Campus, the last last part of the old school workshops was demolished.
The new development will include a mathematics department and science labs, as well as a refurbishment of the Patrick Engineering Centre.
Oundle mayor Councillor Gwen Ratcliffe attended the event, along with the school’s chairman of governors Julian Tregoning and representatives from construction company Kier, as Mr Bush used a shovel specially engraved in the school’s current workshops when the new campus project was first launched.
A fundraising campaign launched in October has so far raised half of the funds needed to complete the project, which aims to give pupils experience of practical technology and newer subjects such as nanotechnology and mechatronics.
Alex Patrick CBE, donor and former pupil of the school, said: “Since the Victorian era, Great Britain has excelled in producing some of the world’s greatest scientists, engineers and innovative thinkers.”
With yesterday marking the anniversary of William Sanderson becoming headmaster at Oundle School between 1893 - 1922, Mr Patrick said: “He pioneered education in science and engineering at the school and many pupils who attended have gone on to become the technological leaders of their generation.
“As an Old Oundelian I always enjoyed my time in the school workshops. Today’s pupils continue to experience this opportunity and it is for this very reason that I, and my family trust, are committed to the further development of the Oundle SciTec Campus.
Michael Uren OBE, another donor to the project, added: “This wonderfully exciting project places Oundle where it should be - one of the foremost engineering schools in the country. We are delighted that my Foundation can assist Oundle to achieve its fund-raising dreams
Commenting on the school’s goals as a centre for training in science and engineering, Mr Bush added: “Last year 31 per cent of our leavers went on to read sciences at university, with 15 reading engineering as a subject.
“We are immensely grateful for the enthusiasm of all those who share our vision.”