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Celebration of 50 years by St Mary's primary school, Dover, at Laureston Place site

A school had to move 50 years ago to make way for a new trunk road.

St Mary's Cof E Primary School in Dover had to leave its Queen Street base because classrooms were on the planned route for York Street.

Children and staff went into formation to mark the anniversary. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover
Children and staff went into formation to mark the anniversary. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover

The dual carriageway was needed to divert traffic to the port away from the town centre.

The school moved to its present base in Laureston Place just after the October 1969 half term holiday.

Details of this were revealed in a speech by the present head teacher Helen Comfort.

She spoke during a 50th birthday celebration at the school.

Ms Comfort, after a study of local archive material, found that work had started in May 1968 to flatten land for the new buildings, which cost £130,000.

Children with their Sixties displays, including one reflecting man on the moon. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover
Children with their Sixties displays, including one reflecting man on the moon. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover

Uncovering interviews with pupils from the time she said: "It was clear that the children were excited by the move.

"Ten-year-old Janette is quoted as commenting on the great view from her classroom.

"Angela, also 10, liked the school dinners, which were cooked from the school's old kitchen."

She said that Dennis Stubbs, the then headmaster, wrote of the move: "It was controlled chaos. Lost children, lost teachers. But we were in and things were really beginning to happen."

On December 5, 1969, the Archbishop of Canterbury from that time, Michael Ramsey, opened and dedicated the school.

Dover Mayor Gordon Cowan with some of the children during the anniversary celebration. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover
Dover Mayor Gordon Cowan with some of the children during the anniversary celebration. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover

Ms Comfort explained in her speech that St Mary's started as the Dover Charity School in 1789.

It first moved to a house in Queen Street and then a purpose-built centre there.

It became the Dover National Boys' School, admitting girls and infants for the first time in 1872.

The school was renamed St Mary's at the start of the 1900s when it came under the control of the Dover Education Committee.

At times there have been as many as 800 enrolled pupils.

The unveiling of the anniversary plaque. The Rev Sean Sheffield with some of the children during the anniversary celebration. Picture: St Mary's C o fE Primary School, Dover
The unveiling of the anniversary plaque. The Rev Sean Sheffield with some of the children during the anniversary celebration. Picture: St Mary's C o fE Primary School, Dover

Guests at the celebration included Dover mayor Gordon Cowan and Town Sergeant David Hunt-Cooke.

Other attending included former teachers plus governors.

Staff and pupils formed as a figure 50 for an aerial photograph.

Children had studied life and history in the 1960s, in Dover and globally, and put up displays of their work.

These showed events such as man's first landing on the moon in July 1969 and the dominance of The Beatles in the music scene.

The Town Sergeant and mayor with some of the children during the anniversary celebration. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover
The Town Sergeant and mayor with some of the children during the anniversary celebration. Picture: St Mary's C of E Primary School, Dover

Also there were articles and pictures detailing the progress in creating the new school building and the years just afterwards.

A commemorative plaque was also unveiled by the Rev Sean Sheffield, Dover St Mary's Church vicar.

Applications for the September 2020 reception class are now open and St Mary's is invitingany prospective families to look around

You can telephone the officeon 01304 206887 for an appointment or for further information.

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