Monday, 25 May 2015

Community Centre Future Plans

On Friday 15th May proposals were unveiled about plans to replace the current building used for the Fleetville Community Centre.  A large gathering of past and present user groups and their members heard for the first time that the Trust which runs the Centre is to make a serious upgrade to the facilities on its Royal Road site.

A presentation given to guests revealed that it had been 102 years since Charles Woollam donated the land which became 'The Rec' for the people of Fleetville; 73 years since the low-height temporary building on one side of the park arrived as a wartime emergency nursery; and 33 years since Fleetville Community Centre first opened its doors in a flurry of local excitement.

Fleetville Community Centre in 1992
So, three birthdays were being celebrated, and the Mayor of St Albans and District was present to cut the cake.

For over one hundred years children have been able to play to their hearts' content on Fleetville Recreation Ground, and today it is busier than ever, with the welcoming little Beech Tree Cafe acting as a honeypot for the recently upgraded playpark.

It also rang with the sounds of little children from 1942 when the nursery was perched on its concrete platform above the underground shelters, while their mothers worked in the munitions factories, especially at Ballito Hosiery Works, where Morrison's is today.

Mayor Geoff Harrison with some members of the Community Centre
Trust and Friends at the event.
Recently, the Centre's Trustees have decided that the popular building will need to be replaced by a structure offering a higher standard of accommodation, more space and a significantly lower energy footprint.  The Trustees are in discussion with St Albans City and District Council about their plans.  The existing centre is owned by the Council and let to the Trust on a lease which expires at the end of next year.

Guests at the celebration obtained their first glimpse into the future – a glimpse which they themselves will help to forge.  They were given the opportunity to offer and discuss their own ideas for a new building.  At present there is very little to see, except examples of other recently-completed centres, and of course, a picture of a daunting but exciting process to go through.

Accompanying the presentation was an exhibition, It All began In 1913,  which can be seen again at Larks in the Parks on June 28th.

A drop-in facility is open at the Centre on Tuesday and Thursday mornings until the end of June to find out more about the new building project and to talk over ideas which users and others may have for the proposed new building.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

A few old school ties

School photographs are often of two generic types.  One is the individual head-and-shoulders 'mug' shots, usually via a photographic company who gives you a sample and offers a pack of larger prints to your parents at a price.  The school usually retains a contact print to attach to a school record card.  At least that is the way it used to be, but records are often digital today.

The second is the class photo, or even, if Head Teachers are brave enough to organise it, a whole-school picture which usually has to be stored in a roll because it is too difficult to display without the living room wall giving an impression, by the time we are in our final year, of a panelled common room wall at a historic school premises.

Fortunately, there are opportunists who occasionally have a camera handy and are able to snap a few less formal shots: sports activities, special projects, performances and concerts, and school visits.

The photos which appear with this article were all taken when Marshalswick Boys' School (now named Sandringham School) was in its infancy – the early 1960s.  There are several in the collection.  On another occasion I will post a few of the teacher pics.  Meanwhile, here are classroom views and the occasional rehearsal.

You may recognise your younger self and your younger friends.  Today you may still live in St Albans, perhaps even in Marshalswick itself.  But you may have migrated as far as Hatfield, or one of our northern powerhouse cities, even abroad.

It would be great to hear from former pupils of these studious classrooms.