Sunday, 13 July 2008

Memories in search of a past

Lenton Primary School, New Lenton, located at the junction of Lenton Boulevard and Sherwin Road, opened in 1887. The school officially closes next Friday, 18 July 2008. Yesterday (Saturday 12 July) the school held an Open Day, which was the idea of the School's Chair of Governors since 1993, Patsy Shaw, who is also a neighbour and good friend. Across the Boulevard to the right of the picture is an old school building from 1874, which in recent years has been used for the Edna G Olds School Nursery (I will write a separate blog about this in a few days time).

A former pupil writes her name against one of many pictures asking for the names of the people in the pictures. Visitors were also able to write in the names of classmates they remembered. This activity, seemingly simple, was probably one of the most important things taking place. Names and faces were remembered, contacts made and renewed…

whilst others gathered to watch, then to add further names to the pictures of pupils on the boards. During the half-hour I was there I saw this happening all the time. The contacts made yesterday will, I'm sure, be passed to Lenton Local History Society and Steve Zaleski, the editor of their magazine, Lenton Times, who was also present.

I caught another former pupil as she excitedly found her name in a school register.

The pictures of class groups, special events and outings, were spread across two rooms. In the second room, visitors were using post-it notes to attach comments and names to colour pictures from more recent years.

I caught Patsy Shaw, the Chair of Governors, together with Dunkirk and Lenton's two Labour Party city councillor's, Dave Trimble and Zahoor Mir, listening intently to the reminiscences of a former pupil. What this wonderful open day did so well was to help many of the former pupils and parents to place their disparate memories into some kind of order whilst Lenton Primary School still exists, albeit only for a few more days. There may never be another opportunity for former pupils to walk around their old school again and to hear the classrooms and the playground echo with memories of a world soon to be lost forever.

Of one thing we can be sure. Lenton Primary School will never be forgotten so long as there is a Lenton Local History Society and local archives and libraries. Centuries from now some of the faces I looked at yesterday will look out at other viewers in a world beyond our imagination. For now, I would like to say a big 'thank you' to Patsy and all the other volunteers and local groups who came together to make yesterday the wonderful day it was.

The British economy is braced for further turbulence this week as the fallout from the second largest bank failure in US history spreads across the Atlantic. Last week's extraordinary decision by the US Federal Reserve to take over the Californian bank, Indymac, comes as the Bush administration attempts to quash speculation that America's two largest mortgage lenders, Fannie May and Freddie Mac, also face nationalisation.

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