Memories of a grand old lady

OLD girls from Notre Dame High School will be reliving their wartime school days at a reunion next month.

The former pupils at the town centre school will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of when they started lessons there.

The Old Girls’ Association, which is organising the reunion, remains active despite the fact the school closed in 1975 and was later bulldozed by developers.

Some 55 women are expected to gather at The Falcon Suite at Weston Favell Upper School to mark the occasion on Sunday, September 15, at noon.

But anyone who began lessons at the school in September 1942 or September 1943 is invited to go along to the event.

A reunion took place 10 years ago to mark the old girls’ golden anniversary.

Marjorie Snedker, who has helped organise the event, said: “On this occasion we will join with the year below as inevitably some of the original members are no longer with us and regretfully two members of staff present in 1992 will not attend, Sister Sybil (Therese) is in hospital in Liverpool and Sister Mary Cecilia (St Paul) died in 1998 at the age of 90.

The former pupils, who are now in their 70s, will be joined this time by Mary Atterbury, who as Miss Adams was the English mistress.

Anyone interested in going to the reunion can contact Paddy Coles (nee Greaves) at 136 Welford Road, Kingsthorpe, Northampton, NN2 8AL, or telephone Northampton 843141 or Marjorie Snedker at 2 Pine Trees, Weston Favell, Northampton, NN3 3ET, or telephone Northampton 401602.

FACT FILE

NOTRE Dame High School was a significant landmark in Northampton for more than 100 years.

It dominated the upper part of Abington Street, covering 3.5 acres and running from next door to Marks and Spencer to the building now occupied by Radio Northampton.

The sisters of Notre Dame had been running the school for 123 years when it closed its doors in 1975 as part of the re-organisation of education in Northampton.

The order first came to Northampton in 1852 when their work included teaching in day and Sunday schools, evening lessons for women and girls and instruction given in a small workshop where poor girls were taught to support themselves.

The convent started from three houses acquired in Abington Street, then a residential district with gardens and fields nearby.

A school was established but, after the Education Act of 1870 made an elementary education compulsory, it had to expand.

In 1880 the school building and the chapel was opened and continued to grow throughout the years.

When the Second World War broke out, 200 pupils and their mistresses arrived from a Willesden Convent. Lessons were arranged so that pupils from Northampton attended from 8.30am to 1pm and the visitors from 1pm to 5pm. This continued until the pupils returned to their own school in 1940.

Evacuees from Notre Dame in Southwark, who had already been sent to Weymouth, were then housed at the school because of the fall of France and the likelihood of coastal attack.

The boarding school was closed in 1950 and the space was used as a library, a craft room, extra classrooms and a staff room.

In the same year, a modern science block was added.