The end of the Cherry Orchard (Middle School)

YOU may not have noticed unless you live in the area, but in the past week the former Cherry Orchard Middle School has been bulldozed.

Since closing as a 400+ pupil middle almost eight years ago, and briefly becoming an annex for Weston Favell School, the site has fallen into terrible disrepair and become a haven for wildlife. After the council’s first Big School Sale fell through, they’ve spent goodness only knows how much on security, and the grounds became overgrown and the windows broken. The only visitors were vandals, a security guard, and members of the police dog unit who used it for training exercises.

Cherry Orchard Middle school demolition

I know this because I have an allotment just over the wall and was regularly ‘surprised’ (scared witless) by a loud voice shouting “DOWN! Get down on the ground, put your hands where I can see them!” (or words to that effect). I stopped hiding in the shed and calling the police after about the third time it happened.

In recent weeks things have started to happen very quickly, as the council sold the site for houses and the contractors moved in. The rear grounds were fenced off, and at the front; the Birchfield Road East side, the buildings were smashed up and foundation work for the houses that will take its place began. Now trees have been removed, and the whole site looks strangely empty. For now at least, because soon it will have 160-odd new homes on the narrow site running between Wellingborough Road and Birchfield Road East. We’re hoping the row of magnificent mature trees bordering the allotment won’t be touched.

I’m sure thousands of you will have spent your formative years at Cherry Orchard. It may have been the best years of your life – or not . . .

Anyone passing must have felt sadness to see a school that has stood on the site for decades simply disappear into rubble. It might not have had much history as a building – it wasn’t a red brick Victorian school with a pretty clock tower, more like a 1960s or 70s building block of a place – but it would have held plenty of memories for all the former staff and pupils, who, I believe, include politician Tony Clarke and BBC radio presenter Helen Blaby.

A similar fate awaits a further 15 abandoned schools, which were said to be worth over £100 million to county council coffers when they closed almost a decade ago. Meanwhile, isn’t the council making cuts of, oh, around £100 million?


Filed under Parenting, Random

42 responses to “The end of the Cherry Orchard (Middle School)

  1. John Scott

    Sad, but my room is still in this photograph with the pinboarding as it was in 2002. Memories. A good school destroyed and replaced by “nothing” much worthwhile for the thousands of attendees for morning assembly, family lunch together, sporting acievement, or rocksolid education. What a shame that no one thought to inform the building company about the historical relevance of the north lawn’s cherry tree “forest.”
    1973-2002 Teacher

  2. claire fitzhugh

    loved this school, the plays the fields were we spent the summer playing! year 8 we build a raised flower bed so we left our mark on the school! such a strange feeling to drive by an no more school but houses going up! i no longer live in northampton but not too far away! student 1991-1995!

  3. Sad to see it go. I was among the first pupils to go there (1956 to 1960) from Stimson Avenue Junior School.
    Did not love or hate it – spent ,or rather wasted, many hours looking out of the windows during class time at the at the distant countryside.

  4. John Scott

    I tried to get the council to choose relevant street names. Sadly I was apparently too late. I am sure you would appreciate Newitt Close, or Oram Avenue or maybe Howland Views.

  5. I was a pupil here in 1961 till 1965 leaving school at 14… mixed memories..mostly happy..caned by Mr Newit a few times …..arriving late late at school..smoking and knocking down the flowers out side of his office window..!!
    I was going out to the rear playground…swinging my duffel bag around my head in ‘warrior fashion’ when… the rope broke and it plowed through the bed,, decapitating all his prize blooms. Mr. Clake was the gardener / grounsman in thosesdays and I used to live next door to him in Stimpson Ave.

  6. John Dixon

    John (George) Dixon

    John Scott must have been there at the same time as me. 1961 – 1966 I recognise the teachers names. I assume the avenue of Cherry Trees Progressively planted by 5th form classes when they left fell to the buldozers too. Sorry to hear that its gone.

    • John Scott

      Nope. I was a teacher from Easter 1973-2002. Derek Clark the local MEP was Head of Physics around your time I think. Douglas Betts, Geography, Frank Moseley – Woodwork, Henry Jobson the Headteacher and his deputy, Taff Davies. Any memories?

      • Mel

        I remember Mr. Evans was my class teacher, I attended for a year around 1983, I think? Before moving to Wales. Mr. Evans was also Welsh and a lovely class teacher. Sad to see this has been torn down, I had some good memories there.

  7. Andrew Beardsmore

    I was also at Cherry Orchard from 1961- 1966. I remember Jack Newitt very well he was very strict along with his sidekick ‘ Taffy ‘ Davis then there was Mr Mosley [little Mo] [pop] Allen Mr Swann [ swanny ] Mmmm enough said about him, Mr Tivey the music teacher [pop] Bucannan metal work teacher Mr Betts i think he was the tech, drawing teacher. I’ve a got of good memories of Cherry Orchard and some not so good ones, like cross-country running down through old Weston Favell village on freezing cold winter mornings past fields of brussels and cabbages and their unforgettable smell i think the fields belonged to the Macness family, running through little Billing up the hill and back onto the Welly, road. then there was sports day with us in different house teams if i remember correctly Thursby [ red ] Wantage [ blue ] Barnard [ yellow ] ‘ i’m sorry but i remember what ‘green was maybe Chaucer ! Although all my memories of Cherry Orchard are now over 47 years ago i still felt a twinge of sadness when i saw that photo of the schools demise..

    • claire fitzhugh

      Green was harvey we had sports day too with all the houses!

    • roger tivey

      Hi Andrew -just looked the C Orchard up after having heard today that it has been knocked down. Sad – a good place and many happy memories. Am sure that I remember you – sign of great old age!
      Good to read your comments, but what’s this ‘pop’ please ……
      I only hope it’s not an abbreviation for ‘poop’!

      Every good wish Roger Tivey

      • Bob Reeves.

        Hi Mr Tivey …I talk about you very often .. you gave me a love of music and I still carry it through to this day ..I play keyboard and sing for a very sparce living but…music is about enjoement..I left shcool in 1965 but have happy memories of your lessons..Bob Reeves..Robert Reeves in those days…

      • Andy Beardsmore

        Hllo Roger. I remember you very well. You used to let us bring records to school,, happy days. Guess what
        I’m a teacher myself, here in Thailand. I hope you are keeping well.

      • Mr H

        And to you Roger, Do you remember you as a student under Ms Kefford at Wellingborough Technical Grammar school? Also seeing you when I came to Cherry my first school as a teacher in 1965! H

      • Richard Mineards

        I used to attend Cherry Orchard in the 60s and you taught me music. I remember you were particularly fond of Britten. I ended up as a reporter on the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail covering the Royal Family before moving to New York in 1978 and becoming a news anchor on CBS and a commentator on ABC Network News. These days I live in retirement in Santa Barbara, California, 100 miles north of Los Angeles, and still write a popular weekly column for the Montecito Journal. An interesting trajectory!

      • Steve Brame

        Richard, we may not have seen eye to eye in the past, but let by-gones
        be just that. Good to see you’ve had a full and active life, no doubt enjoying what you’ve achieved in doing so. I was in Santa Barbara four years ago travelling from San Francisco to San Diego for our daughter’s wedding. We spent a day visiting the wine country, before much of it was destroyed. that would have been a sad story for and journalist to cover.

      • Richard Mineards

        I remember listening to the Rollings Stones with you, as well as Benjamin Britten when I was a youngster there in 1964.
        Richard Mineards, Santa Barbara, California

    • John Scott

      think soem of you info is wrong so let me help you correct your memories: If you were at Cherry Orchard from 1961- 1966. you wlould remember Frank Moseley (Woodwork) [Little Mo] Mr Swann [ Swanny] you would not remember as he only arrived at Cherry in 1970’s
      Mr Tivey the music teacher [Pop]
      Harry Buchanan Metalwork teacher
      Douglas Betts was Geography
      John Howland (P.E.) always said the Lord’s Prayer in Manx which was quite off putting if you were next to him in assembly. All the staff sat on the stage until the later 70’s when it became a Middle school.

      • Andrew John Beardsmore

        I beg to differ ! I know I am getting old 67 but I know for a fact Mr Swann WAS at Cherry Orchard when I was there and some of my old school mates remember him as clearly as myself,So i’m afraid it is you who has the unclear memories on this occasion.

      • H

        There was a Mr Swann there until about 1966 when he left unbdewr a cloud.

    • Michael Ogden

      Hi, I missed being at cherry while you were there, if I remember your family lived next door to us when I was very small in Lutterworth Road. My happy memories centre around Technical Drawing with Mr. Novokoski, who was a Spitfire pilot during the Second World War for the Czechoslovak arm of the RAF.

    • Brian Whitworth

      Hi Andrew, My name is Brian Whitworth and I was at Cherry Orchard from 1965 – 1969. I can remember Jack Newitt as you have stated he was very strict and everyone had to adapt to the italic style writing. I also remember “Taff” Davis as he was also strict and Mrs. Brown the school secretary. The teachers I can remember with some of the nicknames were Mr. Howland who taught PE, Mr. D.M. Brookes who took us for careers, Mr. Oram aka Colonel Blink who took us for RE, Mr. R. Tivey who took us for music, Mr. Nowakowski who took us for Tech. Drawing, Mr. D. Betts who alongside his slipper he called “Whistling Willie” took us for Geography and History, Mr. Boulby who took us for History, Mr. Andrews who taught French, Mr. Campin aka Tentpeg who took us for Maths, Mr. G.M.S. Allen aka Pop who took us for English, Mr. G. Murphy who took us for Sports and PE, Mr. N. Barker who took us for PE, Mr. Buchanan who taught Metalwork, Mr. Holloway who taught Metal work, Mr. Mosley who taught Woodwork as did “Taff” Davis, Mr. Martin aka Dogeye who taught English as did Mr. Mullins aka Mugsy or Hitler, Mr. Clements aka Clegs who taught Art as did Mr. Bromwich aka Brommo, Mr. Swann who left under mysterious circumstances, Mr. L. Ward aka Piggy who taught Science as did Mr. D. Clark aka Doc who later became an MEP for UKIP, Mr. L. Brookes who I think taught Maths as did Mr. Mash, Mr. F. Clarke aka Dracula who taught English, I think he started in 1968 as he used to own a store in Broadmead Avenue before getting into teaching.
      If I remember correctly Mr. H. jobson aka Jobbo took over from Jack Newitt in 1966. There was always classical music playing when we went in to assembly, one of them was Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 or Sibelius Symphony No. 5. I too can remember the cross country run round Billing specially Orchard Hill. The houses were Wantage (Blue), Barnard (Yellow) Thursby (Red) and Harvey (Green) and these names were from very wealthy people in Northampton who have had roads named after.
      I left Cherry Orchard on March 28th 1969 and started work on April 14th, so many memories of which I was able to share at the school reunion in 1992. remember the school motto “Kepe Trest” or Keep Trust as we were told.

  8. Andrew Conant

    I was there from 1966 until 1970. Henry Jobson took over as head at that time. I have to admit, I also spent far too much of my time gazing out of the windows across at the playing fields beyond. Have you checked out the photo’s on facebook’s NORTHAMPTON PAST site? There’s one that shows Doug Betts’ bubble car!

  9. Brian whitworth

    I was very angry when I heard Cherry Orchard was to be demolished, so many happy memories attending Cherry Orchard from 1965 – 1969. I remember Roger Tivey, he was keyboard player with The Skyliners if I recall correctly. I can remember seeing The Skyliners at The Old Five Bells in Kingsthorpe in the early 60’s when I lived in Kingsthorpe.
    Cherry Orchard was if anything the best school in Northampton. “Kepe Trest”.

    • John Scott

      Do you remember Christopher York? Through a friend we discovered that our paths crossed at Cherry back in 1972/73. You never know who may be remembering you.

      • Brian whitworth

        I do not recall Christopher York as I left in 1969, he would have probably been in the second year when I left

  10. Michael Ogden

    …. I happened to be visiting Northampton the week of the demolition and was saddened to see it being flattened. I was at Cherry Orchard from September 1968 to June 1973 when it was Cherry Orchard Secondary Modern School, (boys only) and was taught by a succession of great teachers. You may not have realised they Steve Riches, who broadcast on BBC Radio Northampton for many years was a former teacher at Cherry. He tried to teach English and Music.

  11. Roger Tivey

    Thank you – Bob Reeves and Andy Beardsmore – just found your comments and find that Bob is in the music business and Andy a school teacher (lucky Thailand!). Greatly enjoyed a re-union of the Skyliners last year at my home in East Northants. What has happened to Mark Griffiths our brilliant guitarist???

    • Brian Whitworth

      Hello Mr. Tivey, You was my music teacher from 1965 – 1966. I can remember you as the keyboard player with The Skyliners when they performed at the Five Bells pub in Kingsthorpe in roughly about 1963. I used to live in Kingsthorpe at the time, my cousins and myself sneaked in and looked through the window to watch. I mentioned this after one of the music lessons.

    • Andrew John Beardsmore

      Mark Griffith used to live in Lutterworth Rd,as a school boy. He isat the time of writing performing with the Shadows.

    • Richard Bignell

      Hi Mr. Tivey, I’d just like to share a memory of you playing a record for us that was very influential in my appreciation of music: “Green Onions.” This was in ’63 or ’64 before I emigrated to the US. I enjoyed your class. I’ve been in several bands throughout my life as a bassist, and I am still much involved in music.

    • Steve Brame

      Mr Tivey, I remember you, but you probably would not remember me, I’m tone deaf. However, I was a friend of Mark Griffiths and have followed his career; I’m amazed that you should ask what happened to him. If you google Mark-Haydn Griffiths, the first hit should me a Wikipedia page for him. No spoilers, but enjoy.

  12. David Manning

    I was at Cherry Orchard from 1958-63. Wonderful memories. Bob Murby was my first form teacher followed by Janet Crawford, Peter Lewis, John Farey, and Wilf Mullins. Fond memories too of John Howland, Peter Driver, Milton Rayner, Doug Betts and Mr ‘Woodwork’ Davies. All of them great, inspirational teachers. Many of these people became role models for me through life and I have the highest regard for their contribution in those formative years.

  13. Philip marr

    I was a pupil at cherry from 1971-75. I have read some of the comments and noted that someone said Mr Swann left in 66, this cannot be, he was there when I was, and gave me after school football training, as I was a keen goalkeeper. I have also noted that Mr Holloway has commented on this site. I am at present, together with Mr Holloways help, setting up a probably last reunion due to take place in April 2020. This is for the leavers of 75 I should add. I was saddened when I saw photographs of a housing estate where my beloved school was. Such a great school too, my brother Roger Marr went there and left in 63. A good friend of mine Andrew McKee went there before me too. I can’t wait for this reunion, it has already rekindled past friendships, and all because of our lovely school, cherry orchard.

    • Graham H

      There were two, Mr Swan and Mr Swann. One in the mid 60’s the other came in the early 70’s. Yes Phil you went to the second to none best secondary modern school in the country. Well done you for putting so much time and energy and ideas in creating this reunion which had to be postponed to a later date because of the corona virus shutting all public places. H

    • Brian Whitworth

      Mr. Swann did leave in 1966 under mysterious circumstances but I did hear he returned quite a few years later.

      • Steve Brame

        He did not return. In 1970 I attended an Interview as a Civil Engineering Graduate at Costain’s London office, being shown around I met Bill who was then in charge of their drawing office, although one was offered, I did not take the job.

    • Steve Brame

      Bill Swan definitely left in 1966, he was photographed in The Lion that year but not in 1967; he certainly would not have returned. Your Mr Swann was double ‘n’ and must have been from a later era.

  14. Graham Hollowzy

    Cherry Orchard Secondary Boys School was just about the best secondary school in Northampton and the county. We had lads leaving there with up to 9 GCE’s C grade and above. I taught there late 60’s and it spoilt me for thees rest of my teaching career. No later school under the comprehensive system could reach the all round standards of a school designed for 11+ failures.

  15. Claire Sheahan

    I’m beginning to think there must have been two Mr. Swanns, one in the 60’s and one in the 70’s! I was there from 1979 to 1982 when I moved to Ireland. Mr. Jobson was Headmaster and I can’t remember who took over – I think his name was Brian Capell or something similar. We still had Mr. Holland and Mr. Murphy was Deputy Headmaster (he was the welsh man). We had Mr. Barford for music, Miss Leeder for Art, Miss O’Rourke (who later became Mrs Johnson) her mother-in-law Mrs Johnson taught there too. I remember Mr & Mrs Oldham, Mrs Smedley, Ms. Bosworth, Mr. Garlick, Mr. Weinberg was French teacher and Mrs Simms was Science. I’m gutted to hear the school is gone as I always wanted to come back and visit it some day. They were great times.

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