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?

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20 Comments

Filed under Parenting, Random

20 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.

    • 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.

  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

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