Spring Lane School celebrated its Victorian founding by staging a Victorian Day on November 16th 2007




Headteacher, Mr Duncan McAlpine, who recently retired in 2015 is seen here with some of the children


Drama Class

Drama Class 2

Very keen students

Two Victorian schoolgirls


Looking the part

 Looking for volunteers

Nursery girl

Smart students

 Victorian teacher with camera !!





Spring Lane School was one of the first Board Schools opened in Northampton. It was built in response to the Education Act of 1870 which required all children to attend school from the age of five.





The first log book at Spring Lane School which commences on November 12th 1874 is the beginning of a long history of record keeping at the school, excerpts from which are documented in this article.



The first page of the Log Book records "On the following Monday (13th November 1874) the school was opened for the admission of scholars when 124 infants were admitted in the morning and 21 in the afternoon" In December, 1874 the Log Book shows low attendance "due to very poor weather and cold classrooms". many children were inadequately clothed and some did not have shoes In 1881 the log book records poor attendance due to a number of reasons as follows:- "Bank Holiday races, fair, circus, whooping cough, scarlet fever, fog, snow, deaths, bad eyes, measles, fever, school pence" - the parents were unable to pay The school was closed by the Medical Officer of Health on October 30th, reopened January 2nd, 1882 due to a measles epidemic in which several children died; the school was closed for eight weeks.



Spring Lane School was situated in the poorest part of Northampton. In 1928 the School Inspector had some scathing remarks to make about the pupils' ability yet the report of Ada May Burditt who was a pupil in Class V in 1928 (reproduced below) appears to prove him wrong !





Regular school inspections were carried out by HM Inspector of Schools. In 1928 the inspection of Spring Lane School produced this report. "Much of the work in this school is frankly not to be judged by a normal standard. This is not said with any intention of excusing the results, but merely a fair indication of the complex problems with which the teachers here are confronted. "A large part of the school is composed of girls whose mental and physical equipment is below the normal as a more or less direct consequence of poverty and social environment. These children do not appear to have been classified by any technical modern ways of measuring intelligence and the teachers of the special classes rely for their by no means unsuccessful methods on their own interpretation of the girls' needs rather than on any specific training on work of this kind. The institution of some recognised special means of dealing with these classes would probably have valuable and interesting effects."

The inspector finishes his report with a few kind words perhaps to compensate to some extent for his unreserved criticism " In the meantime it must be said that these scholars reflect the industry, good manners and excellent tone of the school in a way that does much credit to their teachers" The report of Ada May Burditt (reproduced above) gives a totally different impression of the intelligence of a Spring Lane School pupil, with its neat careful writing and high mark






During 1939 and 1940 the school and local residents had to accommodate evacuee children. Local people in the Boroughs already lived in very crowded conditions and the imposition of extra children was a great strain on their resources

The Log Book of the school records the events:

September 1939 - Tottenham Road School, LCC (Junior boys and girls) received here at 8.30am and 12.30pm. Trench practice and gas drill

May 27th 1940 - Trench practice held - all scholars taking part observed by Air Raid Warden

June 17th 1940 - Air Raid practice - scattering in playground in case of machine gunning

September 2nd 1940 - As ther is not sufficient room in shelters for all scholars, all children including LCC attend 8 times instead of 10

September 11th 1940 - School closed on account of further evacuation from Ipswich and London




Air raid shelters under construction in Herbert Street, 1939. Spring Lane School is at the bottom of the street.




Gloria Church (nee Ashton) born 1940


“I was born in Coventry and after the big air raid of October 1940 our family was evacuated to Northampton in the same year. First we lived in a house in Countess Road. Then, in 1940-41 we moved into a house, No 2 Upper Cross Street which stood on the corner of Upper cross Street and Scarletwell Street. It was a very small house which my parents rented from Butts, the haulage people. It had two rooms upstairs and two rooms down. We moved in as a family of five – Mum and Dad, Lilian, Doreen and myself. Later, Malcolm, Pamela and Diane were born.


Our house was a condemned property even then. There was only one light, a gas mantle, in the living room; everywhere lese we needed a candle. There was no bathroom and the lavatory was in the yard. The only entertainment was the radio which was provided by Wireless Relay in  Marefair.


The Boroughs had a reputation even then for being a very rough area. Mum and Dad wouldn’t let us go out much because of that. Sometimes, we saw women fighting in the street. There wasn’t much crime – the most prevalent crime was poaching. People were very poor and poached meat added to their diet. People were tough –they had to be. The families were huge – I remember the Fulthorpes – they had 23 kids


People never had any money and we were always pawning our property at Osborn’s Pawn Shop in Sheep Street. I remember Mrs Shipley pawned her wedding ring and came round to borrow money from Mum because her husband was coming home from army leave


There were real characters in the Boroughs – I remember Creeping Ginny- she was an alcoholic and lived in Bath Street flats. Milk was delivered by a woman in her eighties who pushed a barrow round


Our house was opposite the Crispin Arms pub and we heard all the drunks being turned out at night. During the forties the houses in Crispin Street were demolished. During the war we often saw tanks driving along Broad Street


In 1947 there were deep snows and when we went to go to school and open the front door the snow was over the two steps and halfway up the door”


My dad worked at the Chrome Tanning factory in Grafton Street. He didn’t earn much. Mum was busy at home looking after the kids. When Mum was going into labour Dad sent me up to the ambulance depot in King Street to tell them to send transport to pick her up and take her to hospital


Before I started at Spring Lane School in 1944 I went to the Mission School in Scarletwell Street. They used to organise day trips every year and I remember one I went to which went to Hunstanton At Spring Lane School, I learn to swim – we went to Barry Road Baths. Every year we had our Sports Day on the County Ground. We also went on an Adventure Camp to a farm at Kislingbury. Each classroom had an old stove with a glass front and that was th only heat.


School dinners took place in a church room in Regent Square. We walked there from Spring Lane and paid 9d for dinner. I left Spring Lane School in 1951 and Doreen left in 1946. We both went on to Becket and Sergeant’s School in Kingswell Street; we stayed there until we were fifteen. There were only forty girls at the school, twenty junior and twenty senior. Becket and Sergeant’s was a Domestic School. There was a kitchen, sitting room and bedroom upstairs and a classroom downstairs; we learnt how to care for a home. One week we had education, the next week we learnt how to care for a home. Two girls cleaned All Saint s Vicarage in Cheyne Walk


I had my first job in 1955 at Dorothy’s Haberdashery in Marefair near St Peter’s Church. I was paid 35 shillings each week. We worked six days a week with Thursday afternoon off.

Doreen left school in 1950 and went to work in Worthingtons, St James End.  My eldest sister Lilian went to work at the Brook Manufacturing Co. We moved to Abington in 1955 and bought our first TV in 1957."




Sometimes, when researching a project a group of photographs are found of unknown ownership which bring back a period long gone The pictures on this page were taken in the late 1950s, the only known surviving record of Spring Lane School shortly before it was demolished. The photographer is anonymous but we owe them a debt for leaving us this snapshot of times past





The old Victorian school with its spacious grassed frontage seen from Crispin Street


School Sports Day 1950s

When the school was built in 1874 a row of terrached houses hemmed in the building on three sides. It was only on Spring Lane that there were no house. By the 1950s the only remaining houses on the school's perimeter were in Spring Lane Terrace; these can be seen in the left photo of the School Sports Day. Spring Lane Terrace ran along the bottom of the playing fields and was a row of small two-up two-down housess.


The Victorian Spring Lane School is clearly shown to be a capacious building designed for the large number of children which would need to be accommodated from the many big families in the Boroughs of 1874.






One of the most interesting photos in this small group was of St Katherine's Mission in Scarletwell Street. The Mission predated Spring Lane School and was affiliated to St Katherine's Church at the other end of the Boroughs. The Mission (above) was situated directly to the south of the school and it can be seen from this photograph that when the school was built it had to be squeezed into the area adjacent to the Mission.

Prior to the Education Act of 1870 one of the few sources of education for children was the Sunday School. Many children received this very basic teaching at one of the Missions in the town where they gained a rudimentary education. St Katherine's Mission was demolished in the 1960's and these photographs show the views before and after (below)





   Other photographs in this small collection show Sports Day at Spring Lane School some time in the





This view clearly shows the school from the west with Claremont House in the background. The grassy sports field slopes down towards the lower area where the parents, mostly mothers, wait for the next race.

In the marquee to the right the trophies are kept ready to be presented; the headmaster stands to the left of the marquee with his loudspeaker



Another view of the sports field (above) with children waiting their turn to take part. In the background are buildings in Spring Lane Terrace, now demolished



Here, a race is in full swing as the winner reached the finishing tape





and finally... a happy group of 1950s pupils enjoy playing on a climbing frame !





<< New image with text >>



The opening of the new Spring Lane School in 1970 marked a new start for the children of the Boroughs. The school was architect designed to serve the needs of a modern education The area of the school site in 1970 was two acres which included generous sized playing fields to the west of the school; some ten years before terraced housing which bounded the school had been cleared opening up areas of land for the playing fields which were then grassed over and planted



The only possible location for the new school was on the original site since the land drops away towards the river from east to west by twenty six feet The construction project consisted of two phases. The children at the school were educated on site whilst building work took place.









1. The children and staff were housed in the old two story east wing and the remaining structure was demolished 2. The children and staff then moved into the new building and the old east wing was demolished allowing the second phase of the building to be erected







The total cost of the rebuild was £77,480 and the cost per child was £206 1s 11d

The images above show the floor plan and the school site. The building is of split level design and the Junior and Infant areas were linked through the stage and dining area The images below show the new classrooms and canteen which were light, spacious and airy










The opening of the new school was celebrated and commemorated in the local press





The Opening of the new school in Spring Lane, Northampton

 12th May 1970

The Chronicle and Echo reported the opening of the new school with the following words:

Performing the opening ceremony the Chairman of the Schools Committee said that the rebirth of the school was an occasion of pride and joy recalling that the original Spring Lane School was built in 1874, he said it was particularly appropriate that they should remember this today in their surroundings since the school was one of the first resulting from the Education Act of 1870, the centenary which is commemorated this year.

The most exciting development at Spring Lane School was the starting of a special class for children with learning difficulties. The number of children in this class would not exceed 16 children. The Chairman added "I am sure that we will all agree that a good school does not depend however on magnificent buildings. The quality of the education the children receive is almost entirely a question of leadership given the by the head teacher and the character of the teachers"

The Mayor of Northampton, Alderman John Poole and the Mayoress were present and Rev A E Bransby dedicated the school.







There are a lot of changes ahead for the school in the next couple of years. This view shows the entrance in Spring Lane with the two tower blocks of Beaumont and Claremont Court undergoing refurbishment. In the forty years since they were built they had greatly deteriorated and were in great need of a facelift; this was also true for the school





Apart from the caretaker's house the only part of the Victorian school to remain today is the Cookery Centre (above right); this served as the Nursery until 2006 when a brand new nursery was built as part of the radical revamp of Spring Lane School.

The small building to the left of the nursery (above) is the Community Room which serves a variety of purposes including community meetings, adult learning and parent and child classes.




The playground (above) has been in the same place since 1874; on this autumn day in 2004 schoolchildren play together just as they always did !


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