Lost Bury St Edmunds.

When in 1935 a Secondary Modern school for boys and girls was put forward to be built at the end of Grove Road, it was only fit and proper to name the schools after the twenty-five years King George V had ascended the throne, hence Silver Jubilee. Alas, he died in January 1936 the schools opening in March of that year.

The Silver Jubilee Schools lasted until 1972 when they merged with the King Edward VI Grammar School becoming a co-educational comprehensive school aka KEGS, 1972.

The old Grammar School buildings on the Vinefields were then inherited by the St James Church of England Middle School until itself closed on 21st July 2016.

This year also saw St Louis Catholic Middle School and Howard Middle School which had opened in 1972 finish, both victims of a new educational tier system.

Several other Bury schools have closed over the years: Eastgate Street Primary, St Peters Infants Hospital Road, St Johns Infants, Victoria Street Infants and St Albans Voluntary Aided Primary on the Howard Estate. The Guildhall Feoffment Poor Girls School corner of Well Street and Short Brackland was moved to the Guildhall Feoffment Poor Boys School, Bridewell Lane whilst St Mary’s Parish School in Spahawk Street has also disappeared.

In Risbygate Street the St James National Schools for boys and girls had stood since 1846, it was demolished in 1937 becoming a car park (now Havebury Housing flats).

The St James National Schools was replaced by the St Edmundsbury C of E Primary School in Grove Road the same year. Though the East Anglian School in Northgate Avenue and Culford School in Northgate Street, both Methodist based are no longer in Bury they survive as a co-educational institution at Culford.

Silver Jubilee Secondary Modern Girls School

This was one half of the Silver Jubilee Schools, the sexes strictly segregated with a white dividing line in the playground. Discipline extended to P E teacher, Mrs Leggett ensuring your school uniform skirt was not too short!  Commercial, secretarial and nursing courses along with domestic science were part of the curriculum. The photo is of prefects for the school year 1953/4 with school head Miss Denne on the left who departed a year later becoming a nun.


Mrs Rachael Potter was the first head-mistress then Miss Denne, this photo is of her with senior scholars in head governor Dr Cockrams’ garden. Edith Crocker became head in 1954/5 and was the best known, it was said that on entering a classroom you could hear a pin drop such was the authority she commanded.  Edith, once secretary of the Bury St Edmunds Concert Club, retired in 1972 when the school comprehensive system commenced. She died in 2009 at a ripe old age.

Silver Jubilee Secondary Modern Boys School

This school opened in 1936 with Val Pettitt as the first headmaster. Discipline was strict, the teachers installed this into you from day one that you entered the classroom, corporal punishment via the cane, slipper or well-aimed board rubber! Follow the Light was the name of the school magazine with the first line of the school song appropriately ‘Lo here is fellowship’. This principal held pupils in good stead for the 4 years or more they were at the school as they were allotted a school house from: Hadow (red), Fisher (blue), Forster(yellow) or Stanley (green). Within four years of Roy Napier taking over the headship in 1954, RSA exams took place, followed by in 1959 the first GCE exams and lastly CSE exams in 1965. Over the years Horsa Huts were built to house workshops  for metalwork, woodwork and a print-room and in 1958 a large assembly hall was added. The period 1964-6 saw a concerted building programme where ‘tower blocks’ for a gym, new science labs and craft rooms gradually developed for Bury’s expanding populace. Extra-curriculum activities such as school trips to East Marden in Sussex or Swanage in Dorset were very popular as were trips abroad. At the end of the school year the football match between the masters and pupils was played enthusiastically by both parties. For those who enjoyed  music, Lawford Smith a par-excellence music teacher put on several musicals such as Iolanthe, The Pirates of Penzance etc. When the co-education comprehensive school system came into being in 1972 the Silver Jubilee School became King Edward VI School. Affectionally known as KEGS an acronym for the defunct King Edward VI Grammar School.

Barry Smart

The popular school captain and outstanding all-rounder in 1956, Barry went on to become a goalkeeper for England Schoolboys and Chelsea FC.  They lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers over two legs, 7-6 in the F A Youth Cup final of 1958. His performance then was commented on in Jimmy Greaves biography as ‘being a busy lad’, his team having lost 6-1 in the 2nd leg!

School Hockey 1stXI

Sport was important within the school; P E teachers Jeff Holder and Alastair Passey were helped by other teachers such as Religious Instruction teacher Mike Bowes with Rugby. Stan Bavaster, though an art teacher, is in this photo for the first Inter School Hockey match against King Edward VI Grammar School played on February 16th, 1956.

St Louis Middle School

George Boby, the brother of factory owner, Robert Boby moved into St Andrews Castle around 1865, and lived there until his death in 1890. A Roman Catholic Convent school was later founded by the Sisters of St Louis here in 1929 with living accommodation for the nuns and classrooms for the pupils. The school was granted Grammar School status in 1958 becoming a state run Catholic Middle School in 1971.

St Louis & St Benedicts unite

The school expanded, eventually leaving the castle in 1989, moving into on-site purpose-built classrooms. With an Ofsted rating of Outstanding the school was fed by St Edmunds RC primary school. All this changed when plans were announced in 2013 for St Louis to become part of the new school two tier system with St Benedicts Upper School. In September 2016 the Middle School closed, a thanksgiving mass held in the Cathedral.

Guildhall Feoffment Elementary Girls School

Hazells Chartered Surveyors now occupy the corner of Well Street and Short Brackland, previously the Guildhall Feoffment Girls School founded in 1852 for 150 girls. They were taught the three ‘Rs’ and how to be good housewives, knitting, sewing, cleaning, washing etc, how times have changed! In 1931 the Feoffment Schools in College Street and Bridewell Lane amalgamated and in 1936 incorporated the Girls School.

A famous ex-pupil

A famous ex-pupil was Norah Ethel Robinson the future author Nora Lofts.  Aged nine, she had moved to Bury with her widowed mother from Shipdham in Norfolk, 1913, after this school and the Girls County Grammar School she trained as a teacher in Norwich coming back to Bury to teach at the Feoffment Girls School and Silver Jubilee. Forsaking her chosen career, she became a much beloved author and eventually lived in Northgate House until her death in 1983.

The King Edward VI Grammar School

Founded by Edward VI in 1550 and originally on Eastgate Street, corner with Barn Lane, it moved from there in 1665 to Northgate Street till a final move to its 12-acre Vinefields site in 1883.

Local boys were known as Royalists, those from outside of the town, Foreigners.

Such was the esteem the school was held in that a Cadet Corps was formed in 1900, leading to the Corps being re-named an Officer Training Corps in 1908. During both World Wars a total of sixty-one former pupils laid down their lives for their country. In 1922 the school became a Direct Grant school, losing some of its independence eventually leading to fee paying boys eligible for a means test, the Ministry of Education taking up the slack.

In 1944 the Education Act (the year the 11+ was brought in) resulted in the school no longer able to retain its position as a charity thus losing its Direct Grant status, becoming a Voluntary Controlled School in 1946. The Eleven Plus was to change so many children’s lives, here in Bury boys and girls not passing meant you were off to the Silver Jubilee Secondary Modern School; passing meant you went to the County Grammar for girls, for boys the King Edward VI Grammar School.

With the change-over to the co-educational system the Grammar School closed in 1971, its celebrated ancient library going to the Cambridge University Library and the last Headmaster ‘Bob’ Elliot destined to become mayor of St Edmundsbury in 1978-9.  St James C of E Middle School inherited the school buildings until itself closed on 21st July 2016.

Grammar School Hero

The King Edward VI Grammar School football team of 1922 included a future  WW2 hero that of Geoffrey David Fulcher. Born in 1908 he was at the Grammar School between 1920-24 and joined the family butcher’s businesses at 56, St Johns Street and 32, Brentgovel Street, 1925, both now gone.

Brothers, David and Lionel, better known as ‘Jack’ were also at the Grammar school. Jack farmed with his father at Home Farm, Hardwick Lane and became mayor of Bury St Edmunds but sadly died in office, 1955. David went on to become an electrical engineer.

During WW2 Geoffrey was to serve in Princess Louise’s Kensington Regiment as a major and it was in Normandy that he won the Military Cross for bravery. Soon after D-Day as 2nd-in command of a heavy mortar company he had to take over as his superior officer was badly wounded. The citation says ‘he had to make, for each action, a number of separate and often dangerous recces and to cover wide distances in travelling between his platoons’.  After the war he was a director of Bury Undertakers L Fulcher of 80, Whiting Street, another family firm.

Incidentally, number 80 used to be the Fountain public house until time was called on it in 1906 by the licensing authorities due to its proximity to the Masons Arms.

Geoffrey also helped in the founding of the Farmers Club in Northgate Street in 1947 and as a keen golfer was captain of Bury Golf Club, 1953. He died aged 65, 1973.

The East Anglian School for Girls, Northgate Avenue

The Rev. John Christien founded The Collegiate School in 1881 in Northgate Street and in 1886 it became the East Anglian School advertising itself as a Public, Residential and Day School. In 1935 the boys left moving to Culford, both schools would eventually re-unite in 1972 becoming the first Methodist Co-Educational School in the country at Culford in 1974. Some girls school buildings subsequently were demolished though the 1923 wing, Newman house survived, named after the headmaster, W Newman.

The 1st XI Hockey team of 1952-1953

The Girl’s school had a four-house system, Constable, Cotman, Crome and Gainsborough with a teacher in charge and a prefect as the House Captain, competition between these especially at sports was intense, Miss Brenda Ennis the school P E teacher. A fine school the motto being ‘The utmost for the highest’ reflected its position above the town.

Regular re-unions are still reasonably attended though age is taking its toll.

For a copy of Martyn Taylor’s book Lost Bury St Edmunds please ask at Waterstone’s or The Cathedral Bookshop, Bury St Edmunds