CHILDREN are embarking on a project to unravel 125 years of their school's history.

North Primary School in Colchester was awarded cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project.

Teachers and pupils will work with historian Claire Driver, to explore the school’s archive at Essex Record Office, which includes maps, architectural plans, photographs, log books and admission registers.

The school also plans to hold events and open days in which they will invite current and former staff, pupils, families and older residents, to help it identify its social history and its place in the community.

Head teacher Alan Garnett said: "This amazing building has seen so many wonderful people pass through it and I am looking forward to learning their stories with our pupils. Not only will it be informative for them, it will a fascinating lesson in the important part a school plays in the formative life of a child, its family and their community. A history to which they will be inspired to make their own contribution."

People will be invited to share their memories, donate objects, photographs and memorabilia.

These will be deposited in the school’s archive to ensure the heritage is accessible for future generations.

During these community sessions, Colchester Recalled will be supporting the school by recording people’s oral histories about life at North Primary School.

The first community event will be held on Saturday February 2 from 10am to 1pm at the school.

It is hoped the school can discover how education has changed and even what the school dinners were and what songs were sung.

They are also interesting in the changes in the school architecture.

There are three Second World War air raid shelters in the playground.

All the donations, stories, oral histories and research will be brought together into a unique archive for the school, to share its legacy with future generations.

The archive will be brought to life by commissioning the artists Nicola Burrell and Lisa Temple Cox to make permanent artworks. Animator and photographer Ron Suffield will create an animated timeline of the school’s history which will be accessed through the school’s website.

The archive and research will be made available and shared with the public through an exhibition, talks, learning resource, website and publication.

North Primary School was the first state board school in Colchester, opening on November 12 1894, with 181 pupils attending.

The school has expressed its gratitude to project supporters at Essex Record Office, Colchester Museums, Colchester Recalled, Lexden History Group and Sir Bob Russell, High Steward of Colchester, who will be helping with this project.

Laura Davison, project manager, added: "CXXV follows on from the highly successful We Will Remember Them projects which researched the school during the First World War. From these projects, we began to understand the incredible history of the school, and the importance of exploring all its 125 years, to ensure its history is uncovered and preserved for future generations. "We are extremely grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund for making this project possible."

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