PREVIOUSLY unpublished photos capture the last days of the school at North Hill in 1985 when change was in the air for Colchester’s Gilberd school.

The school was completing the transition to a new home at Highwoods before builders would move in to create the new Sixth Form College on the school’s old North Hill site.

This is how the Gazette reported on the end of an era in June 1985: "Like an old soldier, the Gilberd School in Colchester town centre has not died. It has simply faded away.

"The streams of children in familiar bottle-green uniforms have gone.

"All that is left of the school, in an impressive looking building that dominates the rear slope of North Hill, is a few dozen Upper Sixth-formers wrestling with their A-Levels, a handful of staff and a peeling name-board."

Fortunately Katy Oxton, who was amongst that last group of sixth-formers, decided to photograph the old school before it closed its doors for the final time. Her photographs are published here for the first time.

“I think I was very conscious it was closing and disappearing for ever,” said Katy. “I just wanted to capture the school before it all changed.”

Katy was kind enough to send her photos in to a website devoted to the school’s history run by long-serving teacher Eddie Ross and a former pupil, Jonathan Moran.

Mr Moran said “Katy’s photos are so atmospheric. You can see just how run down the school has become by this point and there’s something quite ghostly about all those empty classrooms and corridors. I think it’s a bittersweet record of the old Gilberd as it was passing away.”

Mr Moran and Mr Ross launched their website a year ago and hardly a week goes by without former pupils getting in touch to share memorabilia such as old photos, magazines or school bulletins.

“We have received contributions from past pupils around the world who were at the school in the 60s, 70s and 80s and we welcome more,” said Mr Moran.

“We try to publish everything we receive so that all former pupils can enjoy the content wherever they are.”

You can see more of Katy’s photos and a wealth of Gilberd related nostalgia at Eddie’s Gilberd School Photos here.