Article which appeared in the

Cumberland News , 17th November 2006.

© Deborah Kuiper

FOUR generations of one family joined pupils past and present to celebrate the opening of a new extension at Rosley School, near Wigton, this week.

Great-grandmother Lilian Coates, 80, joined her daughter and granddaughter for a trip down memory lane while her great-granddaughter Emma Chalmers, 10, was hard at work in a nearby classroom.

Surrounded by friends and former pupils, Mrs Coates remembered her own schooldays. She said: “I went to the old school nearby. I walked two and a half miles to get there, no matter what the weather. Even in deep snow we managed to get through.

“You carried your lunch with you. In winter the school teacher used to do jacket potatoes for our lunch. We used to take our own and put our initials on them.”

Her daughter Christine Scott, 59, enjoyed her school days so much she went back as the secretary for 24 years. Her son and three daughters all went to the school.

She said: “I have seen so many changes. There used to be just two small classrooms. Now we have all these extra teachers and helpers and extensions to the building.”

Her daughter Diane Moore, 35, went to school in the new building. She said: “Everyone knew everyone. A few of my friends have moved away but when they come back it’s as if they have never been away.”

The school, which used to be in what is now the Heyes House, was a central point for the village and its heyday had more than 60 pupils. In 1961, the cost of upkeep forced the school to move into new premises up the road.

Now it has three teaching classrooms, a hall, and an IT room and the extension has provided new offices, a music room and a room where children can get extra support in a one-to-one environment. There is also a private nursery in the school grounds.

Former pupils Dorothy Smith, 70, and her brother Joe Coulthard, 73, went to school in the old building.

Mrs Smith said: “There was an open coal fire in the big room and a pot-bellied stove in the other. They used to warm the milk beside the stove.

“In winter the headteacher used to throw buckets of water down the playground because it was on a slope and it used to make a lovely slide.”

Mr Coulthard said: “The boys used to take off to follow the hunt when the meet was at the corner. They often got the cane when they came back.”

The brother and sister sent their own children to the school and now their grand-children are pupils.

Ninety-four-year-old Madge Fell, who was on the school management committee for 30 years, started school at Rosley at the age of seven.

She said: “Most of the people are from local families who had been there forever. There is a real sense of continuity. Some of them still have children here.

“We have had good managers who were interested in keeping the school going. What is a pleasure to me is the fact they have carried on, so it’s a very good school.”