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Book review: A History Of Burpham Primary School

Published on: 9 Oct, 2014
Updated on: 9 Oct, 2014

From its small beginnings in 1908, Burpham Primary School has, to date, welcomed many children through its doors.

P1080131And of course, over that time education methods have changed considerably. It can be fascinating to look at those through the history of one school and that’s just what’s possible with a new book all about the small school in Burpham Lane.

The author of A History of Burham Primary School 1908-2014 is Moira MacQuaide Hall, and she knows the school well. She became a parent governor in 1996, and soon became interested in the school’s history. Her daughter attended the school and Moira was its bursar from 1997 to 2012.

Her research for the book has included the school’s log books, minutes of meetings, admission registers and annual reports. She has spoken to past pupils and recorded their memories and has collected a number of historic photographs.

The book is indeed very comprehensive, but is also a very interesting read as the story unfolds from the 28 children who attended on the first day, through to the 280 children on the roll in September 2013. And the school is it set to expand over the next five years taking the total up to 430.

Moira charts the development of the school through the changes and events of the 20th century, not only in education, but also through local and national, and in some cases, international events.

Pupils at Burpham in he late 1920a.

Pupils at Burpham in the late 1920s.

The struggles the school went through in its early days with attendance problems, illness, of not only children, but its two teachers, are recorded, along with many other stories, such as pupils not being able to reach the school due to floods.

The addition of extra pupils evacuated from London during the Second World War and complications that arose are featured,  along with the growth of the school in the post-war years.

Winners of the Guildford Primary School Sports in 1960.

Winners of the Guildford Primary School Sports in 1960.

Past pupils will certainly enjoy reading about the days when they were at Burpham Primary. People’s memories down the decades are both fascinating to read and full of nostalgia. Former head teachers and other staff also recall their days at the school.

Pupils watching a film in the school hall in 1967.

Pupils watching a film in the school hall in 1967.

As the wording on the back cover says…”Burpham School has seen five monarchs, two world wars and enormous changes to the way we live, particularly with science and technology. Many things that we take for granted in the 21st century hadn’t even been thought of in 1908! Heating, lighting, cooking, washing – these have changed beyond recognition from what our first pupils and teachers were used to. But, schools are formed by communities perhaps more than by technology and events. And this history is as much about the people who taught, volunteered and attended as it is about the school’s shape and growth.”

That is so true – it’s all in this book and more.

At £10 the book is excellent value. The author will hand deliver copies to people who live in Guildford, but if you would like it posted, it’s an additional £3.35 for p&p. Orders should be made to Moira either by e-mail – – or by phone on 07963 756543.  

Moira says: “It is available on Amazon as well, but if people are local then it’s cheaper for them if I deliver it.”

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