Bognor Regis Grammar School remembered in booklet

A Bognor Regis school which was recently reduced to rubble has been celebrated in print.

Sunday, 9th January 2011, 11:14 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:18 pm

The souvenir booklet commemorates the nine years of Bognor Regis Grammar School.

Its short existence is belied by the enduring spirit of its former pupils some 50 years later.

More than 500 of the classmates have had their photographs included in the 40-page A5 publication.

Several have reminiscences printed which capture the essence of life at the Pevensey Road site.

Colin Crouch, its former head of English, said: “I have happy memories of the school. They are not necessarily about learning in the classrooms.

“It was possible to do such a lot of things in those days because teachers were not concreted into the national curriculum.”

The grammar school opened in September 1958 to save parents the journey of taking their children to Chichester.

Its days were soon numbered, though. The government decided to abolish grammar schools.

This led to the school’s 435 pupils being merged with the town’s secondary modern school in 1967 to become Bognor Regis Community College.

Those nine extraordinary years saw an unprecedented amount of social turmoil in a period of the space race, the birth pill, the Beatles, the human rights movement and supermarkets.

Overshadowing them was the threat of nuclear war.

But the school prospered under inspiring head teacher Charles Besly with a community in which sport flourished alongside the arts and sciences.

The grammar school’s buildings outlived its independence to become the college’s lower school.

They remained in use until last July and stood empty until the final brick was pulled down on October 30.

The site is likely to be used for housing. But its demise prompted a final reunion last summer for former staff and pupils.

Some 150 of them turned up from all over the country for a last look before the buildings were demolished.

Mr Crouch said David Gadd, the school’s former head of chemistry, had gathered together a mass of material about the school.

There were so many photographs and written memories it was impossible to take them in all in as well as reliving times past with long-lost friends.

This prompted the Mr Crouch and former students – Terry Williams, Carol Turner and Chris Burstow – to create a more permanent souvenir.

Former students whose addresses are known to the editorial team have been contacted.

Anyone else who would like a copy should contact Carol Turner, nee Embleton, on 01243 262446.