St. Gregory’s Primary School, Camberley

Several years after my old Surrey junior school – St. Tarcisius in Knoll Road, Camberley – was demolished and replaced by a housing estate, I reflected sadly that I hadn’t been back to photograph it properly: something which is even more disappointing given the apparent complete lack of any historical photos of the school online. So, when I heard of the great ruckus surrounding the potential demolition of my pre-junior school (now owned by a Bengali association), I decided to return while I was in the U.K. to make sure that I had some photos to remember it by.

The owners of the building had already received the provisional go-ahead from the local council to demolish the victorian, red brick buildings but after the plans were made public, local residents and concerned parties – apparently excluding the neighbouring Royal Military Academy, who the press had seemed to think would object most strongly to mosque towers overlooking their secure premises – complained to such a degree that the permission was revoked again by the council. This about-turn after discussion by the local council was well-received and it will be interesting to see how the owners now proceed with their intention to improve the facilities for their members.

As you can see in a couple of the photographs, building work had already begun to some extent in the rear of the building before permission was rescinded: a new concrete platform has replaced the rear playground and an additional toilet block and bicycle shed, while what was once a wonderful forest play area, littered with pine needles and large hollowed-out tree trunks, is now nothing but a muddy extension to the car park. I can certainly see the point of view of the association that the building is in dire need of improvement. The photos of the interior – grabbed at arm’s length through high windows – show how the rooms are still largely as I remember them in the late 1970s: even to the extent of intact climbing bars in the school hall, which swing out at 90° from the wall; the kitchen hatch from which we used to collect our half pint milk bottles; and a blackboard in one of the remaining classrooms. Let us hope that the monies set side for the building of a new mosque will instead be spent on renovation of this historic building.

17 responses to “St. Gregory’s Primary School, Camberley”

  1. Nicola Fereday avatar
    Nicola Fereday

    Hello!

    I was looking for some images of my old school and found your site. I was at this school in 1971 or 2 and stayed until the move to St. Tars.

    I was so pleased to see that someone had photographed some of the interior. I haven’t been able to find any photos until I came across you. Three brothers and a sister also went there, before SJB, Farnborough Hill and Salesian College.

    I loved this school and have very fond memories of it.

    Is there anyway that I could get a copy of these photos from you? I would really appreciate it. Well done you for getting some photos!
    Regards, Nikki Fereday

    1. Mark Howells-Mead avatar

      Hi Nicola: please send me your email address and I’ll let you know how you can get copies in higher resolution.

    2. Kay Norman avatar
      Kay Norman

      Hi. I think I was at school with you. My name was Michaela Harrison. I used to hang around with Mary de Guzman. Si toi remember me?

  2. Bernadette McSharry avatar
    Bernadette McSharry

    Hi there Mark,

    I am in the process of writing about my childhood and have just finished writing about my first term at St Gregory’s in the September of 1972 (I was actually in the same year as Nicola Fereday!)

    It was great to come across these photo’sand was wondering if I could put a few of them in the book, when it eventually is finished.

    Thanks so much.

    Many Thanks
    Berni

    1. Mark Howells-Mead avatar

      Hi Bernadette, you can find details of my photo licencing here.

    2. Brian McCann avatar
      Brian McCann

      I remember you Bernadette, you lived just down the road from me in academy close. How are you?

  3. Vicky Fifield avatar
    Vicky Fifield

    Hi Mark,
    I was at St Tarcisius in 1965, it was my first school…..I was 4. I have found some pictures of the building on a Flicker site…just as I remembered it. In 1984 I was at Sandhurst and during one lunch break I rushed out to buy a hamburger and chips..fed up of all the normal food! I drove off to sit quietly to eat my hamburger and realised that I was sitting outside my old school…it was an incredible coincidence. I feel blessed that I had that experience as I understand that our school was demolished!
    Best wishes, Vicky

  4. Christopher Coles avatar
    Christopher Coles

    I went here from 1963 to 1969. It was Yorktown Primary School then. I loved it. I have so many great memories. It looks like the new owners have wrecked this lovely old school. What kind of council would allow them to do this.

    1. Mark Howells-Mead avatar

      I know what you mean, but their residence at least stops the contractors coming in and bulldozing the lot…

  5. Nikki avatar
    Nikki

    Hi Mark.
    I saw your link on the Camberley FB group and was delighted to see your photos. I went to St Greg’s in the mid 70s.

    I’m making a scrapbook of my childhood for my kids and wondered if you would mind if I included your photos…particularly the climbing frame…I was always terrified by climbing up that.

  6. Brian McCann avatar
    Brian McCann

    I went to this School in 1974 to 1976, I then went to st Tarcisius until 1979, after that of to All Hallows. I loved this school so much. Thanks for capturing these images. Can you please tell me Mark what years you went to school. I remember the McSharry’s they lived a few doors down from me.

    1. Mark Howells-Mead avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Brian! I was there between 1978 and 1980, before I went to St. Tarcisius.

  7. Bryan Hoskyns avatar
    Bryan Hoskyns

    Hello Mark, do you remember Miss Kiernan who taught at Saint Tarcisius during the 1960s and moved to Saint Gregory’s in 1971. She used to live at number 28 Frimley Road, sadly she died in 1988. Miss Kiernan originally tough at Saint Patrick’s School, Farnborough during the 1960s. I have written a book on the history of Saint Patrick’s School and wondered do you by any chance have a photograph of Miss Kiernan that I could use for my next edition of the book. If not, perhaps you may know somebody who has a copy. I have put adverts in the Frimley Camberley and surrounding area Facebook site and also tried the Camberley Museum. However, I have not been able to obtain a copy to date.

    1. Mark Howells-Mead avatar

      The name rings a bell, certainly. These are the only photos I have, I’m afraid.

  8. Vienna avatar
    Vienna

    I remember you Bernadette, Nicola and Brian!! We were all in the same year at St Greg’s. Fond memories of this school and all our friends.

    1. Brian McCann avatar
      Brian McCann

      I remember you Vienna, I don’t think you particularly liked me, in fact, I don’t think many people did. I was completely lost when I arrived at St Greg’s having just arrived from the Falls Road in Belfast during the height of the troubles. However, I have fond memories of both St Tarrs and St Greg’s

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