PUPILS and staff at Coventry’s King Henry VIII Preparatory School reminisced over what school life was like in 1920 as they celebrated the centenary of Swallows Campus.
Monday (September 21) marked 100 years to the day since the school was founded by the Rev Kenelm Swallow on his return from the First World War.
The white-washed school with its prominent location on the Kenilworth Road was built in 1720 and is a rare early Georgian building in Coventry, also celebrating its 300-year-old anniversary this year.
It was decorated for the birthday celebration with balloons and the atmosphere was buzzing as the original 1920 register for The Swallows Preparatory school (later Coventry Prep) was read out to children at their assembly.
Back in 1920 the school catered for children up to the age of 13, now it takes pupils aged between three and seven years old.
Pupils were transfixed as old boy Gregory Deeley dressed up as a First World War soldier marched up The Firs road to mark Rev Swallows return from the ‘Great War’. Special centenary cakes were served, and every child planted a daffodil bulb. A gloriously sunny autumn day was spent celebrating the anniversary and understanding what life would have been like at the school in 1920.
The day was rounded off by a tree planting of an English Oak with a small group of old pupils with the spade being wielded by Robert Penlington.
Acting headteacher, Miss Caroline Soan, said: ‘We really wanted to do something special to mark the day and make it an occasion that the children would remember. The original anniversary plans had to be shelved, so we worked with the old boys to come up with this alternative.
“In its 100 year history the school has played a significant role in Coventry life through its foundation as a school that broke through the very austere education system of post war Britain, to its survival of the blitz, to the education of many thousands of children in Coventry and Warwickshire. I am tremendously proud to be acting head of this great school at this time.”
Old boy Gregory Deeley, who played the part of the Rev Swallow’said: “It was a tremendous honour to be part of the day. The old boys and the school have worked closely together to try and make the day special. It was so important we marked the day as the school, under the leadership of Rev Swallow and Mr Phipps, has been so important to so many ‘Coventarians’ and we hope the school continues to educate the young of Coventry for another 100 years.”
Old pupils of the school are invited to get in contact via johnphipps.co.uk as future centenary events are planned, when possible in light of the coronavirus crsis.