King Alfred’s Academy’s East Site (formerly known as Icknield School) welcomed nearly 800 visitors over the weekend (21/22 Oct) who took great delight in exchanging memories, nostalgia, laughter and re-kindling old friendships. Visitors who came to look round the site – including former pupils from the 1950s through to the present day – enjoyed sifting through hundreds of photographs, press clippings and albums, as well as touring the site and visiting their favourite old haunts.
Different generations argued over where Home Economics had been based, and the Sixth Form Tour Guides enjoyed hearing how Pottery classes and taken place in the current Modern Foreign Language block!
There was a warm welcome for The Icknield Way Morris Men (whose origin dates back to 1958 as an idea for an after-school club at Icknield School) who danced while visitors enjoyed refreshments and looked over current building plans for Centre Site (King Alfred’s) and West Site (Segsbury).
Headteacher Jo Halliday said “It was such a privilege to meet the many different people whose lives have been influenced by their education here. It will be, of course, an historic moment for the town when East site closes its door to students on December 15th and the bell rings for the last time; we don’t underestimate how difficult that will be for many of us. However, what we can look forward to are buildings and a school that are fit for purpose for the next generations of children in Wantage, Grove and the villages. Many visitors this weekend realised how difficult it is now becoming to continue to repair East Site, and we will be writing to everyone who visited this weekend to invite them to come and look around the new buildings and sites in the Spring to get a sense of just how important this development is for the future of the school. In the meantime, we are very grateful to everyone who recorded their memories onto paper for us, and we are looking forward to collating them into a more permanent record”.
Event organiser Jonathan Smith said, “We were delighted to welcome our visitors this weekend. Story after story about life on the site entertained us all. This included several stories from those who had lined up to be caned outside the Head’s office in decades gone by! Generally, most of the memories were extremely happy ones! We compiled a list of suggestions from our ex-students and teachers on how to keep the Icknield name alive, and how to use memorabilia from the site for fundraising for the school. We will endeavour to ensure that we keep in touch now with everyone who came, and we hope that they will keep in touch with us and continue to visit us at future events.”