Memories from Mr H
I taught in a large new school that opened in 1974 in the development area. Our first year started off with 80 students and by the end of the year we had over 150 students in that same school year.
Each brought their own problems to be integrated into a pecking order. We did marvellous work for which we got very little credit. At times we had the highest initial employment rate for our school leavers of any town Upper School. We had some great students who had some great achievements, but we also had the occasional very bad parenting affecting the students.
The Development Corporation did spend a lot of time cutting the grass and keeping the estates tidy. With Lings Upper, in the early stages, money was found to develop a community involvement. The initial buildings had two public footpaths going through, which were thought to enable the public walking through to be enthused at what was going on and encourage them to come back for day or evening classes. BUT what happened in a very few number of cases was parents/friends would come close to lunchtime and knock on the window where the student was being taught to show them the lunch pack and then sit on the grass awaiting the lesson to end!
Lings, being a community school, had a community office in the school, complete with its own staff team, to organise evening classes and group work around the Eastern district! They also put on Summer School Holidays Daytime Classes (Woodwork, Pottery, Drama etc) for several years, for primary and secondary aged students to pay to attend. Unfortunately, they were not very well attended.
The Community part also organised a Summer Fun Day with activities in the afternoon with an evening of a drama finishing with fireworks. On one of these Saturday evenings a teacher, Willi Gilder, assigned to the Community side of Lings, had to put on a complete water monster outfit and hide unseen in the stream between Lumbertubs and Lings and appear in time for a dramatic episode in the play! Getting out partly submerged in cold water for a specific time proved difficult but he did it! Lings itself had a Lings Player’s drama group which was a mixture of school staff/students and people from the communities it served. Led by teachers from Lings, Mr John Cartwright and Mr V Perry, these productions were of high standards and included a most beautiful local Pantomime each Christmas time. They could rival the best in town at the time!
Unfortunately for Lings and the middle school Emmanuel, they did suffer by being actually joined to the new large shopping centre, Weston Favell Centre. Anyone misbehaving up there was “always” a Lings/Emmanuel student. 90% of the time it wasn’t! Also, at lunch times it became a warm dry playground. But inside the school we had a great staff and great results with students going on to great positions – Doctors, great engineering designers, great parents, nurses, one a brilliant American Wrestling star, great armed forces members, company directors, local service workers, artists and one to become The Director of the Tate and awarded a CBE for her work.
As a housing development however, it destroyed Northampton and lovely surrounding countryside (see attached Ordnance Survey Map) adding very little positivity to the town. When Lings was being built there were plans for another Upper School to be built somewhere on the Rectory Farm area. Now I presume that they were cancelled possibly because the Wellingborough District Council refused to sell the land to the East of the stream between Ecton and Rectory Farm. Only a presumption.
Map is in the 1953 series OS Mapping