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St Edmund's

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Mrs Fowler's Page

St Edmund's R C Secondary School ~ 1963 to 1988
by Pamela Fowler


The school was finally completed in 1963 after many years of planning, raising the capital and even local fund-raising, such as buying a brick!

It was built to provide secondary/comprehensive education for Catholic children but also for children from parents of other denominations ie Greek Orthodox and C of E.

The main 'feeder' schools were St. Mary's Great Yarmouth, St. Mary's Lowestoft and St. Benets Beccles. A wide catchment area of some 25 miles.

The site in South Gorleston was right on the Suffolk border amongst farmland - the fields of Cliff Park Farm across the A12 (no hospital then), and fields stretching away from the edge of the play area to Hopton and beyond.

The building was small and compact, with classrooms, Hall, dining area, surrounding the central square paved patio with flower beds.

At the front of the School, either side of the entrance, were rose gardens and along either side of the drive from Kennedy Avenue, were schrubs and cherry trees.

Headmaster Frank Devany came from a school in Reydon. There were two Sisters from the St. Louis Convent in Great Yarmouth - Sister Labouré, Deputy Head, and Sister Consuelo. Other members of staff were - the Misses Ruth Blyth and Margaret Higgs; Tom Clifford, John Daniels and Doug Smithson, School Secretary (myself, transferring from the then Gorleston Girl's School).

First Chairman of Governors was Father Edward McBride, Priest at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Gorleston, followed over the ensuing years by Father Robert Manley and Father Roberts.

School uniform for the first few years was, for girls grey skirt, white blouse; for boys, charcoal grey trousers, white shirt, black blazers; for both girls and boys, black and gold striped ties, grey sweaters. In later years, the fifth year pupils were allowed to choose their uniforms. with consultation and agreement of fifth form teachers. They all looked very smart!.

There were of course many staff changes over the years - Sister Labouré retired, Sister Consuelo moved to Newmarket, Ruth Blyth left and entered a religious order, Tom Clifford retired; others moved on to various other schools.

There were quite radical changes in the Nun's style of dress. First to go was the 'Dutch' style veil which completely framed the face - they did comment that they were unable to see out of the ' corner' of their eyes!. A simple black veil took its place, the long black dress was simplified. Finally, the dress was changed to a light navy blue, calf length, with matching veil, and at last showing some hair! Another change for the Sisters was from the religious names to using their Christian names. Sister Immaculate (who took over from Sister Consuelo) became Sister Teresa.

There were three retirement presentations at the end of the Summer term in 1986 - Headmaster Frank Devany, Sister Laurie (formerly Consuelo) and myself. There were no more Sisters on the staff for the remaining two years of the School's life.

Due to withdrawal of funds from the Catholic Diocese, sadly the School closed its doors at the end of the Summer term in 1988.

*Contributed by Pamela Fowler (former School Secretary) May 2006 ~ with many thanks!