Door open at former Carlisle school one last time before demolition

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Nostalgia was running wild as ex-pupils and teachers of an old school had one last chance to have a look round their former stomping before its knocked down.

Caldewgate School, in Newcastle Street, Carlisle, was opened up for people to rekindle old memories as city-based McKnight and Son builders plan to flatten the site and construct housing in its place.

The school operated from 1872 until 1988 and up until a couple of years ago was used by the University of Cumbria as its fine art campus. More recently two charities – Cumbria Blood Bikes and The Encouragement Shed, which is run by Carlisle’s Vineyard Church– have been using the buildings.

But before the building is lost forever people were able to explore the rooms, corridors and outside area.

When people walked in they were asked to sign a huge guestbook on a whiteboard so people could see which of their ex-classmates and teachers had also visited.

The walk around was rekindling memories for Mary Armstrong, 84, who started at the school back in 1938 and has lived next door for most of her life.

"I've never been back in, it's strange" she told The Cumberland News.

"I can remember it just as though it was yesterday. Some bits I can recognise.

"My mother was born in 1902 and she came her as did all my family.

"It's been lovely to come back but I'm sad they are knocking it down, it's a shame it's going.

"I've lived next door to it since I was eight. It will be a big change when it's houses."

For ex-pupil Geoffrey Bolton, 56, it was also a trip down memory lane. He remembers being at the school in the late 1960s and early 70s.

He said: "I've never been back since the day I left. I've come back for a bit of nostalgia and I had some happy memories while I was here.

"It's kind of strange and quite emotional. It's certainly brought back some good memories, some good times and some laughs.

"I remember playing with my friends in the school yard pretending to be Spitfires and Hurricanes running around with our arms outstretched."

Cyril Muir, 72, started at the school in 1953.

"We used to play football out in the yard," he said.

"Where that building is outside that used to be a shelter and the pillars they were used as the goalposts. It's nice to come back in and reminisce about what we used to do.

"It was a pretty good school and I enjoyed coming here. I can tell you, we always did as the teacher told us."

Janet Blair from Carlisle Vineyard said: "The aim was to let people see where they used to go school, to bring back memories before it gets demolished.

"There's been at least four old teachers here and some of the oldest pupils we've had here are about 70 and people have been introduced to their old teachers.

"It's been lovely for people to be able to talk to their old teachers and get their memories. Somebody also brought in a collection of old photos for us to display."

Her colleague Angie Reynolds said: "There was a lady that came in and looked at this pictures and said 'that's me aged six and I've never seen that picture before'.

"She said they couldn't see them back in the day because they couldn't afford to get a copy."

Because the open day was so popular McKnight & Son's have decided to host a second event on Saturday, October 14 between 11am and 2pm.

They're also asking people for suggestions as to what the new site should be called.

A spokesman from the building firm said: "At the moment the most common one that's coming up is something relating to a Mr Sanderson, an old head teacher."

People can log their suggestions on the company's Facebook page.

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