Staff and pupils began the first day of term back at Pilton Bluecoat Academy with a celebration of the school’s 50th birthday.

ndg pilton bluecoats 50th Head Mr Thomas, with 2 year 6 boysndg pilton bluecoats 50th Head Mr Thomas, with 2 year 6 boys

In January 1969, the children from three local Barnstaple schools joined together when their schools closed and the new Pilton Bluecoat Junior School in Abbey road was formed.

To mark the occasion, all 260 modern pupils and staff re-enacted the chilly walk their predecessors took 50 years ago from their original schools to their new school in Abbey Road.

The new school was formed by the intake from Pilton Church School (next to Pilton Church), Bluecoat Boys School (Northgate end of the High Street, where Iceland is now) and the Girls National School (the British Telecom building on Castle Street).

On their 2019 walk the children were joined by former pupils form all three of the previous schools – Janet Coates (parish school), Brian Squires (boys Bluecoat school) and Jackie Parker (Girls National School).

ndg pilton bluecoats 50th Rev Dilkes and Mrs Rhian Nicholasndg pilton bluecoats 50th Rev Dilkes and Mrs Rhian Nicholas

Headteacher Ian Thomas said: “The 50th anniversary of the opening of our school is a very proud moment for everyone connected with Pilton Bluecoat C of E Academy.

“From 1969 until the present day nearly 3,000 children have created lifelong friendships and special memories within our school building.”

After the walk, children and guests were welcomed back to Pilton Bluecoat Academy by the Reverend Nigel Dilkes and chief executive of TEAM Academy Trust, Rhian Nicholas, where a red ribbon was cut and a celebration assembly followed.

The school will host a second celebration on March 4, 50 years ago to the day when the Bishop of Exeter conducted the official opening and dedicated the buildings, with the present bishop attending to do the same.

Pilton Bluecoats Years 3 and 4 call in at the former Pilton Parish School in Pilton Street during their 50th anniversary walk.Pilton Bluecoats Years 3 and 4 call in at the former Pilton Parish School in Pilton Street during their 50th anniversary walk.

Mr Thomas added: “The fantastic, distinctive culture we have as a church school today is a result of the hard work which has been put in by all those members of staff who have, over the years, ‘gone the extra mile’ to ensure that the children have always been at the heart of everything we do.

“Our 50th birthday celebrations provide us with an opportunity to reflect on these special memories from the past and to express how grateful we are to everyone who has been and still is connected with the school.”

The school would like to hear from any staff or pupils who were part of the 1969 openings, or anyone who can loan old photographs or memorabilia. Call 01271 345952 or email admin@piltonbluecoat.devon.sch.uk .

All that remains of the Bluecoat Boys School is a plaque on the wall near Iceland in Barnstaple.All that remains of the Bluecoat Boys School is a plaque on the wall near Iceland in Barnstaple.