Pilton pupils’ reunion 64 years after leaving school

Joseph Bulmer

More than 20 1940s pupils of the former Pilton Primary School still gather for regular reunions.

THE golden memories of school days have not dimmed for more than 20 pupils of the former Pilton School, who recently met for a reunion to mark the 64th year since they started at the school.

It was the latest in a long line of reunion events for the large group of friends, most of whom still live in the Barnstaple area and who recall their former “super” school and teachers with the deepest of affection.

Even in the close knit communities of North Devon, such an enduring bond is unusual and there were certainly no terrible tales of school days from the 23 who attended the event, organised by Rachel Whitton.

Most of them started at the school – built in 1840 and now the home of the Pilton Arts Group - shortly after the Second World War in 1947, when the village was a distinctly separate community to the rest of Barnstaple and the only world they knew.

From 1947 the school was known as Pilton Primary, previously Pilton Junior and Infant. It closed in 1968 when the new Bluecoat School was built in Abbey Road.

“We have such fantastic memories of Pilton and our school,” said Maureen Luggar, who still meets up regularly with several lifelong school friends.

“It was a happy community and just unique. Our parents all knew each other, living on the Rock and when we were children you never went to town, Pilton was everything in our little world after the war.”

Happy recollections of their time there included dancing the maypole in the church hall, walks in the country and having a sleep after lunch wrapped in grey blankets.

Maureen and her friends still regularly visit the church and school, Manning’s Pit and other parts of Pilton they recall so vividly from their childhood.

The school headteacher was Mr C Dix and the former pupils still sing the praises of Mr Dix and their other teachers to this day.

“One thing that always stood out in my mind was where I was when the king died,” recalls Maureen.

“We had been painting with Miss Turner, another wonderful teacher, when Mr Dix came and told us. We heard the bells tolling and they sent us all home – we were delighted to have some time off school and didn’t understand the monarch had died.

“Apart from that everything about the school stayed in my mind, because I was so happy there.”