A NUMBER of old girls have got in touch following the recent Memory Lane “special” on the former Layton Hill Convent, and the heritage of the buildings that will be lost in the £22.5m redevelopment of what is now St Mary’s College.
Among them are Christine Cullen, from West Yorkshire, who writes: “I left in 1965 and met a few old classmates at a reunion in 2009.
“Seeing a photograph from so long ago makes me realise how many generations of girls have passed through the school.
“It’s very sad to think that the building that embodies such a long history isn’t being preserved. Unfortunately we often don’t realise what we’ve got until it is too late.”
Janice Regnier, from London, writes: “I really enjoyed your piece on Layton Hill.
“I am an old girl and attended the school from 1952 to 59 and knew some of the girls photographed.
“A lovely breath of nostalgia! The education was excellent and achieved in a very happy atmosphere. They were some of the happiest days of my life.
“What a very great sadness that the old Victorian parts of the school could not have been preserved and somehow incorporated into the new set up.
“We lose so much in the name of progress.”
Sheila Richardson, from Whitehaven, writes: “Layton Hill holds a special place in my life as it allowed my sisters and me to attend a Catholic Grammar School as there were none in Cumberland and Westmorland.
“I hope Ethel Power will be remembered as a friend and benefactor of the school and the town. I’m sad that I knew nothing about her.
“When I was in St Catherine’s dormitory on the fourth floor of the 1939 Ethel Power block, the views from the dormitory were right across Blackpool to the Tower, Illuminations and sea.
“As I climbed all those stairs each night past the laundries and the nuns’ refectory, I would feel quite grown up to be sleeping away from the main dormitory block.
“I hope some compromise can still be reached whereby the architecture and Victorian buildings of the school can be saved and honoured, while the chance to create a more practical layout is still fulfilled.”
Carina Troughton (nee Pelosi) from Norfolk, writes: “My many reminiscences include the sunken garden earmarked for a swimming pool until the war intervened, the marvellous Gothic front portion of the school clad in Virginia creeper where formal photos were taken, and the new 1956 block, where the fifth formers studied and had marvellous views, down St Walburgas Road. Sadly they will all be altered or removed in the developments.”
Sheila Briody (nee Walsh), from Co Kildare, writes: “It is so sad about the loss of these school buildings. Memory Lane has brought back many memories. I shall always remember that my mother died in the private hospital on St Walburgas Road, which is now sited on the former hockey pitch, where I used to play.
“Team teas were a real treat and we always had to leave some cake on the plate for politeness sake. This was miserable for a boarder who used to get bread and jam with no butter!”