Deacon’s School will always have a special place in Peterborough’s social history.
The school which first opened its doors in 1721 in Cowgate has provided thousands of city people with an education.
It’s famous old boys include newspaper columnist Richard Littlejohn and footballer Matthew Etherington who was still at the school when he became Posh’s youngest ever player aged 15 in 1997.
The school in Queen’s Gardens shut in 2007 when it was replaced by the Thomas Deacon Academy - which saw Deacon’s merged with John Mansfield School and Hereward Community College.
Recently two of Deacon’s oldest old boys paid a visit to the academy when they talked about their time at the school.
Richard Maywood and Peter Goodale, who are now in their 90s, attended the school in the 193os when the population of the city was approxiamately 55,000 and the school had 350 pupils.
The original Deacon’s School was on Deacon’s Street, opposite North Street and adjacent to Queens Street. Perkins Engines’ original factory was opposite the school, in what is now the Queensgate loading bay.
Richard and Peter recalled the school day began with morning assembly, followed by prayers, after which the students were split into classes, called Britons, Danes and Angles.
Peter and Richard were in Britons and wore a green uniform and sports kit. Communal lunch was held in the hallway after which the students returned to class. Classes took place in the Deacon’s building and in an annex in Broadway with teachers escorting the students between the two sites.
As Richard was preparing to enter Sixth Form in September 1939, he and his fellow students were called in on a Sunday to listen to the radio to hear the announcement of the Second World War.
Approximately one third of the students from Richard and Peter’s form (year group) never returned fromthe Second World War.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The face of education in Peterborough was to change dramatically after a huge investment programme in secondary schools was announced.
Among those changes was the creation of a £46million 2,200-pupil superschool, Thomas Deacon Academy, that saw the merging of Deacon’s School, Hereward Community College and JohnMansfield School.
But the changes were not universally welcomed and there had been local opposition to the loss of some famous old schools.
Even so with construction well underway it was something of a bombshell when in July 2006, the governors of the three schools joined forces to write a stinging letter to Lord Adonis, the man Prime Minister Tony Blair had put in charge of the academies project.Paramount amongst the governors’ concerns was that performance levels at the academy would not match those of its predecessor schools.
Not surprisingly the principal in waiting, Dr Alan McMurdo, made a robust defence saying: “We are building the best comprehensive school in the country.’’