Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The NEW school (1966) / Forest Lodge demolished 2010

It was a bit of shock to see our 'New' school (new in 1966 that is!) as a pile of rubble in 2010!

Tony Booton, who has worked there
since 1964 sitting on a pile of  our memories!!
The 'New' school building (Christened Forest Lodge by the Pioneer Centre) is still a 'New' school in our memories. Decades have gone by but it's hard to think of the building as old or demolished all the same. It was such a breath of fresh air after living in the old crowded cedar wood dorms. All so new and more spacious. We had rooms instead of a long dorm with everyone in it. We had showers in the same building instead of running across the drive in dressing gowns feeling the cold in mid winter. There was a study, recreation rooms, laundry and changing rooms.  It was mid 60's (for me) and where I first heard pirate radio the Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, All You Need is Love etc. Each subsequent year will have it's own associated memories but somehow the psychology and ergonomics of the place was so much better - a sense of being up-to-the-minute, of space and interest rather than couped up in the old claustrophobic dorms.

Tony Booton has been an important part of the school since 1964 and still works there at 74 now it's the Pioneer Centre, working hard to keep it all running. In 2010 Tony was interviewed and pictured in the Ludlow Advertiser as the 'New' building (or Forest Lodge) was demolished by the Pioneer Centre.

Forest Lodge demolished as centre looks to future
Wednesday 19th May 2010 by  Adrian Kibbler for the Ludlow Advertiser

A LANDMARK familiar to generations of young people near Cleobur y Mortimer is being demolished.

Forest Lodge is an old accommodation block dating from the 1960s at the Pioneer Centre.

The site first welcomed students through its doors in 1939, when boys from Coventry came to Wyre Farm Camp School to escape the bombing of the Second World War.

Tony Booton, aged 74, has worked at the site since 1964 when Forest Lodge was simply a set of concrete foundations.

Tony’s memories of the site, however, go back much further as he was born and educated a few miles away, just outside Cleobur y Mortimer.

He started working at what became Coventry City School as a young man of 29, helping to maintain the grounds and the school. One of the major jobs at the time was shovelling coke and coal into the school’s boiler house, also demolished this week.

Throughout the many changes the site has seen, from Wyre Farm Camp School, to Coventry City School to the Pioneer Centre, Tony has been the one constant and is a mine of information on the history of the site.

“Many of the boys who attended Wyre Farm Camp School and Coventry City School have gone into top jobs in lots of industries,” said Tony.

“It really provided a brilliant education for lads who often came from very working class backgrounds. The good news is the kids who come today are just as well behaved as they were all those years ago.”

Tony is now maintenance engineer at the Pioneer Centre and an invaluable member of staff.

The Pioneer Centre is run by Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs, a registered charity, and still welcomes thousands of young people through its doors every year, including volunteers from as far afield as Brazil, Portugal, Australia and China. It offers residential group activity holidays aimed at both children and adults in stunning countryside on the edge of the Wyre Forest.

Activities on offer include everything from archery to rafting in a state-ofthe- art facility.

More information is available at

Demolition was carried out by local contractor 1st Choice Environmental Services.

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