As Greendown School makes the transition to become Lydiard Park Academy from September 2012, local historian Fran Bevan considers how the school name continues to draw upon the history of its neighbour.
When it came to choosing a name for West Swindon’s secondary school before the first children arrived in 1986 the board of governors turned to the nearby Lydiard Park estate for inspiration.
“We were looking for a short, memorable name that drew upon the landscape of West Swindon,” recalls Swindon Link publisher Roger Ogle, then chair of governors. “We had a map of old field names across West Swindon. The park was on the northern boundary and Greendown Copse was within 200 yards of the school’s fence to the west, it fitted the criteria well.”
In the Victorian period the name Greendown appeared several times on the Tithe Map drawn up in 1841. There was a 23 acre field of pasture called Greendown on Windmill Leaze Farm, where the Kinchin family were tenants during the mid-19th Century.
And on neighbouring Wick Farm there were fields of pasture called Greendown and Greendown Mead. Here tenant Jonas Clarke lived in unwedded bliss with Alice Pinnell and their large family. Poor Jonas had made an unfortunate marriage in his youth and had to wait for his wife to die before he was free to marry Alice, his partner of more than thirty years.
The couple eventually made it to the altar at St. Mary’s, Lydiard Tregoze (in the park) on 2 June 1853.
Greendown Community School qualified for academy status by being in the top 25 per cent of schools which was underpinned by a second successive ‘good’ Ofsted rating earlier this year.
The governing body has taken the opportunity to make a break with the recent past with a new name and new logo based on the St John family coat of arms, drawing once again upon the heritage of its near neighbour, but this time upon a more illustrious path in history.
The St John family fortunes declined over a couple of hundred years as debts from horse racing and the cost of maintaining of Lydiard Park and its ground mounted up. It is unlikely that the Lydiard Park Academy staff and governing body will gamble with the new found status of the school.
Academy shows off new look
From next September pupils at Lydiard Park Academy in Grange Park (formerly Greendown School) will wear a uniform in new colours.
Parents are being asked to choose the style of uniform between the informal polo shirt and sweatshirt modelled by Jess Jenner, to a smarter V-neck sweater and tie worn by Nadia Osman or the formal blazer and tie shown by Dan Watt.
From headteacher Clive Zimmerman to Lydiard Park Academy parents:
Consultation on changes to the school uniform
Following our conversion to Academy status in August, a number of changes are now underway to enable us to re-open as Lydiard Park Academy in September 2012. Parts of the school have already been repainted in the new school colours and we have recently held Open Evenings to recruit the first cohort of pupils who will join the school as Lydiard Park Academy pupils right from their Year 7.
To fit with these changes we now want to consult with parents and pupils about how the school uniform for Lydiard Park Academy should be different from the current uniform. Our aim is to end up with a style of uniform that reflects the academic ambitions that we share for the future of our pupils and is a uniform that pupils feel comfortable with and are proud to wear.
I know that the pupils are excited by the prospect of a new uniform, but also realise that many parents will be apprehensive about the financial costs of change. With this in mind, I made a clear commitment to parents during the consultation about whether or not to become an Academy that the school would use some of its initial conversion grant to defray some of the cost. I am now able to give further details of this (below) in relation to each of the options we are putting forward for your consideration. I hope parents will feel that this brings the cost of change down to a level that is in line with your usual summer spend on replacing uniform that is worn out or has become too small.
Parents of pupils presently in Year 9 will be aware that our current uniform involves a change of sweatshirt colour on entering Year 10. Part of this consultation is to consider whether we should continue to distinguish older pupils in some way and, if so, what this change should be within the new uniform style.
Whilst our intention is to get all pupils into the new Lydiard Park Academy uniform for September 2012, we will not be asking parents to replace sports kit with the new version. Whilst a new sports kit will be available for the parents of new pupils and for parents wishing to replace items that have worn out or become too small, we accept that, to keep costs manageable, pupils should be allowed to wear out current (Greendown) sports kit before purchasing the new Lydiard Park Academy version.
In terms of the choices for the main school uniform, all three options below are based on our current uniform from the waist downwards i.e. unbranded trousers, socks and black shoes. The comments and costs listed here ignore these items as there is no change from the present.