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St. Francis' College in the 1960s
In some ways the 1960s is a decade of transition in the College’s history. Pupil numbers continued to increase and a high point was reached in 1962/3 when there were 760 pupils of whom 170 were boarders.
In 1960 the former study room in the Broadway building was converted into a library, and a new domestic science room created in the former canteen for the day girls. In September 1962 Mother John returned to the College as Mother Superior and supervised a programme of refurbishment. The attics in the Broadway building were turned into bedrooms to accommodate the growing number of boarders. Houses in Spring Road and West View were purchased and used to house older boarders. Perhaps the most significant development was the extension of the Chapel to accommodate the large numbers of boarders. Downstairs the Dining Room was extended and new common room/lecture room was created, and there was a TV room and singing room. A fundraising campaign was launched in 1965 to raise money to equip four new laboratories, build three new tennis courts and provide better facilities for staff and sixth formers. These facilities were opened by Shirley Williams, MP for Stevenage, in 1967. Phase two of the fundraising then focused on the swimming pool project.
The opening of St. Angela’s School in 1967 in Stevenage had a big impact on St. Francis’ College. Until that point all Catholic scholars had attended St. Francis’ College. However from now on these scholars went to St. Angela’s so pupil numbers at St. Francis’ College began to drop. Sister Angela herself left to become Headmistress of this new state catholic school in 1969. Sister Angela was replaced as Headmistress by Sister Joan O’Connell (Sister Anne ) who died only recently.
On June 21st 1969 staff and pupils were devastated to learn of the tragic death of Sister Christophane who had been a much loved biology teacher at the College since 1937. She died from fatal head injuries after being thrown from a bus platform near Broadway Gardens. Her nature rambles in the Spring Road woods had been a regular feature of many students’ botany lessons.
There were subtle changes to life as a pupil of St. Francis’ College over the decade. Many of the extracurricular hobbies of the girls were the same – music, sport, Girl Guides, drama but there were new opportunities such as a debating society which discussed topics as varied as This house considers that modern paintings are not art and this house thinks that the Monarchy is an anachronism! School trips abroad began at the end of the decade. The sixties was a time of new freedoms for teenagers and for some the College seemed repressive. There are numerous stories of boarders climbing into the storage rooms above the theatre for a smoke! The Sisters did their best to keep up with the times and probably understood far more than some pupils realised. However, by the end of the sixties the time had come for a new approach, particularly with the boarders, and the College appointed Colonel and Mrs Blair who were to play a very important role in the history of the College in the 1970s.
Gallery Photos
Chapel in 1962.
Chapel in 1962.
Boarders in West View house
Boarders in West View house
Common Room
Common Room
December 1964
December 1964
Dining Room
Dining Room
Dining Room
Dining Room
Domestic Science in the 1960s
Domestic Science in the 1960s
Domestic Science
Domestic Science
Netball Team 1964
Netball Team 1964
Orchestra 1960s
Orchestra 1960s
PE in 1960s
PE in 1960s
Playground in 1960s
Playground in 1960s
Prep pupils
Prep pupils
Pupils in grounds of 108 West View
Pupils in grounds of 108 West View
Pupils late 60s in JCR
Pupils late 60s in JCR
Reading in grounds in 1960s
Reading in grounds in 1960s
School grounds
School grounds
Science laboratory
Science laboratory
Science lab in 1960s
Science lab in 1960s
Senior Nativity in 1960s
Senior Nativity in 1960s
Sister Brendan and pupils
Sister Brendan and pupils
Sisters, novices and postulants in 1960s
Sisters, novices and postulants in 1960s
Sixth form common room
Sixth form common room
St. Francis' College 1961
St. Francis' College 1961
St. Francis' College from the fields
St. Francis' College from the fields
Storytime in the boarding house
Storytime in the boarding house
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