Thursday, 7 June 2012

St. Patrick's school, Royal East St.

St Patrick's school, Royal East St.
(Thanks to Colin Hyde for the photo:  East Midlands Oral History Archive)
I wrote a few days ago about a lady whose family had lived on Wilton St ( off Belgrave Gate).Well.... 

She and her brothers and sisters went to St Patrick’s school in Royal East St. A Leicester Mercury article states " the Victorian Gothic building was constructed for the town’s expanding Roman Catholic community. Later a church, built by Irish immigrant labour, was attached to the school forming a T shape. This became a separate parish in 1873 (it was originally attached to Holy Cross)."

A postcard from St Patrick's church.

Spencer’s Guide to Leicester, 1888, describes the school as ornamental and well-conceived…"there are 500 children in the schools which Dominican Sisters teach. Being so handy and central it harbours children of many denominations who receive the same attention as the large colony of Irish children who crowd the courts and alleys of the district that lies between St Margaret’s and St Marks."

The space where the stataue of St Patrick once stood.
 The Dominican Sisters had long gone by the time my friend attended the school. Miss Belton was headmistress and she transferred up to the new school. The priest was Canon George.

My friend remembers Carr’s button factory facing the school. The buttons were made from ivory and the children would suck cast off pieces strewn all over on the ground outside like sweets.This cherished cutting from the Leicester Mercury gives a little more information.

The school closed in 1937 and moved a new school on Harrison Rd for pupils aged 4-14. Catholics at the time collected money to help the cost of setting up the new school. While collecting money for the new school she recalls seeing terrible conditions in Wharf St. There would be 8 houses around a courtyard with a single tap between them: far worse conditions than anything she’d seen before.(More on Wharf St in a future blog.)

She met her husband in 1953 at Our Lady of Good Council on Moira St before the church moved out to Gleneagles Ave, He was an officer in the RAF She met him at a dance at the Birstall Social club-home. He lived in Birstall and was home on leave for the weekend. One of his friends was engaged to a friend of her sister’s and that’s how they met.

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