A Note from Katie Sone – Heritage Project Manager
I’m pleased to share this fantastic project with you. It was around three years ago that I discovered that air raid shelters existed under the playground at Granby Primary School. As parent of a pupil at the school, resident of Aylestone and a writer, I was curious about the shelters and all the stories that went with them and I wondered how I could bring these stories to life.
After discussions with staff at the school we devised an intergenerational project bringing older and younger members of the community together to celebrate the history of Aylestone and Granby Primary School. We were awarded Heritage Lottery funding to undertake this project with Year 5 pupils, in partnership with East Midlands Oral History Archive and members of the local community. The project was to document the memories and stories from those who attended Granby Primary School during World War II with a focus on the air raid shelters under the playground.
In March 2017 the pupils undertook training on how to use the voice recorders and develop interview techniques, they devised their own questions and undertook recording sessions in groups interviewing former Granby Primary School pupils. The pupils were able to develop their understanding of local heritage, local community knowledge and gathered first-hand information from World War II. They explored topics such as: using the schools air raid shelters, gas mask drills, rationing, and songs and games played at school during the war. I was in attendance during many of these recordings and I felt the pupils were a credit to the school and a pleasure to work with. They were attentive and responsive to the answers, asking more about particular memories and showing interest and initiative. Well done!
A Note on Aylestone …
Aylestone Village is a suburb of Leicester that has heritage dating back to the 11th Century, with a listing in the Domesday Book. Aylestone village is a conservation area and the local nature reserve Aylestone Meadows is traversed by the Packhorse Bridge a scheduled ancient monument, we also have St Andrews Church and Aylestone Hall Gardens a Grade two listed building that housed Italian prisoners of War during World War II. Granby Primary School built in 1889 is at the heart of this community, it was once two separate schools with infants on the ground floor and juniors on the top floor. It was previously named Granby Road School. In the following pages you can read excerpts from our audio recordings, take a glimpse into the air raid shelters with notes kindly shared from Richard Shaw – a former school governor; and have a look at images from the logbooks from the archives at Granby Primary School with focus on World War II. There are also some snaps of the pupils and their interviewees.
It has been wonderful to explore, share and celebrate this part of Aylestone’s History. It has been a fantastic project – a big thank you to all those involved, I’ve loved listening to all your stories.
A Note from Lucy McMillian – Project Volunteer
The Granby Primary School Heritage Project has been fascinating and I feel very privileged to have been involved. Our lovely interviewees were able to share some extremely interesting experiences of their childhood at Granby and living in Aylestone during WW2. Our year 5 children seemed to really enjoy it, and I think they learnt a lot about hardship and how little children had in those days, compared to now. The children couldn’t believe that one interviewee hadn’t seen or eaten a banana until the age of 7! Our wonderful interviewees and their experiences are a very respected and valued part of Granby Primary School and Aylestone’s history, and these are memories that need to be treasured forever, so what better way than to pass them on to our children!