The opening of the new £3.2m extension at Victoria Road Primary School last Wednesday was the culmination of a project that began in 1998 for Alwyn Collister, a commissioner in the town, when he first brought it up as a member of the Board of Education.
‘At that time we were only looking for a sports hall, we thought the children of Castletown were deprived of indoor facilities, especially in PE when the weather was horrendous,’ he said. ‘The school is 100 years old, it could not take all the children and adults [in one hall]. We were looking at numbers … we decided we needed more classrooms. This term is the first time there are 40 children in reception. This extension has just come at the right time – actually it’s a year too late.’
But the extension has given the school spacious new classrooms, a sports hall and community room, where the whole school can meet, and in the old building a refurbished library and dining room. The extension – with lifts – also gives disabled access. Parking for staff and parents has also been improved by the redesign, overcoming a potential safety issue for pupils.
Mr Collister is delighted all his hard work has paid off. He said: ‘I spent many, many hours getting this off the ground, visiting people living nearby explaining what we wanted to do. The children of Castletown needed this school.’
Mr Collister, a former pupil at the school in the 1940s, said his interest in performance began there and led to 40 years’ involvement with Douglas Choral Union; who knows where the new stage will take young people in the future?
Former chief minister Tony Brown unveiled the commemorative plaque. He thanked Mr Collister and the current school governor chair Angela Katz. Mr Brown also paid tribute to the ‘support and commitment’ of former head teachers Bill Denard, Simon Jones and Caroline Savin, plus acting head Ian Postlethwaite, along with all the teachers, and other staff (especially cleaning), ‘everyone’s commitment, patience and understanding during the works has been really wonderful’.
He also thanked builders Auldyn Construction and the sub-contractors.
He said the new facilities will help to deliver a good education, which, ‘especially at a young age, is paramount to the well-being of our children’.