When we featured pictures of Bennerley School being demolished at the beginning of the year, many people expressed their sadness. Our Facebook page received one of the biggest responses we have ever had from former pupils who were ‘devastated’ to see the school that played such a major part of their young lives being knocked down by bulldozers. Alan Chambers of Shipley View has sent us some old photographs of the school from the fifties and sixties. Until 1943, Bennerley Boys and Bennerley Girls were separate schools. When they amalgamated, Mr F Taylor became Head. From 1956 to 1967 Mr L Richards took charge, and he was followed by Mr D Edinborough (1977 to 1989).
The school’s main catchment area was Cotmanhay. As a secondary modern (like Gladstone and Cavendish schools), it catered for pupils aged between 11 and 15 who had not achieved high enough marks in the eleven-plus examination to be selected for Ilkeston Grammar School or Hallcroft School. At least these pupils did not have to suffer the trials of homework, and they received a good rounded education which prepared them well for good citizenship and the world of work. Trips to local industries were a regular occurrence: Shipley Woodside Pit, Stanton Ironworks and the Wolsey hosiery factory to name a few places visited. There was a strong horticultural tradition in the school, also bee-keeping and rabbitkeeping. Sport, drama and a railway club were enjoyed too.
The school was later to become a ‘comprehensive’ and later still an academy: Ormiston Enterprise Academy. Finally it controversially merged with Ilkeston Ormiston Academy, moving to the King George Avenue site in Ilkeston. The academy was then renamed Ilkeston Ormiston Enterprise Academy. The school buildings on Bennerley Avenue, Cotmanhay were then demolished, causing an outcry from those who had been led to believe this would never happen and those who remembered with fondness their happy times in the classrooms and corridors of a much-loved place of learning.