Demolition of the former Secondary School pig sties

The march of progress or the end of an era?

By Neil Fortey

A student working with the pigs at Bottesford Secondary School
A student working with the pigs at Bottesford Secondary School
The school peacocks and some young admirers.
The school peacocks and some young admirers.
A close-up of two of the children admiring the peacocks.
A close-up of two of the children admiring the peacocks.
A school rabbbit gazes from its hutch.
A school rabbbit gazes from its hutch.
The demolition site, with the Play Group building in the background.
The demolition site, with the Play Group building in the background.
The remaining shed, with the Community Centre in the background.
The remaining shed, with the Community Centre in the background.
Demolition of the former Secondary School pig sties
Demolition of the former Secondary School pig sties

2009 was a momentous year in the history of Belvoir High School. One of the smaller aspects of its new lease of life has been the demolition of the one-time pig sties dating from its original opening in 1960 as a rural Secondary Modern, in which agriculture and horticulture were taught. This part of school activities is long gone, but the building which once housed the pig sties remained, a row of brick sheds between the Bottesford Community Centre and the Play Group building. Now it is no more.

To mark its passing, the former school caretaker Mr Chip Sutton came across a set of three photographs dating from about 1970. One shows the peacock cage, another the school pigs being tended by one the boys, and a third shows a rabbit gazing from the door of its hutch.

Two additonal pictures taken on Dec 27th 2009 show what remained of the partially demolished sheds.

Can anyone identify the children looking at the peacocks or the boy in the pig enclosure? Are there stories about the agriculture and horticulture lessons, and the teachers who took them, at the school? Does anyone know who took the pictures in 1970 or thereabouts?

This page was added on 03/01/2010.

Comments about this page

  • Although the pigs had gone before I attended the High School (1973-77), I remember the peacocks clearly. They were the constant soundtrack to my very happy time at this school, and even now when I hear a peacock it always reminds me of being at Belvoir. Happy days.

    By Julia Jones (nee Topps) (26/01/2010)
  • I think the two girls are Denise Broad (who lived on Keel Drive) and Donna Taylor (who lived next door)?

    By Richard Bradshaw (04/04/2010)
  • I clearly remember (1960-1963) the pig stys and having the duty to feed them their hot swill and mucking them out. We took it in turns. One large pig was quite aggressive and used to bite the yard brush leaving teeth marks. Cleaning the pig sty out without getting bitten was difficult. The vet came to castrate the piglets and the bits removed were fed to the sow. One day we had to troop down to Taylors (the butcher near the Cross and Stocks) to see a large pig killed, scalded, shaved and bled before being butchered. I cannot remember if it was from the school or not. Later the joints were salted at the school and hung up in Mr Martin’s classroom. We were given some salted bacon and it was very good. We kept hens in a deep litter building too and these had to be de-beaked with an electric device and then much later killed and plucked for Christmas. Frank – the caretaker/gardener looked after the peacocks which were in a large enclosure for some time before they were released. They made a lot of noise especially when they would not come down from the roof of the boiler house or the school roof. Mr “Spitfire” Martin used his “pursuader” quite often in our class. This was a large and heavy wooden sink cover which when swung energetically towards the buttocks of the naughty boy who was bending over a stool. It hurt. Frank was not allowed to let us use the large powered lawnmower but we did and on one occassion we could not stop it and it ran over a rose bed. I remember “Spitfire” Martin telling us that a weed is only a plant in the wrong place. Would school children today benefit from some these experiences?

    By John Shipman (24/09/2010)
  • Thank you for your detailed comments. We understand from Wendy Cross that her father, Frank Topps, was the caretaker/gardner at Belvoir High School at that time.

    By David Middleton (27/09/2010)
  • Sorry to hear of the demise of the piggery….I have memories of watching them trying to load the bally things into a trailer, & them squealing like murder was being committed! oh the hours we spent sitting in Jack Saxby’s shed (with Ann Parr, Lizzy Isam, & the rest), & dodging ‘Spit’ when we were late for lessons!

    By Nikki Richardson (nee Biggadike) (02/06/2013)
  • I was at Belvoir High School from 1976 to 1979, but I don’t remember the pig sties. I do remember the peacocks though (do they no longer keep peacocks at the school?). What was the name of the music teacher with the slipper called Esmerelda in his drawer and all the walls covered in Notts Forest posters? My recollection of his classes is that most of them consisted of a quiz where you could choose a music question and get 2 points for a correct answer or a football question and get 1 point for a correct answer!

    By Ben Watson (07/02/2016)
  • I was part of the second intake into the new school.
    We had, if l remember correctly, two periods a week over there on rural science with Mr Martin and the last two periods on Friday each week if you were a member of the young farmers club, which l was.
    We were rostered on each week for feeding the pigs and cleaning them out during lunch break and can remember going back to class smelling rather piggy if you hadn’t been able to keep the muck off yourself. No equipment to wear, only thing provided were welly boots.
    We also kept chickens which were called capons. l can remember injecting a pellet into the back of their necks to desex them; they grew to quite a size but this practice was later stopped as it was believed to also cause weight gain in people who consumed them.
    Each year we got to go to Lincoln Show by bus, which was great as we all worked on local farms and would be given vouchers by the farmers who in turn had been given them by the agricultural reps during the year.
    Yes, it was very interesting and Mr Spitfire Martin taught us well. He put a lot of importance on looking after the equipment we had to clean and oil any tools we used before leaving his classes.
    I don’t remember any peacocks in those early days. The groundskeeper was Frank Topps and he had an old Ford model N Tractor which he used with a set of gang mowers to keep the playing field and other grass areas tidy. The tractor was kept in a shed at the top of the field [at] the end where the A 52 now passes.
    Attached to the buildings where the pigs lived were the rural science classroom and the bike sheds were just next to these.

    By Tony Gammage (13/06/2021)
  • I was a pupil at Bottesford Belvoir High School at age 11, 1964, travelling by the Barton’s Double Decker Bus from the village of Hose. I was included in the second intake of pupils after the abolition of the 11+ Exam, when the Secondary School became a High School.
    Teachers I remember well, Miss Allen (music and drama), Mr Jeff’s (Jungle, very hairy chest sprouted above his collar, threw board rubbers if not paying attention, taught Geography), Mr Houghton (Fagin, thought to have suffered WW2 whistling bombs because boys often made those sounds in his class, taught English), Mr Watts, taught French, Mr Greenway (Fred, Deputy Head), Mrs Greenway (Fred’s wife, she taught in Friday “Clubs”, she taught me to crochet, crafts), Mr. Brown (Charlie, Art, Pottery, my Form Teacher), Mr Hodson (Slim, science), Mr Whittaker (maths ?), 2 x female teachers who taught Needlework and the “birds and the bees”, and Domestic Science. I remember their faces, not their names.
    A young male P.E Teacher, ? Mr Daniels. Mr Lawrence Dewey, Headmaster. Going from a village school of 36 pupils, to Bottesford Belvoir High School with 300, was daunting at age 11, especially as the only girl from Hose in my year. The journey by Double Decker Bus was eventful, one journey whereby pupils learned how to “rock the bus” from sitting on the upper deck, the children aged 11 to 14, causing the bus to veer off the road, known as “Long Lane”, into the ditch, propped only by a tree from not completely turning over. That was the previous year of my beginning to attend, so could be 1963.
    I came to love Belvoir High School, the uniforms of black Blazers, with the gold embroidered emblem badge on the breast pocket of a Peacock with fully opened tail. Grey skirt and gold long sleeved blouse with black and gold diagonal striped tie, knee high socks, in Winter. In Summer, cotton gold and white vertical striped dresses with draw tie waist. Grey jumpers or cardigans.
    I did experience a form of bullying at the school, mostly experienced on the journey on the Double Decker School Bus, where older children would demand children to sing songs that were probably from WW2 Soldiers where words were changed to swearing and offensive language. I distinctly remember telling my own frightened friends to “mime” as if singing. I “befriended” the bullies accidentally by being seen as brave, removing a huge hairy spider from the girls’ toilets wash hand basins, suddenly gaining respect.
    I did not kill the spider, just opened a window and dropped it outside.
    I was sorry to leave Belvoir High School at age 14, the system meant attending King Edward V11 Upper School, previously the Grammar School, Melton Mowbray. A whole other story.

    By Anita Needham (nee Jesson) (04/01/2023)
  • Ref: previous comment entry. I have remembered that Mr Whittaker was as known as “Pooh”, or “Mr Pooh”, not sure why, but probably referring to Winnie the Pooh, eg the shape of Winnie’s body in the book illustrations.
    I have also remembered the names of the two female teachers. Mrs Jeffries, she taught needlework and the “birds and the bees”, probably because girls were doing needlework, so an all female class. I think Mrs Jeffries was also the Senior female teacher.
    Mrs Tittensor was the Domestic Science teacher who taught us cooking. For that class, pupils had to transport ingredients to school, the “trendiest” basket was the moon shape wicker basket with handle and base woven all in one, surprisingly I had one of those, too. The design could easily carry cheese and potato pie and such like back home.
    I remember we were asked to “make up a sandwich filling”, my idea was mashed banana, with grated chocolate over the top, as an “open sandwich”.
    I also remember creating a miniature garden, (probably during the Friday Clubs), using a black and white striped circled clip-on earring, (known as ‘op-art’ style) opened out to create a miniature throne, using moss and a broken piece of mirror for a tiny pond, and tiny real flowers and a tiny bit of fir tree, (trees) stuck into the moss.
    I was praised for both, which was an event for me to be praised for anything.

    By Anita Needham (nee Jesson) (05/01/2023)
  • Thank you for your interest and detailed comments.

    By David Middleton (05/01/2023)

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