Coley Park and Beyond

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New Coley Park Estate

 

Saint Mary and All Saints Primary School is currently the only school on the Coley Park Estate

 

The Schools

Coley Park Primary - Saint Mary and All Saints Primary

For early residents at Coley Park estate the nearest primary schools were Coley Primary Infants School (on Wolseley Street) and Katesgrove Primary (on Dorothy Street), which were both located on the other side of the 'busy' Berkeley Avenue. The new Coley Park Primary School took the pressure off the other schools as more families moved into the area.

 


Coley Park Schools and Church 2005

Soon after the Church was completed, plans were made for a primary school to be built adjacent to the Church. Coley Park Primary School was completed in 1967. It took the pressure off popular Coley Primary School (located in Wolseley Street in older Coley) and was much more convenient for the hundreds of young families that had moved into Coley Park in recent times. But within ten years there were plans to build another primary school just next door.

In the late 1970's, a new Church of England-Aided primary school was built adjacent to Coley Park Primary School called St. Mary and All Saints Primary school.

In 2002, as a result of the review of primary school provision in central Reading, it was declared that Coley Park Primary School was to merge with the adjacent St. Mary and All Saints Primary School. This decision obviously caused some concern and anxiety for parents and children at the time. Many were staunchly opposed to any merger. However, Coley Park Primary School was closed in July 2004 and brought 120 pupils to the new school, joining the 200 already at St Mary's. Coley Park Primary was later demolished in 2006 after only existing for just under forty years, thus making it possible for St. Mary to expand.

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St.Mary & All Saints Primary School
©Adam Dunne

St. Mary and All Saints Primary school had started major extensions and refurbishments by 2004 and the £3.5 million building project was completed in July 2005. This was not a universally popular development  in the area, but parental attitudes are now largely positive. This larger than average school serves an area of mixed owner-occupier and social housing. The official opening of the 'enlarged' school was on Tuesday 18th October 2005. The new school can hold up to 420 pupils aged five to 11, plus 39 nursery places.

One student who attended St. Mary and All Saints Primary School in the early 1980's went on to become a famous Hollywood movie star. Kate Winslet (pictured below) starred in the 1997 movie TITANIC alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, and has since become a household name.


Former pupil Kate Winslet

After attending St Mary's and All Saint's Primary School in Reading she enrolled, aged 11, at the Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, Berkshire and at the age of 12 did a television commercial for the Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal. She then went on to become a member of the Generation Theatre Company and the Starmaker Theatre Company. Despite her international fame Kate has always kept strong links with her hometown. Kate was born Kate Elizabeth Winslet in Reading on October 5, 1975.


Old Coley Park Primary is now a carpark
©Adam Dunne

School Days Memories

I went to Coley Park Primary School between 1980 and 1986 if my memory serves me. I believed that Kate Winslet was actually at St Mary's and All Saints Primary School, which was our rival school next door. I remember the schools rivalry very well. There was an invisible line between the schools in the field which you daren't cross. We used to chant "St Mary's are fairies they sing like canaries" which in those days we thought was rude.... There was a tree in the corner of the infants playground, right next to the front of St Mary's, which we used to play around and would all hide when we saw a St Mary's pupil, like we would be in trouble for looking at them....(or would fizzle up and die like the witch in wizard of Oz!)

Beveley Parmenter (nee Hart) - January 2012


 

The Church

Coley Park Baptist Church

Many early residents of Coley Park who had move from the inner Reading areas, had attended the Carey Baptist Church and the Central Evangelical Church and so to continue evangelistic work among these families, the churches began to bring the children from the Coley Park estate to their Sunday Schools.

The Carey Baptist Church was convinced that a Church was needed on the Coley Park estate and meetings with local residents backed this up. In 1964 about ½ acre of land was secured and by 1965 the Church was officially opened by the Pastor of Carey, the Rev Harold Owen, as the Coley Park Free Church. I remember it was a packed congregation that day!


The original Coley Park Baptist Church
©2007 Adam Dunne

The new Church flourished and later became independent. However, after almost 30 years, the Church was unexpectedly closed in August 1993. After some legal issues and public meetings, the Church was reopened with weekly prayer meetings in the following November. In 2009 the church was renovated and included a new annexe to the front.


The new addition to the Coley Park Baptist Church in 2009

 


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