Old School:Fountaindale

Photo:Fountaindale School in 1989

Fountaindale School in 1989

Couretsy of Ian Brown LRPS and www.picturethepast.org.uk

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Old School:Fountaindale' page


Jane Wells

Fountaindale School

An Innovative Archiving Project

By Jane Wells

Fountaindale School, near Mansfield, is being rebuilt. It originally opened in 1957 and was known as 'Thieves Wood School for Very Severely Handicapped Children'. In the early days many of the pupils were boarders and the most common disability was Polio.

The school has changed quite dramatically over the last four decades, although it remains familiar from the outside. Before the school closes its doors for the last time we wanted to build an archive that would be of interest to and used by future students, teachers and the wider public. The archive consists of oral histories, images and an audio archive.

Participants of the project interviewed staff and pupils, both past and present to build up a picture of how the school used to be and how it is now. People recalled memories that were happy and sad, of their first days, school trips and school dinners! One recurring memory was of the visits made to Fountaindale by Harry and Matthew Corbett almost every Christmas. We were very lucky to be able to interview Matthew Corbett who told us about his visits with Sooty, Sweep and Sue and their fond memories of the school.

In addition to the stories we also wanted to record the sounds of the school. Working with a musician the participants recorded some of the everyday noises around the building and also made an original soundtrack to compliment the recordings.

It was important for us to share the project with as many people from the local community as we could so we created an exhibition that toured local libraries in Mansfield, Blidworth and Ravenshead. We also wanted to make the project as accessible as possible to everyone, so incorporated Aurasma, an innovative smart phone application that brings images to life. With the app you can hear each persons story and watch film of the existing school building and grounds. 

Finally, we published a book about the project that was presented to everyone at Fountaindale as thank you for their contributions and very hard work.


All of the interviews and photographs of the interviewees are available to read or listen to in full on the Junction Arts website www.junctionarts.org.uk.


The project was funded by Nottinghamshire County Council and delivered by Junction Arts.

This page was added by Jane Wells on 22/05/2014.

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