Interview with first head – Mrs Gretton

Last updated on 18 August 2019

Tollerton School News (Forty Years Ago)

To help commemorate Tollerton School’s 40th anniversary in 1999, Dick Shepherd of Tollerton interviewed the first Headmistress, Mrs Gretton. This article appeared in the August/September 1999 issue of the Tollerton Village Newsletter and gives us some insights into the early years of Tollerton Primary School.

When Mrs Gretton was first interviewed for the post of Headmistress of Tollerton School, she was told to expect an initial intake of 50 pupils, though the authority was uncertain whether it would take infants only, or become an infant/junior school. She then came to Tollerton to view the school and was somewhat surprised to find just a rough field with the footings pegged out!

She was, however, delighted with the site and the lovely countryside it overlooked. She determined that should she get the job, she would make sure that the children would be made aware of the countryside and all the things that grew around them. It was such a contrast to the old buildings in George Street, West Bridgford, which was the infant department of Musters Road School, where she was Deputy Head.


When she started at the school in September 1959, there were in fact only 26 children on the roll, 25 infants and one older girl. Some of the children were just starting school, and others had attended Plumtree Infants. The building only had two classrooms, a reception hall, an office and toilets. Burnside Grove was an unmade road with only a few houses along it. School meals were brought in from a central kitchen. There was no telephone in the office so use had to be made of a public telephone! There was one other member of the teaching staff – Mrs Evans and a female caretaker.


In spite of having so few pupils Mrs Gretton introduced a school uniform – grey and green, and she made sure that during the first year the children had a Christmas Party, Nativity Play, Harvest Festival and Sports Day in the summer. The sports had to be confined to the playground because the adjoining field, which had of course been farmland, was too rough for the children to play on.


As the new houses began to be built in 1960/1, the school roll increased rapidly, and soon both classrooms were put into full use. Mrs Bagshaw joined the school to take the reception class, and Mrs Gretton herself took a small class in the reception hall. Mrs Harrison also joined the staff.


In 1963 two more classrooms were built, and an assembly hall with kitchen and new boiler room. This meant another infant teacher was required, and Mrs Shepherd was appointed.  Kitchen staff were also needed. The school was then officially opened on 4th October 1963! The next couple of years saw further increases in the number of pupils, and the final extension of two more classrooms and the covered walkway, now known as the ‘block’. In the early 1970s the PTA was formed, which was a great asset to the school in raising funds. When Mrs Gretton retired in 1976 there were approximately 200 children on the roll.