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Ipswich: Students need your help to retrace the history of school site

11:00 11 January 2013

Pupils at Alderwood Pupil Referral Unit are looking into the site

Pupils at Alderwood Pupil Referral Unit are looking into the site's history after excavation work revealed there were underground aor raid shelters. Deputy Head teacher Shawn Peart with pupils looking at the site plans.

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HELP us learn our history.

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That was the clarion call from students and staff at Alderwood Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Raeburn Road as they embark on an adventure to trace their school’s roots.

The youngsters wrote to The Ipswich Star hoping readers may have memories of the site prior to the development of the PRU in 2005.

Their mission to learn more about days gone by began after builders working on a new school building at Alderwood discovered three air raid shelters from the Second World War.

In their letter to The Star the students said they believe there used to be a school on the same site called Raeburn Infants School.

Now, as part of a school project on the Second World War, they have set themselves the task of learning more about Raeburn Infants and what life was like during the 1939-1945 conflict for people living in south east Ipswich.

They also hope to learn the history of the school’s name and whether the area was once a wood full of Alder trees.

The discovery of the air raid shelters came in September last year, when builders started work on a new building for the PRU.

Alderwood’s deputy head Shawn Peart said: “It is a project that they are really getting into.

“We are now using the find of the air raid shelters as part of our adventure learning.

“The students are all really embracing it and they are really keen to find out more about the history of the area and what life was like in Ipswich during the war.

“We’re making it into a bit of a learning expedition, because learning can be a real journey.

“We are looking at how Ipswich has changed since the war and finding the remains of the air raid shelters really got everyone excited.”

Rhod Gardener, head of the archeology contracts for Suffolk County Council, said air raid shelters were common finds under sites previously used as schools or public buildings.

He said: “We have given the students at Alderwood some advice on where to go to find out more about the history of the site.

“It should be possible for them to find the information about when the shelters were used, because this information would have been logged in a book.

“Under the Alderwood site we found three shelters, however they were all quite damaged and had been filled in with sand.

“We have found shelters in the past which have been in amazing condition, including one during a recent dig in Duke Street under what is now the Travelodge.

“It is quite common to find them under sites which had been used by the public or by schools.

“With there being three schools previously in the area around Raeburn Road it is likely that there were a few shelters dotted around the area to help as many people as possible.”

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