Longton High School is demolished (VIDEO)
FORMER teachers and pupils gathered to watch as a tower block at a derelict school was demolished.
Spectators joined in a countdown to a controlled explosion which collapsed the former Longton High School building.
Retired maintenance manager Gordon Brownsword, who was among the onlookers, looked after the school for 31 years.
Gordon, pictured below, said: "I'm just glad I haven't got to put it back together. It's a bit sad – the end of an era. When I first started at the school, there were 1,600 children. When I left, there were 50.
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"It will be very interesting to see what's going to happen to the site now."
Darren Hughes, 42, of Uttoxeter Road, Longton, said: "I was a pupil for five years and a teacher for 10.
"I've always been able to see that building from my bedroom window. This is the first time in 42 years I can't see it.
"I came down the day before it was demolished to have a look and a moment to myself. I feel quite emotional."
Former deputy headteacher Diane Drew – now deputy headteacher at Sandon Business and Enterprise College – said: "It was quite emotional and sad.
"I have a lot of happy memories from working at Longton. There's not a lot left now but the important thing is the people who went there rather than the buildings."
Ex-pupil Andrew Lovatt, 29, of Westlands, said: "There was an open day at the school and that was interesting and brought back more memories than seeing the building come down."
Longton High School opened in the 18th century and has been based at three locations over the years, moving to its final site in Box Lane in 1963, which was also the year the boy's school reverted to being co-educational.
The demolition, which was filmed by a group of former pupils now studying at Sandon Business and Enterprise College, marks the end of the old school and the completion of the transfer of pupils to their new building.
The £17.3 million Sandon College, in Meir, was opened in February 2008, in the first wave of Building Schools for the Future projects in the city.
Pupils remained at Longton High School until July, following the end of the academic year.
The new college boasts a sports hall and a modern business and enterprise centre, including its own restaurant and recording studio.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's cabinet member for regeneration, said: "Building Schools for the Future is transforming the city's education facilities and creating top-class schools that we can all be proud of."