Big thank you from


St John's take a stroll down memory lane

ST John's Primary will be taking a walk down memory lane for pupils, both past and present, as well as for all the friends of the school before it closes.

The school will be holding an open week, which will run from 16-20 June between 9am and 3pm.

There will be a large display of children's work, photographs and memorabilia from years gone by.

A magazine has also been created to mark the occasion and with photographs, school records, memories and anecdotes, it will be a treasured possession for anyone with connections to the school. It will be available on the night with a small charge of �5 to cover the printing costs. The school would like to express their particular thanks to Rosemary McMillan who has worked so hard to put together this historical magazine.

A small number of limited edition prints of a painting of the school by Wanda McIlwaine-Douglas will also be on sale for £20.

Everyone is encouraged to come down to the school and take a stroll down memory lane.

St John's Primary School in 1936 Pupils in 1953 Please click

Sports and fun evening

IN the final days of St John's Primary, the school is holding a Sports and Fun Evening at the school on Tuesday June 17 and the festivities will begin at 6pm.

The traditional school sports day will take place for the last time in the evening. Following the sporting events there will be a barbecue and refreshments served. Plenty of activities will keep everyone entertained throughout the evening.

The special sports evening is open to pupils, past and present, as well as the staff of the school from throughout the years. Everyone is more than welcome.

ST John's Primary School in Hillsborough is joining St James's and Maze Primary in closing its doors for the final time as the three schools come together in their new purpose built primary school, Meadow Bridge.

The school is not only commemorating its final days but also celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Having been established in 1853, records show that it had been planned for some 15 years before that. The school was the brainchild of Rev Walter Mant, who lobbied for the construction of a new school at Kilwarlin. He petitioned Lord Downshire asking for a donation for the new building following a storm which had played havoc with the small schoolhouse in Ballykeel-Artifinny.

Rev Mant was clearly determined to secure the money needed, as he ended his letter, "Begging to be respectfully remembered to Lady Downshire, Believe me, my lord, Your Lordship's very faithful and obliged servant."

In 1879 St John's made a successful application to become a National School and its first Principal as a National School was Mr. John Buchanan.

In 1920 the school underwent further changes as it joined with Ballykeel-Artifinny School and Mrs Jennie Kelly, the former Principal of Ballykeel-Artifinny, became the new head.

Since the school began 150 years ago it has had many dedicated and long serving members of staff. With 27 years to her credit, Dorothy McCready was one of the longest serving teachers in the history of the school.

Non-teaching staff have also been loyal helpers at the school. One article in the Farmers Journal of 1971 highlighted Mrs Ayling, a mother of three pupils who "comes up the road after lunch to act as Playground Supervisor." Some 31 years later Sally, now the holder of tile South Eastern Board's Caretakers Certificate, still comes up the road!

During the war years, St John's, like many rural primary schools, played host to evacuees from Belfast. In 1941 the names of evacuees appeared on the School Roll, presumably after the Belfast Blitz in April of that year. The evacuated children stayed only a year and by 1942 their names had vanished from the register.

Do you know any one in picture? Please click Pupils of St Johns Primary School in the Early 1960's


Over the years the main school building had many varied and valuable uses. According to the records in 1879 part of The Master's house was used as a post office. The school has also been home to St John's Women's Institute, Vestry meetings, Mothers Union and Sunday School Parties. St John's is also used as a polling station during elections.

As in all schools, a visit from the Inspector was a dreaded event. A former pupil recalled that when the Inspector was due to pay a visit, a boy was sent to sit on the school wall and warn the teacher of the approach of the jaunting car bearing the unwelcome visitor.


As the years passed the inspectorate reports were favourable and the school has always been a happy place. As one inspector in 1956 noted, "The children are making satisfactory progress in general, and show a lively interest in their schoolroom activities. They are alert and friendly and should become a happy group of industrious and appreciative children."

Being set so close to Hillsborough, the pupils and staff of the school have been invited to the castle on a regular basis during Royal visits. One previous member of staff recalls. "I remember receiving a telephone call from the principal at the time asking if I could help out with some crowd control on a school outing. I was always pleased to help but was especially delighted to find out that we were going to Hillsborough Castle for a visit by Princess Diana."

Over the years St John's has remained a highly successful primary school. Community spirit has always been at the forefront of the schools ethos and many shows, pantomimes and concerts have been presented. Under the guidance of principal McCready, the pupils also participated in local musical festivals, including Belfast, Bangor and Carrickfergus.

Sporting activities also feature highly on tile school's list of successes. In 2002 St John's won five medals in the Lisburn Swimming Club's Primary School's gala. Other notable achievements include winning the RUC Top of tile Form Quiz in 1997, as well as great success in poetry, art and project work.

As the final bell rings out at St John's the Principal Anna McCullough reflected on the happy times. "The pupils and staff of St Johns are saddened by the closure of the 'Cinderella' of the three schools, which has provided quality education in this community for 150 years," she added.

Service of Thanksgiving

AS St John's Primary School prepares to close its doors for the final time, the school has arranged a Service of Thanksgiving.

It has been planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the school, as well as to mark its final days before the children move on to Meadow Bridge.

The service will take place on Sunday June 22 at St John's Parish Church at 3pm and Will be lead by Rev Clifford Skilin, a former rector of St Johns. The service will also include musical performances by the children and readings of their own poems.

Refreshments will be served in the school immediately after the service and everyone is encouraged to come along and celebrate the long and distinguished history of this local school.

Anyone who is planning to attend the service should contact the school on 9268 3025.