The happiest days of our lives are said to be our school days and readers may be hard pushed to disagree as they marvel over 150 years of educational anecdotes and pictures in a fabulous new book.

One of the Diocese’s most successful schools is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the launch of a book charting its proud history in such a way as to evoke classroom memories for many generations.

The book entitled St Marys’ Catholic High School, Chesterfield – Celebrating 150 Years has been written by Leonie Martin, who used to be a bursar at the school, and it was launched at Chesterfield Library on Saturday, 3 January.

She said, “This book will appeal to a wide audience.  It’s not just about Catholic education in Chesterfield.  It’s also a social history.  From the logbooks and other original sources we have been bequeathed, it offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of our community through the decades.”

Students from St Mary's Catholic High School at the launch of the anniversary book

Students from St Mary’s Catholic High School at the launch of the anniversary book

From its humble origins in Spencer Street and Cross Street to its present day at Upper Newbold, the book tells a story through its Headteachers, staff and school records with over 300 photographs.

St Mary Catholic Primary School s

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Cross Street, Chesterfield


St Mary's  High School s

St Mary’s Catholic High School, Chesterfield

Current Headteacher, Sean McClafferty said, “It’s amazing.  I feel privileged to be a part of St Mary’s and to be part of such a deep, fascinating history.”

The school which boasts an outstanding Ofsted rating was considered many years ago as undesirable.  One former Headteacher between 1968 and 1992 recalls how he received calls asking if he had any idea of how rotten the school was and parents would only consider St Mary’s if results improved.

But there are no such concerns today after the school was ranked among the country’s best comprehensives in a Sunday Times’ survey.

Profits from the £15.99 book will go to Ashgate Hospice and to St Mary’s Burkina Faso school in Africa.

It is available from the school and Chesterfield Football Club’s shop. 

Those with stories and pictures about the school are urged to email 150th@stmaryschesterfield.org.uk.

To find out more visit www.st-maryshigh.derbyshire.scho.uk/150th-anniversary.