The oldest primary school in town, it moved to its current location on Willows Drive opposite Stratford College in 1984.

It used to be on Alcester Road and was known as the ‘Traffic Lights School’ among locals.

Jessie Gilchrist was born in a cottage on Alcester Road in January 1909. The eldest of six daughters, she grew up in Henley Street, spent decades of married life in Cherry Street, and now lives in Bull Street.

Current pupils have asked her about her memories of the school, while other ex-pupils have also been quizzed.

A 90-year-old man from Alcester, as well as three ladies in their 80s—including 89-year-old Celia Hanks and 84-year-old May Matthews—were also spoken to.

School head, Janis McBride, decided it was a great way to mark a new stage in the school’s long history.

She said: “We have successfully created a school for the future and we want to celebrate this and at the same time, acknowledge all those who came before us, from the school’s earliest beginnings as a National School in 1823 to the Church of England School, affectionately known as the ‘Traffic Lights School’ founded in 1846 and situated on the Alcester Road.”

Over the last few years, The Willows has increased significantly in size to take account of the increasing need for school places in the town.

The school now has two classes for each year and can accommodate 420 pupils thanks to the new four-room classroom block and an extensive administration block.

On Friday the Mayor of Stratford, Cllr Ian Fradgley, will formally open the new block and plant a new willow tree to commemorate the day.

Staff will be dressed in period costume from the 1820s right through to the 1980s and there will be displays of children’s work as well as entertainment in the form of music, singing and country dancing.

The oldest ex-pupils will be among the invited guests.

Mrs Gilchrist featured in the Herald back in January when she turned 105.

Believed to be the oldest ‘Stratfordian’ she has two daughters, Janet and Sue, four grandchildren, Miranda, Katherine, Sebastian and Jessica, and six great-grandchildren, Amy, Zara, Christopher, Harriet, Annabelle and Niall. A lot of her family are still based in Stratford.

Anybody who has been involved with The Willows can leave a lasting imprint at the school by purchasing an engraved commemorative brick which will be inserted into the pathway running up to the main entrance.

“This one off opportunity will create a lasting memory of the rich history of the school and the large part it has played in educating the children of the town over the last two centuries,” said Mrs Lorraine Wilby.

Contact her in the school office on 01789 205811 or e-mail to buy a brick for £15.