This building was, from 1841-1972, St John's Infant School. It is thought that the architect was William Ranger, the same architect as the church (which was completed in 1841), who incorporated ecclesiastical features such as high roofs and narrow windows into the design. The original building fronted onto Church Row, and an extension towards St John's Street was added in 1875, Plaquethis being another classroom. A plaque dated 1875 can be seen on the then outside wall of the west end, which is now inside a later 1899 addition, in the current Just Traid shop.

In 1883 another classroom was built with a porch entrance from St John's Street, and the toilets added in 1894. A final classroom was added in 1899. All these changes can be traced in the building by changes in the brickwork, straight joints and the use of different corbel table decoration below the roof lines on the outsideThe links between St John's Church and its Infant School were very close. The whole school attended church on festivals such as Ash Wednesday and most pupils attended Sunday school. The area of the school building allowed for 305 pupils in 1896 - between 1894 and 1924 the numbers of pupils fluctuates between 221 and 314. From the early 50's the future survival of the school was in question, and, following the opening of a new infant school in the town, pupils had declined to 67 in 1965. As the days of 'Comprehensive Education' became a reality, the days of St John's, which had included a babies room, were numbered; with the schools reorganisation in September 1972 resulting in infant schools being abolished. The final day was 19th June 1972

Since 1972

The building has now found a new meaning and purpose for the twenty-first century as The Centre. It now meets a wide variety of educational, recreational and social needs- and it is firmly rooted in the local community, just as it has always been. It has been transformed through extensive restoration and improvement - it is warm and comfortable, light and bright, practical and flexible, cheerful and welcoming to all. The current trustees are delighted that they have been able to deal with many of those concerns about the shortcomings of the building which school inspectors highlighted over the decades. The Centre is a listed building and now aims to be a thriving centre for the community, as well as continuing to house the Just Traid fair trade shop and community cafe, established here by Kathleen Fleming in the 1990's. In June 2011 a day of celebration was held as an official reopening of the building post restoration. The final teacher here when the building closed in 1972, Mary Evans, cut the ribbon.

'The Baker Used to Come to Us'

BakerAs part of the restoration, a community project was undertaken to research the history of the school and the local area. A little book was put together in collaboration with many local people and local historian, Clive Paine. We have copies of this book for sale (£9) in the shop and from Sue in our office.