Pestalozzi

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Supporter blog: Steve Dine returns to Pestalozzi after 20+ years

Local coach driver Steve Dine used to take Pestalozzi students to school in Battle in the early 1990s. He shares his memories of those times, as well as the details of a history project he’s working on.

Steve Dine at Pestalozzi in the early 1990sI worked as a coach driver for Cooks Coaches in Westfield in 1990-91 and regularly drove the Pestalozzi pupils to Claverham School in Battle. I used to pick them up from the bottom gate every morning, but later in the year that changed and I started bringing the coach right up into the village to collect them. It was a bit tight turning around up in the top of the grounds with a 53 seater coach. I remember hearing that some of the students on other runs could be a bit ‘lively’, but I always enjoyed driving the Claverham Pestalozzi pupils because they were so polite, well-mannered and great to chat with. All real characters in their own right!

I actually knew about Pestalozzi before working for Cooks. A school friend of mine, who was later my best man at my wedding, was the son of Hans Derhun, one of the early Pestalozzi students.

Eventually, I went back to work for my previous employer, Empress Coaches in Hastings. I was sad not to see the pupils – but the Pestalozzi connection was not lost. Empress secured a contract to transport the younger children from the village to the old West St Leonards School, so I was back in the village some days. The Empress contract began on 4th September 1990 and ended on 25th July 1995.

Students dropped off at Pestalozzi in March 1991 One lovely summer afternoon, I took a nice snap of all the pupils standing by the Cooks Coach after coming back from School at the village. I also have one of me standing by an Empress Coach taken by a professional photographer who had come to the village to do a photo shoot of the children getting off the bus.

I am now compiling a history of Cooks, which had a long relationship with Pestalozzi – Cooks picked up the very first pupils that needed to go to Battle County Secondary School (now Claverham). I would love to hear from anybody that may have an image from any era that may have one of the coaches in it somewhere. I’m also looking for photos of an old Bedford coach, formerly run by Empress, which Pestalozzi bought from them in 1972. It was mainly maroon in colour with a cream flash, but may have been painted green by the village.

Students in June 1990It was fantastic to be invited back to Pestalozzi in June this year to have a look around again at the buildings in the wonderful, peaceful setting at Sedlescombe. It’s funny, but when we walked up to the top end of the grounds, the incredibly tight turn into the car park that I used to have to carefully reverse the coach into in order to leave the village has been made a lot bigger now! My wife Jayne (maiden name Clements) is a former Claverham pupil and was thrilled to learn a bit more of where some of her former classmates have been doing since leaving school in 1989.

If you have any photos you could share with Steve to help him with his project, please contact him at info@empresscoaches.com. And if you have great memories of Pestalozzi, why not get in touch with us to share them? Drop us a line on office@pestalozzi.org.uk.