Appletree Nursery School replaced the original nursery from the Marsh Estate. Its history goes back to around 1942 when it was a pre-fabricated building built by the Health Services on Willow Lane. It was then called Willow Lane Nursery and its purpose was to look after the children (from birth to 5 year olds) of the women who went to work to help with the war effort.
After the war, in 1947, Willow Lane Nursery was taken over by the local authority and became a nursery for 3-5 year olds only. Although it was not the intention to use this pre-fabricated building after the war, it still opened its doors for young children for almost 50 years before it was demolished. The site has now been developed with houses and a Community Centre on it.
“The garden had a sandpit with a wooden bridge over the top. It may have even had a tyre in the middle for us to swing over the sand. There was a path around the grassed area where we played on tractors, digger trucks and little bikes. There was a concrete tube with grass covering it in the play area. This meant we could crawl through or stand on top of it. There was a see-saw but not sure about swings.
“The nursery was surrounded by railings which were lined with trees and bushes that you could run through and hide behind. You could see your Mum coming to get you at the end of the day.”
(Dianne Wilkinson, attended the Nursery in 1968).
It was agreed that the new nursery would move site across the road, nearer to the local Willow Lane School. Built on Milking Stile Lane in 1992/93, Willow Nursery has turned out to be a modern and open plan building with a very adventurous play area where children can explore and make friends. It has a garden area where the children are encouraged to help plant vegetables seeds, watch them grow and sometimes pick and eat them.
When the only other local authority nursery Greaves Park closed in 2005, it was decided to change the name of Willow Nursery and it became Appletree Nursery School. In 2008, as a result of its success in being awarded funding from the Surestart project, it became Appletree Children’s Centre and a new extension was built to accommodate all the new courses and projects.