BLUR superstar Alex James returned to his former school in Bournemouth to open a new building on Tuesday. 

The musician-turned-cheesemaker, who was born in Boscombe, attended Bournemouth School in the 1980s, and was reunited with some of his classmates when he came to open the new block at the school. 

The £4.5m building adds extended dining facilities, classrooms and a sixth form study centre to the Bournemouth Academy.

Alex said it feels like yesterday when he was a student in the school halls.

Bournemouth Echo:

“I suppose January is the time for looking back and looking forward, so it was really nice to hear from the school, and I think this is wonderful,” he said.

“I’m very proud to come from Bournemouth, I always love coming back here, my mum still lives here.”

Discussing what had changed at the school since he left, Alex said the food and the music facilities have certainly improved.

“There was one piano and no guitars in the 80s, they’ve got a few guitars now, that’s good,” he said.

Bournemouth Echo:

As a surprise for the former pupil, some of his former classmates met him for lunch, something the Blur bassist was truly thankful for.

“I was here for seven years, a really formative time. All that shared experience we have, as you get older that becomes really precious,” he said.

“I hear music from those days, and it makes me feel emotional, actually. It was an absolute delight seeing everybody, particularly Tim Gibson, who set this whole thing up.

“Some have changed more than others; some are exactly the same.”

Bournemouth Echo:

The school’s headteacher, Dr Dorian Lewis, said he was thrilled to welcome back Alex and others from his cohort.

“We were so pleased that Alex and others from his year group have been able to see how the school has changed over the last 35 or so years,” he said.

“This new block represents the most significant investment in the school since the late 1960s and will be enjoyed by our students for many years to come. At last, we are able to offer the modern facilities that our students deserve.”

The project was led by the school’s business manager, Julie Wheatley, working with Ringwood-based project manager, Kendall Kingscott, and the contractor, LST Projects.

Bournemouth Echo:

£3.9m of funding was secured as a part of the Government’s Selective Expansion Fund in 2018, with the rest of the funds coming through the school’s reserves.

The extension of the school facilities will allow the school to increase the numbers joining the school in year 7 from 150 to 180.

The school will be hosting a sixth form open evening on January 19, the first opportunity for the public to see the new facilities.