Manorcroft Nursery Egham

The Nursery's Beginnings

Nursery Building Under Construction 1980
 The Nursery Building Under Construction in 1980

Manorcroft Nursery was started by a group of mothers, including teachers, in April 1977. It originated as a self-help group which required much parental involvement and we have always tried to continue to run the nursery in this way.

The present nursery building was built and paid for by past nursery parents, through much hard work and fund raising, and opened in September 1980. The land is leased from Surrey County Council, and the maintenance of the building and land is entirely the responsibility of the present nursery parents, although the lease is administered by a group of trustees, all of whom have nursery connections. Therefore, although it is on the same site as Manorcroft School, it is not part of the school and receives no money from the County.

The nursery opened on 29 April 1977 in a rented room in Manorcroft School. This was never intended as a permanent site and indeed, all the equipment had to be cleared away after each session. From the start, the parents were determined to have purpose-built accommodation for the nursery. Fund-raising began in earnest.

It had to leave the Manorcroft School annex premises in December 1978 and appealed for more premises locally. It was able to run temporarily from Egham Band Hall from January 1979 and was thus able to continue without a break. Twenty four to five year-olds attended two mornings a week. By this time, parents had raised enough money to buy a prefabricated building, a former housing estate display room, which was stored in sections in parents' gardens.

Planning permission was granted to erect the nursery building in the grounds of Manorcroft School which Surrey County Council leased to the nursery for a nominal annual sum. A further £3,000 was needed to lay the foundations and make the building habitable. Fund-raising was stepped up and activities included carnival floats, Old Tyme Music Hall, a sponsored marble roll, stalls at Thorpe and Egham Shows, Christmas and summer fairs, and a Swinging 60s disco. Work began on the site in October 1979 and although contractors were called in to lay the concrete foundations, it was the dads who put the building up themselves in true Manorcroft style.
In September 1980, after three years of fund-raising, a year of building and a lot of hard work, the nursery opened for a new term, with 13 children, in its own premises. A morning session cost 75p and the nursery was at last able to open five days a week and did not have to pack away everything after each session.

Forty years from its humble beginnings, Manorcroft Nursery is flourishing and is an established part of the local community. The nursery is unique in Egham, at least, in that it is owned by the parents of those children currently attending it. When those children move on to 'big school', the next set of parents will own it, and so on. Parents aren't expected to put up buildings with their bare hands these days, but there are still many routine jobs from maintenance of the premises to helping at nursery sessions.

In the summer of 2011 the nursery was extended and this is used as a quiet area where children can use the library and the computers. The following summer we added a small garden at the back of the nursery - thanks to the kind efforts of students from Royal Holloway University College in Egham. The children can use this for planting and we also use it for small group work with the children. This is in addition to the lovely, large garden which is at the front of the nursery.

Fund-raising has always been the hallmark of Manorcroft Nursery and regular fund-raising effort is needed to buy and replace equipment as the fee structure is not designed to incorporate this. Parents have always played a vital part in the running of the nursery and it is their energy and commitment that helps to maintain the quality of the service that the nursery provides.