|As part of Wrington VC Primary School's 150th anniversary celebration, former pupils and staff were invited to send in their recollections of their time there. Some of these were obtained via the website, and are reproduced below.
Yvonne Spratt (Chard) - Mauku, Pukekohe, Auckland New Zealand, 17th June
I started Wrington School in 1959. I already had a sister, Marilyn, at the school. We lived across the road from the school on 'the green' and every school lunch time I would go out and watch the children playing. I couldn't wait to join them, but when I found out there was more to school than playing I wasn't quite so keen!
My first teacher was Mrs Collins, in the large cold room on the left of the corridor. It had a big heavy door and when you lifted the handle it seemed to echo and send
shivers through you and I was always happy when someone else opened the door for me! (Funny what you remember isn't it).
And what about those low concrete sinks and the uneven floors where we used to wash our hands and hang up our bags are they still there?
After Mrs Collins was Mrs Hodges, then Mrs Green or was it Mrs Faith (or was it Mrs Faith then Mrs Green?) Which ever way around it was neither of them liked my sewing! They made me unpick it more than once. But I guess as they say 'practice makes perfect'.. well almost!
I only had Mr Waite for a very short time as Headmaster before Mr Dyke arrived along with his children Christopher and Susan.
What about those 'interesting' smells coming from the kitchen each day. It made me pleased that I went home for lunch!
I hated the school milk we had everyday but luckily my best friend, Katrina Coles, really liked it so I waited for her to finish hers and we would quickly swap bottles, you had to
be quick though, because the teacher was always watching to make sure you drank it all up! I didn't ever see the teachers drinking it though!
Dad mentioned about the toilet paper being cut up newspaper, well this might have been better than the 'greaseproof' paper we had!
Our gardening sessions were over behind the big wall next to Mr Amor's, beside Bells Walk. Mrs Amor's chicken also liked the garden and would spend quite a bit of time running between the two places. We had a wonderful time gardening although I don't ever remember eating any of the vegetables.
May-pole dancing brings back some embarrassing memories. I just couldn't seem to get the timing right, 'one in, one out and turn!' The teachers just gave up on me I think!
They say the first years of a child's education are the most important and I am grateful to the teachers at Wrington School for never completely giving up on me!
To carry on family tradition, I also went to Mr Bell's before school like my father and then my sister, but not to clean the shoes but to feed the 'hundreds' of chickens Mrs
Bell had. I think I got half a crown a week for 1 hours work a day, 5 days a week!
Many years later three of my sons started their school at Wrington. The teachers were Mrs Collins, Mrs Hodges and Miss Lewis who later became Mrs Wathen. The headmaster was Mr Dyke and then Mr Temple.
We have 4 generations that we are aware of that attended Wrington School. My grandmother Harriet Tincknell (Later Chard), my father Leslie Chard. My sister, Marilyn (Garrett), myself and later three of my sons. Nicholas, Michael and Andrew Spratt.
My husband and his sisters (Robert, Cynthia, Ann and Rosalind Spratt), were also there a very short time on one of their visits to their grandmother, Polly Pearce.
Wrington, and especially the school have some great memories for us and thank you for helping bring those memories back again.
Have a great 150th anniversary.
Best wishes from us here in New Zealand
Les Chard - Mauku, Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand, 17th June
My memories of Wrington School
When I started school in 1928 the teachers were Mr Hewitt (Headmaster), Mrs Smith, (Infant Teacher), Miss Gunning, Mr Lane, Mr Green. Mr Hewitt retired and Mr Bisgrove took over as Headmaster.
It was a Church of England School we had prayers each morning before starting our lessons in the Headmaster's class room.
I remember having a small bottle of milk each day, 1/3 pint for ½d, which I hated. The toilets were very primitive and smelly we used newspaper which I remember having to cut up and thread on to string.
We did Carpentry in Room 3 (just the boys) the girls did needlework. There was a School garden which was up at Haydens then, later it was on the corner of Bell's Walk.
I recall having to go down to Kingcott's garage to get Sump Oil to put on the gardening
tools to protect them when they were stored for the winter.
We used to take 6d a week for a Savings Stamp, which was changed for a Certificate 15/-.
I remember going down to the John Locke Rooms upstairs to the Dentist. We paid 6d, if nothing was done we had our money back.
In those days, of course, there was punishment, kept in after school, lines and also if you were sent to the Headmaster, possibility of the cane which you didn't forget, and didn't want a second time!
I had the job at one time of doing the Weather Reading every morning, measure rainfall, temperature etc. I also had the job of keeping the ink wells full.
Just a few names I remember at school. John Clark (Darkie), Martin Haynes (Bumper), Ivor Tincknell (Lado), Sam Vowles, (Lichy), Ron Tincknell (Tinker), Vera Mellett, Sylv Millard, Paula Stevens, Audrey Board, Gladys Parsley and, of course, her brother Charlie.
When Dr and Mrs Bell came to Wrington they lived in the Manse. I used to go up there each morning for 1 hour before going to school to clean up the grates and polish their many pairs of shoes they had worn the previous day. I got 6 pence for 1 hour.
I left in 1937 aged 14 and went to work at Sullivan's Bakery.
|David Peerless -
I was delighted to see several photos [on ther website] that I well remembered from my two-year stay in the village, about thirty years ago, when I taught in the school.
At that time there were great plans for a new school so it was amusing to see the same school in place and know that lunch is being still served in the same room where I taught for my first year. (I recall the smell of fish filling the room in the period between the containers being delivered and lunch time.)
The second year I had the first portable classroom, which was set up in the playground and, we were assured, was only temporary.
I enjoyed seeing several familiar names in the Village Journal and send my best wishes to everyone who was in the village during my stay.
|Joe Frappell - Bruton
I was born at No. 2 Council Houses, Station Road, as it was then known, on the 29th June 1928.
Educated at the Church of England School. Headmaster LW Bisgrove, who moved to Worle, gave way to Mr G Waite. The teachers whom I remember most are Miss Gunning (infants), Miss Vanessa Pow, Mr A C Turner, he was later called up for the navy, which brings me to the war years.
A lot of young men went to war including my two brothers Stan and Sam. We remained to carry on with school. I was in the Boy Scouts then at Redhill, and the Scout Master Dr Buxton lived at a place called "Rockdunder".
Then came the day our way of life would change. Evacuees were arriving from
London (Limehouse), and we as boy scouts were asked to report to the memorial hall to greet them. Thinking back how fortunate to grow up in that era.
|Barry Johnson - Pickering, Ontario, Canada.
Wrington resident 1940 - 1945.
One day in June, over sixty years ago, I was heading home, after a hard day, from London’s Carlton Vale school when as one of many I was labelled and loaded onto a bus. The bus took us to Paddington railway station and away we went. We had no idea where.
I remember the train going through what I thought at the time was the longest tunnel on the face of the earth. It seemed as if it would never end. I was four what did I know. In later years the tunnel didn’t seem as long but I vividly remember that first time.
I remember being taken off the train and loaded into a bus. I remember arriving at what I later learned was Wrington’s Memorial Hall. (Which I hope is still standing). I remember crowds of kids in the hall. I remember being one of, or even the last kid to be taken out of the hall. I remember being carried to a house, late at night, and hearing the occupant say there were already too many kids in the house. I remember the occupant relenting and taking me in.
In the house of Mr and Mrs Millard with their daughters Olive and Lillian I lived for the next five years.
What can I say about the loving care I, and later my sister, received in this home. I can’t say enough. Later after a visit to see us my father went off to fight in North Africa. Mum was making ammunition boxes in London. We and thousands of other "Londoners" were being cared for by country folk.
I don't remember it being difficult adapting to country life. "Dad" Millard was off to Marshall’s farm every morning at some ungodly hour to milk the cows. At least I think that’s what he did. He then walked back to the house for breakfast after which he walked back to do more than a regular days work. The highlight of any visit to the farm was riding on those mammoth sized cart horses. At least they seemed that big to us little people.
Another highlight was having a spoonful of malt every morning at the school which had been set up in the Memorial Hall. I always contrived to be last so as I could finish what little was left in the jar. I think this treat came to an end when we were transferred to the village school.
The years rolled by. I remember the downed German pilot being captured. That caused quite a stir. I remember Olive making a tank out of a cardboard box so I could march in some parade. I remember lots of things that made my life and that of my sister Ann very comfortable. As comfortable as it could be in those times of rationing, shortages and other restrictions caused by the war.
One morning I woke up to the sound of pealing church bells. I had never heard them before. They signaled the end of the war with Germany. It was time to go back to London. But that is another story.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
An evacuee remembers.
I graduated from the Memorial Hall to the Wrington school soon after arriving as an evacuee in Wrington. I don’t recall if this happened in late 1939 or early 1940s. I do remember thinking that the school was huge, but, like any small child I accepted this as another change in my life. I like to use the term "graduated" as all the kids from the Memorial Hall were transferred to the local school. What I did miss though was the spoonful of malt we all received on a daily basis. Still, one must go with the flow.
I clearly remember a couple of incidents that happened during my time at the school.
I was very fond of reading and the school had a series of books that were probably designed to gradually improve the reading skills of the children. The books were numbered, starting with Book one, and I progressed through them fairly rapidly.
The day came when I had completed Book six and was astonished to learn that there was no book seven to continue with. For some reason, grownups had ceased to number the books and I had to learn to select my reading material by using the titles and/or the authors. I soon got over this predicament. I have continued reading to this day, some 65 or more years later.
The second incident that sticks in my mind was one of false accusation. (I wuz framed ‘guv). At least in my young mind I was innocent. One break period I joined three or four other boys in the playground. It was in the area where. if my memory serves me correctly, the driveway slopes down to the road. Immediately across the road in a field there stood a shed with a window right in the middle of it. Since it was within a stone’s throw we all tried to hit the shed with small stones.
One of the stones hit the window and it shattered. (I still claim it was not one of my stones.) However, we were rounded up by a teacher and marched in to see the Headmaster. Other than a good talking to he didn’t punish us. He did something far worse. He sent each of us home with a letter outlining our crime. The letter also demanded sixpence from each of us to pay for the repair of the window. Much grief in the homes that night. Mr. and Mrs. Millard and their daughter Olive were not impressed (to put it mildly) but agreed to fork over the repair money. So five of us dutifully paid for the window repair and the incident was supposedly forgotten.
As you can see I didn’t forget.
25th April 2006
|Gordon Bridges - Nottingham.
We are told that the evacuation of schoolchildren from London went without a hitch! The children smiling and cheerful, left their parents to board trains for unknown destinations in the spirit of going on a great adventure
Allowing that wishful thinking, one of the earliest schools to start the evacuation was my old infant school Carlton Vale. Forty children aged between four and seven assembled before dawn; each child carried a gas mask, food and change of clothing and wore three labels.
Arriving at Paddington Station a teacher cheerily told my mother "We'll be back in a week, the weather's glorious for a nice holiday." However, I was still an evacuee three years later. The organisation at the station was good and quite quickly we left Paddington Station for the West Country.
The journey lasted a long time, too long for some, namely those who wanted their parents, those who wanted to be sick, and finally those who wanted to run riot. Controlling us were two teachers from our school, two ladies determined to continue our education, wherever the Education Board decided that would be.
Upon our arrival at Weston we the Carlton Vale Infants School contingent were taken to a village called Wrington.
Being five at the time my only recollection of the first evening of my stay with the family of Mr & Mrs Oliver Millard and their daughters Lillian and Olive was a hot drink and a warm comfortable bed.
The daughters Lillian and Olive were put in charge of me and two other evacuees Barry and Ann Johnson, who overnight became my brother and sister. Wrington Somerset was a very unusual place indeed, for it produced instant new families.
School was one side of a curtain that divided the Memorial Hall that was until a few weeks later when we were allowed to attend the village school.
On the journey to school each day I had to pass Sullivans Bakery the window of which even in wartime was attractively decorated with what appeared to be cream cakes. As luck would have it Mrs Sullivan thought I looked like a nephew of hers, therefore the trip to school took a little longer each day as I made sure Mrs Sullivan saw me, for having seen me a cake was always given and gratefully received.
I have many fond memories of the village and on my many return visits, I always feel that I have come home. On these visits some of the villagers who know me greet me with “BE THAT YOU GORDON”.
It is ironic that the village is now home to people who moved down from Nottingham, to take up jobs when Imperial Tobacco centralised its Head Office in Bristol. Some of whom I know from the time I was Players Supply manager.
So my evacuation turned out fine, I was treated as member of wonderful family; given love and affection, which secured friendships to last a lifetime.
For some of us it was a life-enhancing, mind-broadening experience, leaving us with memories we treasure to this day. Namely the generosity of those who took us into their homes.
|Chris Dyke - Devizes, Wilts.
My father Harry Dyke (Van) retired in 1981, having been headmaster of the village primary school for some 18 years from 1963/4.
When we arrived in the village in late 1963 , my father took up the vacant post of
headmaster and we originally lived in the school house until 1968 when we moved to
a property in the then newly built Rickyard Road ( back of South Meadows).
Soon after moving into the school house I recall my father, with the help of my grandfather, cutting down some huge trees in the front garden that had shielded the school house from prying eyes, and a good deal of sunlight, for many years. Indeed some locals had never seen the front of the school house.
We enjoyed the house with its quirky gothic architecture and more than once were amused to see car drivers and passengers pointing to the lions head from which the drainpipe sprung and writing excitedly on sheets of paper (although I never know the clue on their treasure hunt lists). We were the last family to live in the school house and when we moved it became part of the school, providing staff and store rooms much as it does today.
Dr. Bell's surgery was located in his own house across the field from the school, a short walk from home for me. That field is now a playing of course but was grazing meadow in the 60's and 70's.
My sister (Sue Dyke) is featured in your archives in Panto, and she has the originals of some of those photo's at home. Sue followed in the family footsteps and became a teacher. She is currently living in the Cotswolds near Stroud and teaches in a special needs school near Cheltenham. Her daughter Lucy is now 14.
I left the village in 1974/5 and moved to Portishead. I now live near Devizes in Wiltshire and do keep in touch with a few friends from Nailsea where I was schooled after Wrington and friends from Yatton and Congresbury, many of whom are now spread world-wide.
|Philip Whitehouse - Belgrave, Victoria, Australia
Wrington School, circa 1951. The staff ,as I remember it were (and I might get the Mrs/ Misses titles wrong) : Mrs Gunning, Mrs Green, Mrs George, Mr Webber and the Head, Mr Waite.
Mrs Green was one of those teachers that have a profound effect on their pupils throughout their subsequent lives. This was certainly the case with myself and my sister, Celia. I also have pleasant memories of Mr Webber, who commuted to school aboard a large motorcycle.
There remains Mr G.D.Waite, the headmaster, who had all the presence and gravitas one would expect of such a man. Yet I can remember him being moved to tears while announcing to the assembled school the death of King George VI.
Which brings me to the Coronation, in June, 1953. While going through my father's papers following his death I noticed a letter from Lt.Col. Lee, the chairman of the Village Celebrations Committee, thanking Dad for his services as Hon Sec. For the children, I remember a massive party down the length of Broad Street with games and festivies at the "Rec" ('reation ground).
The memories flood back - not always pleasant. The itinerant school dentist used to come at unannounced intervals and set up shop in a room at the Memorial Hall: -and armed with a fiendish foot-powered pedal-drill !!. I gather that it was a deliberate strategy NOT to inform his victims (sorry- patients ) of his arrival in order to foil would-be truants . The whole thing was most traumatic for this rather timid small boy.
But the Memorial Hall was a venue for far happier events. There were , for example, the Pictures. We used to wait with keen anticipation the details of the next main feature to appear on a board in front of Somersetshire Bakery in Broad Street. And for your shilling (I think) you got full measure- a Newsreel, a Cartoon, a serial: Superman, Jungle Jim or Flash Gordon, and a main feature. The selection of the last was interesting and imaginative, new (that is early 1950's ) releases were alternated with all-time classics.
For example, we schoolboys relished the screening of the Errol Flynn version of The Charge of the Light Brigade, even though that film would have been twenty years old by the time it was screened in Wrington. The Battle of Balaclava was re-fought for weeks afterwards in the playground at Wrington VC School !
I could mention playing truant e.g. catching the bus at the "Rody" but going right - towards Bristol - rather than left, towards W-s-M as we should have done, there buying a large Melon for lunch and making ourselves thoroughly sick.
|Tony Loach - Vancouver, Canada
I arrived in Wrington in 1933 when my Father built the Paradise Roadhouse, (later called Paradise Motel) on the A38 at the bottom of Redhill. He got the name Paradise from the very small area there called Paradise and the farm nearby called Paradise farm.
I have fond memories of those times, the walk to Wrington School across the fields, and later when I got my first two wheel bike the ride along the lane. The ride home was always broken by a stop to look in the door of the blacksmith's shop to watch him shoeing horses.
Unfortunately the war years came and my Father (Ron) went off to do his bit and left my Mother (Molly) to run Paradise. She managed to keep it going to about 1943 but no money was coming in so she had to sell. It was not that Paradise was not busy at times, as I well remember the bus loads of people that would arrive there in the evenings to get away from the night bombing of Bristol. They would sleep on the dance floor (at no cost) but spent very little money and would leave again in the morning to go back to work. The petrol side of the business was also nonexistent of course because of the rationing.
Other memories crowd in, but the one person I remember best is Doctor Bell. He was the village doctor for many years and saw me though the usual childhood problems. He also taught me how to fly fish at Blagdon Lake (there is spot there called Bells Bush which I presume is named after him), as he said I was too old to be still fishing with the worm. He was dedicated to the well being of the people of Wrington.
In the mid thirties there was an outbreak of diphtheria in the village and children started to die. He undertook an inoculation programme for all the village children the cost of which he bore out of his own pocket (No Health Scheme in those days). You only paid if you were able to, although some of the better off members of the community helped him out. He also came to your home to visit you if you were sick; maybe they still do in Wrington but they sure don't here in Canada. I did manage to see him again in about 1970 when I visited from Canada (I emigrated in 1948) but he had lost his memory and did not remember me. Wrington lost a great man when he died.
To quote Trevor Wedlake, Wrington School has for me mostly "disappeared in the mists of time" but none the less I send the School every good wishes for the next 150 years.
I attach hereto the picture of the school taken in about 1960 I think that you already have on the website. It's about the only thing that I have that connects me.
Bill Crook - Hamilton, New Zealand
Hello Staff and pupils of Wrington school.
I started at the school, aged five, in October 1948. Among the class of were Donald Cox, Mickey Owers, Derek Brean, David Cleaves, Tony Vowles ,Ronnie Dewsberry and Rona Coles. Our teacher was Miss. Gunning and she taught me to read using the Janet and John cards. Every afternoon she used to read from a book about a chair that had wings and involved a little character named Chinky. I didn’t like the story because Chinky was always in trouble and that made me sad! It has stuck in my memory to this day.
Our next teacher was Miss. Puddy. Miss. Puddy used to write screeds on the blackboard and I used to get into trouble because I couldn’t keep up. She didn’t know that I was short sighted and neither did I! She married Les Brown and lived for many years in the farmhouse by the school. Man, did she give me some grief.
Then came Mrs. George. Now she was tough and many a kid had their knuckles belted with the edge of a ruler, especially Ivor Fear. As she rapped his knuckles she would say “Fear, I’ll make you fear”. She never did though. We had to take it in turn to read parts from “The Water Babies”, yeah right! If you were smart enough you could rip the page out when you thought it might be your turn and someone else would get landed with the task. If you were good you could get the job of ink monitor. That consisted of mixing the powdered ink with water and filling the ink wells on each desk, for the most part rather messy. And remember those pen nibs!
Mr. Harris was a bit younger and became popular with the boys. He used to tell us about the concentration camps, can you believe it? I recall during his tenure we had to write an essay on what we had done over the half-term break. For most of us it was very little because few families had telephones, televisions, cars or much money. Rona Coles had a lucky break and was taken to Cheddar. In her essay she wrote “ and we went to Cheddar to see the strawberries and gorge…….” That’s true, I promise you. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Of course sooner or later we all wound up in Mr. Waite’s class. The Headmaster. I remember him talking about a new airport being opened in Christchurch, New Zealand and about the Great Dividing Range in Australia.To me , in those days, both places might as well been the other side of the moon not just the other side of the world.
Some years back I was working out of Brisbane and driving through some gum tree-clad high country I came across a road sign “The Great Dividing Range”. Instantly I was transported back to that classroom. I use Christchurch airport quite frequently. In 1955 Mr. Waite introduced the “house” system. The houses were Mendip, Brendon, Quantock and Exmoor. I was the first captain of Exmoor. Is it still used? Mr. Waite started the school library the same year. Just a book case with a wire mesh door. Probably about 100 books at the most.
School meals were provided and we had at to walk down to the “British restaurant” each day where the meals were dished out by Mrs. Bryce and her helpers. Before starting our meal we had to sing “ All people that on earth do dwell”……first and last verse only! Dining was supervised by the dreaded Mrs. Shapley, believed by all to possess super natural powers, if you get my drift. The last time I was in Wrington the restaurant building housed Bugler's off-licence.
That’s about it for now (I could go on a lot longer) but I will finish by wishing you all the best for your celebrations and for the future of the school.
- Sutton, Surrey
It is thirty six years since I moved from Wrington to live in London. I still have links with Wrington as we still have what has been the family home of the Parsleys for generations in the shape of "The Stores" in Broad Street, though it has been many years since the shop I grew up in has been used for selling anything!
In 1954 we lived in Station road and I remember being taken on my first day to Wrington school by my mum and not being at all impressed - the place was enormous and booming and full of kids, but I was not too overawed as my brother and two sisters had gone there and as we seemed to be related to almost everyone in the village, I knew many people there.
Us very young ones were kept to the front playground and the girls all sat on the stones set in the edge of the yard near the entrance to the Headmasters house (Mr Wait). Generations of kids bums had polished smooth these stones till they were as slippery as ice - that and effecting sanctuary in endless games of “off ground touch”.
Meanwhile, the bigger boys were in the rear yard kicking a ball about or swooping round arms outstretched - every one a Spitfire. The girls were a mass of long plats and dresses and the boys wore wellies or sandals and the odd one in daps and some with thick National Health glasses. There were shouts, shorts and scuffed knees, and those with their school macs fastened by just the top button into a cloak doing Marvel Man without the tights to match! In due course, someone rang a big brass handbell and we all trooped into this cavernous room which smelt of oiled floorboards and stale milk from the bottles in the crate.
I went home that day to tell my Mum that I had learnt that Mr Churchill was the Prime Minister, but there was no point in going there any more as I could not read and you had to be able to do that to go to school! -and confidently thought that this would be the end of it!
I think my first teacher was Miss Kingcott but I ended up in Mrs Greens class - singing out the times tables and struggling with the banalities of Janet and John and trying to figure out what was actually being said when listening to “Uncle Toms Cabin” being read out. Time in Mrs Greens class seemed to be taken up with endless productions of “Peter and the Wolf”, and recitations from Kipling and if one was particularly industrious, the sewing of what I recall to be vast fishing nets - for which purpose I never did fathom.
I recall there being two classes in the big classroom - about thirty in each and quite an effort to keep the noise down! Mr Wait sat like a God on a dias, smoking Bristol cigarettes and breathing smoke and authority in equal portions. I recall him as a man with a propensity to irascibility of average height with receding slicked back hair and a trim moustache. A few drum like hefty clouts from his boot on the solid sides of his big desk brought silence, and if that didn’t do it, then the cane, with its tip wrapped in the silver foil from his fag packet certainly did - especially when he pulled someone out over a desk to beat them.
I recall that sometimes we used to walk down the road in a file to the back room of the Golden Lion - probably the skittle alley - either for meals (had it been the British restaurant?) or for classes when things got too overcrowded - and then things got better when they installed kitchens in the school.
The loos were disgusting - soak away open air urinals at the end of the rear yard, reeking with ammonia, concealed behind a low wall which everyone at some time or other tried to pee over - much to the consternation of anyone passing by on the other side!
Afternoons were often spent stood on chairs in the road tending the wall flowers in the boxes in front of the school railings, ( fortunately there was little traffic) or digging in the school garden - mostly pulling up the veg for the Headmasters dinner and I suppose, learning the basics of gardening.
I recall my Mum asking the Headmaster why she knew of no one who had ever passed the eleven plus from the school and he patently explaining that us old Wrington families were all interbred and so she could expect little else!
He said I was a big strong boy and suggested “putting him in the Army - they will teach him to write” - but she thought he ought to have done that and told him so!
My writing was one long bone of contention - I had so many things I wanted to say and could never put them down. We started off writing on slates - and soon learned how to make them squeal and squeak as we scratched on them with a stylus and the spat on them to rub it out!
Then we graduated onto pencils and lined paper and we had to write on both sides of each sheet of paper and then fill in the margins as it was impressed upon us that it was a cardinal sin to waste paper! Finally we given wooden handled dip pens and sat at desks with a china inkwell set in a hole in the corner and someone had the task of mixing up the blue black ink powder and topping up the inkwells every morning. We soon found that these pens made excellent darts - but that played hell with the nib!
We were taught wonderfully ornate but slow Italic script - I never could write quite quick enough to take things down off the board and despite Mr Wait showing me my grandfathers copybook of superb copperplate - I never did learn to write properly until I was in secondary school.
I loved sitting round the piano and listening to Miss Kingcott or Mrs Green playing and I loved singing - just like we did in chapel - losing myself in the power of the music and the poetry and alliteration of the hymns - and of course adapting the words to those you did know when you had no idea what they meant -We had our classics like the visually impaired mammal, “Gladly, the cross-eyed Bear” and the alternative version of “We three Kings......!.”
The Rector was much loved in the village and I am sure he was a fine and faithful servant of the church but he descended on the school in a flurry of black skirts and generated an air of best behaviour and apprehension. I always felt that the Rector never really liked us non-conformists - It might have been something to do with me sitting on his bowler hat and flattening it during my one attempt to join the cubs, but I expect there was more to it than that. I have memories of him insisting we went out to play whilst he taught maths and geography and the feeling was that he did not agree to the teaching of chapel heathens.
Years later my Dad was to tell me that when he was at school, once or twice they would use this free time to turn the rector's donkey in the shafts of his donkey cart, so that when he left he found the donkey's head to the cart and his tail to the traffic!
I established quite a profitable occupation during those periods, which consisted of scooting off to a few regular addresses where I would collect their library books for a few pence tip and get them back to the mobile library in time to avoid the fines, and if I was lucky, picking up a few profitable errands for after school. This way I supplemented my sixpence a week pocket money - which often as not went on fourpenn'orth of chips at Mr Kirk's chip shop.
I recall the day the school inspectors came and we were told to get the games kit out of the old green corrugated shed in the front playground. We had no real idea what they were talking about as apart from a few games of rounders and catching games with bean bags we never did much in the way of sport. I think we only ever used the equipment about once a year and that was when we had sports day at “the Rec”.
This I remember as an exiting time of 100yd dashes, three legged races, sack races, egg and spoon races and throwing the cricket ball and all to the verbal encouragement of as many parents who could get there. Apart from the bean bags - I don’t think many of us had much idea what the inspectors were trying to get us to do - although we did have “houses” I think I remember them as Mendip (red) Quantock (yellow) Exmoor (blue) - and was it Brendon for green?
I recall the apprehension caused by the visitation by the school nurse - with her pushings and proddings of limbs and inspections with the nit comb - and for the lucky ones the green jollop to get rid of them!
I hated the sight of the School Dentist's caravan parked up in the yard. I hated dentists in general and would beg a note from my Mum to excuse me from seeing the school dentist. The sight of that caravan brought back the trauma of me snapping my front teeth when I fell out of a tree, and the visit to Mrs Shapley’s lounge which doubled as the dentist surgery a few days each week. I recall being sat in a deep armchair while Ivy Davis stuck a metal torch into my mouth so that Mr Calder could apply oil of cloves and use his foot operated drill that rotated so slowly you could see the bit moving. Those days most of us had gappy smiles and black teeth and I preferred teeth to be pulled than filled, as at least you could get a whiff of gas from Dr Bell and wake up spitting blood without the long drawn out agony of fillings.
I surmise that most of this has vanished over time - I last went through the gates of the school when I was twenty when I went to cast my first vote in a general election - the place seemed so small and the high vaulted ceilings seemed to have shrunk in the intervening years. I had a lovely childhood with loving caring parents in a community that I knew I belonged in and which looked out for each other and going to school and the relationships forged there was part of that and I was sorry to leave it.
I hope you find this of interest