Friday, 21 October 2011
Sepia Saturday 97
Raggedy little kids, I was one of those. My first school was built in 1908 to accommodate the kids from East Walton, that were considered outside the "Pale" of the Church School in the Town. It was situated about 3/4 of a mile from the Church in what is now know as Terrace Road, but then may have still been known as Hampton Court Lane. Next to the Church Cemetery and into Terrace Road was Miskin's Timber Yard, and it was, according to a "local Lady" where "Civilisation ceased (with Miskin's)". The School was over half a mile beyond this point and was, for a while, known as the Gypsy School, because many of it's pupil came from Apps Court Farm..
By the time I attended, in 1948, it was 40 years old and known as the Tin School or the "Tin Rattler". This picture shows it in the 1050s shortly before its demolition. It was made of corrugated iron, it leaked, bird's nested in the roof spaces, in hail it rattled. In summer it was hot and in winter cold, the only heating was a coke boiler at the back of each classroom.
I have one or two memories that are actual and real and some others which maybe amalgams of several events merged to form the single memory. And, if for no other reason than I feel that I want to and it will add to you overall understanding of post war Southern England (and perhaps too, me), I intend to relate them.
This is my very first memory of actually being at school, and it has stuck in my mind for the ensuing 63 years. Even with this I am prepared to accept that there maybe some amalgamation of the first two or three days. Around the school were iron railings, they were about 3 foot 6 tall and resembled 1/2 inch thick paper clips stood in a row. The mothers' would let their little darlings go at the gate - anyone older than 6 would have been struck by a thunderbolt from God had they crossed the line. On that very first day - as happened every day - at 5 minutes to nine precisely, the whistle went and we all lined up outside the three doors in the picture. The older kids to the the two on the right and the new intake to the one on the left. As you would imagine us little 'uns were a bit confused but quickly marshelled into position. That was everyone apart from some little "Herbert", (cannot recall name or what happened to him after this day) who clung to these railings as if his life depended upon it. Him in tears on this side, Mummy in tears on the other. He hung on with white knuckles, bravely resisting the efforts of two or three teachers to prise his fingers from those railings. As one was lifted, it immediately snapped back in as they moved to the next. Many new Mothers stood in tears, and so too new kids, but they stood away from the fence to let their youngster go into class. I think this was only resolved when some "older" mothers dragged her away.
The other involves an old wooden house that stood on the opposite corner just across a Lane to the left of the picture. It was a detached ship-lap building covered in creosote and pitch. Dark, black and according to playground speculation - haunted.
One day an awareness that something was happening spread throughout the school, and then sounds of cracking, ringing bells, shouting and smoke. The old house had gone up in flames. The kids rushed out into the playground to line up by the railings to watch the flames pouring from the roof, the smoke, so black and acrid darkening the skies, the fire-engines and firemen rushing about with hoses aimed on the building. What I do not recall is any great concern about Health & Safety.
The Tin School 1923 - no I'm not in there - this was taken from a Pictorial History of the town.