1960 didn’t get off to a good start. The children returned to school on their first day back after the Christmas holiday in thick fog. There were several cases of mumps and chicken pox, and the school closed early. Luckily this wasn’t a foretaste of things to come, and everything rapidly returned to normal.

In the middle of the decade the school would find itself under the control of a new authority as a result of the Local Government Reform Act. In April 1966 Darlaston lost its status as an urban district, and came under the direct control of Walsall Metropolitan Borough.

One of the most popular teachers at the school was Deputy Headmaster, Mr. Scarth, a man who always brought the best out of his class. He had a warm, friendly personality that made learning enjoyable, and would often discuss items in the news, or what was going on in the world. He was a great football and cricket fan and helped to develop the school’s football and cricket teams.

Mr. Scarth. Courtesy of Sue Harper, Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.
He travelled daily from his home at Brereton near Rugeley and was usually in good health, having very little time off for illness. In 1960 this began to change. He started to complain of chest trouble and was away from school from the 6th December to the 23rd January. He was also absent from May 1961 to the middle of June, and again in July, being noticeably weak on his return.

Unfortunately things didn’t improve and during the summer he was admitted to Stafford Infirmary, where he died on September 5th. This would have come as a great shock to the staff on their return from the summer holiday. Mr. Mayland commented in the school log book that “The School has sustained a great loss.”

His funeral took place on September 11th and was attended by Miss Haigh and Mr. Mayland. Floral tributes were sent from the school including a number from his old pupils. He was greatly missed.

The decade was also an important one for Miss Haigh who reached a couple of important milestones in her career. On the 18th July, 1963 she celebrated her 25 years service at the school. A ceremony, attended by Councilor Sutton, Councillor Foster, and Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson took place during the school’s annual prize giving, during which she was presented with a cheque for £10. Two girls from the top class presented her with a large bouquet and a lucky horseshoe. In return she presented a carved oak cross and two vases to the school for use in morning assemblies.

She reached the second and final milestone in 1967 when she retired. The schools annual prize giving took place on July 13th. The prizes were presented by the Chairman of the school’s managers, Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson. During the proceedings she presented Miss Haigh with a Wedgewood tea service from the children, a table cloth and napkins from the staff, and a cut glass vase from the school managers.

She is a well remembered member of the teaching staff, mainly because she had the reputation of being a strict disciplinarian. Many of the children greatly feared her, and if anyone stepped out of line they would receive a sharp wrap across the knuckles with a 12inch ruler. Her nickname for many years was “Polly”. Every Friday afternoon each child in her class had to bring along a small bottle of vinegar, some furniture polish in a match box, and two cloths to clean their desk. The vinegar was to remove any ink marks. Children at the time had a habit of writing their initials on their desk. If she found anyone defacing the furniture in any way they would be in a lot of trouble. As a result she had the cleanest, and possibly the longest surviving desks in the school. On a recent visit to the school I saw a few of the old desks that still survive, and it is thought that they came from her classroom.

I hadn’t realised until I looked through the school’s log book that she was not the strong lady that she appeared to be. She had a lot of illness during her time at the school.

She was a devout Christian lady who for many years was looking after her elderly mother.

I noticed in the school log book that she had changed her address some time before her retirement, moving into a small, quiet road off Stafford Road, Wolverhampton. This was presumably to be her retirement home, after her mother had died.

Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson presents Miss Haigh with a large bouquet, as Mr. Mayland and the children look on. This took place on July 13th, 1967 when she retired.
Courtesy of Sue Harper, Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.
In practice she was a kind hearted lady who had the children’s best interests at heart. She tried to instil “proper values” into them, in the hope that they would grow up to be good citizens. A few more Miss Haighs would be a good thing in our modern world.

During the 1960s other members of staff left, and new members arrived. In December, 1961 Mr. West who had been at the school for 5 years was transferred to the Cannock Division, and in July 1966 Mrs. W. Ingles left to have a baby.  The school’s Deputy Head Mr. J. Mackenzie left in December 1966 and was replaced by Mr. R. Butt who commenced duty in April 1967. Other leavers included the Infants Welfare Officer, Mrs. L. Jenkins who left in July, 1967 and was replaced by Mrs. Bourne. Other new members of staff included Mrs. P.E. Holt, Miss S.A. Richards, and Miss M. James, who all started in September 1967.

As in previous years the school attendance fell during the early winter weeks through illness. On the 23rd January, 1961 only 184 children were in attendance because of flu and gastric troubles, and one month later the attendance fell again, this time to 210 due to the spread of measles amongst the infants. In January 1964 a combination of snow, measles, and colds led to an attendance of only 177. Things were even worse in March when heavy blizzards resulted in only 115 children being present.

Another bad month was January 1966 when there were poor attendances throughout the later part of the month. On the 21st January only 197 children were present due to sore throats and sickness. Three days later only 47 infants were present in the whole school, and on the 28th January the attendance fell to 141 due to an influenza epidemic.

Much the same occurred the following year when there were many cases of mumps, measles and whooping cough. In April 1967 there were 63 cases of chicken pox and 3 cases of German measles.

From January 1960 to January 1968 the number of children on the school roll was as follows:

Year January September
1960 276 232
1961 246 222
1962 240 209
1963 238 211
1964 232 208
1965 236 225
1966 244 236
1967 250 246
1968 269  

Throughout the 1960s the swimming lessons were still held at Darlaston Baths with continuing success and a high pass rate for the tests. The results are as follows:

  April 1960 July 1960 January 1964 July 1965
Test 1 20 33 17 57
Test 2 14 19 10 33
Test 3 7 10 7 14
Test 4 5 7 2 12
Test 5 3 5 1 8
Test 6 - 3 - 2

The individual results for 1967 are not known. In that year 131 swimming certificates were issued to pupils at the school. Junior 4 obtained 36, and Junior 3 obtained 37.

1965 was an extremely successful year for swimming at the school. The school entered a competition organised by the Darlaston Swimming Club League on the 21st May. In the competition the boy’s relay team won every race that they entered and were presented with a plaque. On 23rd July seven boys passed their bronze medal swimming test. Mr. Mayland noted the following about the swimming test results in the school log book, in July “Results reflect great credit to instructress Mrs. Jones.”

Junior 3 and Junior 4 also took part in the annual Swimming Gala for Primary Schools which was held at Darlaston Baths. The results between 1960 and 1965 are as follows:


12th July 1960 1st place - won the cup
11th July 1962 2nd place
10th July 1963 2nd place
  1st July 1964 4th place
  7th July 1965 3rd place

In June 1967 the boy’s relay team competed in the Walsall Swimming Sports. They came 3rd.

The school sports afternoon continued much as before, usually taking place at the Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds’ sports ground in Hall Street. In 1961 there was a good attendance in fine weather. The winners were Blue House. In 1962 there were two sports afternoons. The school sports afternoon took place on 7th June with Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson presenting the prizes. Two days later a special schools sports afternoon was held in George Rose Park to mark the opening of the new pavilion. The school won three races, came second in two races and third in one race.

The school’s sports afternoon in 1963 was well attended, in good weather. Mrs. Mayland presented the prizes and Yellow House were the overall winners. Things were not so good in 1964 due to poor weather. The event was due to take place on June 4th but had to be postponed because of heavy rain. On the afternoon of the 9th the school assembled as usual at the sports ground in Hall Street. Unfortunately the event had to be abandoned after only one hour because of heavy rain. As a result the event took place over the next two days. The infant’s races were held on the 10th of June in the playground, and the junior’s races took place the following day at the sports ground. In spite of the delay and uncertainty, quite a few parents attended.

In 1965 the weather also looked doubtful and so the sports were held in the school playground. Mrs. Hitch presented the prizes and about 100 parents came to watch. Everything went well and was enjoyed by all. In 1966 and 1967 the sports were held at Hall Street as usual, with Mrs. Hitch presenting the prizes in front of many parents.

How the school would have looked in the 1960s.

The school also took part in the Town Sports in June 1960, and in the same year the school’s football team played in the final of the Knock Out Cup, loosing 1-0. The Cycle Proficiency Tests continued to be held in the school playground. In February 1964 nine children passed with marks ranging from 87 to 94. Another test held at the school was the Royal Life Saving Society’s Preliminary Artificial Respiration exam. 35 children took the exam on the 30th June, 1965 and every one passed.

One of the highlights at the end of each school year was the school trip, and the leaver’s trip, where the children visited varied and interesting locations.

The school trips between 1960 and 1967 were as follows:

1960    6 coaches went to Southport.
1966    The Royal Show at Stoneleigh Abbey.

The school leaver’s trips between 1960 and 1967 were as follows:

1960    48 children visited Wollaton Park and Nottingham Castle with Mr. Scart and Mr. Mayland.
1961    36 children visited Blenheim Palace and Oxford.
1962    Kedleston Hall and Alton Towers
1963    Blithfield Hall and Alton Towers with Mr. Mayland, Miss Cole, and Miss Cartwright.
1964    Coventry and Drayton Manor Park.
1965    Junior 4 visited Tamworth Castle and Drayton Manor Park accompanied by Miss Jones and
            Mr. Mackenzie in poor weather.
1967    Alton Towers with Mr. Mayland, Mr. Butt, and Miss Sjoerdsma.

The children also attended a number of concerts and plays. On the 14th October, 1960 Junior 4 went to a concert at King Charles’ School that was given by C. Dolmetch and Saxby. On the 22nd February, 1962 the juniors went to the Regal Cinema to see “Swiss Family Robinson” and a Walt Disney nature film, and in February 1964 Junior 4 and Mrs. Jones visited Darlaston Grammar School to attend an orchestral concert given by the Cardiff College of Music.

Performances were also given in the school hall. In July 1962 a visiting theatre company presented their version of Cinderella, and in June 1963 the Theatre for Youth gave a performance of Rumpelstiltskin. In January 1967 Mr. Jellings of British Rail gave the school a talk about safety on the railways.

Another interesting event attended by children from the school was the Festival of Queens that took place in Wolverhampton Civic Hall on the 29th March, 1967. Those taking part included Maureen Hyde, who was Queen, with her attendants Karen Benton and Janet Prickett, and her purse bearer, Michele Morris. Mr. Mayland, Mrs. Boddic, and Mrs. Patrick also attended the event which was in aid of the Children’s Homes.

The school open days in July continued to be a great success. In 1960 both the infants and juniors open days were well attended, with Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson distributing the prizes. The following year it was held as an evening event with the prizes given by Councillor Sutton. Again it was well attended, and would remain as an evening event throughout the decade. In 1962 many parents attended, inspected, and discussed the children’s work. The prizes were presented by Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson, Councillor Sutton, and Councillor Mrs. Hitch. This continued to be a successful event as can be seen from the attendance record for 1965 when about 200 parents came along.

The annual Christmas celebrations continued as in the 1950s, with plays, a carol service, a party and the distribution of presents and ice cream. The celebrations in 1966 included a nativity play which was watched by about 100 parents. At Easter, 1967 Junior 4 gave three plays to all of the school, which they had produced and written themselves.

The school hall in the 1960s.

The school still encouraged children to save their money. In 1961 a total of 200 savers saved £2,000, a lot of money at the time. In 1964 the total reached £1,175, and £1,200 the following year. On 3rd October, 1966 prizes were given at Walsall Town Hall for the National Poster and Jingles Competition to mark the anniversary of National savings. Prize winners from the school were Kerry Watton, Mark Flowers, and Roy Jarvis.

Collections were also made for good causes. In November 1962 the juniors raised £44.1s.4d. for the blind and in March 1966 £45.10s. was raised for Sunshine Homes. Mrs. Butler of the National Institute for the Blind gave a talk about the work of the blind in the school hall in January 1968. During the talk she appealed for funds, which resulted in a total of £74.4s.3d. being raised for the blind. Quite an achievement.

During the 1960s the school managers attempted to get the school playing field project underway. At a meeting in September 1960 they were informed that the purchase of the land was progressing well, and could be completed when Darlaston Council had re-housed the 4 families, who were still occupying the houses that were to be demolished in Moxley Road. Things moved extremely slowly and in October 1966 the managers were told that the council were still negotiating for the purchase of the land.

The managers also attempted to improve the approach to the front of the school. At the time the whole area was full of ruts and pot holes, which would fill up with water. In 1961 a request was made to the County Council to extend the existing road as far as the school gates. They were informed in October 1962 that work on the approach road was held up because of a lack of communication with the executors of the late Pat Collins, who owned the land. In May 1963 the managers sent a letter recommending that a Council Purchase Order should be made for the land in an effort to make the executors answer their correspondence. Sadly it all came to nothing in the end. After much effort by the managers, a letter was received from the County Council in January 1966 stating that “some of the depressions in the approach road have been filled-in with surplus tarmac from the resurfacing of the playground. They hope this will bring about an improvement in conditions.” Mr. Mayland summed it all up in the school log book by stating that “This was an unsatisfactory end to a struggle of almost 10 years.”

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