The 7th September, 1953 was the first day at school for the new headmaster, Mr. Reginald Walter Mayland. He had taught in the Darlaston area for many years, first at Kings Hill School and later as headmaster at Addenbrooke Street Primary School. Mr. Mayland soon became a well-liked and respected headmaster, and a great asset to Pinfold Street School.
Mr. Mayland. Courtesy of Sue Harper,
Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.
Although the school had been extremely fortunate to acquire the services of Mr. Mayland, his appointment came at a cost. Addenbrooke Street Primary School was now without a headmaster, and as a result, Mr. Hudson, one of Pinfold Street School’s most experienced members of staff, was transferred to Addenbrooke Street as Mr. Mayland’s replacement. He left the school on Friday 16th October and returned the following Tuesday with his wife for a presentation.
Unfortunately this was not such a good day for Miss Haigh. She slipped and fell in the corridor, straining a ligament in her arm and breaking her dentures in the process. It wasn’t however, all bad news for her that month.
At the first school manager’s meeting of the term, the decision was taken to create two posts of special responsibility, each with a small rise in salary. One was for Miss Haigh and the other for Mr. Scarth.

Yet another familiar school figure appeared at that time. The school acquired its first Road Safety Patrol Man on November 20th, 1953, his name was Mr. Wooton.

Also during the term the school’s first set of curtains for the stage were fitted and the P.T. shed, for storing the P.T. equipment, was completed.


Mr. Hudson. Courtesy of Sue Harper, Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.
Christmas and the end of the year are always a time of celebration and this was not overlooked at the school. For many years Mr. Mayland and his staff organised a series of school plays, each performed by a different class, in front of the whole school. On some occasions parents were invited to come and view the proceedings, which could occur on two or three days in a row, or as a single evening event, sometimes with carol singing. On the 14th December, 1953 three plays were performed. Class 8’s play was called “Mimes”, class 4’s was called “Sneezing Powder”, and class 1’s play was entitled “Cabbages and Kings”. Two days later plays were performed by classes 3, 2, and 7.

A large Christmas tree would always be a feature in the hall in good time for the Christmas festivities. In the 1950s the Christmas party usually took place on the last but one day of term. There would be a plentiful supply of jellies, cakes, and fruit, and several mothers would be on hand to help. The Chairman of the school managers, Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson sometimes came along to join in the merriment, and a good time would be had by all.

The last day of term included a carol service and the distribution of presents to the children. The infants usually received a toy or sweets and the juniors received ice cream.

 Mr. Scarth in the early 1950s.
 Courtesy of Sue Harper,
 Broomhall and Maureen Page.
During Mr. Mayland’s time at the school the children’s parents were actively encouraged to attend a number of annual events. There were school open afternoons and open evenings, school sports afternoons and the school trip.

During the open afternoons and evenings, held at the end of the summer term, parents could view examples of the children’s work.

There would be displays of arts and crafts, needlework, poetry recitals, the school choir would perform, and Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson was usually on hand to present prizes to the most successful children. As many as 200 parents came along.

As the school was still without a playing field in the 1950s, the annual sports would usually be held at Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds sports ground in Hall Street. The four houses, Red, Yellow, Green and Blue would compete in the event and prizes were presented to the winners. In 1954 Mrs. Thacker came to present the prizes. Yellow House were the champions, with Gillian Butler, champion girl, and Kenneth Dangerfield, champion boy.

In 1955 it was the turn of Red House to win the cups and medals. The champion girl and boy were Valerie Berry and Raymond Cornforth, and the prizes were presented by Councillor H. Partridge. In 1957 Blue House won the day in glorious weather. The two champions were Irene Fieldhouse and Alan Green. On this occasion the prizes were presented by Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson. The following year it was the turn of Yellow House again, the champion boy and girl being Brenda Morgan and Terence Stanley. Mrs. Mayland was on hand to present the prizes. Children from the school also took part in Darlaston Primary Schools Sports, achieving second place to Bentley South Primary School in 1957.

During the latter half of the 1950s more emphasis was placed on swimming, and children would regularly attend lessons at Darlaston Baths.

In those days the class would walk from the school to the baths accompanied by a teacher. Each child would carry their swimming costume rolled inside a towel. The primitive changing rooms were along the side of the pool.

The children could pass a series of tests, starting at test 1 and going through to test 6. The lessons proved to be a great success with large numbers of children passing more than 1 test. Mr. Mayland summed it up in 1957 as follows “A remarkable achievement as most of the children who attended the baths have learned to swim”.

Miss Haigh. Courtesy of Sue Harper, Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.
The number of children who passed the swimming tests are as follows:

Number of Passes

  1954    1957   1958  1959
Test 1 35 46 32  41
Test 2 22 46 17 21
Test 3 4 4 8 10
Test 4 2 2 1 4
Test 5 1 2 1 3
Test 6 1
The results for 1955 and 1956 were not recorded in the school log book.
During the 1950s physical education began to be taken more seriously, and in May 1954 climbing ropes and wall bars were installed in the hall. Before the end of the decade the area P.E. supervisor would occasionally call to inspect classes and ensure that they were taken correctly.

Another important activity, greatly enjoyed by many children was cycling. In the late 1950s the roads were comparatively empty by modern standards, but the amount of traffic was greatly increasing and so road awareness became more important than ever. As a result, cycling courses, leading to a Cycling Proficiency Test began to take place in the playground on Saturday afternoons. The first short course, run by Mr. Whitting, a Road Safety Officer, began on 25th May, 1957. The Cycling Proficiency Tests were carried out 4 weeks later on 22nd June.

A class in the mid 1950s.

Names Left to Right:
Back Row:
  extreme left Iris Burke, last but one on the right Terence Stanley.

2nd Row:  3rd from the left Brenda Morgan, 6th from the left Michael Vernon, Bev Parker, John Labon.

Front Row: Alan Griffiths, Joseph Bott, Keith Rhodes, Graham Skidmore, Reginald Kemp, John Rickhuss, Malcolm Green, the Firm twins.

Conductor: Barry Foulkes

There were other out-of –school activities. On the afternoon of the 1st April, 1954 classes 1 to 4 and their teachers went to the Olympia Cinema in Darlaston to see the film “The Ascent of Everest”. At the time the first ascent of the mountain greatly caught people’s imagination and boosted national pride. On the 12th June, 1958 the children attended the Choral Festival in the Town Hall. It was a great success.

During the following year there were two such outings. On 12th March the Juniors were taken to the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton to see Peter Pan, and on 20th March, Junior 4 attended a concert at Rough Hay School arranged by the County Music Organiser.

There was also the annual school trip and the lever’s party. The school trips were as follows:

1954  Classes 1, 2, and 3 went to Barmouth in four coaches.
1955 Classes 1 and 2 visited Stratford-upon-Avon, Evesham and Worcester.
1956 Chester and Rhyl.
1957    104 children went to Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon.
1958 Malvern and Hereford.
1959    Ludlow, Church Stretton, and Much Wenlock.

The leaver’s parties were as follows:

1954 The party took place in the school hall after school.
1955 The party took place in the school hall after school.
1956 Classes 1 and 2 went to Kinver after school.
1957 Classes 1 and 2 went to Kinver after school.
1958 Not known.
1959 51 children visited London and London Airport with Mr. Scarth and Mr. Mayland.

At the beginning of the autumn term in 1956 the classes were renamed. The first class (reception) became Infants 1, and was followed by Infants 2 and Infants 3. The Junior classes became Junior 1 to Junior 4. There were also a number of staff changes. In the late 1950s there was a large turnover of staff, which at times led to a shortage of teachers and must have been a constant worry to Mr. Mayland. Some of the significant changes were as follows:

1st September, 1954 Miss Heather Shuker arrived after completing her course at Coventry Training College. She took over class 5. Miss Shuker stayed at the school until July 1959 when she transferred to Kings Hill Junior School. Another newcomer was Mr. Victor West who took over Junior 2 in September 1956. He had previously taught at Old Church Junior School. Mrs. Gwendolen Hill who had been at the school since February 1944 retired in July 1954 and was presented with bouquets and a cheque. She later returned for a while, working part time to ease the school’s staffing shortages.

In February 1957 Mr. Scarth received a well deserved promotion to Deputy Head and in November of that year a well-remembered figure started work at the school. He was Mr. Maybury who replaced Mr. Bartram as school caretaker.

The number of children attending the school was as follows:

  January September
1953 402 362
1954 380 322
1955 331 300
1956 328 270
1957 306 273
1958 288 262
1959 296 237

The attendance figures were often poor in the early and late part of each year, the weather being an important factor. Winters were much colder than today with frequent falls of snow. Heavy fog was also a problem, which thankfully has now disappeared due to the Clean Air Acts and the decline in industry. Today’s better standards of living have led to an overall improvement of health. We still get coughs, colds, and flu, much as in the 1950s, but not so many cases of mumps or measles thanks to the MMR vaccination (measles, mumps, and rubella).

In January and February, 1954 attendances were very low, falling at one point to 292. There were snow falls and outbreaks of colds, influenza, and mumps. A year later attendance was down to 269, only 14 children were present in class 7. At the end of January the attendance had fallen to 215 due to influenza. In February 1957 there were 58 cases of measles, and in February 1959 the attendance fell to 220 because of an epidemic of colds and bronchitis. In March there were a number of cases of measles and chicken pox.

On 17th November, 1957 sixty children were absent because of thick fog, colds and sore throats. Today it’s hard to imagine the effects of a thick fog, which could reduce visibility down to a couple of metres. It was easy to get lost especially as you couldn’t even see across the road. It could be a very unpleasant experience battling your way to school through a thick fog on a cold winter’s day.

The school football team - 1958 to 59. Courtesy of Brian Stanley.

Names Left to Right:
At the back are Mr. West and Mr Scarth.
Back Row:
Brian Stanley, John Fiddler, Geoffrey Green, Roger Anderson, Alan Jones.
Front Row:
David Woodcock, Alan Humphries, Victor Fellows, Keith Bailey, Terry Sheldon.
In front is Tony Carless.

Throughout the 1950s the children were still actively encouraged to save, something that has been forgotten in our modern society. During National Savings Week in October 1954 a ceremony was held at Darlaston Town Hall to celebrate the savings campaign. A number of children from the school attended the ceremony. Mr. Mayland, like his predecessor, collected and banked the children’s savings, which were paid out at the end of each school year. In July 1955 the total amount saved was £1054.16s.0d. This was quite an achievement considering that in today’s money it is equivalent to about £19,100.

Children also gave generously to worthwhile causes. In 1955 after a talk to the juniors at the school, given by Miss Kirkpatrick of the Institute for the Blind, a collection in classes 1 to 5 raised £32 for the Midland Societies For The Blind. In 1956 £8.2s.8d. was raised for the Mayor of Wolverhampton’s Hungarian Relief Fund, which is equivalent to about £150 in today’s money.

A class in 1959. Courtesy of Sue Harper, Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.

Names Left to Right:
Back Row: 
Mr. Mayland, Terry Sheldon, Paul Hayward, Diane Edge, Pauline Holmes, Janet Moreton, Susan Barlow, Penny Chapman, Pamela Spencer, Janice Roberts, Brian Hayward, Brian Stanley, Mr. Scarth.

3rd Row:  Geoffrey Green, Tony Carless, Alan Humphries, John Fiddler, Alan Jones, Keith Allen, David Shut, Roger Anderson, Raymond Devy, Victor Fellows, Keith Bailey, David Woodcock.

2nd Row:  Patricia Priest, Carol Windows, Joan Shenton, Gillian Foster, Joan Dwyer, Christine Lavender, June Cox, Jane Duley, Dorothy Reed, Alma Clifford, Wendy Harper.

Front Row:  Graham Evans, Kenneth Hunt, Lawrence Jones, David Skidmore, Neil Benton.

The annual Harvest Festival in the school hall, held in September or October also raised money for good causes. Parents would generously donate fruit, vegetables and other items which were sold later in the day. In 1955 £8 was raised for the Old People of Darlaston Fund, in 1956 Moxley Children’s Hospital received £8.12s.6d., and in 1959 the hospital received a grand total of £17.12s.7d.

The school was managed by the school management group who consisted mainly of the headmaster and several councillors, or ex-councillors. During the second half of the 1950s there were two chairmen, Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson who was followed by Councillor E. Sutton. Other members included Councillor Brown, Councillor Partridge, Mrs. Hitch, Mr. E. Owen, Mr. Stanbury, Mr. Foster, and Mr. Bull. As well as running the school’s day to day affairs the managers could grant extra holidays, interview prospective employees, and the chairman would issue a stern warning to any parent who was found to be keeping their child away from school without a good reason.

Throughout the late 1950s the school managers made proposals for the building of the school playing field and attempted to make the project a reality. In 1955 they considered the possibility of obtaining the land adjoining Moxley Road where most of the old Victorian houses had just been demolished. In February 1956 they discovered that the local authority proposed to purchase 1 acre of land adjoining the school for a playing field, so their labours were beginning to bear fruit. Unfortunately such proposals often take a long time to materialise, and little seemed to be happening at the time.

In 1958 they examined the latest plans for the project which now covered around 2 acres, including the land adjoining Moxley Road. At the time 4 of the old houses were still occupied and although demolition was planned, nothing could be done until the occupants were re-housed. The council were asked if work on part of the project could begin, and be completed later when the land occupied by the houses became available. At their last meeting in 1959, the managers were informed that work on the project would soon begin.

Mr. Scarth and a group of boys, possibly the school football team in 1954 to 1955. Courtesy of Sue Harper, Gill Broomhall and Maureen Page.

Names Left to Right:
Back Row: 
Roger Hurley, Colin Gould, Alan Page, John Beech, Graham Spruce, Barry Arblaster, Billy Holland, Leslie Foreman, Clive Brown, Ronald Gregory, Stephen Ratcliffe,

Front Row:  Terry Wain, Lawrence Ellis, John Walters, ?, David Hughes, Brian Bayliss, Edwin Norman, Raymond Cornforth, Bernard Tonks.

In October 1956 the school purchased its first tape recorder and in May of the following year Rediffusion (an early wired radio and television service provider) wired-up 2 infants and 2 junior classrooms, and the hall. A large loudspeaker was also fitted in the hall.

In May 1958 Slater Street Secondary Modern School suffered the effects of an arson attack, which destroyed part of a building. As a result the local police obtained a key to Pinfold Street School’s playground so that they could carry out nightly patrols around the school. Luckily the arsonist was soon arrested and so the patrols were no longer necessary.

The school in the 1950s is best summed up by the words of Miss Evans, an H.M.I. inspector. When she visited the school to inspect the juniors, this is what she had to say “There is a good spirit in the school, staff and children work well, and a very happy relationship exists.”

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