Memories of School

I started at Bingley Street Infants School in 1916.

The Headmistress was Mrs James and the teachers were Miss Scott; Miss Calleah; Miss Butcher; Miss Lamb and Miss Scarlet. I was taken to school by Celia Wilford and Lydia Nicholls, the children of neighbours, and by Alice Richards (who later married Jack Cotterell.)

The school hours were 9-00am to 12 noon and 2-00pm to 4-00pm.

Part of Bingley Street School as it is today.

 I walked home for dinner each day. The first Christmas I was at school I remember making a tiny basket out of cut and folded coloured paper. The teacher provided us with two wrapped toffees to put in the basket to give as a Christmas present to our mothers.

In September 1918 I moved up into Bingley Street Girl's school. The Headmistress was Miss Elizabeth Sanders - and the teachers were Miss Blanche Evans; Miss Doris Carter; Miss Lambourne; Miss Bevan; Miss Whitehouse and Miss Roberts.

When the bell rang for school to start we formed lines in the playground and waited for the signal to march into our classrooms. The register was called and then the bell sounded again for us to march quietly into the Hall for assembly. A teacher stood at the side of each class. Miss Sanders usually conducted assembly, a hymn, a prayer, a short talk, and instructions etc. Then, to a march played on the piano, we all returned to our classes to work. On alternate mornings the boys had assembly led by the Headmaster, Mr. Samuel Lloyd, 'Sammy'. (I recall he played the double bass.)

Class size in my school days numbered about 60 with no distinction between the quickest worker and the slowest. I was one of the quick ones, but the teacher did not move on until all were ready. I suppose when I finished my work I should have got a book out and read quietly, but it was far more interesting to look round and see who I could chat to.

In Miss Evans' class I was put in front of her 'favourite', a big, placid girl called Edna Edwards. I recall she had large, beautifully manicured hands. She was detailed to poke me in the back if I was chatting or laughing. This proved a very unwise instruction, for my reaction to a 'poke in the back' was to shriek, which disrupted the whole class.

Miss Bevan's reaction to my chatter was to throw me out into the Hall, where I could be seen to be in disgrace. I was not anxious for Miss Sanders (the Headmistress) to happen upon me, so I usually did a little wander round the school, as if on an errand. I often stopped to study the little stuffed red squirrel in a cabinet in the Hall. I was a 'townie' and fascinated by this little creature.

The Hall was large and served both the girls and the boys schools. There was no co-education in those days. Of course, when sent into the Hall as a punishment, I quickly found it more interesting to linger near the boys' classrooms - and watch their activities.

I remember one day taking a new born (eyes not yet open) kitten to school. When the other girls told the teacher, I told her it had followed me, an impossibility since it was less than three weeks old. I was duly sent to the Headmistress for punishment.

The back of the school and part of the playground.

She spoke severely to me about my behaviour and telling lies and a note was sent home asking my mother to see the Headmistress. Miss Sanders was very surprised to see what a nice lady my Mom was. She said she had expected a big, loud woman, not a small, gentlewoman. My show-off behaviour and chatter in class had given her entirely the wrong impression of my family background. I guess I was meted out some punishment when I got home. But I could not have had my pocket money stopped as we didn’t get any!

A view of the school from Bingley Street.

We did not have a school uniform, but most of us wore gym-slips.

I do remember the thick black woollen stockings we wore and the fact that they had to be neatly darned whenever a hole appeared as they needed to last a long time.

If girls had long hair it had to be plaited and tied with a ribbon at the end. My hair was naturally curly and I didn't like it in plaits. On many occasions I (purposely) lost a ribbon. Then I would be given a piece of string and sent to the cloakroom to tie up my hair again.

Each year a 'May Queen' was democratically elected by the whole school. Girls in the top class were sent to all the other classes where they recited their names so that all the pupils could identify the girl they wanted to vote for.

Unfortunately, my record of imperfection prevented me from going round the classes. The staff were afraid that I would get the most votes as I was popular - and the risk of me being elected 'May Queen', and an example to the rest of the school, was too risky to be allowed. My quiet friend, Millicent Furnival, was chosen. She was so timid, that on the great day when she was crowned, she was too shy to sing the Queen's solo. Mollie Rendell was placed behind her on the platform and sang, while Millicent mimed! She wore a long white dress with a velvet train and was crowned with a wreath of cream coloured tea roses. The retiring Queen, Ann Hughes, had a long blue velvet dress and train and a crown of forget-me-nots. Prior to the May Day celebrations, each class elected a Princess and two maidens. When the May Queen placed the crowns on their heads she recited...

'I crown you for being good,
For perseverance, loyalty,
And diligence.'

When the boys school acquired a radio (in about 1924), the top class of girls was invited to share in listening to the weekly 'Music for Schools' broadcast, presented by Sir Walford Davies. After the programme, one of the girls had to stand and give a vote of thanks for the privilege. The anxiety during the lesson about being chosen far outweighed the pleasure of listening. On one occasion I was selected to give the thanks, but I cannot recall what I said as I mumbled on. Quite a different state to my usual confident chatter in class.

It is said that a bad name lingers on. Quite true, but to be blamed for something when absent is most distressing. Once, when Miss Evans was not in her class, a lot of noise reached the ears of Miss Sanders who happened to be passing. She entered the classroom and demanded sternly who was causing the hubbub. 'Mollie Rendell' stated one of teacher's favourites. Oh dear, I was not even in the room at the time. Give a dog a bad name!

I think I did a lot of things to attract attention, as Miss Saunders had pointed out to my mother. At home there was always a baby needing attention and I was sometimes overlooked, though I do think my Mom tried to compensate.

At one time in school I pretended I could not see the blackboard, so I was sat at a desk in the front row, and an appointment made for me to attend the Eye Infirmary for tests. Needless to say, the test proved my sight was perfect. Was this another instance of wanting to be noticed?

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