5.  Penn School and then work

I was at Penn School from 1955 to 1959. It was a lovely school in a really nice setting in Manor Road, Penn. I stayed to school dinners as it was too far to go home at lunch time. After dinner we would go up to the playing fields adjoining the school and sit and chat and perhaps play jacks. One day I played jumping up and down the steps to the playing field. and sprained my ankle –ouch!

The boys at the school did gardening and woodwork. I would have liked to have done gardening and woodwork but in those days it wasn't considered and so we had cookery lessons and netball. We had a Miss Barnett for cookery and were taught how to lay a tray nicely, with tray cloth and a little bunch of flowers in the corner; how to cook a meal for a family;  and making cakes etc.. We had to take our turn at serving lunch to the staff and helping with the school tuck shop.

There were four houses at Penn School:  Nelson, Scott and Drake. I was in Drake and was the smallest girl in the house. When I started school Miss Groves said “ … and welcome to our pocket edition”. Luckily I grew later to the magnificent height of 5 feet and half an inch.

We had a Miss Nicholson for maths who used to gives us the 13 to 20 times table to learn as a punishment for misdemeanours. All I remember about sewing classes were the interminable tailor’s tack. We had loads of homework at Penn with the consequence that when I left school I didn't want to do any more studying.

This is me as a teenager in the back garden of Baggott Street.

The pigeon loft in the background was my brother Tony's.

I am holding Mum's cat, Sooty.

I left Penn School at 15 and went to work at the South Staffs Building Society in Princess Street, Wolverhampton. Opposite us, in King Street, was a doctor’s surgery, the Probation Offices and the Old Still Pub.

The Manager was Mr James Deaville. There was a Mr Warner, Mr Taft, Miss Oates and Miss Littleford there when I started also a Miss Matthews later. My friends there were Angela Lloyd, Joan Gregg and Maureen Hamilton.

I started working in the Mortgage Department, where I had to learn to use accounting machines. They were Burroughs and National 32s. They were great: you had to pull out various stops on bars and put them in different places for different functions such as adding, deducting, interest and capitalisation. The machines were about 3 to 4 feet wide and about four feet high.

In the basement of our offices there was a boiler room, where we had to make the tea. The boiler frequently blew up so we didn't like going down there with all the clinking and clanking of pipes. There was a caretaker there, a Mr Haggitt, a very nice man who did all the basic maintenance work and his wife helped with the cleaning.

The bike was Tony's but the big black and shiny belt was all mine and very fashionable. This must be in the 1960s.

I moved to the Savings Dept which was moved lock stock and barrel down to Worcester Street. The accounting machines were loaded onto a van and we went with them. There was a nice kitchen down there and a table tennis table. We were opposite Brickkiln Street and Studio Banerjee. I remember Tom Jones came there one day for a photo and my friend asked me to go and get his autograph, which I did as he was walking into the studio.

Gloria and I in the back garden. You can see something of the back of the house and the entry.

Gloria was better at back combing than I was and used a lot more hair lacquer!

I made my dress myself and took some of the material down to Bedford Williams in town and they made up the matching belt.

After work we would go out to the various dance places in the town. The Scala, the Queens and the Civic, which was more up market and sedate. At the Scala there were great local groups. There were teddy boys down there with long coats and beetle crusher shoes and lads in gold threaded coats. Also the pointed shoes (winkle pickers) were starting to come in and smart suits with cut out cardboard hankies in the top pocket for men. We had high heel shoes or bopping shoes ‑ flats for dancing - and voluminous net underskirts and gingham skirts and white cotton blouses and wide patent leather belts. We thought we were the bees knees.  We would walk all the way home from the town and feel quite safe;  but this was about ten o'clock and the town was empty in those days after 11. I also went to the Central Dance Studios in Worcester Street.  The entrance to it was at the side of the Odeon Cinema and there I learned the Quick step, walz and cha cha.

Great times.

Return to the
previous page

Proceed to the
next page