Skip to content ↓

Grandparents Week 

This week we have been celebrating the fantastic contribution our Grandparents make to our lives. We have held some special events including sharing stories, looking at our wonderful work, reading together and, on Thursday, our Grandparents were invited in to the school hall for tea, coffee, scrumptious cakes and a carousel of entertainment!

Thank you to all the Grandparents who joined us this week (we had 84 at the tea & cakes extravaganza) - the children loved welcoming you all!

Some of our Grandparents have very kindly jotted down a few of their own special memories from their time at school. If you read on below you will see that school was once a very different place!

"At school in Manchester in the 1950's, caning, detention and lines were the norm for naughtly behaviour such as chatting in lessons or not doing homework! We used pen and ink to write and this resulted in inky books and inky fingers. We had a school dentist and his name was 'Miller the Killer!' During the winter bottled school milk would be frozen solid and we would thaw it out on the hot pipes...if they were working!" (Joseph and Rachel Lightfoot's Granny)

"When the Queen's father King George VI died, I went to Windsor Castle and lined the route inside the castle as the funeral procession passed by. Then, when the Queen was crowned, I was presented at school with a glass beaker and a  5 schilling piece called a crown (worth 25p in today's money) to celebrate the coronation." (Louis' Granny)

"I was a 4 year old at Nursery school on the Coronation Day of Queen Elizabeth II. It was  very exciting as we had a sports day and as the winner of a race I was given a Coronation mug which I still have! I also had a cardboard cut out of the procession with all the cavalry and coaches." (Isabella Belli's Grandma)

"At school in Germany, I remember the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 - it was a very exciting event. I was 9 years old and very much enjoyed drawing and colouring the Queen's crown. The drawings were pinned up on the classroom walls." (Jaimie's Grandmother)

"At the age of 5, I went to school in Venezuala. There were only 2 children in the whole school (I was one of them) and the other child didn't even speak English!" (Adam Loake's Grandma)

"In my first school the teachers were all nuns and they all had to wear long skirts and habits on their head. Our PE teacher was called Sister Kathleen Jones. She was so funny when she did the splits as she used to lift her long skirt up but sometimes she would forget and her skirt would split! We would laugh at her but she got cross and gave us all detention. I went to higher school when I was nine years old. Our teachers were still nuns but we had lots of good times. The school was called 'Sandgates' and when I left in July 1957 St John Bosco School had been built in the grounds of Sandgates. It opened in September so I didn't go there." (Josh Rawlinson's Nana)

Granddad has a nickname “buzzer”.   It originated when he was young and during the war he could hear the noise of the buzz bombs before anyone else. The Germans sent over these bombs to destroy cities.  The bombs made a buzzing noise and when they were about to be dropped the noise stopped and it was then that you took cover.   When he was in school he alerted the teachers so that the children could get into the shelters for safety.At home, when there was a threat of an air raid, granddad slept under a table in the living room which was made of metal.   He says it was very uncomfortable but it was the safest place to be.  He had to carry a gas mask around with him.   It was in a little wooden box and if anyone smelt gas, all the children were trained to put their masks on, and adjust them to fit.   It was frightening, at first, but as they had to practise every morning at school, it became part of school life. His sister, Maureen, had polio which affected her leg, so she was sent away to the country to a specialised hospital which was a safer place for her.  Many children were sent away from the main cities to live with foster parents whilst the war was on, which must have been very scary for them leaving their mums and dads and staying in an unknown town.   Granddad stayed with his mum and dad.

There were no sweets or ice cream and food was in very short supply.  Lots of people had allotments where they grew their own vegetables and Granddad’s dad grew vegetables in his back garden to feed the family.  Granddad had not tasted a banana or orange until after the war when the supply ships began to sail again and brought produce from other countries. Granddad’s dad was in the Home Guard, they protected the civil population in the event of an invasion.   The Home Guard were men who had a day job and then volunteered to do their Home Guard duty in the evenings and at night.  They made sure that no lights could be seen from the sky which would have attracted the German planes and they would have dropped bombs.   Granddad lived near Hampton Court Palace in a town called Thames Ditton.   Hampton Court Palace was a target for the Germans, so the Home Guard played a large part in protecting the Palace. Granddad’s dad  was not in the army because he did a specialised job.   His job was part of the war effort and he created different metals which were used for the machinery of war.

Granddad’s mum worked in a factory producing  various  nuts and bolts which again was part of the war effort.  Women rarely went out to work before the war, but as most of the able- bodied men had gone to war, the women had to take their place at work.  Many women continued to work after the war and Granddad’s mum was one of them.   This was a big change for granddad, as before the war his mum was always at home when he got home from school, but after the war he had a key to let himself and his younger brother into their house. Children did not have many toys and so they made their own.   Granddad made a ‘totty cart’ which was made out of pram wheels and it had a rope and piece of wood to steer it so it looked like a car to him.  They also used old metal trays to sit on and slide down the many hills that surrounded their house.  Play was outside the home, not like today where most of the time children are on their computers, ipods or phones! (Adam & Harry Cassin's Grandparents)

More to follow next week, including a wonderful story from Harry & George Occomore's Grandma!

It was 1952, I was five years old and lived in Liberty Lane, Addlestone, not so very far from my school. I walked to school and back everyday, with my mother, my sister and my brother, it was no more than a 10 minute stroll. There was no Motorway Bridge or M25, just country roads, bordered by trees and bushes.

No aircraft flying over constantly or helicopters buzzing, as they are today.

The school I attended was St. Anne's, Ongar Hill. It was a very large old house, entered by a long driveway. It was surrounded by fields and trees, quite a creepy looking house. I recall a big green front door, with a black and white tiled floor at the entrance. The school was infact on the current site of the Holy Family School and the Church. There was no central heating, it was extremely cold in winter. Sometimes, we would have to sit with our coats on in class to keep warm. The classrooms were large, with high ceilings, there was an enormous blackboard on a stand that the teacher would use and write with a piece of chalk. The floors were wooden and uneven and would creak, when we walked on them. There was no double glazing, so if you sat by the window, it was very chilly indeed.

The Head Teacher was Mrs. Mullaney and she was so strict, very scary and I for one was very terrified of her I would shake in my shoes at the very sight of her. Mrs. Mullaney was short, with very grey hair that hung just below her ears and she walked very quickly. If anyone in my class misbehaved, the whole class would be punished. If you were not paying attention in class, she might throw her piece of chalk at you, to get your attention or bang on your desk with a ruler so hard, it would make you jump. Sometimes, she would go bright red in the face with rage, if she was annoyed and looked like she was going to 'pop'!.

This was a time to be very still and quiet!!!!

We worked very hard and in complete silence, unless you happened to be asked a question by the teacher and you would then, politely put your hand up, stand up and respond. No chattering was allowed. It was expected that we would pay attention at all times and had to sit attentively and still at our desks.

I recall we had a priest attached to the school called Fr. Morrow, he wore small round gold rimmed glasses and was always quite cheerful. I think he took me for Holy Communion and my first confession. I was never sure what to say for this because I was terrified of doing anything wrong, incase the Head Teacher Mrs. Mullaney found out!!! Therefore, I considered myself to be so good that I had nothing to confess!!!

I used to play in the grounds of the school, in the far right corner. I can remember playing "leaf houses" in the Autumn. We would gather armsfuls of leaves, to make the sections of the leaf house. While building walls of leaves, we made the kitchen, lounge, bathroom and bedrooms, this would keep us very amused throughout playtimes. Afterwards, we would once again gather up the leaves and throw them all up in the air, as high as we could, beautiful Autumn shades of brown and gold, tumbling down, like confetti. Other popular favourites in playtime, were skipping, hopscotch and tag.

Sometimes, I would have school dinners and I don't recall them being as nice as they are today or having any choices. We would have a Sago pudding, we used to call it "fros spawn" because it looked just like the spawn you see in the pond, when the baby tadpoles are forming, it was not nice.

In the morning break, each child was given a small bottle of milk. We were told it was important for our bones and a crate of fresh milk would be delivered to school daily, by the Milkman. He would arrive in his three wheeled vehicle, which was loaded with crates of milk, bread, eggs and other items, he would deliver daily to every house. today, we buy these items in the Supermarket and there is no school milk provided for children.

My mother (Harry and George's Great Grandmother) used to come after school, she was employed to clean and tidy the classrooms. In those times, it was a very important job and she was given a very small salary of a few shillings for doing the job. While she did this job, my sister,  brother and I used to play outside or inside school if the weather was bad, until mother had finished her work.

At night the old school would look very creepy in the dark and my imagination took me into thinking that surely there must be ghosts, because it looked so scary. By the end of the day, when mother had finished her work, I felt I had been in school forever and was always pleased to get home to the coal fire and supper. In the morning, the day would start again, frost on the windows, shivering, up, ready for school, 

run downstairs, dress in front of the fire as quickly as possible, a bowl of porridge and cup of hot milk and the school day would begin all over again.

Then, my brother started the same school as me. He was a real nuisance, because he didn't like school at all

and he cried and cried and cried everyday, he was a nightmare. The teachers were at a loss to know what to do with him. So, it was decided for a period of time, I had to sit with him in his class to help to settle him into school. Which of course meant, I lost valuable lessons myself and being with my friends, as he tagged onto me in playtimes as well. It lasted until eventually he found his own friends. I was not at all happy with him. However, he did settle eventually and came to enjoy going to school. It is true to say that he didn't much care for Mrs. Mullaney either.

This was 60 years ago. I can hardly believe it possible that my grandsons Harry and George Occomore are now at Holy Family, attending school on the same site as Grandma, how amazing is that!.............

Born in June 1937 I was two years old when the war started. It was feared that the enemy might use poison gas, so gasmasks were issued to the entire population. Conscious of the fact that this hideous black rubber headwear might appear macabre and scary to an infant, a special design was created in red rubber called the Mickey Mouse model. Intended to appeal to infants it had large glass eyes and a long protruding nose at the front and comical ears which gave the appearance of a ridiculous cartoon character, nothing like Mickey mouse. As a two year old I had little recollection and cared even less that my gasmask was, to put it mildly, somewhat different. Trouble was that, when I started school in 1942, the war was far from over and I still had my Mickey Mouse headgear. It was a requirement that schools had to conduct regular gasmask drills during which all pupils had to parade round the school hall for a few minutes wearing their gasmasks. I have no idea why I was the only one at school who had been issued with the Mickey Mouse model, but I remember to this day the hilarious laughter and ridicule of my classmates when I had to join the parade looking like some freakish creation who had escaped from a Walt Disney cartoon. Funny now, but as a young impressionable five year old I didn’t find it at all funny at the time. How I hated those school gasmask drills.

Norman Mckay  

Being eight when the war finished in 1945, I and all those in my class could never recall a time when the country was at peace. We had grown up in a war and peaceful times were something we had never experienced. We found it hard to believe that there ever were times with no air raids, no rationing and you could buy as many sweets as you wished. I was difficult for us to imagine what such abundant times would have been like.

I will never forget the joy when victory was finally declared. The whole school was gathered in the school hall to listen to celebrations from all the countries in the British Empire which were played on the school radio set. I realise in retrospect that they must have been recorded since many of those faraway places could never have found our time zone convenient for celebrating. It was the first time I heard the song “Waltzing Matilda” which was the Australian contribution. We were all then given a few days off school to attend victory street parties. When we returned to school there was a party in the school hall where we had cakes and jellies. Each child was given a certificate in the form of a letter from King George the Sixth and a special victory commemoration spoon. I suspect that, like me, few of us still have these treasures.

As weeks passed fruits we had never seen in our lives such as oranges and bananas slowly started to appear in the greengrocers, although you had to be out early to get some. Regrettably, rationing continued and it was some years before we could buy as many sweets as we liked.

 

Norman Mckay