Days Gone By: Do you have family members who attended the Ipswich Central School?
PUBLISHED: 12:46 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 03 January 2017
Anybody who was at school up to the 1970s will recall how punishment was administered with a cane or slipper.
The “victim” would be called in front of the teacher or headmaster and hit, usually with very painful results. Few would complain, as this was considered a normal part of the day.
Ninety-five-year-old George Brunning, who grew up in the Stoke area of Ipswich, has sent me his memories of moving from Wherstead Road School, Ipswich, to the Ipswich Central School in the 1930s, where the headmaster kept a selection of canes in a glass case behind his desk and would ask the child to choose which grade he would like to be hit with!
From George Brunning, Ipswich
I won a scholarship from Wherstead Road School to the then highly regarded Ipswich Central School, Smart Street, together with three other lads from Wherstead Road School. We were at the start of a good period of education, although the school and staff moved to Tower Ramparts around the time I started.
The system was that pupils of the elementary schools, including Argyle Street, Bramford Road, Nacton Road and St Mary’s, went to the Central Municipal (Muni) School, or if you attained an outstanding high pass, you went to the Ipswich School. I only knew one boy who attained this honour, he was in my class at Wherstead Road. He was a pale faced lad with glasses who could finish a task of ten sums before I had finished the first one - he could not play football though!
The Central School differed from the elementary schools, they concentrated on commercial and engineering. The teachers were Mr A ‘Whiskers” Welburn headmaster, Mr “Johnny” Fallows, English, Mr Foley engineering, Mr Gosling shorthand and bookkeeping, Mr Jones science, Mr Bill Baird French shorthand, Miss “Granny” Welburn-French (the headmaster’s elderly sister), Mr Turner “Uncle” History and Mr Chapman, geography.
I enjoyed my first couple of years at the “Muni”. Mr Welburn, as well as being a great headmaster, was a fantastic choir master. The school won the Suffolk Shield for choir boys on several occasions. He was also the choir master at St Mary Le Tower Church in Tower Street, Ipswich.
A downside at the school was the dreaded cane. Only the headmaster was allowed to use it. The teacher would fill in the culprit’s name in the punishment book with details of the “crime”. The culprit had to take the book to the headmaster’s office - knock on the door and be told to wait, a punishment in itself. On the command “enter”, after he had read the crime, he told you to choose a cane from a glass case behind his desk. You had the choice of four ranging from thick to thin. You were told to hold out your hand and get “One of the best” or more.
One day something happened in Billy Baird’s class. I am not sure what, but he shouted out from his high teacher’s chair “Who did it?” he grabbed the punishment book, then after filling in all the names, we were all marched to “Whisker’s” office who kept saying “Who did it?”. As most of us did not know what it was, nobody answered, so he told us to stand in a line and have us three cuts of the cane each. It hurt and we all went to the cloakroom to hold our hands under the cold tap, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Later we found out what had caused the trouble. Somebody had pinned Mr Baird’s trousers to his false leg without him noticing.
The Central School students came from all over Ipswich, its reputation was well known all over the town. Its distinctive green caps advertising where the lad was educated. Local companies like solicitors, architects and business houses all used to favour the pupils.
The school’s time was limited, shortly after I left in the mid 1930s it became a Secondary school, no scholarship required, all the traditions of a fine school gone at the whim of the education committee.
From Beryl Sims, nee Corbett
You recently featured three items which reminded me of my youth. When I was 18 I needed a bank account and my friend Judith was working at the Westminster Bank in Princes Street, so of course that was where I opened my account. The interior photo in Days Gone By might show her near the door serving a customer, but as I can only see the back of her head I’m not sure.
I grew up in Alderman Road so I was very familiar with the football club, though I never paid to see a match. They used to open the gates 15 minutes before the end and I used to go in then with my friends to watch the end of matches. Doug Moran was always my favourite, but it must have been on looks as I had no idea about football. We used to know the score from the type of applause: half-hearted - opponent’s goal; loud and boisterous - home goal; expectant ‘ah’ followed by disappointed ‘oh’ - near miss.
The house in Alderman Road was tied to the Ipswich Steam Laundry. My father had known the owner, Mr Lucas, in the army and after the war he wrote offering my father a job. Mr Lucas owned the first car I encountered, a dark green Wolsey 4/44 registration DPV 179 (I wanted to have one just like it when I grew up, but of course I never did). Before the war my father had been a patrolman with the AA so there wasn’t much he didn’t know about engines. His garage was round the back of the laundry, on Handford Road - a large draughty place with a corrugated tin roof painted pink (or faded red). He was responsible for keeping the fleet of lorries running plus attending to any problems with the machinery in the laundry.
Alderman Road was one of the last in Ipswich to have gas street lights.
I was always being sent on errands to the shops on The Mount, Peck’s or Buckingham’s, or to Scott’s the paper shop at the corner of Handford Road. I wonder if you might have a photo of Scott’s? I just remember it as a little dark shop with jars of sweets on the shelves and OXO tins. (I’m still convinced that The Mount is where Ipswich castle would have stood, but some historians disagree.)