Canes, bombs and barrage balloons

A FIVE-year-old being given the cane for arriving late for lessons, bombs exploding 100 yards from a school, children watching barrage balloons over Ipswich town centre, while lessons were held in an air raid shelter.

David Kindred

A FIVE-year-old being given the cane for arriving late for lessons, bombs exploding 100 yards from a school, children watching barrage balloons over Ipswich town centre, while lessons were held in an air raid shelter.

All these are all memories of school days from readers of Kindred Spirits.

The Dallastone sisters taught in several local schools and were relatives of Miss T Cleary, of Surbiton Road, Ipswich, who recently told readers of Kindred Spirits of the sisters' life in schools and at St Pancras Church in Orwell Place, Ipswich.


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The sisters taught in small “house” schools and at Springfield School in Bramford Road and St Pancras School in Cox Lane.

I asked readers for their memories of “house” schools and the Dallastone sisters.

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Francis Jacobi, of Larchcroft Road, Ipswich, said: “From 1935 to 1941, I was a pupil at Norfolk House School run solely by Miss Margaret Dallastone.

“It opened in one room of a private house at No 1 Redan Street. Later the school was transferred to a larger house at the end of Redan Street, on the same side, but still contained in one room.

“Unfortunately I have no recollection of life at No. 1, other than I believe it was the ground floor front room. The move was possibly not long after I started there.

“My time at Norfolk House School left a lasting impression on me, not the least having to sit quietly with my arms folded while Miss Dallastone coped with the other pupils, having a wide range of ages.

“Our playground was the back garden, set out with narrow paths around the flower beds, just wide enough for two of us to pass; we were not allowed to run.

“Names that come to mind are Claude Turner, Pat Carpenter, Barry Mason, Pam High and the Little family of possibly two boys and two girls.

“One experience early in the Second World War still sticks in my mind.

“Looking out from the window of our first floor rear “classroom” across to Orford Street, when without any warning an unexploded bomb in a house on the Barrack Estate was detonated, not more than 100 yards away.

“I still have to this day a book that was presented to me, inscribed Xmas 1937, Norfolk House School. My father and grandfather came to Ipswich in 1927/28 and ran “Jacobi & Son”, cycle and motor cycle retailers at 74-76 Norwich Road.

“The business formerly opened in 1921 as “Wakelins”. Prior to that No. 74 was a chimney sweep's cottage, while No. 76 was “The Tramway Tavern”.

Mrs Valerie Speller (nee Dooley) of Fakes Road, Newport, Norfolk, added: “I too was taught by one of the Dallastone family in Redan Street in the 1930s.

“I was also a pupil at St Pancras School during the Second World War and have fond memories of that time.

“There were only two classrooms and in the winter we used to have a big open fire going. It was used to dry our clothes or warm our milk.

“As it was wartime we used to spend quite a lot of our time underground in the shelter which was situated on waste ground in Cox Lane.

“We used to watch the big barrage balloons which were sited there to protect the town centre from low flying enemy aircraft. You can imagine the young children watching these things that looked liked big elephants flying in the sky.

“When I was older I also belonged to the church choir following in my family's footsteps as two of my aunts were also in the choir. The organist was also a Miss Dallastone.

“I left Ipswich in 1954 and spent all my time in London until coming to Norfolk in 2002.”

Maurice Coleman, of June Avenue, Ipswich, said: “I attended one of the “House” schools from 1939 to 1946. I remember these five: Thornley House, 160 Norwich Road. Miss G Goldsmith was the principal.

Park House, 29 Fonnereau Road. Ely House, Graham Road. Fonnereau House, 61/63 Fonnereau Road and Everton House, Humber Doucy Lane.

“I attended Thornley House School where the principal was Miss B Goldsmith who we called “golly”. I had a happy time at school where the discipline was firm, but fair.

“If you misbehaved the boys could expect the cane either on the hand or on the seat which I found to my cost! We were taught a basic education, the three Rs, but we were also taught manners, for example, raise your hat and also give up your seat to an adult.

“Manners were an important part of education as we were expected to behave in the home and in public in an acceptable manner.

“The old “House Schools” cannot compare with the modern technology and methods of education of today, but I still feel they have something to teach the schools of today.”

Joan Gill, who now lives in North Petherton, Somerset, said: “I was taught by Miss Clare Dallastone at Springfield School about 1933, who also taught my mother around 1910 at the convent, whom she recognised and remembered her name - I wonder why!

“We kept in touch over the years and although I had left home and married I visited her every time I came home and took my two young children for her to see. I lived in Kitchener Road, Ipswich, so was near her in Richmond Road. She was a lovely lady.”

Beryl Wilson (nee Garrard) of Bennett Road, Ipswich, said: “I started school aged five in April 1940, at Springfield Infants School, which was then quite new.

“The beginners' class had a large semi-circular window. My teacher was Miss Clare Dallastone. She really was a lovely, caring teacher and had a wonderful way with children, good or naughty! On the first day I took my knitting with me, to remind me of home!

“My mother taught me to knit when I was four and I could knit quite well and fast by the time I started school, much to the surprise of Miss Dallastone.

“There was also Miss Southgate and Mrs Mace teaching there. I moved up the next year into Mrs Mace's class. She was a good teacher, but very strict. So different to our lovely Miss Dallastone!

“When my brother David started school he was in Miss Southgate's class. One day along with a friend, they sat on the pavement along Bramford Lane, watching a removal van instead of going to school.

“The headteacher Miss Hayward gave the boys the cane. They had not been at school long and we always went to school on our own in those days. My mother was furious at a five-year-old getting the cane and said it was enough to put him off school for life!

“My mother used to help at the infants school dinners during the war, with Mrs Jex. A lot of children went home at lunchtime. We did not take packed lunches then and we had a two-hour break.

“I went to a celebration concert and tea at the infants school to mark its 50th anniversary. Also to Springfield Junior School to mark its 100th anniversary.

“My favourite teacher at this school was Mrs Clark. The headteacher was Mr Christopherson. There was also Miss Sparrow and Mrs Trodd, who was very strict, but a good teacher, who prepared us for the 11 plus exam.

“Other teachers included Mr Needle and Miss Friend who married. I have happy memories of Springfield School although it was wartime.

“I still live in the same house in Bennett Road. White House estate was not built then, so our nearest school was Springfield.”

- Reader Andy Gooding has spent the last ten years researching the history of Cowper Street, Ipswich, from 1850 to 1975.

He has now published his work and on Friday Andy is holding a launch event to which everybody is invited.

Andy said: “I think it is quite unusual for someone to trace the history of a single street. I have had the opportunity to speak to many people who have either lived there or had family and friends who did so, some who have since passed away.

“I am holding a launch event at St John's Church RU Church, Cowper Street, starting at 7.30pm. I have published the work as part of a fundraising challenge I am undertaking it with colleagues at Suffolk New College, which involves raising £20,000 in six months for the Prince's Trust.

“All proceeds from the sale of the publication are for this cause.”

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