Lessons of schooldays

BRIAN Dean remembers a time when children were encouraged to take old newspapers to school, so a teacher could sit and read during lessons.During the school dinner break nobody was allowed to speak, even in a whisper, is another of his amusing memories of life at Landseer Secondary Modern School in Ipswich.

BRIAN Dean remembers a time when children were encouraged to take old newspapers to school, so a teacher could sit and read during lessons.

During the school dinner break nobody was allowed to speak, even in a whisper, is another of his amusing memories of life at Landseer Secondary Modern School in Ipswich.

Brian, of Lower Faircox, Henfield, West Sussex, recalls his time there in the early 1950s and sent his memories after seeing the school mentioned in this column recently.

He said: “I was there from 1950-54 and I was nicknamed Dixie Dean after the famous Everton pre-war player. Our form teachers were Mr Brown in the first year, Mr Broome in the second, Mr Brooks in the third and Mr Flegg in the fourth.

“I think our intake of September 1950 can claim to be the last pupils at Landseer to do national service. Most of the teachers were fair, but very strict, however this discipline kept us on the straight and narrow and the acts of anti-social behaviour and sheer wanton vandalism that plague Ipswich and so many other towns today were little known then. Getting told off for playing football in the street was about the worst trouble we got into.

“The chief disciplinarian at school was Mr Davy who was the metalwork teacher during my time. Those of us who stayed for school dinners had to make our way to the canteen in Raeburn Road at midday where one of the teachers would be on duty to maintain law and order. We were allowed to chat amongst ourselves, unless Mr Davy was on duty when the meal would be eaten in complete silence, with Mr Davy pacing up and down eagle-eyed looking to spot and admonish any boy foolish enough to be whispering to his neighbour. I was told at school that Mr Davy was an engineering officer in a tank regiment in North Africa in World War II. If he did indeed pursue Rommel and his men across the western desert it would explain why he stood no nonsense from errant schoolboys!

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“The easiest going of the teachers was Mr Flegg in the fourth year. He would encourage boys to bring in newspapers and then having set lessons for the morning would settle back in his chair and read them all. Life in the fourth year was pretty good all round really, as by then we were the senior years looked up to with awe and respect by the younger boys, especially the new arrivals in the first year who were still wondering what had hit them!

“There were even a few privileges to be had. We were for instance allowed to put pictures up on the inside of our desk lids, nothing remotely risqué of course, but for example pictures of famous footballers cut from the pages of Charles Buchan Football Monthly, or in my case, being a bus spotter, loads of bus pictures.

“We also appointed cycle monitors, quite a lot of the boys cycled to school, cycle racks were provided and at regular intervals boys from the fourth year under the supervision of a teacher would go out and test all the cycles for defects in brakes, lights, etc.

“Any cycle deemed unroadworthy would be removed and at the end of the day the owner would have to go to claim it back and collect a stiff reprimand on the state of his machine. He would be told of the folly of riding an unsafe cycle and to get the fault fixed without delay.

“Our music teacher who played the piano at assembly, was Mr Underwood and during my third year he trained our class to put on a very creditable performance of Gilbert and Sullivans' HMS Pinafore. We spent many months rehearsing and making the stage scenery and when the show went ahead it was a complete sell-out for the three nights it was performed. I was merely a stage hand as my voice was not considered good enough for a singing part, not even in the chorus!

“The art master was Mr Hunt and this was a subject I had no interest in, was hopeless at and invariably came near bottom of the class.

“In October 1952 there was a terrible rail disaster at Harrow and Wealdstone railway station on the edge of London involving three trains. Tthe result was over 100 deaths and wreckage piled so high it took days to clear away. This must have given Mr Hunt an idea for a subject because at the next art lesson we were set the task of drawing a rail crash which I thought in the circumstances was rather macabre.

“In the playground at break time, snobs or five-stones was a popular contest, as was conkers which we were fortunate enough to be able to indulge in before Health and Safety came into existence and decreed it could only be played wearing goggles and a suit of armour!

“Occasionally a fight would break out in the playground, which would instantly draw a circle of cheering onlookers until the teacher on duty stepped in to break things up. Sometimes the contestants would be offered the opportunity to sort out their differences in the school gym wearing boxing gloves and under the supervision of the sports master.

“Swapping was another busy playground pastime, just about everyone collected something, stamps, cigarette cards, matchbox labels, postcards, milk bottle tops etc and there would be a thriving trade in the exchange of duplicates. I've never smoked, but I can name just about every brand of cigarettes sold in the 1950s as I collected all the empty packets I could find on my way to school.

“Boys' papers were in great demand too. Having read your copy of the Wizard you would swap for someone else's Hotspurs, Rover or Champion and most of us also collected car registration numbers and would consult each others notebooks to see who had logged the latest Ipswich registration mark.

“My memory of Mr Broom's class in the second year was the morning early in February 1952 when headmaster Mr Perkins came into the room and spoke quietly into Mr Broom's ear. I heard Mr Broom exclaim 'good lord'. The boys in the front rows of desks picked up what was said and the message was whispered to the rest of us “The King is dead, the King is dead”.

“On the Friday of the following week a day of national mourning with all schools closed and I remember listening at home to the funeral service which was broadcast by the BBC.”

“The following year we were given two days off for a much happier occasion, the coronation of our present queen, and when school did resume again the day after the coronation, a sports afternoon and gala was held on the Landseer playing fields in which we were joined unusually by the girls from Nacton Road School.

“We didn't have much to do with the opposite sex. The senior schools in Ipswich were all strictly segregated. We didn't know too much about girls, we knew they weren't the same as us and they didn't play football, but really they were a bit of a mystery and we tended to ignore them.

“We were all given a commemorative mug bearing the queens portrait to mark her Coronation, I still have mine as I'm sure do thousands of others. The whole town was impressively decorated with flags and bunting for the occasion. After six years of war and another six of grinding austerity things at last seemed to be on the up and there was an air of genuine celebration that even rain on the big day could not dispel.

“Having reached my 15th birthday by Easter 1954 I left school to start work. Jobs were easy to come by as Ipswich at that time with its large factories foundries and other businesses was very labour intensive and most school leavers went straight into a job even if it wasn't quite what they wanted to do, but had been selected for them. It was quite possible to leave school at 4.30 on Friday afternoon and start work at eight o'clock Monday morning.

“The most sought after job on leaving school for us boys was telegram delivery boy, where after a period of training at the large Post Office sorting office on the Cattle Market you would be issued with a smart uniform and a small motor-cycle and zip round Ipswich and the surrounding district at all hours of the day and night delivering telegrams. I remember being told by a careers officer, who interviewed me at the school weeks before leaving to see what sort of job I would like to do, not to even consider telegram boy as he already had a long list of hopefuls.”


Do you have any amusing schooldays stories to share?

Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star 30 lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

Ranelagh Primary School in Ipswich, has celebrated its centenary.

I featured memories of the school in Kindred Spirits which included a photograph taken in the 1920s. Jean McSorley contacted me to say: “The first girl at the left hand side of the first row of standing girls could be my mum. She's the one with the dark coloured pinafore and white collar. Her name was Cissie Scoffield and she lived in Dillwyn Street. She is now Cissie Kerr, aged 90 and looking ten years younger and lives in Mayo Court sheltered accommodation in Ipswich.

“Mum reckons the photo was taken around 1924 as pupils started at Ranelagh when they were seven-years-old. Previous to that she was at London Road School from the age of five. Mr G Smy of Allenby Road, Ipswich, thinks his family set a record at the school.

He said: “My children started at the school in 1957. First there were twins Barbara and John, they were joined by David and then Mick. More twins Christine and Chris followed on giving me six children at the junior school together.

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