Living at Landseer in the 1950s

SENDING a young lad to shovel coal down in the boiler room, was not the punishment given out in the Royal Navy of the past, but to a pupil at Landseer Secondary Modern School, Ipswich in the 1950s.

SENDING a young lad to shovel coal down in the boiler room, was not the punishment given out in the Royal Navy of the past, but to a pupil at Landseer Secondary Modern School, Ipswich in the 1950s.

I was a pupil at Landseer from 1958 to 1961. I walked out of the gates in the summer of 1961 aged fourteen without a single qualification as there were no leaving exams at that time.

You were expected to fill a job not suited to the children who had qualified to attend Northgate Grammar School, having been tested at ten years old.

Landseer in my time was not a place for the faint hearted. It was then an all-boys school and some of the pupils came from families you would not want to cross. By the end of my first week I had lost a tooth!

Teachers used the slipper and cane and the science master used a piece of electric flex to stinging effect to maintain control. Not only did it work, but all old school friends I have ever spoken to have great respect for their old teachers.

Most of the teachers were there for decades after the school opened in the 1930s when the Gainsborough and Greenwich estates were built. The roads, which were built on the site after the school was demolished in the late 1980s, were named after some of the long serving masters. Roads include Perkins Way, Mr Perkins was a former head master, Ireland Road, Mr Ireland took over as head from Mr Perkins in1958, Broom Crescent, Mr Broom was deputy head for many years and Davey Close, Mr Davey was the science master in my time there and an officer in the Territorial Army who marched pupils about in very strict order.

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George Garnham of Clare Road, Ipswich, was the pupil who received the punishment of stoking the boiler at the school over 50 years ago and he is now busy organising a re-union for pupils who were there in the 1950s.

George, who lived in Landseer Road within sight of the school gates, said: “I went to Landseer School after first attending Raeburn Road infants where Mrs James was head teacher. Mrs James was the first to teach us to respect our elders. I then went on to Robeck Road Juniors where head Mr Rodgers also demanded good behaviour and respect. One of my memories of those schools was the school nurse and teacher Mr Lewis dishing out doses of malt and cod liver oil!

“Early memories of Landseer were of teacher Mr Davey shouting marching orders as we lined up in class groups in the playground. 'Left right, left right, swing you arms boy' he would shout. Nobody was brave enough to ignore him. 'Polly' Perkins the head teacher was very much respected and you would regret being sent to him for a lashing with his cane. Most of the teachers dished out there own whacking, but for the more serious events, like being consistently late or speaking out of turn, you were sent to Mr Perkins, who without hesitation caned your hands. After he had seen me a couple of times he decided a different form of punishment might work so he sent me down to the boiler room to shovel coal with the school's caretaker Mr Barker.

“Mr Norfolk was the woodwork teacher. If he did not like your efforts he would throw it the length of the room saying it was rubbish. The music teacher Mr Underwood had a driving mirror on his piano so he could see anybody misbehaving while he was playing. He kept a large size slipper to administer punishment. With great delight he used to chalk a cross on the slipper to leave a mark on your bottom. This always caused great amusement to the rest of the class.

“My regular teacher was 'Daddy' Collins. He was a great old character who looked like somebody from a Charles Dickens story. When it was time for punishment he would say 'William, where are you?' referring to his favourite cane called 'Sweet William'. Sometimes he would get his 'victim' to knock on the cupboard door and say 'William are you in there?' before performing the punishment ceremony in front of the whole class. He would say in his distinctive nasal note 'Bend over laddie, all warm weather comes from the South'. He sat me and my best friend Tony Newman together at the back of the class because we were both left handed. We thought there was something wrong with us.

“The first week in May, what ever the weather, swimming lessons started at the open air Pipers Vale Pool, which was near to where the Orwell Bridge reaches the east bank. On a nice day it was the perfect place to be, but on a cold day it took your breath away as you landed in the icy water. You either jumped in or you were pushed in by either Mr Cutmore or Mr Williams who took the lessons.

“I never see children playing the games we enjoyed at school including, snobs or five stones, allies or marbles, peashooters, popguns, or muddy giddy 123. Oh what fun they are missing.”

• What memories of the now demolished Landseer School do you have? Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

• The reunion George is organising for pupils of Landseer Secondary Modern School, Ipswich who was there in the 1950s is at the Clapgate Lane Conservative Club on June 1. For tickets contact George on 714268 or 07944487834.

• Did you gather and drink coffee at the Gondolier coffee bar in the 1960s?

Former Ipswich girl Jackie van den Baard (nee Hodges) who now lives at Berkel en Rodenrijs, a village just north of Rotterdam, Holland, is one of a group organising a reunion at the end of this month. They would love old friends to join them.

Jackie said “Our crowd always met there in the downstairs coffee bar. We used to meet there after work. It was also the meeting place before we went out. Saturday's we went on to dances at the Baths hall. On Sunday for the afternoons we went to the Ritz cinema to see mostly horror pictures. On Monday evenings we went dancing at the Savoy Ballroom in St Nicholas Street.

“I remember Linda Albrough (now Mrs. Rush) cutting girl's hair at the coffee bar.

When the downstairs coffee bar closed I worked on the ground floor bar for one or two nights in the week and on Saturday's and Sunday's. I couldn't start to count how many “frothy coffees” I made! That was the equivalent of today's cappuccino! I can still picture the Gondolier very clearly. It had a great jukebox downstairs.

“We would particularly like to hear from two of our old friends Angie Hinds and Linda Davis.

“If any of our Ipswich friends would like to join us we are holding our reunion in Ipswich on April 27

at the Post House, London Road, Ipswich. I can be contacted at jackievdbaard@hotmail.com under the subject, reunion. Local contacts are Sandra O'Brien (nee Godfrey) 01473 240631 or Marilyn Wosahio (nee Wardley) on 01473 730479. We will be taking donations on the door for St Elizabeth Hospice.”

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