Meeting up down under
LIFELONG friendships are often formed in the early years at school, and thousands of miles and a few decades will not break bonds made years before. Former pupil of Luther Road School, Ipswich, John Griffiths, who now lives in Australia.
LIFELONG friendships are often formed in the early years at school, and thousands of miles and a few decades will not break bonds made years before.
Former pupil of Luther Road School, Ipswich, John Griffiths, who now lives in Australia. He told me a remarkable story of modern detective work that will see friends from all over the world gathering in Ipswich in September.
John said: “In July 1955, at the end of the school year, boys and girls who had taken the 11-plus exam were preparing to leave their much-loved Luther Road Primary School, Ipswich to start secondary school after the summer holidays. Most of the girls would go to Christchurch Girls School, and for the boys, it was Tower Ramparts. There were 19 boys from Luther Road Primary School who went to Tower Ramparts that year. Most of them stayed together in the same class throughout the rest of their school years. Naturally there were some very strong friendships forged over those years.
“When we left school in 1959 many of us took up work in different parts of the town and lost contact. Little did we realise it would be over 40 years later and many thousands of miles of travel under each of our belts before a couple of us would meet up again.
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“I certainly did not think that it would be so far away from Luther Road on the other side of the world in a little village called Jamberoo in New South Wales, Australia, where I would bump into my old school chum Roland “Charlie” Collins.
“This was a land we could only dream of all those years ago "over Stoke". After spending our lives working in different parts of the world and without contact, we had been brought together via the wonders of sites on the Internet, including the Evening Star's Finding Friends column.
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We discovered that we were in the same country even though still 600 miles apart! We decided to meet and “Charlie” drove up to Jamberoo.
“It was not long before we were up dating our lives over a bottle of Australian red wine, and in no time at all our thoughts and conversation returned to those carefree days at Luther Road Primary School. We recalled the times when we skipped off during lunch or after school to play at the "Dell", the "Rec", the "Scouts Field" and many other places of adventure for young boys growing up in a world without television, computers, or play station.”
“We remembered the leg spanking they got from Miss Hack, the headmistress, when someone snitched on us for smoking in the local woods during lunchtime. This was in the days when we were more afraid about our parents finding out than fear of anything that Miss Hack might meter out.
“Sometimes we hid in the bushes at the top of Maidenhall Approach and shouted silly names to workmen riding past on bicycles. One time we found the bike rider was far more nimble and faster than us. He caught us and clipped our ears. There was never a thought to report him for assault or anything like that; we accepted this as one of life's lessons learned.
“Life was not all play and when in school it was teachers like Miss Mauldon, Mrs Parry, Miss Richer, and Mrs Colwell that had trouble drumming reading, writing and arithmetic into our thick heads. There was also Mr Taylor who showed us the skills needed to play soccer and cricket.
“Our thoughts turned to the other children, the girls and boys that were with us at Luther Road Primary School, and we wondered what had become of Class 1 of 1955?”
We thought about having a class reunion in Ipswich but it was 50 years since they had left Luther Road Primary School and we would first have to trace all of the other boys and girls. Surprisingly we remembered most of the names! We even remembered the names of the brothers and sisters, which proved invaluable in tracing the girls
“One of the boys, Bobby Broom, had left for Australia soon after leaving school. While trying to find those still in England we also set about trying to find Bobby. He was 2,000 miles away in Perth, Western Australia. Bob was about to visit his daughter living in Melbourne. We three met in Melbourne in April 2006; the first time we had been together since 1958.
“Time raced by that day as we looked at old school photos, school reports, and school records, and relived our countless schoolboy tales. We realised that despite the intervening years we were still the same three young boys from “over Stoke.”
“Since meeting up again Charlie and I have contacted over 40 people that were with us at Luther Road Primary School.
“A class reunion soon became a reunion for those that left Luther Road Primary School in 1955. Most of these will be attending the reunion at the Holiday Inn, on London Road, Ipswich on September 8 this year.
“The 1955 kids from Luther Road Primary School are now living in many parts of the world. Some will be travelling from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and from all over the UK.”
“After school, when the kids "over Stoke" played together in the streets and alleys, there was never much thought of class or year, so this exciting reunion has been opened up to anyone who left Luther Road Primary School between 1953 and 1957.
If you are interested then email me John Griffiths firstname.lastname@example.org or Roland Collins email@example.com or you can call Diane Minns on 01473 682195.”
Collecting a gallon of paraffin for your parent's heater from the local shop or taking old newspapers to the chip shop, could be rewarded with a bag of chips.
These are some of the school days memories from Michael Porter of Parnell Close, Ipswich, who was a pupil at Bramford Road School, Ipswich around 1950. The school is now part of the Suffolk Record Office and the John Mills Theatre in Gatacre Road.
Bob tells of his life nearly half a century ago: “The children played on the meadow where Handford Hall School is now, which overlooked the greyhound racing track.” When I was at the school there were club nights with games like crab football. The events were run by Bob Sharman who became manager of Suffolk Football Team.
“Most of us used a little shop in Mason Street, off Prospect Street. Mr Garnies, who ran the shop was always a very helpful man. I remember going there to buy a gallon of paraffin for my parents. Families I recall from Victoria Street include the Jays, Patterson's and Cobb's; also the Dighton's whose father was the local chimney sweep. There was a chip shop in Victoria Street called McDonalds. We would collect old newspapers and take them to the chip shop to get a free bag of chips.
“I reckon every child who lived in that area knew of the local bobby, 'Bomber' Harris. He always cycled around the area and would turn up at all hours and chase you all over the place. It was all seemed harmful fun. Most of our parents used the local club in Victoria Street. At the time it had a back garden and the children in the area would go to a little window and shout at our dads for a 'Vimto and crisps'.
“At the school everybody new each other and were all very friendly people. In Sirdar Road, where I was born and lived for many years, we could leave our doors open, with no fear.
“On Saturdays we would go to the skating rink on London Road where the store 'The Range' is now. In the evening we went to the greyhound racing track on the same site.
“The skating cost around sixpence for a half a hour and afterwards we would go to an old corrugated hut with an old fashioned American style setup for a bottle of 'Vimto'. After this was pulled down they built a ten pin bowling alley. I had my photo taken outside with a very young Rolf Harris who visited in 1963. Also we spent time on the River Gipping in boats, which could be hired from a yard in Cullingham Road. My brother John, who is in one of the photographs, now lives in Australia.”
Were you a pupil at Bramford Road School or have memories of that part of Ipswich?
Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP4 1AN. Or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org