Priory Heath memories came flooding back

MEMORIES of German planes machine gunning the playground, and walking to school with gas masks were recalled at a reunion of Priory Heath pupils more than 50 years on.

MEMORIES of German planes machine gunning the playground, and walking to school with gas masks were recalled at a reunion of Priory Heath pupils more than 50 years on.

But the students of the classes of 1949, 1950 and 1951 all survived to tell the tale – and claimed it was the best school they could ever have asked for.

Priory Heath was also the only mixed secondary school in Ipswich at the time, according to former pupils gathered at the Golden Hind pub in Nacton Road Ipswich.

Joan Goodchild, one of the organisers said 55 people were expected at the event, which was back by popular demand after a similar reunion last year.

Mrs Goodchild, 67, of Windermere Close, Ipswich said: "The memories come flooding back, and it's wonderful to see everyone again."

Brenda Phillips, of Bodiam Road, Ipswich said it had been tricky tracking everyone down after so long, but she added that former classmates' names had gradually came back to mind.

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She said: "Things were so different then, the teachers had more control.

"I remember the playground being machine gunned by a plane going overhead, but luckily nobody was hurt. We used to walk to school with a gas mask and identity card in case they were needed. We sued to walk hand in hand to the shelter when the sirens went off."

Ivan Woollard, 67, of Welbeck Close, Trimley St Mary, remembered teachers including Mr Ford who taught country dancing and morris dancing.

He said: "We lived two minutes away so every time the air raid sirens went she'd arrive at the school gates to take me home to our shelter. She used to say 'If we're going, we're all going together.' We were all right, but I remember we did lose one family in Lindberg Road from a bomb."

He added that pupils used to love cycling across town to an open air pool at Piper's Vale for swimming lessons.

His sister Miriam Howlett, 65, of Halton Crescent, Ipswich told how classes were mixed apart from the boys learning woodwork while the girls did cookery.

She added: "We also had separate playgrounds too."

Pamela Watts, 67, of Foxhall Road recalled how she used to love playing netball and hockey at the school.

Sheila Chenery, 68, of Rushmere St Andrew was captain of the hockey team when it won the school a shield.

June Scoble, 67, the second ever Ipswich Carnival queen at the age of 16 in 1950, praised the standard of teaching, including that of Mr Phillips the science teacher.

She said: "He knew how to teach and treat children and he gained our respect and a rapport. He was fabulous –the very best kind of teacher.

"The school had the best teachers and really nice children. There were never any problems at the school – we all liked each other."

Mervyn Sparrow, 67, of St Martin's Green, Trimley St Martin said loyalty abounded.

He said: "We stuck together. If anybody from outside the school got out of line, one of us would have a quiet word in their ear, and there was never any trouble."

He added that the teachers were 'proper school masters' and said: "I couldn't have asked for a better school."

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