Oral History - A collection of schoolday recollections from our exhibition, 'Schooldays in Burbage'.

Recollections of a pupil of Burbage Primary School (1930 – 35) and Burbage Junior School (1935 – 1939).

"Sewing lessons were very important for girls (Boys did hand work - cardboard models, raffia work, etc). Had to be right - otherwise we had to unpick it! Graded according to age - in my final year I made a dress entirely by hand for myself complete with bound collar, front opening and set in sleeves; all seams were French seams and run & fell and backstitched! (Oh that unbleached Calico we practised on was stiff & often blood spotted. We had to wear a thimble & I still do). In standard 2 I made a peg bag from Hessian (blue, if I remember) with embroidered flowers in wool - lazy daisy stitched, blanket stitch & twisted running stitch. We were also taught to knit - I remember knitting a netball set which went over the hoop. One year I was due to take part in a maypole dance at the church garden fete when I got scarlet fever & had to spend six weeks in the Isolation Hospital (now Sunnyside). My house had to be fumigated & my beautiful white broderie anglaise dress burned!

We had P.T. (Drill) in the playground - very formal exercises with ball games at the end - oh what's the time Mr Wolf? etc. We also played netball in the winter & rounders in the summer. We had singing lessons & I remember Miss Pond (Mrs Allcoat now) teaching us Tit-Willow from the Mikado. What a change from 'The Ash Grove' & similar rather dull songs."

Betty Mayne - nee Garratt

Recollections of a pupil of Wesleyan School (1919 - 27)

"I started school at the Wesleyan in 1919. My teachers in the infants were Miss Parsons and Miss Budgett, we wrote on slates and we always wore pinafores to keep our clothes tidy.

Education consisted on the 3 R's and when we were older we did sewing and cooking at the institute up Windsor Street.

Boys and Girls Playgrounds were separate, were we played hopscotch, skipping and all types of ball games. My best friend lived in a cottage at the bottom of the schoolyard and we would go for a cup of cocoa on cold days.

When we became older pupils we moved to the upstairs of the building and we were taught by Mr Brittain and Miss Hands, and there were stairs at each side of the building one for boys and one for the girls.

On the whole I enjoyed school (apart from art classes) especially netball, which we played on the Recreation Ground (the boys played football).

The last two terms of my school days were spent at the new Grove Road School, when it opened in 1927 under the headship of Mr Stanley Higham after which I left to become a Linker at Robinson's Factory."

Elsie York - nee Chamberlain

Recollections of a pupil of the National School (1920 - 26)

National School"I started school three weeks before my 8th birthday, 1st April 1920, as I spent a lot of time in the infirmary in my early years.

My first teacher was Miss Rice who was always kind, I only remember studying the 3 R's, as I was let off woodwork and drill. However Mr Higham, much to his surprise, saw me playing football one day and ask me if my father allowed it, I replied 'yes sir', so Mr Higham said 'carry on'.

The school had five classes with high windows so the children could not see out and be distracted, stoves were lit in the colder months but the toilets were still outside.

I later was taught by Miss Middleton & Mrs Picken, who said 'shut up, Veasey' in singing lessons as my voice was so bad.

I lived on Victoria Road and there were often scuffles between the pupils of the Wesleyan School and the National School, however my pal, Arthur Allen, was at Wesleyan School and we stayed friends until Arthur died.

I left school on 29th July 1926 and became an apprentice to Mr Taylor the barber in Salem Road".

Jack Veasey

Recollections of a pupil of the National School (1914 - 21)

"I started school with 39 other children from the village just before the start of World War 1.

Miss Rice was the infant teacher with help from Miss Withy, when they discovered I could already read, (my grandfather taught me from the Bible) Mr Charles Higham, Headmaster, asked her to spell 'frock' and she was put in a class with children a year older. Subsequently I left school at 13 years old on completing my education.

The school seemed 'old and cold' the toilets were in the yard. The 3 R's were taught plus sewing which I didn't enjoy as I had enough mending to do at home being part of a large family. Mrs Picken taught sewing and I remember making a camisole.

Cooking at Windsor Street with Miss Parkes was more enjoyable where I learned to make Rock Cakes.

Punishment was strict 'The Boys' Mr Higham caned from his selection that he kept oiled with onion oil. Mrs Middleton taught the juniors and would rap our knuckles with a pencil.

The school playground was in a bad state, so the children staged an operetta - Boy Blue c1916, and money was raised to tarmac half the playground. Later another concert 'The Puritan Maid' raised the rest of the money for the playground.

During the war Eddie Haddon decided to stage a concert to raise money for the 'soldiers comforts', I sang ' Wanting a harp like the angels for mother when she goes away' Mr Higham liked my singing, Reverend Pugh's sister wanted my voice to be professionally trained.

In the infants writing work was done on a slate, then we progressed to exercise books & pencil. Sport consisted of drill once a week in the playground.

After the war the children were invited to write a composition on their ideas for a War Memorial. My idea so impressed Reverend Pugh that he read it out at the Sunday Morning Service in Church. I hope for a small building with an alter and a chair so that people of all denominations could use it, however a more traditional memorial was chosen, although it was built on the site that I wanted.

I left school on 28th July 1921."

Kathleen Williams - nee Parker

Recollections of a pupil of the National School c.1920

"Off we all trudged singing at the top of our voices, some of us carried a satchel for our sandwiches, but the other less fortunate children would have their food wrapped in newspaper.

Eventually we arrived at school, Miss Withey, was head of the infant department and she lodged with Miss Archer who lived at Archer's Cottage. This cottage has been recently renovated and those who attend the church had the joy of passing it.

Miss Withey was a kind lady for all of us, wherever we came from. We were allowed to go into a large room, which had in the centre a big round stove with was fed by coke and sent out a lot of heat, which we appreciated during the winter months.

And so at 4pm every day, we set out to walk to our respective homes, and if it was snowing she liked us to get away by three-thirty.

As for the Aston Flamville children, there would be, I should say an additional mile to walk and they had to negotiate two gates.

So at 4pm I came out of school, I had to look out for Mr Keen, the lamp lighter, he used to walk so quickly my little legs could hardly keep up with him, but at every lamp he lit, he stopped for a minute to see all was well and by that time I would have caught up with him. He went from the school, all along, on the right hand side, down Cock Hill up Hinckley Road to Spa Lane."

Eunice Lusher

Recollections of a pupil of Grove Road school, 1939-42

"The only difference about school in the war years, was you didn't take sweets etc. And you had to come out of the buildings and sit in the hollows of the ground under the trees, which is now part of the Moat House grounds, when the air raid sirens sounded.

I was evacuated in September 1939, to Burbage and never returned to Birmingham. We always took our gas masks with us, which we carried around our necks in cardboard boxes. At times during the war years there was such a lot of evacuees at Burbage, the school council set up another class (with a Birmingham teacher) at the school room, at the Methodist church. So for a few months I attended that and when a lot of the children went home again, I returned to the Grove Road School and stayed there until I went to Hollier's Walk school, Hinckley."

Joyce Hardy nee. Reynolds

Recollections of a pupil of Sketchley Hill School (1988 - 94)

"I remember attending an open afternoon where we were sent off to do various activities with Mrs Wareham and Mrs Gray. I made a Christmas Card while mum listened to Mrs Hyland explain about the school.

I love playing in the Wendy House and running up and down the hills and through the play tunnels.

Once a week in assembly if we had achieved something Mrs Hyland would read your name out of the 'Golden Book'. Once a year on your birthday we were allowed to go to Mrs Hyland with a chosen friend for our birthday sweet!

I remember the awful Dinosaur painted on the wall near the wall bars.

'The Village with Three Corners' Christmas production (at Hastings High School) c1988. I was an angel with tinsel in my hair, on the video, my head pops round the curtain, until someone pulled me back. My sister was a Christmas Pudding, with a costume made out of a 'Hula Hoop', her tights were to small and kept dropping down.

We went on some great school trips Combe Abbey, Beaumanor Theme Days (Victorians, Orienteering) Joddrel Bank and Cosford. My first stay away from home was a Nettlecombe Court in year five with Mrs Russell and Mrs Ridgeway, I remember searching for fossils at 'Watchet Bay'."

Adel Whitworth

Recollections of a pupil of Sketchley Hill School (1987 - 93)

"In 1993 Mrs Gore and Mrs Pascall took a group of Year 5 & 6 to perform in 'Kaleidoscope' at the Haymarket Threatre, we rehearsed for weeks. Mrs Sedar 'tie dyed' costumes, our mums had made, we 'back-combed' our hair and had blue lips. The theme was Shakespeare, we did a dance drama piece adapted from 'The Tempest', we were the best because we were so different to other schools!"

Clare Whitworth

Recollections of a pupil of, Wesleyan School (1925), National School (1926 - 1928), Grove Road School (1929 - 1934)

"I started my school days at the Wesleyan School near where I lived at Victoria Road, Burbage. After a year I moved to the Church of England (National) School where the Headmistress was Miss Founon where we studied reading, writing and arithmetic.

In 1929 I moved to the Burbage Council School on Grove Road, this was brand new with a lovely playing field. The new school was very light and warm, and we were taught the additional subjects of science, woodwork (Mr Christie) and music (Mrs Picken). My teachers were Mr Collins and Miss Wheelock.

I liked school especially sport. I was in the football team and we would play matches against other local teams like Barwell and Shilton.

Some special friends at school were 'Dinky' Wyles, Herbert Rate, John Shaw, Peggy Goodwin and Joy Bright. We got into trouble occasionally and though Mr S Higham was nice, he could be quite strict and one day I had the stick for making a spelling mistake.

I was chosen to represent the school in a special race at Wigston, near Leicester, the sports master took me in a Robinson's Bus to the event. I came third, my mother was so pleased she gave me half-a-crown!"

Richard Hill Godfrey