Schooldays often feature in the memories of Charnwood Street that people have passed on to me. The above photo of a class at Charnwood Street in 1962 was sent to me by Jennifer Florance, who went there from the age of seven to eleven. Her first teacher was Miss Brown, and Mr Bown was Headmaster – but one of her earliest memories is of hearing about the death of Marilyn Monroe in that same year while on her way to a lesson in the ‘turret room’ of the school, up the stone stairs with no bannisters. The large school hall was used for lots of activities, including PE when it was raining, and for a tuck shop set up on a table in one corner, selling crisps and biscuits, that she helped to run in her last year at Charnwood Street.
Every Friday the ‘Film Man’ also came to show ‘Look at Life’-type films in the hall. She recalls that he often had problems getting the sound right; but some of the films were quite memorable, including one about how concrete was made and used! And then, of course there were the regular visits by the ‘Nit Nurse’… Equally memorable – and a bit more fun! – was Miss Armstrong, one of the teachers, reading them Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood, and the small school library near the hall where the children could borrow two books to take home.
Schooldays were not always the ‘happiest days of their lives’ for the children at local schools, and getting the cane or the ‘slipper’ was also still a common punishment at this time. In Jennifer’s case it was for trespassing on the railway embankment that was reached through a little gate in Nedham Street, with a tempting view of daisies underneath. She and one of the boys at the school were spotted one Friday by a teacher, and spent the whole weekend worrying about being reported to the Head – not without good reason, as on the Monday they were hauled up onto the stage and ‘slippered’ in front of the rest of the school.
Alongside the ‘kindly’ headmaster Mr Bastick that Jill Richardson remembers from her own time at Charnwood Street School there was one teacher who ‘seemed huge… and threw the chalk at everyone. She terrified me… [but] my lasting memory is when walking up the stone staircase and getting the smell of bread. Many years later I visited [the school] and could still get that aroma (imagination or not, I don’t know!)’. Maybe this was the yeast from the brewery across the road, which several other people recall smelling when the school windows were open in warm weather?
Charnwood Street was not the only primary school in the area, of course. There were also Green Lane, St Saviour’s Church of England and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic schools – and there are plenty of memories and some great photos of these to share in the near future…
Many thanks to Jennifer and Jill for the photo and their memories.