She was brilliant at controlling 200 children in the school hall. If someone was misbehaving she just used to stop and say “Somebody at the back doesn’t want to sing any more?. You could give her 200 children in the hall with the piano, and not a word.
She recalled the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the opening of the school in 1977, including displays of wedding photos from each decade since the 1870s. The children also drew 100 houses from different periods of time. These were then put up in the corridors to show how houses had changed over the ages – though some of the children, of course, were still living in houses built in the Charnwood Street area from the 1870s. She also had a look through the old school Log Books to see how the school itself had changed. Unlike Mrs Beech, the first headmistress:
was a demon. She was so strict… One poor student teacher who had lost the front door keys of the school got into the most awful row… When the children came back to school in the afternoon after dinner, the front doors were locked, and if they were late they couldn’t get in.
When the Asian refugees from Uganda came to Leicester in 1972, a lot of the children attended Charnwood Street School. Diwali and Eid were celebrated as well as Christmas, and the children also went on a trip each year – the older ones to the zoo, the five year olds and Nursery class to Abbey Park, and the six year olds to Bradgate Park. These trips were particularly popular with those children who hadn’t visited the countryside before. On one visit to Bradgate Park, walking through the woods:
I suggested to them that we might see the Three Bears, or Robin Hood, or even Owl and Tigger, because I used to tell them the Pooh Bear stories… so we were all looking for these sorts of things, and we found a little wooden hut which they decided must have been the Three Bears’ house, and we found a hole in a tree which was Owl’s house, out of Pooh Bear, and this little boy stopped while I was holding children up to look through this hole to see if they could see Owl, and he said to me… “Mrs Keyworth, nothing here is made”… It sent a shiver down my spine. I looked around and I thought, it’s all growing, and he knew what he meant… an amazing concept for a child of six.
In 1981 the Infants School amalgamated with the ‘upstairs’ – the Junior School – to become Charnwood Street Primary School, and Mrs Keyworth became Deputy Head of the whole school. – though she left soon after this to work as a supply teacher. I wonder of anyone remembers her?
* East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA), 1070, EM/045. My thanks to Colin Hyde of EMOHA for permission to reproduce these extracts, and for the photograph.