‘Just starting out’ at Charnwood Street School…

On the ‘Mr Leicester’ page of the Leicester Mercury on Wednesday 11 May 2016 there was a photo of a junior class at Charnwood Street School from around 1960, sent in by Nick Barston. Among the children whose name he recalls are his best friend Roger Merrell, Christopher Cross and Beverley and Barbara Gilbert, along with teachers Miss Twist in the infants, and Miss Armstrong, Miss Leadbetter, Mrs O’Connor, Mr Fletcher and Mr Dunsmore in the juniors.

He also remembers having to lie down on a rough mat in the infants for an afternoon nap, and getting changed in a ‘smelly hut’ for games on Martin Street playing field – as the school didn’t have one of its own.

Maybe Nick’s memories will bring back more for people who went to the school around that time.


Charnwood Street school photos from the 1950s…

Roy Freer has sent me his class photos from Charnwood Street School from 1954 – 59. Some of you may recognise him – he’s the one on the right with fair wavy hair in the wigwam photo. This was taken in the playground after the class photo, and ‘was staged as an idea of the photographer and maybe the teacher, I guess. I think various groups of us had a similar photo taken after swapping blankets and headdresses’.

Roy's Indian pow-wow lo-res (2)In the photo below he recalls the female teacher’s surname as Bywater or Bywaters: ‘Miss or Mrs, I’m not sure, but we called all lady teachers Miss back then’. He thinks the male teachers in the other photos may have been Mr Evans and (the tall thin one) Mr Eaton, but he’s not sure. Can anyone help?

Roy at Charnwood Street School 1 lo-res (2)

Charnwood Street (1)

Roy lived in Shenton Street, but when he left Charnwood Street School he went to Ellis Boy’s School on Ellis Avenue, near the Melton turn on Belgrave Road, rather than Dale or Moat, the nearby schools: ‘I was the only one from Charnwood Street… so I lost touch with all but two of my classmates. Dale Street was a Secondary Modern, and Moat was one of the so-called Intermediate schools. Moat was full, and I didn’t qualify for a place at Grammar school, so the two Intermediate school options were Ellis or King Richard, and my parents chose Ellis for me’.

Roy at Charnwood Street School 2 lo-res (2)

Charnwood Street (2)

‘It turned out to be a good thing that Moat was full. Both Dale and Moat were originally mixed boys and girls schools, but after a year or so  of me going to Ellis, Dale and Moat joined together. The boys all moved from Dale to Moat, and the girls from Moat moved to Dale, and both became Secondary Modern, Moat losing its Intermediate status’.

Roy at Charnwood Street School 3 lo-res (2)

Charnwood Street (3)

Hardly any Secondary Modern schools had the option of taking GCE ‘O’ levels, but being at an Intermediate school meant that I could (and did) take them in the 5th year’. Roy adds that ‘I could have gone onto a Grammar school to take ‘A’ levels, but I went to Charles Keene College to take mine’.

Roy at Charnwood Street School 4 lo-res (2)

Charnwood Street (4)

Many thanks to Roy for sending the photos and his memories. If you recognise yourself or someone else, please leave a comment and let me know!


School hymn books and other memories of Charny…

I was contacted recently by Tricia Todd with some of her memories of Charnwood Street. She’s happy for me to share them, so here they are:

The Post Office on the corner of Charnwood Street and Farnham Street (Paul Dorrell)

The Post Office on the corner of Charnwood Street and Farnham Street (Paul Dorrell)

I came to 56 Farnham Street with my parents Lillian and Denis Wright, who took over the corner grocery shop opposite the Post Office in Charnwood Street in the late 1950s. I have an older sister Judith, and we became very good friends with Paul Dorrell whose parents owned the Post Office. I attended Charnwood Street nursery, infant and junior school. The teachers were in our 1st year, Mrs Charlesworth, then moved up into the tower to Mrs O’Conner, then to Mr White, and our last year was Miss Simpson, who became Mrs Wade.

I remember the class Christmas party. I think that there were at least two more classes in each year, and we had to take our own cutlery and plates and bowls with a marker on it (normally a piece of sticking plaster, something that didn’t come off when washed), and then into the hall for games, and one year some dancing. Every morning we attended assembly, and we came in to the hall to Grieg’s’ “Morning” symphony. If you lost your hymn book you quickly acquired another one (by fair means or foul)!

Mum’s maiden name was Gent, whose family lived in St Saviour s Road, so when she saw the post about the bombing in Grove Road she was very interested (see https://cib2.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/we-could-hear-the-bombs-falling/).

A visit to Charnwood Primary School…

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I recently visited Charnwood Primary School at the invitation of the Head Teacher, Mr Bahadur, to see what the school looks like now and to take some photographs. I never attended it myself, but I easily recognised some of the features that past pupils have told me about. The ‘turret rooms’ are still used as classrooms, but the stairs up to them now have carpets and bannisters, and everywhere is bright and colourful – much more so, I imagine, than it was in the past.

Entrance to one of the classrooms.

Entrance to one of the classrooms.

A textile hanging in the school hall.

A textile hanging in the school hall.

The school hall still has the plaque ‘In Memory of those from Charnwood Street Council School who Gave their Lives in the Great War’ of 1914 – 18, along with two more recent panels marking the school’s centenary in 1977.

1877 emblem small

1977 emblem small

I also got a look inside the bell tower, another original feature that can still be seen from the exterior (the roof was being repaired when I visited so I don’t have a photo of it from the outside). I certainly don’t envy whoever had to climb the ladder to the top…

The ladder inside the bell tower.

The ladder inside the bell tower.

There has been some rearrangement of the space inside the school. For example, the Head Teacher’s office and the library have been moved to different locations.

library small

The original playgrounds are still in use – though without the former separation of boys and girls!

Part of the original building.

Part of the original building.

One of the playgrounds.

One of the playgrounds.

The school building has also been enlarged with a recent extension.

The school extension.

The school extension.

Many thanks to Mr Bahadur and his staff for inviting me to the school and making me so welcome. They are collecting information on the history of the school and would particularly like to find old photographs or other items (maybe school reports from the past, or programmes of events). If you can help, leave me a message and Ill get in touch. One more photo to finish with…

Part of a corridor on the ground floor.

Part of a corridor on the ground floor.

Charnwood Street School…

A class at Charnwood Street School in 1962

A class at Charnwood Street School in 1962 (photo provided by Jennifer Florance, nee Harris, fourth from right on second row).

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.