Bill was the Chair of our Group but sadly succumbed to the dreadful “Swindon Disease” Mesothelioma in November of 2009. As one of many ex GWR employees he contracted this by breathing in the fibres of Asbestos which lay around certain parts of the works like snow. He was greatly admired in the group and has been sadly missed. Thank goodness we have some of his memories to remember him by.
I was a pupil at Even Swindon School due to the Rab Butler Education Act in 1946. I moved from Jennings Street School (where I had attended from the age of 3) to Even Swindon and can remember being there during the bad winter of 1947.
The Headmaster Jack Maisy who was quite a sporty chap and thankfully I didn’t have to go and see him too many times.
I can remember Ray Nash who was also a very pleasant teacher and I subsequently had more dealings with him when I was older with the Swindon Amateur Dramatics Society.
My main memory of one of the teachers there was Miss Hill. She had long hair which was done up in plaits in a bun over each ear somewhat like Princess Leea in Star Wars. I can always remember she collected each week any pennies or odd coins we had for her favourite charity B.E.L.R.A. which was the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association (we had an Empire then) and after all these years I recently read a book called “The Island” in which I discovered that my pennies and halfpennies helped to find a cure for Leprosy in 1954, so at least I had the knowledge that mine and many other pupil’s small subscriptions helped towards a cure for this terrible disease.
I also remember Miss Fursland who had a wonderful main of hair but again my memories are just of the nice teachers.
Now to Jennings Street School. The Headmaster during my return after the 11 plus when I went back was Mr Davies whose nickname was Jammy Davies and I’ve no idea why. Perhaps it was because he had very red cheeks.
Miss Griffiths was my form teacher for most of the time there and I can remember doing tables every day for five minutes so that even to this day I can recite the tables in an instant.
Then there was Mr Phillips whose nickname was Pop who if you were not paying attention could flick a piece of chalk at you with deadly accuracy. He was always the teacher who gave you the cane for whatever reason on a Friday. The most popular reason being going up the stairs two at a time, the stair monitors would report you and you had to appear before Pop Phillips on a Friday afternoon. As children it was always the object to go two at a time without getting caught but I can assure you this double whack with the cane became something you remembered quite vividly.
Mr Whetham nicknamed Fred (I think this may have been his real Christian name) took us for Maths and other classes and was an extremely good teacher.
We also had a new teacher whos’s name was Mr M.M.Hill and his nickname soon became Man Mountain Hill. He took us for Sports and when I see a picture of him now he seemed very young and was obviously a fairly new teacher.
Mr Smith who’s nickname was Froggy used to take us for Science and was very fond of bringing girls to the front of the class to demonstrate body parts on which I am sure would have earned him the sack at least these days.
Miss Jean Harvey was the object of many young boy’s desires as one of the young teachers at the school along with Pat Holmes who I can remember as she had just finished teacher training when I arrived at Jennings Street.
All in all the teachers were extremely good at Jennings Street School. There was a lot of discipline which was the order of the day, nobody seemed to mind this.
I can’t say the standard of teaching was exceptional because it wasn’t until I went to night school after leaving school, that I realized how little we knew compared to some other schools, and so I finally ended up going to night school for another 16 years until I was 32.