I started school on the Easter term 1946. Mrs Farrow was the reception teacher; she was kind and taught us the beginning tables and to read. At this point I always went home for lunch; my poor Mother would walk, bus and walk to get me and then bring me back. Later I took sandwiches.
I remember the entrance hall, where we had indoor exercise and choir practices, being dark and green. Louie was Miss White and Mr White’s housekeeper and as far as I can remember lived upstairs, accessed by a small twisty staircase from the hall.
We went in for singing competitions; I remember being dressed in a teddy bear suit (made by my Mother) to do the Teddy Bears’ Picnic (that may have been Speech Day). Choir practice was on site.
Speech Days were held at St Edmund’s Church Hall, Northwood Hills. Our PT (PE) lessons were always in the hall; we had ‘apparatus’, ropes, climbing equipment, got out and put away after use. A coach took us back to school. I can remember cycling as I got older from home in Eastcote and then back to school. After I was nine I cycled everyday to school – there were bicycle sheds at school. Netball was on site and in Pinner Park, as was the game of Rounders in summer. We walked to the park.
Mrs Barnet was the second teacher, I seem to remember she had grey hair put into a bun. She was a kindly person. I made a sewing needle case out of cross stitch. My mother used it all her life and I still have it. We made other things too.
We had fund-raising fetes. As I got older, another girl in the next form up (Pauline Thompson) and I did several string puppet shows, within a puppet theatre. We made programmes. It was fun.
Miss White and Mr White were sister and brother; he had already retired from teaching and came to Reddiford to continue. He was always on the top floor. Miss White took over from her mother. She always seemed old to me (as teachers then often did); she had grey hair put into a bun, wore frumpy clothes, totally unfashionable! – lisle stockings and flat lace-up shoes. She was a tartar of the first degree! But my goodness, she got attention and results!
However, she was a good disciplinarian, demanded good manners (and taught them if you didn’t have them!). I still remember ‘not talking loudly on public transport, not eating on same; always wearing your beret and panama (in summer)’. She was a huge influence on my attitudes to learning and basically introduced us to culture, History and Geography of places on the globe – I remember in exams you were given a blank map of GB and one of the world, and we had to put fifty or more places onto them (most of which I still remember). We were also introduced to the arts, poetry, a love of places and above all GRAMMAR! which has remained with me.
She organised outings, always on Ascension Day. We went by coach to Amersham on one occasion, having tea in one of the little tea rooms (still there), to Milton’s Cottage in Chalfont St Giles, to Stratford on Avon, to see the theatre (not a play though) and thence to Shakespeare’s School and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage at Shottery and the Church; we did Shakespeare at school.
We celebrated Empire Day on 24th May, Shakespeare’s birthday and St George’s Day on 23rd April. We had eight weeks holiday in the summer, three at Christmas and three at Easter. Half-term between Easter and Summer was always the week after Whitsun in May (which always took in Pinner Fair, Miss White didn’t like us going!). In the Summer holidays, she set holiday projects to be done.
When we got into the top form, we were allowed out to go home for lunch. I remember that lots of times, a couple of friends and I ran down the road, caught the train to Harrow, went to Lyons Corner House, had a bowl of soup and bread and got back in time for afternoon school. I think we used to have one and a half hours for lunch. That was a secret though!
We had a robin which nested on top of a cupboard in the Garden Room, which we monitored over the period of hatching out the eggs.
The school was a substantial influence on my life.; I was fortunate to have had my ‘junior’ years of education there. It gave us all a very good grounding.