I walked into Reddiford School in September 1947 to start school for the very first time, aged five and a half years old. Our family had moved that year up from Cliftonville in Kent to live in Pinner in 1947, where we resided throughout my childhood. Pre-school was not known at that time and with the intended move I suppose I started a little late. My sister Pauline, some two and half years older, started at Reddiford on the same day having previously received early education at a local convent in Broadstairs.
We walked through the main hall in what was then the only proper building, took off hats and coats in the cloakroom on the left at the back of the hall and then I was taken by the kind teacher and put in a desk to await my classmates. I was alone. I sat there doing nothing but staring ahead. Two boys of my own age came in. The first said “You are sitting in my desk”. This I greeted with silence. The boy who had uttered these words simply went and sat elsewhere. I waited and eventually the class filled.
I sat and looked to my right through the French Windows into the playground. At the end of the playground was The Garden House, a classroom for two years of the older children. This was presided over by Miss White (headmistress) and her brother Mr White, who can now be seen in a photograph together in the vestibule of the School reception area.
Toilets were in the alley outside the school en route to the playground.
Whilst I am unable to recall the kindergarten teacher we had, she was really nice and very good. We recited our tables every morning from two times table up to twelve. There were twelve pennies in a shilling so that was important. 12 pennies in a shilling, 20 shillings in a pound.
We also did mental arithmetic, reading out loud and spelling tests. Most of that early teaching has remained with me through the years. That is why it is crucial to have good teachers when you are very young.
Mrs Barnett ran the next class up, and was a cuddly lovely person who also taught us the basics so well. Miss Stephanie Speller, was extremely young, pretty and a kind teacher for the next rung up.
Miss Reekie was a good teacher and fair, which is what we all want.
Miss Howard was next. Clever at art I believe she sold Birthday, Easter and Christmas cards to manufacturers.
Miss White was a firm head teacher but good and also fair. Mr White brought a sense of humour to his teaching, mainly maths as I recall.
We had Cubs and Brownies at school after class, and I believe we were the 2nd Pinner group. Our football team played against 8th Pinner and we were slaughtered by them. In the picture of our team, below, I am the 5th from the left on the front row – the goal keeper.
We had games of football at the Rex ground which was a walk up from Cecil Park, where we had to wear all blue shirts, shorts and socks. The cubs played football in the same strip. Teams were split up into Greeks and Trojans, with Greeks wearing a green sash, the opposition wearing orange sashes.
Cricket and rounders were played in the park on the other side of Marsh Road, backing on to Cannon Lane village.
Mrs Ellis was in charge of gym which we did in the school hall.
Speech day was at St Edmund’s Church Hall Northwood, where in our first year we performed the definitive “Teddy Bears Picnic”. All of the five year olds, me included, produced and put on home-made hats with ears to the admiration of our parents.
The school play was also performed at St Edmund’s Church Hall. My sister Pauline was good at acting and always had a leading role as did Jane Briers (Sister of Richard Briers who has sadly just passed way). I was in one play as a page whose lines were the immortal “The king has arrived”. I think it is fair to say it was a line crucial to the plot. I then had to back off the stage bowing. I knew right then that acting might be one of many careers not welcoming me in the future.
I left Reddiford for Lower School of John Lyon (as it was then called) in 1953. I was delighted to see our names on the old board in Reddiford Reception this centenary year. We had all had a good educational grounding at Reddiford, to prepare us to take on the serious studies ahead. Thank you Reddiford, congratulations on your centenary and long may you prosper.