John has written to me about Colwell School, which he attended:
Full Name: Finch Hall County Primary School, Colwell Road, Liverpool 14, known locally as: Colwell Road School. Known by the kids as 'Colly' The name 'Finch Hall' comes from the big house of that name that stood in Deysbrook Lane. The remains were still visible in the Fifties.
Built between the wars; part of the big Liverpool Corporation housing estate that included Dovecote, Page Moss and Longview. It was a two storey brick building, roughly E-shaped. The Mixed Infants School was in the ground floor and the Junior Boys and Junior Girls Schools were on the first floor. There was a playground at the front and a playing field, with a small garden at the back. The playground was divided into two halves with a white line, Junior Boys one side, Junior Girls the other. The Infants had different playtimes. I knew the school between 1948 and 1954. Caretaker: Mr Wakefield; Dinner Lady: Mrs Jolley
Infants (1948 - 1950)
There were nine classes in the Infants School. I recall that Miss LEDSON taught Class 1, Miss SMITH Class 2, Mrs TODD Class 3 and Mrs PARKER Class 9. I remember the names of the following girls: Carol Lakin, Sylvia Taylor, Gloria Williams, Betty Quayle, Glenys Taylor, Irene Wooding. For the boys' names I can remember see Junior Boys (below).
Class 1 had beds so that the children could have a nap. Coloured cards were used to teach letters and numbers. Slates and chalk were used to practise. Bean bags were used in physical education. For physical exercises a big rubber mat was spread out (by a highly-trained team of boys) and we leapt about in our bare feet. The first time we did this a shameful thing was discovered: many of the boys didn't know how to tie their own shoelaces and they had to be tied by girls!
The teacher read stories and played games like 'What's the Time Mr Wolf?', which consisted mainly of screaming (by the children).
For manual dexterity we tore newspapers into shapes or threaded beads on to pieces of string. Not everybody remembered to put a knot on the end if the string first!
Empire Day was celebrated by a flag-waving parade in the playground and singing 'Onward we march with our flags flying gaily.....
In common with all schools at that time the children were smacked when they were naughty, usually on the leg or arm but there was also some face-slapping and even a couple of spankings (fully clothed).
Colwell Road Junior Boys School 1950 - 1954
The Junior Boys' School was organised into eight classes, Classes 1 and 2 were the oldest, 7 and 8 the youngest. The boys who were judged to be more academic were in the odd numbers. Headmaster: Mr BRADSHAW, then Mr PICKUP. Mr JONES was acting head during the interregnum. The teachers were
Class 1 Mr HOLLAND Class 2 Mr JONES
Class 3 Miss FARLEY (later Mrs HOLLAND) Class 4 Mr VARLEY?
Class 5 Miss BRENNAN Class 6 ?
Class 7 Mrs MEAKIN Class 8 ?
During the summer holidays of 1953 Mr HOLLAND and Miss FARLEY were married!.. They were all good teachers but Mr JONES deserves a special mention. He was a Welshman, very keen on music and a wonderful teller of stories and anecdotes. His gift was not for any specific subject but for his sheer enthusiasm and his ability to communicate to children what an interesting and exciting the world they lived in. I recall that Miss Farley on one occasion surprised and impressed us when she let it be known that she knew who the Cock of her class was. She clearly kept her ear to the ground!
Cock of the School 1950 – 1951 'Spenny '
1951 -1952 ?
1952 – 1953 ?
1953 – 1954 Kenny Worthington
Amongst the 1950 – 1954 boys were: Kenny Worthington, John Orr, John Gardner, Geoffrey Gorst (usually top of the class), Philip Boden, Ian Orlans, Geoffrey Ash, Geoffrey Ashburner, John Turrey, Geoffrey Hulse, Jimmy Dunn, John Higgins, John Ainsworth, Peter Gorman, Alan Cunliffe, Nicholas Rippon, Peter Owens, Lennie Hughes, Arthur Hoyles, John Edwards, John Charnock, Peter Chadwick, John(?) Knox, Tudor Campbell, Tony Stewart and the numerous Alcock brothers.
Boys called each other by their second names, or nicknames based on their second names (Dunny, Stewy etc); never by their first names.
The school day started at 9 o'clock with military-style drill in a small square next to the side entrance. Each class formed itself into a line and one of the male teachers would get them all to stand to attention, stand at ease etc. Then they walked, in line, into the building, up the stairs and into the hall for assembly, accompanied by a recording of Parry's 'Trumpet Voluntary' (Mr Jones's idea no doubt. There were a few Catholic boys in the school whose parents didn't want them to to go to assembly, where they would hear Protestant prayers and hymns, so these boys stepped out of the line and spent assembly-time unsupervised in a classroom, sharpening their obscene language skills.
At playtime the boys played ollies (marbles) in the gutters at the edge of the playground. Most of their time was spent arguing about which olly had hit which etc. The ollies themselves were mostly bought in the shops but some boys introduced larger glass spheres into the game which they called 'bollies). The olly afficionados could be easily identified as they walked around the school as their trouser pockets bulged with the things, which rattled as they walked.
Some boys played 'tick' (known in the rest of the world as 'tag' apparently), the rules of which need no explanation here. The problem here was of course inevitably the slowest runner became 'man' (not 'it' in Liverpool) and he soon lost interest as he tried in vain to catch one of the others.
Another game was called 'Riallio' or 'Allallio', the rules of which are too complex to describe here. It consisted of boys rushing about and from time to time shouting 'Dun yer 1,2,3!'
Every now and again a fight would break out. Usually it amounted to no more than a pair of furious boys shoulder-barging each other, clearly nervous of provoking a punch-up. However now and again a real fight would start and the procedure then was for the boys in the vicinity to gather round shouting 'oo – oo – oo'. This would attract all the other boys in the playground who would rush to see the action and join in the ooing. If they had had the sense to watch in silence they might have seen some good fights but inevitably the teacher on playground duty, hearing all the ooing would make a beeline for the source of the noise and break it up.
In contrast with the boys, who were a drab lot in their greys and browns, the girls' playground was a blaze of colour. The two sides took little or no interest in each other except when a ball ran over the white line by accident. The girls played different games to the boys. Their playground was swept by seasons. For a while it would be the skipping season, when they could all be seen leaping over the ropes chanting such rubbish as 'On the mountain stands a lady.......'and so forth. Then suddenly this would all come to an end and it would be top and whip season when every square inch of their playground was occupied by girls furiously thrashing at tops. This in turn would give way to gymnastics against the walls of the school. They also, of course. went in for much more screaming than the boys did.
From time to time when, it was sunny, a girl called Mary (not her real name) would come to the gate to talk to the boys. She didn't appear go to school. She was about ten years old, with a round pink face which was always smiling. She seemed to be the happiest, most carefree person in the world...
The boys' toilets were tacked on to the end of the building. They gave off a powerful smell and the floors were always awash . A grill, rather than a window, was fitted above the urinals and walking outside the toilets past this grill could be hazardous when the users were competing for the height record.
One morning a member of staff walked into Class 5, spoke briefly to the teacher, Miss Brennan, and went out again. Miss Brennan then asked everybody to stand up. 'It has just been announced' she said 'that the King died this morning'. Later Mr Jones asked us all to pray for the 'young woman' who was now our queen. This news did not affect the boys in the least and some of them were surprised to hear the grown-up Princess Elizabeth described as a 'young woman'
Discipline was more formalised than in the Infants School. There was no spontaneous slapping from the teachers. Offenders were liable to be sent to stand on the Green Line outside the Headmaster's office, where the great man kept a cane. This was used very sparingly. A good ticking-off usually sufficed.
Everybody walked to and from school unaccompanied. For many this involved crossing a main road. (only the Infants were collected). Now and again a boy would be beaten up by a gang of St Dominic's boys but he always kept this to himself. Parents were never seen at the school. The boys lived in two totally separate worlds.
Every year the boys from the top two years could go on a week's holiday at Colomendy, near Ruthin in North Wales. This was paid for in weekly instalments. There were races, games, visits (including Ruthin Castle and a climb up Moel Fammau)
It was a good school. The teachers appeared to like their work and they took an interest in the boys even after they had left the school. It was the era of the 11+ and at the end of the final year a number of boys were put in for the 'Scholarship' as it was always called. Some passed for grammar schools, other for technical schools and the rest went to the secondary modern school in Fincham Road about a quarter of a mile away. Most of the boys assumed that they would be going to 'Finny' and certainly didn't feel that this made them also-rans in any way. .
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