I was given this article to publish on our website. I believe it was written by Mr Garfoot. I hope he will be pleased to see it re-published. Does anybody know if he wrote more articles on his life? Also I hope it will bring back a few memories of times gone by and inspire you to write your memories and allow us to share them.
Forty years on, when afar and asunder
Parted are those who are singing today,
When you look back, and forgetfully wonder
What you were like in your work and your play,
Then, it may be, there will often come o’er you,
Glimpses of notes like the catch of a song-
Visions of boyhood shall float them before you,
Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along,
It is now eighty years on and I shall undoubtedly even more “forgetfully wonder, especially as I have few written records of my school days. However I must recollect what I can to fill a gap in my personal story.
It was quite a culture shock going from the genteel atmosphere of Miss Ingram’s private school to a boys’ grammar school. I had not been eligible to take the scholarship exam so my parents had to pay for me and at the beginning of each term I had to take an envelope containing three guineas, which was quite a sacrifice for my parents, especially as a season ticket for the train journey was over £2 for the 16 mile journey.
I think perhaps that train journey is the most nostalgic part of my school days. For the next 8 years I had to catch the 7.17 in the winter and 7.25 in the summer, Monday to Saturday. My Dad got me up and packed my sandwiches. I only missed the train once and even then he got the car out and I caught it at the next station – not bad for a little Austin 7.
So began my love affair with steam trains. It was the M and G.N., affectionately known as the Muddle and Get Nowhere. A single line with passing points at stations. The driver could only proceed if he collected a tablet from a signal box which ensured that no other train could be on that stretch.
Sutton Bridge was a junction, another line going off to Wisbech so it was quite busy. I knew a lot of railway men, signalmen, porters, Mr Summers the Station Master. Also “length men” whose job it was to go along the track to see that it was in order. They also went along the train tapping the wheels while it was standing in the station to see that they rang true. It the train was late there was a roaring coal fire in the waiting room. In winter the platforms were lit by oil lamps. Every train had a guards van at the rear. In this were carried parcels which people collected from the station. Guards travelled on the train, blew a whistle and waved a green flag when it was ready to depart. At Sutton Bridge there was also a goods store house in the station yard. Things were delivered round the village by Mr Shortland in an open truck.
We did not have the luxury of corridor coaches but compartments seating eight. Windows on the doors were pulled up or down with a large leather strap. Since it was only a single line one of the joys of life was leaning out of the carriage wind, especially, for some, when there were High School girls in the next compartment. For me that was generally the signal to retreat shyly. When we reached our destination we had to pull down the window and open the door ourselves. There were porters at every station and when the train came in they walked the length of it calling out
“SuttonBridge… Longsutton… Gedney… Fleet… Holbeach… Whaplode… Moulton… Weston… Spalding, all change”
It was also their job to see the doors were fastened, and of course to carry passengers’ luggage for a tip.It was not long before I learned that there was another use for that strap as a painful initiation ceremony. Plenty of excuses were also found for bringing it into use on other occasions. Attempts to escape it would end up in a general free-for-all which can only be described as a ‘rough house.’ All good fun. No wonder that a couple of coaches at the front were reserved as “Scholars Coaches.” Mostly, though, things were quite peaceful on the train, a good 40 minutes to catch up with homework or play cards. Arrived at Spalding it was quite a long walk to school along St Thomas Road. It was possible to buy an ice cream cornet on the way for 1/2d. A year or two later I had psoriasis on the sole of my foot and the doctor told me to keep off it for a while. So that I could continue to go to school the headmaster arranged for Betts, the school porter, to meet me at the station and give me a ride on the crossbar of his bike. It was most embarrassing.
On arrival at school it was Assembly, which consisted of a hymn from the old Ancient and Modem. This was how I teamed all the standard hymns; I could wish children today did that. This was followed by various announcements and the head would say the Grace.
On my first day I had to buy a school blazer, tie and cap from the staff room. A new cap never lasted long. It would be plucked from your head and thrown from one to another as you vainly tried to retrieve it. Me only way to avoid this was to stamp on it a few times yourself to take the newness off. Things in the playing field at break were often quite rough. A favourite trick was for someone to engage you in conversation while another boy crouched down behind you. A gentle tap would send you sprawling over him. And woe betide you if it was known that it was your birthday. You would be treated to a bump for each year, Favourite games on the playground were cross tiggy, good because everyone could join in, and in winter a really long, slippery slide. No Health and Safety regulations in my school days.
In 1931, I managed to pass the Holland County Council Intermediate Scholarship. Exam and came second. which meant that my fees would now be paid, much to the relief of my parents.
VI Form with Ald Blindell MP
School Certificate and Higher School Certificate, the equivalent of today’s GCSE and A Levels, came round in due course and I didn’t do too badly!. To go to university Latin was compulsory. As I passed in this subject I was “Exempt London Matric.” One day, without any warning or preparation we were handed exam papers for University College, Nottingham. As a result I learned that I gained an Exhibition of £45 a year from Nottingham for tuition fees and a loan of £30 a year from Holland CC., but that is another story.
Intermediate Scholarship: % marks Arithmetic and algebra 89, Latin 46, Geography 70, French 83, History 75, Composition 61, Literature 56
School Certificate July 1931; Honours
English c, English History c, Geography c, Latin c, French a, Spoken French a,Elementary Mathematics c, Art c (a… very good, c.. pass with credit)
Higher School Certificate July 1934
English Essay p,
Latin Gram. And Comp. g, Unprepared Trans. g, Prepared Books g, Roman, History and Literature g, Whole subject g. French Composition p, Unprepared Trans. p, Literature I a, Literature II p, Oral g, Whole subject p English Shakespeare p, Prescribed Books p, Literature I g, Literature II g, Whole subject g (a very good, g good, p pass)
So in July 1934 I left school
I was put in Form 3b with the scholarship boys who soon became my pals. Gray,
Judge, Marshall, Herring, Lanham, Waters, Farrow, Scrimshaw, Prentice, Bentley, Barton, Nicholson, Lee, Fearnside, Bailey, Facer, Parsons, Clay… I could go on. I wonder how it is that in my old age names escape me, yet I have no difficulty in remembering all these. Unfortunately for sixty years I have lived with the sadness that some of them are inscribed on the school’s War Memorial, 58 names in all including my best friend Peter Nicholson, also Gordon Gerald Goddard and Kenneth Humphries from Sutton Bridge. In class 1 managed to hold my own, generally coming in the first three or four, except in woodwork when I was near the bottom. am not very pleased about this as I rather take a pride in my DIY.
The staff Headmaster was I J Driver, or “Cabby.” He had a stammer. There was a famous occasion when a new boy also stuttered and when he s-s-s-spoke to him Cabby thought he was t-t-t-taking the mickey. However when he learned the truth he tried to help him ‘T-t-t-take a deep b-b-breath. Boy” he said. The formidable Dr J Goode, English Literature, “Dip” EV Spicer, the Art master, also responsible for the weekly singing lesson.
M Smeathers the Science teacher, REA Richardson, Latin, succeeded by “Dusty” Miller, who used to take some of us into his room to introduce us to classical gramophone records. JR Green who taught us English Grammar. He was my favourite, perhaps because he was a good Methodist. He also played the lead in the local Amateur Operatic Society’s Gilbert and Sullivan productions. HJ Dash, Geography and JR Hunter, French. It is interesting that Rentall and Jowett who followed these two were colleagues of Raymond when he taught at SGS. I must not forget the drill serjeant who came to give us physical exercises. I still go through the routine he taught us. For the rest of the week he could be seen resplendent in his uniform as the commissionaire outside the cinema. We don’t have them any longer.
Discipline was rigidly enforced. Having to write out a hundred lines “I must not talk in class”or being kept in after school were commonplace, as were boxed ears, pulled hair, rapped knuckles Cabby’s ultimate threat was that you would have to eat your dinner off the piano for a week. I got it once, six of the best. I suppose I deserved it but these days Cabby would be in prison for the bruises I sustained.
School finished at 3 o’clock but on two afternoons there were compulsory games. I liked cricket but was never any good at it. However rugby was different; because I was quite big i was put in the scrum, 2nd row and that became my niche. Everyone was assigned to a House, Bentley, Gamlyn, Hobson, Wykeham. I was in Gamlyn. It was named after John Gamlyn who obtained letters patent from Queen Elizabeth l to found the school in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada. It originally met in the Parish Church of St Nicholas and St Mary and did not move into the present site until 1881. There was keen inter-house rivalry and I eventually played for Gamlyn rugby XV.. When there was an afternoon house match we were required to stay up to cheer.
That was not very popular as I didn’t get home until 5 o’clock on my half day. They were longer days still when I got into the 2nd and then the 1st XV. Away games could be as far away as Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Boston or Sleaford, travelling by train and then I would not get home until after 8 pm. It was quite a tiring life as homework had to be done, in the later years 2.5 hours. I was very proud when I was awarded my school colours, a ridiculous tasseled cap which I only wore for a photograph.
A write up in the school magazine
The school sports day was always a great event. A circular running track was marked out on the school paying field.
I was never a sprinter and could not throw a cricket ball very far so in the earlier years I was limited to the sack race and house tug of war. However one year during the dinner hour beforehand some of us ran round and round the track and I found I could do two miles. So the next year I entered the half mile 14-15, came first and won a clock. The next year I came 2nd in the open mile and won a Brownie camera but the following year after was my crowning glory, first in the mile (5 minutes 5 seconds) and half mile (2 minutes 19 seconds) for which I can boast two silver cups. also entered the 440; near the end I was on the point of dropping out but then saw the boy in front was flagging too so I kept going and came in third. Unfortunately the serviette ring which I won was stolen when our house was burgled a few years ago.
The start of the 440(I am on the far left)
The annual Prize-giving was another great day. The chairman of the governors always made the same speech “Aim high, boys” and we had some distinguished people to present the prizes. Those I recall were the Earl of Liverpool, the Earl of Yarborough (Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire), Lord Hansett (Master of the Rolls), Lord Brownlow, Sir JJ Thomson, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge (the famous scientist) Field Marshal Sir William Robertson, James Blindell MP and the Bishop of Lincoln. The Rt Rev FC Nugent Hicks. I managed to get a general proficiency prize every year but one. It was traditional for the visitor to ask the Head to give us a half day holiday.
Winters were far colder in those times. One year the Nene was completely frozen over and some people ventured to walk over it. When there was skating on Cowbit Wash there was great delight when we were let out of school early to have a go.
Another sport was tennis. When some hard courts were opened next to the school played as often as I could. At Sutton Bridge my friend Ray Bateman had a full size billiard table and I frequently played billiards or snooker.
After school there were societies to go to. The Geographical Society sometimes with slides shown on a magic lantern. In the school magazine, the Bentleian, 1932, there was an interesting article
“Wednesday. February 24”. this date a debate was held, the motion being “That the British Empire is breaking up.”The motion was proposed by Messrs VS Taylor and J Facer, and opposed by J Garfoot and CC Paccy. The state of the Empire and attitude of the Colonies to the Mother Country made the proposition likely, and there was some keen discussion on the subject. However when the vote was taken it appeared that the majority of those present did not think the Empire was breaking up.
In spite of some good speeches in support of the motion, it was defeated by 18 votes to 8.” How wrong they were ! There was also the Debating Society. Rag debates were always good fun, when boys had 2 minutes to speak impromptu on a given subject. One I remember was ‘Is it better to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond.‘ It was recorded in the school magazine 1931:
“On Monday November 16‘“, the Society met to thresh out the old question of Town Life and Country Life. The motion “That Town Life is better that Country Life” was proposed by Mr DS Lee, seconded by Mr J Facer, and opposed by Mr J Garfoot, seconded by Mr JFC Parsons. Some very good arguments were put forward on both sides, but the meeting was very decided in rejecting the motion by 22 votes to 8”
Me in the country
There is something very special about one’s first trip abroad. This is what I wrote about it:
MY TRIP TO PARIS-1931
At last the examination was over-for a whole week I had been writing reams and reams, and now it was reduced to drawing a design for a tea-pot stand (how we remember such trifles which precede great events in our life.) How I concentrated on the thing I do not know, knowing that in 24 hours I should be 500 miles away in the capital of France!
The next few hours were one continual hustle-home by train, ten minutes to catch a train to London, meeting my mother and Uncle John (an African missionary) and his fiancee Miss Crossley at different stages of the journey. It was only when we found ourselves crossing London in a taxi that we had time to greet each other. By eight o’clock we had reached Southampton and after a taxi ride through that interesting port we arrived at the harbour. Here we learned that we could not go on our ship for half an hour, but the time passed quickly enough and soon I found myself in a large two funnelled channel steamer.
I suppose the SS Normania was quite a canoe compared with some liners, but to me she was full of interest-imagine my joy when I changed a crisp pound note for 124 francs at the purser’s office; when I 1ooked over right down to the engine room, reeking with oil fumes, when I watched French and English people coming up the little gangway; last but not least when I settled down to a good feed in the dining saloon.
At eleven o’clock, after a good deal of bell ringing and sirens hooting, we started. How smoothly the boat seemed to go-how beautiful were all the lights on both sides. On our left was the famous Empress of Britain, brightly illuminated and shining white even in the darkness. Before we left the Solent I was compelled to go to bed. My uncle and I were the sole occupants of a 14-trunked sleeping saloon. It was very strange sleeping high up on a bunk with only a thin blanket to cover me although it was very warm in this place. I awoke several times during the night and there was a continual throb throb throb of the engine and a gentle rocking to and fro. Although I had intended to rise very early the boat was just sailing into Le Havre when I got up on deck. It was a lovely sunny morning in May and only 6 o’clock. We had to show our passports and then passed to customs. There were several long tables on which we deposited our bags; they were opened and the usual questions were asked. Finally they marked our belongings with chalk. We then got on a dilapidated old bus and rode through the town to the station. At 7. 30 we were in a 1st class carriage on the way to Paris. The two hours’ journey was very interesting; we soon had our first French breakfast-black coffee, rolls and fruit. The scenery was very beautiful: Here we should be high above a town on a viaduct, here in a cutting with terraced slopes on either side. Everything seemed “different.” Cows and sheep were all tethered in the fields, similar to English goats. and the cattle seemed of very poor quality. We only stopped at Rouen and had a very good view of that town, with the cathedral in the distance. There were few porters to be seen in the station but directions were given to passengers by means of a huge microphone.
We crossed the Seine in several places for it meanders very much across the plain. At last we reached Paris; the Eiffel Tower could be seen many miles away. We rode right through the city in a taxi for about 7d. for fares were very much cheaper than they are in England, and arrived at our hotel. The Hotel Burgundy was in Rue Duphot and was in easy reach of the Louvre, Madeleine Church and the busiest part of the city
We rested until lunch time and wrote several letters home. Then we went out to see a few sights. We made our way to the Louvre art gallery and spent an enjoyable hour there, The gardens round the building, stretching for about half a mile, were very ﬁne. After that we crossed the Seine by the Pont Neuf and, passing by the Palace of Justice, arrived at Notre Dame Cathedral. We were unable to go in but the ﬁne carvings on the walls were worth seeing.
With Robin and my mother outside Notre Dame
We got back in time for dinner (7. 30) and afterwards went for a walk as far as the Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower in the distance was lit with a changing electric advertisement and the road. which was very wide and straight, was also well lit. All the large buildings were illuminated by huge floodlights. Hundreds of motorists (all on the right side of the road) passed us for this seemed to be their evening drive we had a look round the Lido for nearly all he restaurants and theatres were open, although it was Sunday night.
The next day, Whitsun Bank Holiday, was very hot. In the morning we saw another part of Paris on the other side of the Seine. Here was the Chamber of Deputies, a fine building. The Seine, always of interest, was filled with small pleasure steamers. The crowning point of the morning was when we went up the Eiffel Tower. This was built in the last century to commemorate a great fair held at Paris. It is 985 feet high and was erected in three stories needless to say we went to the top and although there was a large crowd (including English, French, German, Dutch and Japanese people) we thoroughly enjoyed our 10 francs worth. On a clear day, and this one was pretty clear, it is possible to see for 85 miles. I took a photograph from the top but as it was taken through glass it was not a great success. That day 8000 people went up the tower.
In the afternoon we visited the Colonial Exhibition which had recently been opened. there was an aerial display on at the time and we saw hundreds of French planes in formation, We bad got there (for it was right outside Paris) by underground, and although we passed no fewer than 17 stations the charge was only 3 francs for the four of us. The exhibition was very interesting although we nearly got crushed to death in the crowd.
At night we went to the Ambassadors Theatre which was not far away and saw a comic opera called La Comtesse Maritza.” We could understand it fairly well as we had a story of tbc plot in English on the programme. Nearly everybody in France wants a tip; a couple of francs went every time we wanted our bags carrying; the girl who showed us to our seats in the theatre wanted 5 francs and even a man who sold us a franc guide to the exhibition expected one. He was offered 20 centimes but refused it, telling my uncle to go and have a good time with it.
The next morning (Tuesday) we had a look round the shops and bought several souvenirs, books, scent etc. Every time we went out we stopped at the cafes on the side of the street it was very novel to watch the traffic go by as we drank our “grenadin” with soda water and ice.
At last we had to say goodbye to Paris. Until we reached Le Havre the journey was very similar to the one by which we had come, only for the latter part it was dark. Wireless is installed in all the French 1st class carriages but we did not listen in as we should not have understood what they were talking about
The ship by which we returned was the Normania‘s sister ship, the “Hantonia.” Just as we set out to sea a great thunderstorm arose. We saw the French lights fading in the distance, when now and then a streak of lightning would light up the whole sea for miles around. Again I had to go to bed and this time we were fortunate enough to secure a double cabin. The sea was very rough and I was very nearly rolled out of my bunk.
I got up about 6 o’clock just as we were entering the Solent. To the left was the Isle of Wight and two seaplanes were ﬂoating on the water. We saw the “Mauretania” and the “Empress of Britain” which was in a few hours to set off on her maiden voyage. We landed and got in the train which was to bear us homewards; we had had a thoroughly good time but we were jolly glad to taste some English food again.
DIARY FOR 1932
Each Christmas I was given a Charles Letts‘s Schoolboys Diary. Unfortunately only one has survived so here are a few extracts from it;
Weight 10 st 5 lbs Height 5 ft 7 ins.
On numerous occasions I played billiards and faithfully recorded the scores. I was an avid fan of Sutton Bridge Football Club and went to matches whenever I could, cycling to away ones. Again I put down the scores. In days before television I went to the pictures 52 times during the year. Every other Sunday we went to Cottesmore and met up with Uncle Harold, Auntie Kath and Alex. A regular was also Tuesday evenings when Mam and Dad went to Lynn Musical Society. I quite often helped in the bakery.
Mon Jan 4 Started to get paint off the dough machine (Dad had acquired a second hand one and I did it up). Went to a party at Rylton (Uncle Fred, Auntie Pat and my cousins)
Thurs Jan 21 Went to pantomime to see Robinson Crusoe
Fri Jan 22 Went to a very interesting lantern lecture on Photography by the secretary of Kodak Co.
Tues Jan 26 Went to High School to see “Twelfth Night” by a group of London players.
Fri Jan 29 Went to Lynn Theatre and saw the dramatic society produce “Havana.”
Weds Feb 10 Had some fun snowballing after heavy fall of snow
Tues Feb 16 Went to Lynn Mart and won a case of spoons
Fri Feb 19 Went to Railway Concert at Lynn – heard Kate Winter, Eda Kersey, Arthur Jordan, Gladys Ripley and Selwyn Driver, nearly all wireless “stars”
Sun Feb 28 Went to Leicester. Uncle Hib died
Thurs Mar 3 Exams started. Got English and History over. Could do them fairly well.
Weds Mar 9 Heard “Messiah” at Lynn Church. In it were William Barnard, Ernest Hargreaves. (Mabel Wiles who helped in the home came with us. We saw an empty seat at the front and sat in it, not knowing that it was reserved for Lord and Lady Fermoy. When they arrived they just smiled sweetly at us)
Thurs Mar 10 Finished exams. Biked to school. Went home in an hour
Sunday Mar 27 Went to Leeds. Arrived 12 o’clock
Mon Mar 28. Left Leeds after dinner. Called at Farsley for Robin who came home with us to stay for a week. (Robin was a Latin teacher. We used to go for long walks together)
Weds Apr 6 Drove Dad round Marsh in van (Don‘t tell anyone ……I was only 15 !)
Fri Apr 8 Went to London and saw 12th Night at Old Vic.
Sat Apr 9 In London — went for a walk under Blackwell Tunnel and on Isle of Dogs and to a concert at night
Sun Apr 10 Went to cinema service at Poplar
Mon Apr 11 Saw Changing of Guard and went to Palladium and heard Jack Hylton‘s band.
Sun May 15 Went to London. Heard Lax of Poplar
Mon May 16 Went to Tower of London. Dined at Lyons.
Weds Jun 15. My birthday. Got a cricket bat and ball, £1 and an iced cake.
Sun Jun 19 Went to Warwick in Uncle Harold‘s new car. Went 210 miles
Sun Jul 3 Went to Matlock in Uncle Harold‘s car
Thurs Jul 7 To Skegness for the day
Tues Jul 12 Played for SB v Dawsmere. Won 31-5 Scored 2
Fri Jul 15 Played cricket v Sawmill. Scored 5 and made 1 catch.
Weds Jul 20 Went to Peterborough and bought a new piano (the Chappell I still play)
Sun Jul 11 Went to Huddersﬁeld, Saw most of our relations there
Tues Aug 9 Went to Lynn theatre and saw “Betty”
Sun Aug 14 Went to Vive Vale for tea. Went to Wisbech Chapel (Uncle Jack was preaching. His sermon was on Jeremiah i 13 “I saw a seething pot”)
Tues Aug l6 Went to Lynn theatre and saw “It‘s a boy”
Sun Sep 4 Went to Heacham till Thursday
Mon Sept 12 Cycled to Cottesmore to stay a few days (46 miles in 3 hours)
Weds Sept 14 Went on van to Market Overton Drove most of way (after all I was 16 now)
Weds Nov 9 Went in for Rudiments of Music examination
Sat Nov 19 Played against Newark 2nd XV. Won 53-0. Had a good game
Weds Nov 23 Went to London on trip. Visited Gamages. (Half day by train for 5 shillings)
Sat Nov 26 Went to Peterborough to play for 2nds against Peterborough Deacons. Won 17-10
Sat Nov 10 Played for 2nd XV against Grantham School. Lost 55-0
Thurs Dec 15 Played for 1sts against Grantham. Lost 18-10 but had a good game.
Sun Dec 25 At Pinchbeck. After inspecting sundry presents, including Corinthian bagatelle, went to Cottesmore
Thurs Dec 29 Went to pantomime to see “Old Mother Hubbard.”
During my school days we did not know what it was to have a family holiday. Dad could not get away from the bakery business. Bank holidays we could go only away Saturday evenings until Monday night when he would have to stoke up the furnace and make the dough ready to start again the next day. Christmas would only be just one extra day, when we would go to my grandparents at Cottesmore and Auntie Gertie and Uncle John’s at Greetham. We had lots of short visits to Huddersfield (Emily, my mother‘s cousin and George at Sheepridge and other Watson relations there) and Leeds (Gussie, Mam‘s friend since her school days at Louth, her husband Joe Hardwick and their son Michael)
As mentioned in my diary I went to stay at London With Uncle George. Auntie Kath and Joan. George Rotherham was a Lay Pastor who had originally come to the Holbech Circuit and so met Kath. He was now in the Bow Mission so I had the experience of staying in the East End of London in days when policeman only dared to venture forth in pairs. He worked under quite a famous Methodist minister Lax of Poplar who did a pioneer work in that deprived community.
In summer time I was invited on several occasions to stay with my cousins in a bungalow, Shenstone (a converted and enlarged old railway carriage) at Heacham.
These were very memorable times. It was near the station and I remember going there when the ﬁrst train brought the papers to WH Smith’s kiosk, eager to get a Telegraph to see my exam results. This was before caravans ﬁlled the open space between there and the sea. One day we sent no less than ﬁve times for a swim, often having to go far across the sands when the tide was right out, the last time being a moonlight dip. There were long walks across the ﬁelds to Hunstanton. 1934 was a very special year there. Uncle Jack had just been invalided home from West Africa (Dahomey) with a patch on his lung and the doctor had ordered him to have a couple of months by the sea so he and Robin were there. Some of her relations came from time to time. I rather liked one of her nieces, Dorothy Bentley.
The ﬁrst time I had stayed with the Watson family would have been about l927, when there were just Tricia, Zena and Basil who would be about three and Yvonne was a baby. This was in a ﬁrst ﬂoor ﬂat in Seagrave Terrace, Hunstanon. We overlooked the outdoor swimming pool when it was being built. It shows how the years have gone by; that was demolished and became a boating lake; that in turn is no more, having given way to the Sealife Centre. And of course the railway came right up to near the Green.
I can perhaps mention two other holidays although they were just after I left school.
In August 1935 l was invited to go with Uncle Harold, Auntie Kath and Alex to Ilfracombe. Details of this come from postcards I sent home.
“Had a lovely run down, went by the Cheddar Gorge, travelled 286miles altogether. I drove some of the way. (I had a licence by now). We stayed at the Westboume Hotel, Wilder Road.”
Aug 13 Visited Clovelly
Aug 14 It was Lobby Lud day. His photo was in the News Chronicle; If you recognised him you had to go up to him with a copy of the paper and say “You are Lobby Lud — I claim the News Chronicle prize.” We didn’t ﬁnd him. But I had a better prize. Got a telegram to say I had passed my Inter exam.
Aug I5 Went across to Tenby by sea. Unfortunately it was rather a rough crossing and I was sea-sick.”
I remember also we went over a lighthouse
The next year. I936. Uncle Harold and Auntie Kath were going to Torquay and took me as far as Plymouth. Uncle Jack had just gone to live there at 118 Mount Gold Road. Brenda was just 11 months old and they took her a little woolly lamb, It had a leaf in its mouth. It wasn’t long before this disappeared. We searched high and low for it but realised that she must have swallowed it.
Once again postcards home remind me of what we did. A bus trip all over Dartmoor, saw the prison and some ponies. to Exeter and Exmouth returning by the South coast. I went over the naval dockyards. Saw the launching of the cruiser Birmingham, albeit at a distance.
Launch of the cruiser Birmingham. 9000 tons
I was to see her again four years later. Interestingly enough she was one of our escort vessels on the convoy to the Middle East.
Among my souvenirs is the programme of a concert in Plymouth Guildhall by the famous Foden‘s Motor Works Band.
I started having lessons with Miss Ingram when I was seven. I remember her old Victorian piano with candlesticks. Old fashioned teaching methods too, I suppose, with five finger exercises and a piece called The Jolly Farmer within that compass. Anyway I am the proud possessor of I904 (Wesleyan) Methodist Hymn Book inscribed “To Jack. For success in first music exam Xmas I926. Love from Mam and Dad.”
Miss Hooten was my next teacher. She had been Uncle Jack’s but was getting a bit old and was not quite so good as in his day. I moved slowly and tentatively through the grades but did not really take off until I went to the Stamford School of Music (Hilda Pond) which had a branch at Spalding. My teacher was Miss Hilda Brown. She was a brilliant pianist and a teacher who really inspired me. She had 26 letters after her name. She put me into a Music Festival at Peterborough where I had to play Traumerie and Solfeggietto and got a ﬁrst class certiﬁcate
I did quite well in the Higher Division with 116 marks.
These were the examiner‘s comments: Scales: Some good work done on these, Aural tests. Mostly satisfactory, Reading at sight, Lost sight of key, Quality of touch. Well varied, Studies and pieces. Good. Rhythmic feeling excellent, Impression of musicianship. Capital work done‘
The Grades are all different nowadays so I don‘t know how far I reached by comparison. Miss Brown called me her star pupil. However to bring me down a peg or two I failed the next exam. My excuse was that working for Higher School Certiﬁcate had not left enough time to practise. but really it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me realise that I had got to work at it. and I have been doing that ever since.