The Great Clapham Terrace School Escape

Radford Road, Leamington Spa. 1900s
IMAGE LOCATION: (Warwickshire County Record Office)
Reference: PH, 350/1387, img: 1037
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When I was in Class 2 we were based in St Mary’s schoolroom in New Street, and our teacher was Mr Binks. This was great for me as our back door was in Farley Street and I could just run across the road to school. We had to wait outside to be in let in, and often if several of us were there early we’d visit the graveyard at the top of the street and peer into the old cracked tombs. We’d imagine we could see the skeletons!

Camping at Everest, and hospital trips

To persuade us to learn our tables Mr Binks drew a large picture of Mount Everest with 11 camps on the way to the summit, and this was stuck on the wall. Every time one of us learned a table, we recited it to him and we moved up a camp. The aim was to be the first to the top and there was some sort of prize for the winner.

I remember that the day I’d learned my nine times table I had to go to hospital and had drops in my eyes, which made everything blurred. However I persuaded my mother that I had to go to school in the afternoon to get to the next camp, so she took me there and told a friend to look after me and see me home after school. Mr Binks wasn’t happy about that though and sent me home with my friend without listening to my newly learned table. I can’t actually remember who got to the top first, but it wasn’t me!

Returning home

When I was based in the main school, several of …[the pupils] had a very interesting way of getting home. To start with we ran down the alley behind the Clapham Terrace houses, and then over the crossing and straight down Anthea’s side entry in Radford Road. Next, we climbed over the wall at the end of her garden which brought us into another alley, which led to Plymouth Place. Then down Farley Street and right into Russell Terrace, and then over the dangerous bit where we were likely to get caught which was over the wall into the garden of a house on the corner of Russell Terrace and Willes Road. We then dashed across an open bit of garden, climbed over yet another wall and then squeezed through the hedge into my front garden.

Years later my mother met an old friend who on being told who I was said the last time he’d seen me I’d been ‘scrumping’ apples from his garden. Totally untrue but we’d knocked some out with sticks from under his back gate.

This article is part of a collection of reminiscences held at Warwickshire County Record Office. The article is under reference CR4914/10, although it’s worth noting that some of the collection is unavailable for general access.

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