Memories of School in Harbury

The Wight School, Harbury in February 2016
Image courtesy of Nigel Chapman

My mother, father, Allan, our two children and myself were educated at the Wight School. I myself started when I was two and a half years old, mainly I think because I lived very near and I used to follow my cousin – so they kept me. I can’t imagine what I did other than sleep on a small canvas bed in the afternoon; that was “little school.”

At the age of six years I think it was, I moved down to the Wight School. War broke out shortly afterwards and the evacuees moved to Harbury. My memories of that time are crowded classrooms and playgrounds, and the handicraft room was used as an extra classroom, so the subjects for that room were discontinued. The girls still did needlework and knitting, but in the classroom.

Rose Hip Syrup

In the autumn we were asked to collect hip berries and we were paid for each pound. They were used to make Rose Hip Syrup. We also went potato picking for local farmers and once we were asked to bring a jam jar and this was filled with drinking chocolate powder.

I expect the teachers I remember most were Mr. Farrow and Mr. and Mrs. Dickens. Mr. Dickens was quite strict but very much a gentleman. He once caught us girls doing handstands against the wall; we all had the stick he used to carry around and were told we were rude. Needless to say we didn’t do it again.

Sometimes in the winter it was so cold in school we were allowed to keep coats and gloves on, and the small bottles of milk we were given were frozen.

Crowded classrooms

Going back to the crowded classrooms, there must have been two classes at the same time in the same room when I was there, because my brother, two years my junior, was in the same room as me; I used to do his sums for him if I saw him struggling and make an excuse to pass his desk and slip him the answers.

By the way Mrs. Dickens used to take us for Needlework. I don’t remember Miss Bustin at school.

My father left school at the age of 12, but has a certificate for Arithmetic, English, Drawing and Geography, for which he studied at evening classes in 1908. It doesn’t say, but I think they must have been held in the Wight School. It was signed by the then Director of Education, Bolton King.

Transcribed from original by Rosemary Harley, July 2009.

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