School’s out for ever as pupil looks back

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They say your schooldays are the best days of your life and an old picture has brought back many memories for a reader.

Reg Payne, of Kettering, went to St Mary’s Church in Fuller Street and then the Parish Church School in Dalkeith Place, which has been demolished.

The picture that brought back the memories shows the Parish Church School choir in about 1936. Mr Payne said: “We used to practise after school with the music teacker Mr Loake, his son would come along and play the piano for us.

“We competed in the eisteddfodd at Oundle and won one year, we also sang at the eisteddfodd in Northampton.

“Going to the event in Oundle was a big adventure for us and got us time out of school. We went on an old coach and our parents would give us some money for a lolly that we’d buy from a little shop in Oundle. I remember we always used to spend about tuppence on a bunch of daffodils to bring back for our parents as well.”

Mr Payne went to the school from the age of 11 to 14 and in his final year he was a prefect. He said: “I had a prefect’s badge that I had to pay a shilling for. At the end of the year you could keep the badge or hand it in and get your shilling back. Money was tight so I had to hand mine back in.”

One of his duties was to close the door to the main hall when assembly was on and gather up any latecomers. They were then sent to stand along a white line outside the headmaster Mr Potter’s office where they would be caned for being late.

Mr Payne said: “School was very strict and you could get the cane across the hand for a lot of things, the girls were caned too. We weren’t allowed to talk in class and I remember once getting caned for playfully pummelling the boy in front of

me in a line. The headmaster saw me and caned me. I’d already been caned that day for talking.

“We were forever making catapults and we used to get caned for that to. If the woodwork teacher found one he’d get a big chisel and cut it in half.”

Woodwork was Mr Payne’s favourite lesson and was taught by his favourite teacher Mr Harvey, who was also the scoutmaster. Mr Payne said: “He was more lenient than the other teachers and was more like a father figure. you had to be really naughty to get the cane from him.”

The woodwork and science lessons were taken in a building in School Lane and the Corn Market Hall was used for gym lessons when the weather was bad.

The boys played football once a week on the playing fields in Headlands and had to walk there from the school. Mr Payne said: “It was the last lesson one afternoon a week and we used to walk there from the school and then walk home, which for most of us was in the ‘new estate’ of Lyveden Way, Valley Walk and Washington Square area, where I lived.

“There wasn’t any traffic so we used to play football along the roads on the way home and that made it go more quickly.”

Pupils also had to walk to and from home every lunchtime as the school didn’t have a kitchen, although pupils could pay a happenny a day for a bottle of milk.

Although the boys and girls had lessons together they were not allowed to talk to each other. Mr Payne said: “There was an iron railing down the playground to separate the boys and the girls and we weren’t allowed to get too close to it in case we fraternised.”

Some of the classrooms backed onto the main road and if a funeral cortege came past the children were expected to stand to attention until it had gone.

Mr Payne also remembers competing in swimming races against other schools in the lake at Wicksteed Park. He said: “They had to rake the weeds out so we had enough space to dive in and swim. I also played in a local schools’ football final that was played at the Poppies old ground.”

Mr Payne went on to serve in the RAF during the war before working for various engineering firms, including Timsons.