The School

About Bexhill

Who was King Offa



These are ex-pupils memories as recounted to us during our recent open day. We will be adding more as we transcribe them.

Daphne Hall nee Stoner started 1928 remembers the classroom in the corner, the desks with the inkwells and the dark pictures on the walls.

Happy days. I loved the school and when I left I remember crying, my sister was happy but I really didn’t want to leave simply because it was really beginning to get interesting, sewing machines and things that made me think oh gosh, I wish I was staying.

Daphne Stoner left school at 14 and by then had spent 10 years in our school.

Gordon and Margaret Viner, was Margaret Gillham when she came to the school. Gordon started the school in 1934 and Margaret in 1926. They remembered the stage in the KS2 hall,

Gordon -John Hyde who was the Headmaster of the senior part of the school, his office was behind there (pointing to where the kitchen is now). Miss King was headmistress of the lower part of the school and she had a room round the corner and on the side (now our Deputy Heads office). They had a stage down there (KS1 hall) only a small one, not too high. We used to come into the end (KS2) of the school for singing.

Gordon - I came 3 days later than I should have started school because my parents had been on holiday somewhere down in the west country.

MargaretI have to say that you were exceptional because common mortals didn’t have holidays in those days.

Some things must seem very different and some things not changed at all.

Gordon(pointing to the display boards around the hall) There was nothing over those windows.

MargaretI do remember having to go outside for the loos, which was very cold and very wet and very smelly.

Were all the toilets outside?

Margaret -Yes, if you had to come out of class you were allowed to walk up through this hallway and out through the corner there (through the kitchen end double doors and out into the playground) and the toilets were out at the back.

Matt Shoesmith started our school in 1932,

Mr Jones was a sports master at the school, he used to teach in 5M classroom, Mr Burbridge used to do music (in a KS2 classroom, room 8), that’s where we used to go and learn songs, the school songs, hymns and that sort of thing ready for assemblies.

Mr Shoesmith also remembers the stage,

I remember I got the cane on that stage, before the whole school, we used to call the register in the classrooms and then we would assemble out here for the hymns. I got the cane, I wasn’t sure quite what it was all about, but I rather feared that I had complained about the school dinners. I got the cane for that, it could have been on the backside but it was on the hand actually, it was painful. I always remember in assemblies we used to stand facing this way (the same way that we face now), it all looks so tiny now but when I was small it always looked so huge. There was always a painting on the wall here (Room 2) of the gun turret of a ship in the battle of Jutland, there was a lad there called Cornwall, he died in the battle in action and the highest scout badge that you can be awarded for bravery, was called the Cornwall scout badge, named after this guy. We’re talking about the 1914 – 18 war and he was a boy scout.

I remember starting off in reception class and I left school at 14.

I remember Miss King teaching in the class and we all had to be very quiet, I remember a chap called David Willard, one of the lads in our class, he used to play the violin, he was Miss Kings favourite, he passed his violin exams and he was allowed to play his violin in front of the class. Miss King said we mustn’t make too much noise clapping we might disturb all the other classes, so we’ll give them a thumb nail clap. Have you ever tried a thumb nail clap? It’s surprising how loud it is when you get a whole class doing it.

In 1940, when all the children were evacuated, I was left, I didn’t evacuate.

As a kid I remember watching the circus’ coming in to town. They used to come along the Little Common Road, the elephants used to be walking and the lions and tigers would be in cages drawn by horses. Behind the school (where the High School is now) they used to have a big market garden and the circus’ were allowed to perform on there and as little kids, we must have only been about seven, we used to go and help clean out the horses and the elephants and we’d get a free ticket to go to the circus because we’d done that. That would have been about 1936 – 37.

Were you on this photo of the trip to London Zoo?

I have a vague notion that I was, it was one of the only outings I had as a kid, we went by train from the Central Station, then we picked up a coach to London Zoo then I think we went to the Natural History Museum in Kensington, then back to Lyon’s Corner Teahouse in London right opposite Big Ben so I sat having my tea looking at Big Ben.

Dorren Orr 1936 and Edna Farnfield.

You said that you did country dancing at school; do you remember the name of any of the dances?

Dorren -The Cumberland reel and the Dashing White Sergeant, and there was one where we used to weave in and out.

Did boys and girls dance together?

We did in that department (KS1) but we got separated when we were bigger.

I came down here during the war, at the beginning of the war I was with the London children, we only had half a day in the school and we had to go round other places, we went to the Malet Hall for art.

Edna -I can remember we had school outings once a year we paid sixpence a week towards it, we all went to the Tower of London and Heathrow. We had summer outings, going on coaches. We always went to London and it was so exciting. London was wonderful.

Jim Stentiford - We were going to Paris before the war started but then the war came and they cancelled everything.

Doreen - My mother used to dance around the maypole, always on May 1st dressed in white dresses.

Carol Sargeant

I was Carol Shoesmith, and I started here in 1956 or 57. I was here for four years.

Did you like it here?

Yes, it was very strict. Mrs Morris is a bit older than me and I remember Mrs Miller she’s a bit younger than me, I was her patrol leader at Guides.

This was my last classroom, (5I) and the teacher was Mr Barnes and sadly it was only last year that Mrs Barnes passed away.

There used to be a little stage here and the headmistress Miss Kirby used to come out for assembly through that door and make a big entrance. She had very tight curly silver hair. I remember being very naughty in this last classroom and playing leapfrog and I fell and I had to go to hospital and have my leg in plaster. The stupid thing was I was usually good and on this one occasion I did something stupid. Mr Sheather took me in his car, picked my mum up and we went to hospital, we didn’t get an ambulance because we didn’t have a telephone, so I ended up with my leg in plaster for a few weeks. There were a few other red faces not just mine.

Jim Hearn started in the school in 1930 and Alfred Ballard came in 1921

AlfredI was five years old when I came to school in 1921.

Jim -I went to Barrack Road, then to Chantry and we were supposed to go to St Barnabas, but my mother didn’t like it for some reason and she wrote and protested, so I finished up at the Downs. I was never down in the other side of the school (KS1) I started in that classroom (5I). The class through the doors there (Room 1) was the class that wasn’t spoken about very much, some people called it the backward class. Miss Harris had that class. I started in that class with Miss Standing or Stanley then the next class was this one here (Room 3) then  Miss Phillips (Room 4) next one up was Johnny Hyde. (Headmaster)

Did he teach as well then?

Alfred - Yes he used to teach the sixth form. Mr Cross used to teach in that classroom (Room 8) the other class was Mr Clark. Mr Cross was also the games master as well. We also used to go to woodwork classes in the building in London Road, (The buildings were there until 2013. Last used by the High School Nursery, demolished for the new Bexhill/Hastings link road.)

Jim – It’s at the side of the alleyway, the building is still there, we had woodwork on one side and the girls did cookery on the other side

Alfred – Because later they did the cooking upstairs didn’t they? (In what is now the staffroom)

Jim – Yes that’s right. Mr Rawlings was the woodwork man.

Alfred – I remember Mr Rawlings he used to have a desk in front of the class and he used to have off cuts of wood on the desk and he would throw them at you.

Jim – If you were talking away instead of doing things seriously he threw a lump of wood that hit you. "Get on with your work man".

Alfred – Mr Clark used to have a slipper on his desk at the front of the class and if you were fighting or messing about he used to lean you over the front desk and he used to slap your bottom with the slipper.

Jim – Towards the end of my time here the school was so crowded that the hall here (KS2) was made into a classroom, Mr Cross was the Deputy Head. I brought this along, it’s the only relic I’ve kept of my school days, my mum had it for years and years and years and when she died I inherited it, it’s my school report, conduct – troublesome. These were the marks, because we had a once a year exam you see and the top ones of the exam or the culmination of exams went to what we called the Secondary. This was one of my first reports; I would have come here about 1930.

In that final door was Mr Hyde, Johnny Hyde he also taught science and gardening, of course he liked making explosions, he used to make huge explosions in there and rock the whole school.

This class was Miss Shaw, everyone seemed to like Miss Shaw, some of the teachers used to do other things as well, so Miss Shaw as well as general education, she was the art teacher as well. So she gave you subjects to draw or paint, and finally you went to Mr Burtenshaw, as well as general subjects he taught music, violin actually, and singing he used to sing all the old English folk songs and things.

Did you work around the classes then?

JimYes you worked all the way round the hall. Mr Hyde of course had a study where that door (now the door into the kitchen) and of course the stage was there. We had play time, which was in the morning and the afternoon, that was the boys playground (swimming pool side) and that was the girls playground (Down side).

Alfred – Where the old High School building used to be the market garden and behind that was the allotments that covered the area up to Newlands Avenue and Bancroft Road, that was where the gardening in the school was done. They had a barn and we had a horse for ploughing and all that. I also remember that every now and again they had to cut shafts. They had a rope from the barn and they used to attach the horse to it and the horse would go round and round. We used to stand at the railings there and watch the horse.

– I didn’t do any gardening. We all used to go down to the Playhouse in a crocodile, the cinema in Western Road and we used to see all the pictures.

Jim Stentiford started at this school 1933

I remember the air raid shelters on the Downs. I remember having to all troop up there with the masters.

Where were they?

Up there on the Downs, half way up the hill, and they were damp and horrible, all sitting in there with our gas masks on.

Edna Farnfield started at the school 1923, the little girl holding the board in the photograph of the class in 1930 is Edna.

It’s so lovely to come back and see the school, to look how it’s grown and how the children are today. I started in 1923 and left in 1932.

Have you any special memories of the school at that time?

Oh yes, quite a lot, but on one occasion I think it was Miss Stansby and she took a group of about ten of us and we went to the Eastbourne lighthouse, we had to clamber up to the walls and the light housekeeper was there and then we went right up to where the light is and we could see all the cliffs along there. He told us all about the light and how it worked, and of course today it’s not operated by men.

I remember doing folk dancing right where we are sitting now.

Who did folk dancing with you?

Miss Stansby and it was she who took us to the lighthouse.

Edna getting out a notelet with a picture of the lighthouse on – We had to walk all along under these cliffs here, and out across the rocks, and we had to clamber up iron rungs on the brick wall to go into the lighthouse. Today I think we were privileged. I often send pictures of the lighthouse, when I have to send a card to someone.

It obviously made a big impression on you.

Yes, and what impressed me most it had to be arranged when it was a low ebb tide, and to stand there and see all those white cliffs along there, when you’re about a twelve year old they’re very impressive.

Edna also had another photograph taken in 1943, she had trained as a nurse in the RAF.

On a lovely summers day just outside the gates on this side (Down’s) was a small tree and we used to take the forms (benches) out and sit there and do our needlework. And another time Miss Stansby took us for a ramble on the South Downs, and we went to find a dew pond and I always remember picking the cowslips. It’s things like that that I remember. I remember Mr Cross, he was a bit.. well rather stern, he looked stern he’d got a stern voice and I used to meet him and his wife sometimes after I’d left school, I used to meet them in the town sometimes, and he used to say (in a stern voice) "Hello Edna".
It’s been lovely to come into the school when the children are there and when I get home I will sit and think about it all.

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