An incident in Ipswich in July 1851 resulted in the town being banned from seeing members of the royal family visit the borough for seventy-five years.Read More
Open coal fires, a school bell and highly polished wooded floors, all memories of school days at Trinity Street schools, Ipswich. Stan Ransome, who now lives in Lancashire was a pupil at the schools during the 1930s. Stan said, “There were two schools, one each side of Trinity Street. On the side nearer the gas holders and dock was the infant building, which was built of Suffolk white bricks, in the style of a church, with sharp pointed black railings up to the pavement. At the rear was a small concrete play area with a covered corrugated iron shelter in case it rained. On the opposite side of the street was a larger building in red brick for the juniors. In my minds eye I have lots of pictures of the schools during the 1930s.”“This was my first school, I started there in September 1930 when I was just five years of age. I remember standing on our front door step watching others going past on their way there and wondering what has to happen. Unlike today we were not made familiar with the school prior to our starting. My first memory is of a highly polished wooden block floor and a heavy folding wooden wall partition to divide off the room. During my initial term we had to sit, alphabetically by name, in rows crossed-legged on the floor, the alphabet being our main early teaching. This classroom had the alphabet around the three solid walls, each letter also showing an appropriate object or animal with it, A was an apple, S a snake signified by a loud hiss from all the class. Later things became more dignified, being seated at small desks in the main room with the pleasure of a coal fire.” “The junior school was of red brick construction with a single entrance door in the outside wall in Trinity Street, the main entrance gates to the playground area and the front of the school being round the corner in Unity Street. The main entrance was in the form of a porch with a small brick built belfry above it. School started at 9am, the bell run a few minutes before by use of a metal pull rod on the inner porch wall. I believe sometimes children who were always early were allowed to ring the bell. Although living close by in Albion Street I only left our front door when the bell was already ringing so I never had that pleasure. Some of the classroom windows were rather medieval with pointed tops and stained glass. However they were in frames and could be opened, giving much relief on hot days. The next school building in Unity Street was set back to the school’s building line, having a large garden area in front of it with a small waist high gate entrance. An elderly man lived there, Mr Clark I believe, and I always thought of him as the school’s caretaker. The garden was always neat, with rows of vegetables and flowers. He would often be leaning on the front gate when we finished school in the afternoon and I think he really enjoyed a number of us staying to listen to his stories and jokes. A really pleasant man who seemed to know all our names and nicknames”
“There was no such thing as school dinners in those days and at midday we would all go home for a meal. My father, working at the gas company at the bottom of Albion Street, also came home for a cooked dinner, a real family reunion where we would relate our morning’s happenings."
"My sister Jean, only being born in August 1930, was fast asleep at these social mealtimes. It was all so very different in those days. I still have my yearly reports from the schools I attended, Trinity Street, Cavendish Street, Argyle Street and Clifford Road. The early ones said ‘Could do better’ and later ones ‘Making good progress’. Teachers I remember from the Trinity Street junior school are Miss “Nellie” Finch, Miss Jackson and, I believe, Miss Brown. My report there was signed by E M A Hack, head teacher. Names of the children I remember, who I believed attended there are: Teddy Butters, Billy Button, Ray Child, Ron Chisnall, Betty Davis, Donald Double, Bernard Elmy, Sidney Ely, Bertie Flory, Billy Forsdike, Clarence Fox, Billy Gayfer, Charlie Hullis, Charlie King, “Dinkie” Malhan, Bobby Raven, Violet Rutter, Jeanie Smith, Jack Wicks, Billy and Kenny Wilding, Billy and Harry Wrapson and last my rather adorable school dancing partner, the delectable Edna Glue, later I believe Mrs Read.” “I also believe our neighbour in Albion Street, Billy Snook, who later became well known in Ipswich local football, also attended the school in the late 20s and 30s.” Lesley Keeley Ipswich said My mother Elsie was born at 10 Trinity Street and attended both schools. She lived with her parents Martha and Ernest Lankester and her six siblings in the house next door but one to the corner shop. All the Lankester children attended Trinity Street schools. I used to visit my granddad at number ten in the 1940-50s and call into the corner shop with my mother to purchase his pipe ‘baccy’, which when smoked, gave off clouds of strong smoke, which granddad relished. The houses were tiny inside, it had three small bedrooms, a front parlor, seldom used, and a living room, crowded with a large circular table, a horsehair sofa, a gramophone with a large tin horn and a black leaded fireplace with a high mantelpiece complete with chenille fringe.” “The kitchen housed a large brick copper and a low stone sink with one cold tap. The toilet was outside with a brick alcove for coal and a large tin bath hanging on a nail. The back garden led onto a cinder track, which led to Myrtle Road. The back to back houses, which were between Trinity Street and the dock had already been knocked down. There was always a faint gassy smell in the air, coming from the large gas holders at the gas works on the dockside. My grandfather worked for the gas company, as did his father James Lankester before him. He had lived at number four Trinity Street and number nineteen. I have a copy of my great grandfather’s indentures when he started his apprenticeship as a gas engineer in 1853. This was for seven years. The starting wage was one shilling and six pence per week, ending after seven years at twelve shillings per week. He worked for the Gas Company for sixty-seven years and was presented with a silver tankard for being the longest serving employee. It’s good to see that the area around the docks has being regenerated, and is thriving again.”
Tower Ramparts School stood in the centre of Ipswich, until it was demolished in 1979 and the Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre was built on the site. It seems to have left its mark in more than one way! Until the late 1960s pupils often received harsh punishment for alleged incidents and there was no defence. There was also bullying from older pupils with punishment in the school “stocks” the iron railings in the playground. It was the way of life at the time at many secondary schools and many have fond memories of their school days there.
George Potter remembers the day teacher “Spud” Baker punished him for breaking a window. George said. “I was there until 1949. Mr Heath was the head master; his wife was also a teacher. My class door used to open out into the main hall where we had assembly. One of my teachers was Mr Groom. He came to school on an upright woman's bike with a basket on the front of the handle bars”. Teacher “Spud” Baker, I remember well, as he gave me six whacks across the palm of my right hand after I put my left hand through the glass window of the door to the handicraft room, which was then in the playground. We used to play touch with a boot by throwing it at each other. I cut my wrist very badly by putting my hand through the glass window of the door trying to catch the boot. I was rushed to the clinic, then in Elm Street. Two days after I returned to school. “Spud” gave me the six whacks with his cane across the palm for breaking the window. No sympathy for my cut wrist”! Barry Anderson, who lives Las Vegas. USA had a keen eye for some of the teacher’s cars, he said. I started in Mr Finbow's Form 1.1 in 1959, was in Mr Rose's 2.1 and 3.1 and ended up in Mr J Woods' 4.1 in 1962. I did well on the eleven plus exam, but because my father was a lorry driver the headmaster at the Chantry Annex thought I'd be better off at Tower Ramparts, talk about class distinction”! “As it turned out, I got a good education at Tower Ramparts. Mr Webber was the man behind many changes and he did a world of good. Mine was the last class of all boys, and in 1962 the third years were amalgamated with Christchurch Girls, but the 4th years were not mixed”. “ Mr Webber instituted a house system, with Tudor (Red), Norman (Blue), Stuart (Yellow) and Saxon (Green), and the possibility of earning merit cards for your house. It was a proud day for me when I earned my first merit card for Tudor House from Mr Finbow, one of the kindest teachers I had ever met. He drove a yellow and green roadster, probably a MG-TD. Mr Wood had an Austin Princess, it looked like a limousine to my untutored eye, but it sparked my interest in cars, especially when Botwood's Garage opposite had an E-Type Jag in their window. I promised myself a Jaguar then and there, but it wasn't until I was commissioned into the US Air Force in 1978 that I could afford a used '74 XJ-6 and that was a disappointment, it couldn't handle the hot weather in Texas and Alabama”!
“Mr Rose had a bike, so obviously teaching maths wasn't the most lucrative of careers. I do remember several careers oriented trips, one took us to St Audrey's Mental Hospital, and I didn't fancy that” A highlight was the 1960 school trip to Austria. I think there were about sixty of us on the trip spread around three guesthouses in Radfeld near Rattenberg. I clearly remember a chap, Peter Pegg keeping us up half the night brushing his teeth. He's probably a dentist now! “I emigrated to the USA over forty years ago, but got stationed at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Alconbury twice in my 20 year USAF career. It was strange to be in a shopping centre in 1994 where my old school had been. Michael Green added “My recollection of life at Tower Ramparts is certainly of teachers delivering brutal punishment using canes, slippers, fists and frequent bombardment with chalk and blackboard dusters.
“One teacher owned a cane which he had carefully split into four thin sections, then re-bound together with tape; each lash would bite deep into the skin. I can recall our own victories though, such as the bucket of water perched above a nearly closed door offering the incoming teacher an early bath”.
Mr B Sharpe of Ipswich can also recall the swish of the cane. said “I attended the school from 1947 to 1951. Mr Heath, the headmaster, gave me the cane – one stroke on each hand, I had no idea of what offence I had committed”! “Some of the teachers that I remember are: Mr V E Finbow. He challenged us to guess what the second initials of his name stood for. He was very much a gentleman. Some others were metalwork teachers Mr Dyer and Mr Foley; woodwork teacher Mr Robertson also science master Mr Wilkinson; Mr Gosling, Mr Freeman and Mr Lee. “Another teacher that sticks in my mind is Mr Markham, who maintained a complete disciplined silence in his class. He had a fearful reputation. No one felt inclined to take a chance”! “Our music master was Bates Wilkinson. I also remember Mr Garlic in that capacity. Looking back, I don’t see the school as a complete source of terror. About the worst thing that happened to me was receiving a school dinner with ants crawling on the salad. I took it back and exchanged it: more ants”! “All in all, happy times. Secondary modern education was not highly regarded then but at least the vast majority of us ended our school days there with the ability to read and write, and with some idea of respect for our fellow citizens”. Eric Brown of Rushmere St Andrew remembers “Spud” Bakers special double barrel cane. Eric explains. “Tower Ramparts was during ‘our time’ a school for boys and later to be a mixed secondary. Mr Webber the Headmaster insisted that both jackets with school badges and school ties be worn. This never proved 100 per cent as many parents simply could not afford the extra expense. One of the highlights of the school was the introduction of a new gym converted from the old boiler room on the ground floor. We were always envious of other schools like Westbourne who had their own playing fields. For us it was a trek for a shared field off the Valley Road. Discipline was at the forefront and the cane was freely given. We had one teacher, ‘Spud Baker’, who treated this little treat as a craft. For the more serious offences he would remove from his locker his special double barrel. This cane was so tuned that in one brief stroke it would hit your hand and with the recoil you would receive a second before you could even blink. On reflection it never did us any real harm and if anything, taught us a little respect. Travel to and from school was either by bus, foot or bike. To me, and I am sure many old pupils of the school, a passing glance at the Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre will always be to them Tower Ramparts School”. Dawn Worlledge of Ipswich has memories of corporal punishment at Tower Ramparts. “I too was a pupil there and Mr Cadwallader was my Headmaster. I also have fond memories of the school. I went to Bolton Lane too. I had the cane across my hand and can still feel it. Many of us “bunked off” a lesson and went to the park instead and got found out. It did me no harm, in fact I never did it again as a result of the cane. I left around 1970. When you could leave at fifteen and have worked ever since, except when I married and had my own children.
“A sound whipping across the back.” This is the entry in a school punishment book of May 30 1910. Was this the way to control some wild teenagers in a rough area of a city? No, it was at the tiny village school in Somersham, Suffolk.Read More
It seems also that memories of mischievous events during school days are imprinted in our brains? If only we could remember historical dates, name all the capital cities or the rivers of the world, in the same clear way.Read More
The harsh justice of school days for pupils pre 1970s seems unbelievable in these times when teachers would lose their job for a much smaller incident than my recollections of around 1958 at Landseer Secondary School in Ipswich.Read More