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. The now demolished school was something of a culture shock to me having spent five years at the rather cosy Cliff Lane Junior School, where uniform was the norm, as was doing what we were told etc.
Landseer Secondary was quite another place. Saying you had a good day meant neither teacher nor fellow pupil had hit you! Not wanting to fight meant you were some sort of wimp. I lost a tooth in my first week there. It was a tough place!
Different teachers had different means of corporal punishment. Mr. Underwood the music teacher kept a huge plimsole slipper. You had to collect it from the cupboard for him to hit you with. He would carefully chalk a cross on to leave a mark on your trousers, Mr. Davey the science and physics master had a piece of flex he would double over to whack you with, very scientific!. “Daddy” Collins used the more traditional cane he called 'Sweet William'!
All this gives a little idea of life at the school built round a courtyard with sliding class doors that opened to the outside world of cold fresh air. My first year there was with headmaster “Polly” Perkins a man with a kind reputation in a harsh world. He retired around 1957. The new head was “Paddy” Ireland. Mr. Ireland had a tough job on his hand in a then “earthy” part of town. Discipline was needed but the incident I recall brings a look of disbelief whenever I recall the tale. One afternoon after school there was a fight outside the school, as ever half the school gathered to watch like bees round jam. The lady school secretary stopped and told the boys to break it up. Somebody swore at her, big mistake!
The next morning at assembly “Paddy” asked for the boy who swore to step forward. Silence among the 400 boys there-surprise, surprise! So, would anybody who was outside the school or saw the fight stay in the hall after assembly. It was lambs to the slaughter time! Half the school, me included had seen the fight and naive as we were we stayed behind. We all received four whacks of the cane. First the left hand, then the right, after the first blow my left hand really hurt, the second hit was WOW. Then the right again. There was about two hundred or so boys walking around with their hands tucked under their arms with tears running down their cheeks muttering something unprintable. And that was that. Whether he hit the culprit or not I don’t know.
What was odd was there was no publicity-imagine it now. I gather one family better known in that part of town for fighting under the Queensbury rules “visited” Mr. Ireland and firmly put their point of view.
John and Susan Gostling (nee Roe) recalls the secondary school in the town centre “We were pupils at Tower Ramparts School, Ipswich in the mid 60s. Mr. Ward, who taught geography, certainly had a good aim with the chalk, and also the blackboard rubber. Many a time did this come flying across the room to clip someone on the side of the head. A cookery teacher Miss Ridgeway would punish pupils by rapping the palette knife across the palm of your hand. Many a time did I suffer at her hands for giggling in class, and on one occasion when swinging the knife back, before bringing it crashing down on my hand, she dropped it behind her, causing more fits of giggling resulting in me having two extra slaps! Mr. Hopkinson was the math's teacher. I loathed maths with a vengeance and was absolutely petrified of him, as he walked up and down the classroom with a ruler ready to strike. He did nothing to boost ones confidence or encourage those that didn't quite grasp things immediately. He would never have believed that when leaving school I worked as a wages clerk. Imagine teachers behaving like this today!”
“My husband remembers the playground fights between the boys', when it seemed like the whole school formed a circle to encourage those in the middle battling it out, until a teacher waded in to break up the fun. Tower Ramparts had quite a poor reputation, and it was certainly an eye opener for me, having attended catholic schools most of my school life”
Russell Berry of Ipswich said “I was a pupil at Tower Ramparts during the latter years of the Second World War, starting at the school in September 1944 at the age of 11. I spent four years at that school, leaving in August 1948. In April 1947 the education ministry had extended the school leaving age from 14 to 15, me being in the group of pupils having to stay on at school until I was 15 years. When starting at secondary school the pupils were divided into three groups A, B and C depending upon their ability, I was lucky enough to be selected for the A class, which I stayed in through the four years. Most of the teachers were of an age making them too old for service in the armed forces, the headmaster through my four years was Mr. George Heath, and my class teacher was Mr. Bill Campbell, who usually stayed as our class teacher through the four years I was at that school. During the Second World War, every school had to have air raid shelters; ours were dug out underneath the playground. When there was an air raid on the children had to stay in the shelters until the raid was over, if it overlapped school hours we had to stay in the shelters until it was considered safe for us to leave.
Each child carried an emergency pack of food, just in case we were unable to go home and so miss our mealtimes. We also had to carry a gas mask everywhere we went.
Like most pupils sport played an interesting part in our schooling, our opportunities for sport were very limited, the school being situated in the middle of the town. Our sports field was on the Valley Road adjacent to the Ipswich School playing field, and apart from being too distant from school, we had to either walk or cycle, no school buses in those days, there was always the risk of air raids.”
Mrs. Linda Brennan, (Nee Godchild) wrote with her memories of school. “I went to both Christchurch and Tower Ramparts Schools and can remember us girls having to walk - come rain or shine - up to Sidegate Lane playing fields in our navy blue knickers, green short sleeved shirts and carrying our hockey sticks. Can you picture it today, walking through the busy town dressed like that?
Nearby Tower Ramparts School was Newstead’s cake shop. Often we would buy a lunch of 'stales'. Sausage rolls, cream splits or jam doughnuts were on sale at just a penny each, sometimes, we could even get an extra cake or two thrown in for nothing!"