It seems also that memories of mischievous events during school days in Ipswich 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. I spent an entire school year trying to learn how to work out the volume of a tetrahedron. I have completely forgotten even the basics. Ask me about school pranks half a century on, no problem. Paul Bird was at Tower Ramparts School in the centre of Ipswich from 1963 to 1967. He has vivid memories of the culinary delights served up for pupils. Paul said. “I attended Tower Ramparts from 1963 until 1967 when my parents and I moved to Essex.
“School dinners were “something else” Although I wasn’t a frequent diner it was quite an experience when I did. All the clichés, jokes and horror stories that have been told about school dinners were, in the case of Tower Ramparts, true, it was absolutely appalling”.
As I recall we sat on tables of either six or eight, two pupils were designated to serve; they would go to the hatch and collect several large aluminum containers. The agony of choice was not an issue as you got what you were given. On a typical day the lid was removed to reveal mashed potato that had the look, consistency and taste, not dissimilar to wallpaper paste. Another would contain meat, what type of meat it was hard to say; beef, lamb, donkey? Who knows, it all had the same slightly metallic flavor imparted by the tin. In a third, some sort of very over cooked vegetable would be lurking. There was normally a jug of an evil looking, evil smelling liquid, that had more in common with creosote than gravy”.
“The “dishing up” was fraught with danger, especially when the two servers had a combined IQ of a baked potato, as was the situation on my table. It was not at all unusual to have a red-hot portion of very suspicious meat land in your lap instead of on your plate. You not only suffered the agony of singed naughty bits but the resulting greasy stain on the front of your trousers meant you spent the rest of the day looking like you’d wet yourself”!
“They also had the habit, either by design or accident, of covering a plate with gravy and then before it had chance to set into something that resembled brown artex, hitting it from a great height with a scoop of mashed potato, so everybody got a share! On one particular occasion they hit a plate with such a velocity that a dollop of the slowly congealing goo shot off down the dinner hall like a liquid ballistic missile and landed on the head of a boy two tables away. He was not amused and nearly started a riot”.
The first two years were spent at Christchurch School in Bolton Lane, although as I recall there was a lot of walking between the two”.
“I can only remember a few of the staff, one was a teacher named Mrs Adams, who spoke with a slight German accent and was terrified of thunderstorms, much to our amusement and delight! The two geography teachers’ spring to mind, Mr Ward and Mr Wyatt, who looked like the milky bar kid grown up!
“Mr Jackerman took us for woodwork and had a unique method of punishment. Having been caught messing about you would be clamped by your hair in the vice, and there you were bent over in a rather vulnerable position. You knew you were going to get a whack on the bum with a ruler, but you didn’t know when. So you would perform all sorts of acrobatics to endeavour to keep an eye on him in the meantime he would try for the element of surprise. So when it finally came, although it didn’t hurt, the shock would usually cause you to try and straighten up with the result that a great clump of hair was often left behind”!
“Looking back Tower Ramparts was a great place and I had some good times there, the facilities were way ahead of there time, as I was soon to find out. When I turned up at my new school in Halstead only to discover that it was not much more than a large bungalow and would have quite easily sat in the assembly hall at Tower Ramparts
Sid Wooby was also a pupil at Tower Ramparts. He recalls carving his name on the chimney stack and the finer skills of pupils making balls of blotting paper soaked in ink to fire with the flick of a ruler! Sid said. “The everyday lessons are just a blur, but a few things remain in the mind. Like the time myself and a couple of others went out of a window in the corridor outside the science lab and up on the roof to carve our names on one of the chimney stacks. Or going over the wall near the cycle racks and down to the rear exit of the Picture House Cinema next door and waiting for someone to emerge and sneaking in the open door to spend the afternoon watching movies”.
“There was the time the military forces took over the Electric House car park to stage an exhibition of the equipment of war. We were told at the morning assembly not to go over to look during the midday break, as the school was to spend the afternoon looking round. The penalty for so doing was to spend the afternoon in the school assembly hall. Guess who spent the afternoon in the hall, and I was not alone”!
“I remember someone flicking ink balls around the classroom with a ruler, during the teacher’s temporary absence. The windows were open so it must have been summer, one of the missiles went out of the window and landed on the shoulder of a lady waiting for a trolley bus. The upshot was someone’s parent paying the cleaner’s bill and a lot of harsh words. Happy days, and in between it all we learned the three R’s and a bit more”.