Friday, 28 September 2012

Fatherless my story as an orphan continued

Mr Thomas, a master as well as a teacher married the sister of the sanitarium – Miss Macashon.  She nursed Mr Thomas when he had a bad fall and romanced blossomed.

Miss Lennox who I have already mentioned was a tall slim music teacher.  After giving her music lessons each week, Miss Lennox would ask if Margo wanted her to play something for her.  She would always ask her to play Tchaikovsky’s concerto in B flat minor and to see her fingers running over the keys was absolutely fantastic.

One day Marjorie and Margo together with one boy were invited to take a piano exam at the home of Miss Lennox.    The only reason the boy passed was because he was the only one to notice the chair was not straight as it should be.  Another exam was taken in a large hall in Croydon, which gave Margo and the other children a certificate of music.  During the intervals of each year’s Christmas show, Marjorie and Margo would entertain the school by playing duets on the piano.

Margo also enjoyed music lessons with Mr Thomas the music teacher and was very proud to win the Charles Link Memorial prize in Form 8 on 25th June 1947.  She was given 21/- (21 shillings) and was allowed to go to the local shops and purchase something with the money.  She bought a Royal Philharmonic book and it was presented to her with the inscription on the inside cover, signed by the headmaster – Mr LCF Fairbairn.  Her name was also included on the music prize board in the dining hall in gold lettering.  All the children whose names appeared on either of the two boards for prizes won were proud.  Those two boards must be somewhere.  It is a shame they were lost when the school buildings were demolished in 1980.

After 53 years it is amazing how the girl’s names are still remembered.  Two of the girls Margo spent so many years at the orphanage with are Marjorie Bower and Nora Williams; both were bridesmaids at Margo’s wedding.  Both were married and sadly widowed, but we have kept in touch since our school days.  Other names which come into mind are Shirley Lintott, a bit bossy, Paddy Plumbridge, Enid Fry, Mary Beavan, Joan Dutton, Iris Huck, Ann Whybrow, Sheila Pilbeam and sister Ann, Margaret & Kathleen Tappin, twins, and many more – I could go on.

Nora’s mother Margo will always remember.  She would take Margo and Freddy out on visiting day if their mother was unable to, she would send them back with money, sweets etc, the same as her own four children.

The PE teacher gave the girl’s weekly exercises in their lessons as well as running around the large playground which kept the girls fit, although as young girl’s, they were not always enjoyed, but Margo, having a bad posture found many of these exercise of great help, especially when she got older and began to suffer with her back, she would find some of them relaxing.

Matron had a Black Labrador called Ben.  He was a great favourite of the girls.  One day Matron asked the girls to get rid of some pets he had.  They were all over his skin and their bodies could be seen, but the legs were inside his skin.  The girls spent many hours pulling these pets out, much to Ben’s delight not forgetting matron.  Ben never suffered with them again.

Winter Blues.
The girl’s routine didn’t vary and boredom could set in during the winter.  As already described, many girls enjoyed the snow and would be out in the cold having fun.  Margo was unable to join in the fun because of her chilblains.  A girl named Helen Williams would tap dance in the playroom and girls would want to learn. Margo being indoors all the time would be watching and learning herself.  Helen was a new girl and one day she saw Margo tapping and wanted to know how she could tap.  Explaining that she had been watching her teach some of the girls, Helen wanted to show Margo other steps and to join in the Christmas shows.  One Christmas while the girls were entertaining the school with their show, Helen was trying to think of how she and Margo could finish a routine they were going to do in the show.  Just before they were due on stage, Margo managed to master a difficult few steps and did it without a mistake in front of the school. The art of tapping is to tap your foot forward and then backward, which Margo found easy.

One day the mistress allowed some of the girls to join Helen at the local School of Dancing to watch the dancers which included Helen practise their ballet lessons.  They enjoyed the visit especially a particular dance routine the group were doing on stage in one of the local theatres.

One year the mistresses decided the girls should learn how to knit and gave them all needles and wool and taught them to knit themselves a jumper, this was very useful when Margo was married.  She would knit everything for her daughters during their school years.  Needlework was a lesson Margo did not enjoy at school and even in her adult life.  One lesson she thought she would be clever and make a tablecloth, but it ended up so small it would only fit a small table.  Darning was taught to the girls by the mistresses which also became very handy before and after one got married.

Lessons Margo did enjoy were cookery.  Cakes, Pastries and even a dinner, which the girls were allowed to take into the dining hall for their meal.  The cookery and science lessons were taken in the room on the back road.  The only problem was when the lesson was to cook a meal this would involve peeling onions which always made Margo’s eyes water, the teacher would tell her to stand outside until her eyes felt better.  However, one particular time Margo was standing outside waiting for her eyes to stop watering when the sister from the sanitarium walked past asking what naughty thing she had done to deserve standing outside.  She tried to make her understand she hadn’t been misbehaving but to no avail.

In the junior classes each morning the first lesson was for everyone to chant the times tables, followed by scripture and maths.  The lessons would begin at 0900 – 1200 after which all the girls would prepare for their meal, the whistle would be heard for them to get into line in the playroom ready to walk quietly through the corridor to the dining hall and it was at this time brothers and sisters would look out for each other.  No talking was allowed during meals, only at teatime which I have already mentioned.  Classes would return for the afternoon session ending about 1600.

Although Margo was only average with maths, it was to be her decision later to earn her living in an office in the accounts department.  She loved it so much that when she married, in between having her family, she stayed in that department for over 40 years and has since enjoyed figures.

Spelling Margo enjoyed and always felt to be of great importance, so much so she helped her daughters to learn to spell well as their school education didn’t teach the children to spell, but to recognise the word with a picture.

Holidays at Home.
One holiday at home when Margo was aged about 9 or 10, she wanted to go to the park on her own and once she proved to her mother she knew which bus to get on, she was allowed to go.  However, the bus she was on returning home turned down the wrong road and she knew she had got on the wrong bus.  She immediately got off and began to walk back up to the High Street.  A policeman walking behind caught up with her as she began to cry because she knew she didn’t have enough money for another bus.  When she explained what had happened he took her to the police station where all the police spoiled her with cakes, ice cream and cold drinks.  Needless to say when her mother arrived and took her home she was sick.

Embarrassment and Frights.
During the juniors Margo was frightened and embarrassed many times.  Very often when she would wake up during the night to see standing at the bottom of her bed three figures dressed in black.  It was always two men and one lady.  She was so petrified she would dive immediately under the bedclothes.  Those appearances occurred for many years before stopping.  The embarrassment was these happenings caused her to wet the bed.  Each morning the girls had to strip their beds, fold sheets and blankets and pile them at the end of their beds. Not a difficult thing to do, but when your sheet was wet it was a problem to deal with without anyone noticing what she had done.  The mistresses had obviously noticed the problem Margo had and a plastic sheet was therefore put under the bottom sheet.  Margo was very stressed about this and relieved when this bed-wetting stopped when she was about 11 years old.

The Return to School from the Evacuation.
The war was over.  It was June 1945 and the children returned to the orphanage from Nottingham.  Although the parting from Nottingham and the families who had looked after them had been very emotional, it was nice to get back to the orphanage and see their friends who hadn’t gone with them.  Photographs had recorded their return.  The school ruling and routine the children had to adjust to again, as the war and move to safety had interrupted all that.  The farm smells and to hear the chickens again all came back.

There were times when some of the girls would slip down to the farm hoping nobody would see them.  It was assumed that eggs, vegetables and fruit the children did have came from the farm.  Margo can remember helping the farmer who was very nice, to collect the eggs from underneath the chickens, (if anyone would have found out he would have been in trouble).  At the bottom of the driveway stood the cottage, which was the home of the farmer and his wife – Mr and Mrs Kitchen.  Sometimes the children were allowed to go down and visit them, as they were loved with affection from the girls anyway.  In 1980 when the school was demolished the cottage was kept and is used to this day as the museum.

Photo of my Mum with her mother outside the orphange on a visitors day

This is a brilliant website.  Click the link and take a look

Thursday, 6 September 2012

I've just had my first go at knitting with ruffle yarn.  I'm not sure that it was my favourite type of knitting but quite pleased with the scarf and love the colours.  Hope you like these to.

Here is the free pattern for anybody who fancies a try

A - Starbella   Size 3- 4, 4 - 6 and 8-10 - 1 ball
B - Cascade Fixation Size 3 - 4 (1 Ball) sizes 4 -6 and 8 - 10 (2 Balls)

·                      Size 8 -24" Long Circular Needles
·                     3/4" Elastic to fit waist Directions:1.                Starting with Starbella - A and 8 needles. Pick up - 114 (122-130) loops2.                With B - Knit into each loop. Join into round. Place marker cont. with B.3.                Knit 6 (7-8) rows. Drop B.4.                With A - Knit 1 row (notes: Starbella ruffles will be on the inside). Repeat step 2 and 3. 3 (4-5) times.5.                Cut A. Continue with B. Turn work so ruffles are on the outside. Knit every row until work from last A row is 2 (3-4) inches.Note: Depending on the size of your skirt you may need to use more yarn than specified for adding additional rows. You may add or subtract rows at this point to lengthen or shorten skirt.      6.  Purl one row (for fold line). Work 1 inch bind off. Finishing: Fold at fold line to inside. Sew in place to form casing. Leave an opening for elastic. Sew in ends. 

Continued? Fatherless my story as an orphan

Mr & Mrs Reville would take the four children out, but one day standing in a queue to see a show, some children in the queue were playing and Margo noticed scabs on their faces.  They accidentally brushed against Margo as they played and the next morning Margo woke covered in spots, which turned out to be impetigo, she also had nits in her hair.  It was a most embarrassing time as her hair was cut very short and with daily treatment together with the impetigo it took many weeks to clear up.  Margo was naturally unable to attend school.

Another interesting visit in Nottingham was a well-known museum (it’s name escapes me).  The museum stood high within acres of land, and one part sloped down which was used as a German prisoner of war camp.  The British soldiers would walk the prisoners around the grounds so we saw many taking their exercise.

It was a sad day when the children had to leave but it was then safe to return to the orphanage.  A happy reunion was recorded of all the children back at their home.  Sadly contact was lost over the years with Mr & Mrs Reville.

Dining Hall and Kitchen Areas

Remembering the two tall doors in the main hall, this went from the floor to the ceiling and led into the dining hall.  Completely down both sides of the dining hall stood long wooden tables with long forms either side where all the children took their meals.  The boys entered through the tall doors.  From the left of the hall the girls entered and another door down on the left the infants entered.  At the bottom of the dining hall two more doors which led into the spacious kitchen and on the right a small door, which led out to the bread room.  Above the two tall doors a balcony where the governor’s offices were situated, there were times when matron would look down on the children. If she then appeared in the dining hall everyone knew she had seen someone doing something they shouldn’t.  In the kitchen huge cooking pots stood on a very large iron stove where all meals were cooked.  Beyond in a further room the preparations were made.  The food was then transferred into large enamel trays, which were put on large trolleys at the ends of each long wooden table.  The mistress and master usually served the food, otherwise prefects who sat at the beginning of the tables helped with this chore.  Prayers were always said before and after each meal.  Mostly children were allowed to talk for the last 15 minutes of tea time half hour and sit with their brother or sister.  Joe Bristow would give this order and for reasons only known to him sometimes tea half hour was spent in silence.  Joe Bristow would read his newspaper sneekingly peering over his glasses stuck halfway down his nose, the children were quite aware of this and we all knew he was looking for somebody to misbehave.

The kitchen doors were decorated at Christmas time, made to look like a chimney where Father Christmas would enter with presents for the children donated by people locally.  A big Christmas party would be given for the children before Christmas holidays began.

Meals were very basic and not always appetising.  Leeks were always lying in water.  Porridge at breakfast was cold, eggs always hard-boiled.  Salads had creepy crawlies in and once matron made Margo eat it up, crawlies an all.  All plates had to be cleared.  Another girl who hated potatoes was given by one particular mistress a plateful to eat which she found hard to deal with.  Sundays were seed cake and cold milk or jam, bread and tea, which was not always hot.  Two dinner size plates of bread and butter were on the table and a small pot of jam, which had to go round 14 to 16 children on each table.  The crust (called a Giz by the children) was a favourite, and the boys had finger signs to bag theirs – a thumb for a giz and one or two fingers for slices, cannot remember the girls doing this.  Sometimes the children had their fruit probably from the farm, which they enjoyed, but bananas were unknown until they first appeared.  The chickens probably supplied the eggs.  The staff spent their meal times in a dining room next to the dining hall.

Children survived as others were not so lucky and all orphans were being well looked after.  As we may look back on our early days we can appreciate how lucky we were.  Many began at the orphanage as a baby, others normally as infants.  Some were happy there, others were not.  Often children are in need of a hug when feeling emotional as girls do, this was something orphans missed out on.  As the writer, I am a firm believer that your childhood days stay with you forever.

When returning from a holiday tears were always heard at bed time during the first night back, but in the mornings you just went straight back into the school routine.  Life was very strict but it didn’t do you any harm.  You learnt respect and discipline.

I have already described the girl’s side of the school, but to explain further the corridors which went round in a square.  All rooms on the right went out onto a grassed area.  Opposite the first classroom was the girl’s prefect’s room.  They had a wireless, as it was called at that time, arm chair’s, a tennis table which was used later when Margo received the bat and ball set one Christmas, and a piano which Miss Lennox the music teacher who came to the school and gave piano lessons to those who were learning to play, Margo being one who was learning.  Margo and Marjorie who was also learning would practice every evening for one hour on the piano in one of the classrooms.  At the far end of this corridor facing was the infants classroom and to the left a cloakroom, opposite the stairs which led to the dormitories and the mistresses room on the left beside the cloakroom.

Stepping back into the right corridor, on the left hand side the infant’s classroom and down on the right the infant’s playroom opposite the girl’s playroom, straight ahead were two large doors, which led out to the back road.  On the left of these doors the infant’s toilets, cloakroom and another room.  Turning right again, on the left the dry storeroom opposite another door, this also led into the infant’s room. This was the door the infant’s brothers came through every Saturday to visit.  Further down this corridor on the right the boot room where all shoes were kept and opposite the girls day washroom.  At the end of this corridor to the left was the vegetable room and doors leading to the kitchens, and turning right the infant’s entry to the dining hall and on the right the maids kitchen washroom for all the dishes.  We are now back in the main hall.

Describing the land the school stood in maybe difficult for the reader to comprehend. The cricket meadow, corm field and farm were on the other side to the driveway opposite to the farm.  The building of the school stood high on the hill and it was actually known as “The Home on the Hill”.  The farm had chickens, pigs and a farm horse. The farm also grew apples and all kinds of crops and with so many chickens there must have been a large supply of eggs.

The church stood on the girl’s playground and opposite a grassed area, which was used when the matron allowed the girls to have the croquet set out.  Walking down from this playground along a stoned path which led down to the large meadow, past the sanitarium, and stretched back towards the air raid shelter and from there a path came along the bottom of the meadow and carried on past the wooded area and right on until you came out to the local village.  Margo and her brothers would take this way out when going home for their holidays to the local train.

Many children had problems with their feet or back and Margo remembers for many weeks taking a group for treatment as well as herself, through this meadow to the clinic.  Along the path would always be many dead grass snakes, perhaps this is why Margo has always disliked them.

The long back road went completely along the back of the school building from the sanitarium, and stood high at the beginning of the meadow behind the church. The church stood on the girl’s playground. Continuing along this road, past the kitchens and ending at the boy’s side of the school.  The girl’s outside toilets were situated on this road, to the side were stone steps which led up to the orchard, where more crops were grown up there.  A wooden door at the top of the orchard led out to another part of the local village.  The other side of the steps was the girl’s classroom for cookery, science and needlework lessons.  Further along this road lay the workman’s workroom, the swimming pool, opposite the baker’s room where he baked all the bread, the back of the kitchens and the drying room.  Girl’s and boy’s were allowed alternate evenings for the use of the swimming pool.  As already mentioned the headmaster and his wife had their house above the boy’s side of the school at the far end of this road.  This back road had many other uses.  As girl’s and boy’s reached the age of noticing the opposite sex, they would secretly arrange to meet when quiet during the evenings and who they fancied would sneak along this road for a chat and a kiss, all very innocent.

Freddy, Margo’s brother had now moved up to the older boys. The duty given to him and another boy was for both to take meals along the back road for the patients at the sanitarium.   Each term others were also given this duty.

When Margo was a prefect, matron seemed to think she was the eldest girl and would give her the duty of taking a morning off from class to butter all the bread.  Many other girls’ would be given this job to do at various times.  The baker would bake all the bread in the baking room, which had a very long deep oven.  He would place the dough onto a long handled flat ladle and push the dough right back into the oven.    A lot of bread would be needed for the school on a daily basis.  The loaves would be transferred to the cutting and butter room, which led off the dining hall on the boy’s side.  The store man would put all the loaves through a large slicer, mix margarine and butter together in a stainless steel tin and it would take all morning to butter every slice.

Clubs and Events.
The girl’s would be encouraged to join the brownies, followed by the girl guides.  A lady would come from the local village and the girl’s would learn the guide code, how to do all the knots and would be given their uniform for parades.  The boy’s would go through the cubs and scouts.  Many events were enjoyed with other groups from localities outside the school.

Another event, which the children looked forward to, was when it was learned the Queen and members of the Royal family would be passing through the local railway station named after the school.  Arrangements were made for the children to be standing on the platform and as the train reached the station it slowed down enabling the children to wave to the Queen who would return her wave.  The present Queen is patron of the school and the Old Scholars Association.

Bonfire Night and the Festival.
A large bonfire and a controlled firework display would be an exciting activity following a march to the meadow on bonfire night.
Another year it was arranged for a gymkhana to join the festival and those who owned horses erected jumps etc and their horses added further entertainments which everyone enjoyed.
Festival Day.
In July of each year the school would hold a Festival Day when the Lord Mayor would visit for this occasion.  The workmen would erect a platform stage on the girl’s playground for the Lord Mayor and his aids to watch the girl’s skipping drill and the boys would do their PT exercise.  Families and friends would also visit on this day, which the children always looked forward to.

One year Margo had spent some time in the sanitarium and had recovered just before the festival day.  She was doing a skipping single during the skipping drill and couldn’t finish it because she hadn’t had enough practise, she found this very embarrassing.

Lord Mayor invited Mr Thomas, the choirmaster to bring his choir to sing to him and his guests, invited for dinner at the Mansion House on Lord Mayor’s Day.  The boy’s and girls in the choir were given a buffet meal and entertained all the guests with their singing.  The finale of the day was when the choir were given a special place, which was laid on for them all to watch the Lord Mayor’s Parade.

The dormitories for the children were all names after certain well-known people.  The girl’s two dormitories were Fry and Nightingale.  The boy’s Livingston and Wilberforce.

When the matron retired she was replaced by Mrs White (not during Margo’s time at the school) and her husband joined as a master for the boy’s.  One master namely Joe Bristow (a hard master), it was thought he was an ex sergeant in the army.  Margo didn’t like this master in any way, one reason being he was seen to bully two boy’s who were not as tall as the others, and for whatever reason he always managed to carry one or the other by his short trousers out from the dining hall, which must have been very embarrassing for them.   I doubt those memories have ever been forgotten.  It is well known that most of the boy’s had great respect for Joe Bristow.  Many stories have unfolded about this man.  I am sure the girl’s will always remember the boy’s walking in for their breakfast with Red noses. They looked like they had been running around the playground in their shorts during the winter – which actually Joe Bristow made them do.  One story which Margo’s brother Roy would mention very often – During a session when the boy’s were to take their baths.  Joe made them stand naked by their bath while the water was running, then when enough was in the bath Joe would tell them to get in and wash, one boy found his water too hot and after Joe told the boy many times to get in, he kept telling Joe the water was too hot.  However, eventually the boy picked Joe up and put him in the bath, who just got out saying “it is too hot isn’t it”.  I’m sure there are many more stories the boy’s could tell about this man.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Fatherless the story of an orphan - continuing

The story continues................

The older girls always ran down the corridors as their playroom was opposite the infants’ room.  They would see them slide the last bit of the corridor towards their playroom, which made it very slippery at the end of the corridor.  Many times their mistress would be heard telling them off as this was dangerous, but it continued.  The mistress would blow her whistle when the girls had to line up for their march to the dining room or classes, otherwise prefects in charge of this duty would bang hard on the playroom door and shout for attention, then the infants would see the older girls quietly lead off through the corridor to their classes.  This was scary for the young infants but they were still excited about going up.  There were times when Margo would wonder during her time in the infants what was going on and why she was there, but as time passed she got used to the idea and began to think this was normal and part of growing up.

Now it was time when they were all dressed in their Sunday best and the infants were saying goodbye to the infant’s mistresses as they waited for their relatives to collect them for another holiday.
It must have been about this time when Margo’s younger brother Freddy would be going to Reedham to begin in the infants.

Chapter Three – The First year in the junior girls.
After enjoying a few weeks holiday at home, Margo and Roy were returning to school.  Margo was now with the big girls starting in the juniors.  One mistress who was of medium build with dark hair and wore glasses designated an older girl to introduce Margo and the other girls who went up with her to the rules and to show then round the dormitories.   The Mistress’s name was Miss Norton; she told all the girls they had a number.  Margo’s would be 32 giving the other girls their numbers saying everything would be marked with their number including their clothes and any monies would be kept by the mistress.  The girls followed Kathleen, the older girl up the wide winding wooden stairs.  They reached the first landing and turned right into a very large dormitory where large iron beds with square baskets underneath were lined down both sides of the room with more down the middle.  The beds were made up with white sheets, blankets and warm Red covers.  Dressing gowns and nighties were kept in the baskets underneath.  All the windows had long black blinds due to the blackouts in the war.  At the far end of the dormitory stood a cupboard, which went from the floor to the ceiling.  Kathleen explained that the boxed shelving inside is where the girls would find all their clean clothes as numbered. 

Outside the dormitory was a bedroom and bathroom, this was the junior mistress’s room.  Back on the landing they turned right into a small narrow hallway, which led into a very large round washroom.  All round the sides were small basins, above them were wooden racks where toothbrushes and toothpaste were kept all in number order, underneath hooks for facecloths. 

In the middle of this room stood a tall round rack, above and all around the rack were mirrors, and hanging just below towels  on large hooks.  Just outside the washroom, two sliding doors, this would reveal four toilets, the use of juniors only.

Marjorie, Nora, Agnes, Eileen, Iris, Mary, Paddy and Gillian were some of those who were all now in the juniors with Margo.  They had all been issued their new clothes and been through all rules and regulations that they must abide by now they were in the big girls. Prefects would be looking after them until they are old enough to be given responsibilities themselves.  Margo felt so grown up and happy to be in the juniors, another step towards the last day.    The clothes worn by the girls were rather short cotton blouses which only came a few inches down their chest, a Navy skirt and jumper over the winter, during the summer they were issued with flowered dresses, thought to be made by Miss Munro who you will read about shortly.  Their underclothes, which had to be worn, were a white vest and bodice, white panties worn under navy ones, white cotton socks in the summer and Black stockings in the winter.  Their uniform consisted of a lot of Black and for church services or going out of the school they wore a heavy Black coat and large Panama hat with the school band around the brim.  Shoes consisted of three pairs of black shoes, one pair of lace ups for Sundays, one for days and one pair with a button  were worn as slippers through the school which the girls would  wear after the classes finished, otherwise they were worn over the weekends unless they were going out for walks or attending church.  All kept in the boot room where girls would make sure they were kept clean.

Their hair was cut short and straight to the ears. Every so often a lady came to search their hair for nits, she would comb some awful liquid through their hair – the girls named her “Nitty Nora”.

Miss Munro who I have already mentioned was employed by the orphanage and worked in the tower where she had her workroom.  She made some of the girl’s clothes and also carried out any repairs.  None of the girls were allowed to go up to the tower unless the mistress sent them.  Miss Munro always wore silk black gowns and the girls always felt she wore a wig.  She was a funny lady and ran everywhere, the girls thought she was rather weird, but all liked her and would love to be allowed to go up to her room in the tower and chat.  It was assumed Miss Munro had a room where she lived somewhere up in the tower.  When the girls returned from their holiday their suitcases were stored in the tower.

Once a week the sister from the sanitarium came over to give the girls senna and during the winter a large spoonful of malt.  Every evening the girls were given a half bottle of fresh Milk to drink, many just didn’t like milk, so when the mistress wasn’t looking those who liked milk drank it for them.  Otherwise apart from meal times, if the girls were thirsty they had to get water from the drinking tap in the daily washroom.  Although there were rules when and where girls were allowed round the corridors, they were not allowed to run.

The layout of the girl’s side started from the main hall beginning from matron and her secretary’s office.  From the first corridor down on the left were the junior classrooms (if you remember reading the large windows along the front of the building – those were all the classrooms).  These on the left hand side were for the juniors teaching, the other on the boys side were for the older children, all boys and girls mixed classes.  Teachers came to the school from outside the local area to teach the juniors and the teachers for the older children were taught by two masters namely Mr Akehurst, another teacher (his name escapes me) and the final class by Mr Thomas who also taught music and the choir which attended the London Manor House, but that will come later in the book.  The head master was Mr Fairbairn who had a house in the grounds with his wife.  His office was over on the boy’s side of the school.  Some local children were allowed to attend the orphanage for lessons only.

All the girls had a small square locker in their playroom with just enough room for books, pencils and a few small items.  During the winter when it snowed one pastime was to stand in a line behind each other out on the playground and slide, this was soon stopped by the mistresses as it became dangerous, another was for those girls who had a pair of skates, all held hands and would skate around the playground.  Just imagine how 50 girls or more found various ways of enjoying themselves during their time when they were not having lessons or cleaning the duties they were responsible for.  There were times during the winter when Margo could not join in as she suffered with chilblains on all her fingers, they were very painful and would itch, swell, bleed so badly that the sister would bandage them up, which made it very difficult to do her lessons or even feed herself.  However, eventually the sister decided to give Margo a calcium tablet every day, which in time cured this problem.  She never suffered with this ever again.  The favourite indoor main craze with the girls was film stars, books of the films and the stars which came back with them from holiday times.  Cartwheels, handstands and backbends were another pastime where the girls would become experts and would compete with each other.  They would often see how long they could handstand up the locker or wall and each girl would follow until maybe six or seven of them were all up the wall – how would the first one be feeling by then? but it was fun.

When anyone was naughty the first two punishments were usually no tuck which was given out on Saturdays or to write many lines (I must not…) The girls got good at that as they would write very quickly and scribble most times all the way down I I I I  must must must must not not not not and so on.

Birthdays were never celebrated like today.  Maybe one would receive a cake, which would be shared on their table.

The ambulance or Red Cross, whoever dealt with injuries during the war, had a practise one day.  They decided to use the orphans as patients and it is a memory that some other children locally were used also as patients to deal with a variety of injuries.  Each child had a sign pinned on them with an injury printed on it and in turn the doctors or nurses would bandage them up or place the injury in a splint and with speed get them on a stretcher and into an ambulance.  To the children this session was great fun, but obviously a serious exercise.

The Evacuation
While the war was on the fire bells installed in the corridors would ring very loudly during the night if an air raid was close by.  All the girls would have to put underclothes on, dressing gowns and slippers, collect quickly blankets and stand at the bottom of their beds, while the mistress would check all names making sure everyone were present.  The girls would then be led quietly down the stairs through the corridor to the playroom where the boy’s head master – Mr Joe Bristow would advise if it was safe to go down the meadow to the air raid shelter.  There were many steps to encounter in the dark and a gully running down the side, which caused ankle injuries.  Eventually it was decided children would spend the whole night in the shelter, which had three-tier bunk beds right through.  Margo was given the top bunk and after many a night she would wake with grit in her eye which meant a visit to the sanitarium.   After one bad air raid right above the school, a bomb dropped at the bottom of the village killing the occupants of a cottage and blew out every window in the school.  A decision was therefore made for the children to be sent somewhere safe in Nottingham with relatives consent.  A journey was arranged and families in Aspley, Nottingham took care of two or three children until it was safe to return to the school.  Margo and Freddy stayed with a Mr & Mrs Reville who had two children – Deirdre and Donald.  A happy 11 months was spent in Nottingham.  The orphans joined the local Crane school for their education.

I hope you are enjoying this

Thursday, 30 August 2012

German Pastry

During the early years of my marriage I lived a few doors away from an elderly German lady in her 90's .  She could be quite an ogre but I think she was lonely and after talking to her on my daily walks to school with the children, she started to invite me in for tea and pie!  I helped her with her chores as she had difficulty getting around and she enjoyed showing me how to cook.  One of the recipes I have just for nearly over 35 years now especially at Christmas was her German pastry.  Absolutely delicious for mince pies and apple pies as she suggests.  I still have the little card she wrote the recipe on for me all those years ago which I share with you.

This pastry really does melt in your mouth and I highly recommend it to you

Creations by flutterby

Here is a link to my shop where I sell some of my knitting and crocheting.  I hope you will have a look from time to time.  Here is just a selection of my recent makes which can all be found on folksy

Fatherless - My story as an orphan

I am new to blogging and really don't know where to start but I thought I might include some of the things that I enjoy in future post, maybe link to some of my favourite recipes and knitting patterns but I would particularly like to share some of my mothers life with whoever might take the time to read it.

I was very close to my parents and was devastated when they both passed away in December 2009 and January 2010.  Mum had a particularly hard life with her father passing away after a serious injury at work when she was five years old.  Mum's mother had three small children and decided she did not have the resources to care for them at home so put them in an orphanage for fatherless children.  Mum often talked about her life in the orphanage and my sisters and I encouraged her to write a short book about her young life which she did and although she never published it, it is sold to raise funds for the museum which is still kept for the orphanage that she attended all those years ago.  I intend to put her story on my blog a bit at a time for everybody to read and hope that you enjoy it like my sisters and I did as we grew up.



1939 – 1948



Chapter One      -  The Journey of Infants

Chapter Two     -  Two Years in the Infants

Chapter Three   - The First Year in the Juniors Girls

Chapter Four    -  The Seniors

Chapter Five     -  Looking Back

Chapter Six       - My Employment and my Marriage

Chapter Seven  -  My Thoughts





We all have the need to succeed something personal in our lives.  I have for many years had the desire to write a book and my daughters have encouraged me often to do just that, but the inclination and time had never been there for me.  However, being an avid reader, and in my retirement, I find Catherine Cookson books of such wonderment, especially her “Personal Anthology” “ LET ME MAKE MYSELF PLAIN” which I have now read and encouraged by her life and determination to put all I feel into my book in the hope the reading will be enjoyed by many.

My book covers nine and a half years as an orphan.All the orphans who spent their childhood at Reedham had lost their fathers,some both parents.

I dedicate my book to my husband and our three daughters.

Chapter One – The journey of Infants
Margo was getting on the bus in London travelling to her first employment.  She was very nervous and the conductor in a cheerful voice said to her “Cheer up love, it may never happen,” with a shy smile she gave the money for her daily ticket and sat down.

Looking out of the window Margo wondered what life was going to be like since leaving the orphanage she had spent over 9 years at.  She was now 15 and about to start earning her wages training at a well-known London hotel in the hairdressing department.  The world outside was frightening and very large.  She had been home only at holiday times from the school, a few weeks at a time, and during these times she had been forced with her mother and brothers on many occasions to move from their home to a safer place overnight due to a bomb dropped close by.  At one time they slept on the cold floor of a garage and another time in a pub cellar.

Margo’s mind wandered back to the day in 1939 when war had been declared.  She was 5 and her brother Roy was 10, they were both on a train with their mother who was taking them to an orphanage for safe keeping, unknown to them at the time.  There was an air raid going on and windows were being blown out above the station as their train started its journey.

After about three quarters of an hour they had arrived at their destination and slowly stepping off the train, their mother led them down a slope to the road below.  Turning to their left they could see a large gate beside a cottage.  They were now walking through the gate and began going up a driveway between an avenue of trees.  They could smell a farm; pigs and chickens could be heard.

It was a while before they reached the top of the hill and as the driveway led to the right, glancing to their left, Margo noticed a large meadow and a slope leading to some steps, later to learn led to the girls side.

They had reached the top of the slope; turning left they came out onto a long stoned terrace in front of this very large building – the orphanage.  Not knowing what was going on Margo and Roy walked with their mother towards some very wide stone steps at the centre of the building.  Either side of the steps and along the bottom of the building were large windows with the same above them.  During this long walk the voices of children playing could be heard.

Now they were stepping up the stone steps, through two tall wooden doors into the entrance hall and on the floor an emblem and inside the circle four clasped hands with the words “Charity Makes All One” around the edge.  On the walls a portrait of Andrew Reed the founder and a bust of him later to learn was the man the school was named after.  They walked straight from the room into an inner room, with circular stairs on their right and in front of them two tall doors that appeared to reach the ceiling, these led into the dining hall.  To the left and right they noticed corridors. They had heard a bell ring as they reached the inner room so waited quietly. From a room on their left a lady appeared. She was fairly short, rather on the plump side and dressed in a Navy suit.  She introduced herself as Miss Blake – the matron.  She greeted mother with a smile saying, “welcome to the school and this must be Margo and Roy”. Matron was talking to their mother when a tall boy dressed in grey trousers and a white shirt appeared from the right corridor and smiled at matron, but waited until she had finished talking.  Mother then told Roy he would be staying at the school and she would be visiting him and Margo every month and they would also go home at holiday times.  They were saying goodbye and Roy went away with the tall boy.    Margo began to cry as mother was then saying the same to her, and as matron took hold of her hand shaking hands at the same time with her mother, Margo began to sob as her mother was kissing her goodbye. Matron began to walk away with Margo whose tears were streaming down her face and looking back at her mother she disappeared as they were now walking into a corridor.  They walked down one corridor, turned right into another and whatever matron was saying to her she couldn’t hear as she was sobbing by now.  They eventually reached a small door on the right and as it was being opened, Margo could see boys and girls sitting at small tables eating their dinner.  All this time Margo had been hugging a black doll, her favourite, and as the matron was telling the teacher her name, her doll fell onto the floor, quickly picking it up crying so loudly now the teacher put her arms round her saying “I will look after the doll for you, come and eat some dinner”.  Matron then went out of the room and by now Margo was sobbing for her mother and wasn’t interested in eating any dinner.

Chapter Two – Two years in the Infants.
A short time had passed since that first day.  Margo had at last settle down, still missing her family.  She had made many friends, one in particular named Rosie who was the first to make friends with her and they would play together with the toys always kept in a cupboard of their little room, but Margo had not seen her Black doll since the mistress said she would look after it.  Margo had asked the mistress for her doll and had been told it was safe in her room.  She never saw that doll again.

When new children arrived at the school they were all given a vaccination.  Margo’s arm took a long time to heal as the scab kept breaking down; it had to be kept covered until it began to heal again, in time it completely healed over.

The mistress would bath the children twice a week and dress the girls in pretty dresses during the summer with white ankle socks and black shoes, sometimes a blouse over a pinafore skirt.  In the winter a warm blue jumper and skirt and long white socks.  The boys wore a grey shirt, and trousers and grey socks with black shoes.  All their clothes were marked with their names.  Their hair was kept very short.  When they were taken out for walks they would walk in twos (crocodile style). 

Margo’s brother Roy and other infants brothers and sisters came round to visit every Saturday.  Sometimes Margo would see Roy in the dining hall when they had their meals.

The infant’s teacher was very nice (her name escapes me) The classes were held for about 3 hours during the mornings and afternoons allowing for lunch times.  Margo enjoyed everything they were being taught. The teacher would hang on the classroom wall a black paper with each child’s name on it in white chalk.  Every time the children earned a Gold or Silver star one was put on their paper.  The children loved to see many stars on their named paper. When a drawing was put up on the classroom wall another star appeared on the infant’s paper.  At the end of each term the children were given their paper full of stars to take home at holiday time.

The daily routine in the infants never changed.  Their meal times were spent in the dining hall, sometimes they had their meals at different times to the older children.  Their playtime was spent in their room opposite the big girls playroom where they had a toy cupboard full of books and games.  They also had a large room which looked over the girl’s playground, where the larger toys were kept.
Clothes were sorted by the mistresses for what the infants were to wear each day.  Visiting days were always one Saturday each month when a parent would come and take the children out locally for the day.  Children always looked forward to this day, as they were able to talk to their brothers and sisters.  They were dressed in their Sunday best, which was always a black overcoat and navy hat over their uniform.  They usually came back with a book or a toy and most important sweets, which they didn’t see very often.

The war was going on during this time, so good things were in short supply. Holidays were always exiting times when some of the children went to their parent’s homes for Christmas, Easter and summer holidays when Margo and Roy saw their younger brother. The children would be searching from the classroom windows for their parent and would get excited when seen and would be waiting anxiously for the bell to go for the mistress to call for that girl shouting “see you after the holiday” At Christmas one present Margo always received was a Rupert book which she took great care of and loved to flick the pages quickly to see little Rupert in the top right hand corner of each page running and jumping. To this day Margo has continued to purchase the Rupert books for her daughters when they were young, then her grandchildren, now her great grandchildren. Margo always looked after her books which were shared with her younger brother, but got lost when their little sister arrived in the family home.

It was a sad time when holidays came to an end, they returned to the school and the first night girls cried themselves to sleep. In the mornings it was all over and everyone soon settled down for the new term.  The children who had lost all relatives stayed at the school for their holiday breaks.  It was never known if they went away during holiday times.

It was Easter 1941 and Margo with many other children who had their 7th birthday was being told they would be going up into the juniors the next term.  The girls would stay on the same side of the school with the big girls, the boys lived on the other side of the school.  On their return from the next holiday this is where they would be living.  

More to follow next time.  I hope you enjoy.