May 6th 1998
Dear Mrs Williams,
Further to your letter in the local newspaper regarding the floods in 1938/39. I recall being a 5 year old pupil at Main Road School then. A vivid memory for me is of the teachers hastily packing our needlework (mostly pin cushions in little holders embroidered in wool on canvas - the wool in beautiful bright colours in green and orange and mauve!) into a large (to a 5 year old ) wooden chest. This chest was then somehow lifted onto the top of one of the high storage cupboards in the classroom. Our band instruments (triangle, tambourine, a drum etc.) were similarly packed away against the expected flood damage. I do not remember how realistic a defence these measures were, but I think we continued our sewing and percussion skills later!
You mention being billeted out for a few weeks. During the war years we had to carry a chair each to our billets in Abbey Road Baptist Church rooms (now housing I believe) on the days when we were too overcrowded. We had classes of 50 pupils, and for a time we rotated lessons on mornings one week, afternoons the second week. This was when the evacuees arrived, mainly from London. We also had "Canal children" in our classes occasionally. They lived on the barges and narrow boats and when these were due to be moored at South Bridge wharf for three or more days the children were required to attend school. We saw some of them on an almost regular basis over the years. The Main Road School catered for us from 5 years to 11 years, with a "first" class (where there was a rocking horse to ride on your first day) and Father Christmas arrived in the huge fireplace grate in the second classroom.
We had a third of a pint of milk each day, which was put on the warm radiators to warm if we liked it that way.
Our P.E. (gymnastics) consisted of running, skipping etc. games in the tarmac covered playground and oval rush mats to sit out on.
I hope the children of today find this interesting, if they can believe it.
All good wishes for a speedy return to your school buildings.
Mrs Margaret Scott