Junior School

This class photograph shows 4A in about March or April 1953. It was probably taken on a day for games as some of the boys are wearing their football kit. The picture was taken in the playground. Behind the group you can see the wall which once divided the Aylesbury Street school from the Infant School playground. The prefab building behind it was the school canteen which served memorable dinners of soggy scoops of mashed potatoes, reconstituted dried peas and tapoica pudding.
Back Row: Peter Bush, Kenneth Holloway, John Alsopp, Geoffrey Woodward, Francis Old, Bryan Dunleavy, John Williams.
Middle Row: Rosa Kingston, Margaret Skinner, Annette Turner, Dorothy Bennett, Marigold Craig, Margaret Woodard, Janet Haynes, Yvonne Hewitt, Kathleen Wood.
Front Row: David Wilmin, Anne Maskell, Diane Thomas, Elaine Hayfield, Miss Kemp, Rosemary Marshall, Dorothy Humphries, Celia Pascoe, Roger Norman.
Ground Row: Ronald Stones, Raymond Bear, Pamela Bellamy, John Dilley, Ian Hickson.
The Aylesbury Street school was then divided. The ground floor was taken up by the Secondary Modern School, then under the headship of Mr Lun. It was generally called the Senior School. In addition there were three outbuildings – a cookery classroom and girls toilets, a woodwork classroom and a boys toilet. the boys toilet has been demolished but the two classrooms remain. The divisions were gender based – boys took woodwork and girls did cookery (it was called Cookery; Domestic Science, Home Economics, Food Technology were terms yet to be developed.)
The Junior School, as it was then known, occupied the upper floor. The entrance was only through the back stairs and efforts were made to ensure that the older boys and girls did not mix with the younger ones. Starting and finishing times and breaks were different for each school.
There were two streams for each of the four years, so eight classes in all.

Coronation 1953

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the first big event to  lighten the gloomy post war years. Everybody got very excited about it and streets organized themselves with displays of bunting, street parties and other events.

The photo, described on the back as “Stratford Road Children’s Party, Craufurd Arms, Saturday afternoon, June 6th. 1953” It has probably come into my possession through my grandparents who lived on the Stratford Road. 
Most of these children were much younger than I was in 1953 and I am not sure I can put names to any of these faces.

We will remember them

Remembrance Sunday 2008 will be an incidental activity for most residents of this county; in 1958 it was central. Every adult remembered the war and those of us who were born during the war knew about the austerity that followed it. Our grandparents carried memories of the earlier Great War. Most men in their 30s had seen military service and the military way of doing things influenced many areas of life. Businesses would talk of “military efficiency” as an ideal to strive for. Men’s haircuts were still short and the long hair of the 1960s was a reaction against that. Organizations like TocH, founded during the first world war, still had a presence in the town. Ex-army officers tended to carry their rank into civilian life and were known as Captain or Major or Colonel so-and-so. Even Lord Hesketh, one of the local grandees, preferred to be known as Major Hesketh.

This is not to suggest that the miltary dominated people’s lives; obviously everyone got on with life. But it was there in the background. In the week before Remembrance Day past wars came into full focus.
The poppy appeal was very big. Every workplace, school and street corner was organized to raise money. In the week before Poppy Day we were expected to take our pennies for the collection. For sixpence or a shilling you could get to sport a larger poppy. I remember one incident from 1953 when one of my classmates was given a huge poppy with multiple petals and leaves for a penny! All morning he was hugely chuffed with his good fortune until it came to dinner time and all he could find in his pocket was a penny where there shold have been a half-crown.
As I was in the church choir in the early 50s I became an active participant in Remembrance Sunday. The church service began at 10:30 in a packed church, the we would process along Buckingham Street to the Cenotaph in the Square. The other churches also made similar processions. The Square would then be full of active soldiers in uniform, members of the British Legion wearing their medals, veterans of both wars, the town band, church congregations, leading citizens. At 11 am two minutes of silence would be observed, then possibly a hymn and a benediction before the crowd dispersed.
The day concluded with an evening concert in the works canteen. Music was provided by the town band and various musicians assembled into an orchestra. One lady would sing a solo of Abide with me! and others intoned ┬árecitations including Lawrence Binyon’s haunting poem:
They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.

Wolverton Grammar School


Detailed views below

I entered the Grammar School in September 1953. At that age you assume that everything has always been there and it was not until much later that I discovered that it had only become a Grammar School after the Education Act of 1944. Fees were abolished and admission was based upon selection – the notorious 11+. This also meant that everything you needed (apart from a pen) was supplied – exercise books, file paper, drawing pencils (coloured green as I recall), protractor and compass. All this was administered by Mrs Burley, the school secretary, from the Stock Cupboard every Monday.

Boys could wear either a navy blue blazer or a grey flannel suit. Girls wore white blouses and grey “gym-slips” as they were known. In the summer girls were allowed to wear cotton dresses which were coloured according to House – Pink for Red House (Wolverton, New Bradwell), Yellow for Yellow House (Stony Stratford, Bletchley), and Green for Green House (Newport Pagnell, Olney).
I see from the photo that girls from the 3rd to 5th form wore Navy tunics and 6th form girls wore grey skirts.
We all wore dark green silk ties with narrow red and yellow diagonal stripes. Boys wore peaked caps. I don’t recall what girls wore on their heads but it may have been some sort of grey bonnet. 
Uniform was rigidly enforced. I do recall one scene on a rainy lunchtime when an older girl was unwise enough to wear a clear plastic headscarf (probably just been invented)  and Miss Full, the Senior Mistress ripped it off her head and gave her a serious tongue-lashing with, I imagine, more to follow.