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The Story of "Templars and Whoberley Schools" ...

Templars School Tile Hill Coventry

THE STORY OF A SCHOOL Templars Primary First Printed 1996

IN THE BEGINNING 1931-1939 Whoberley Council School was opened on the 28th May, 1931, by His Worship the Mayor, Alderman W. H. Bachelor. By 1st June 1931, One hundred and twenty children were admitted, ranging from senior boys and girls to juniors and Infants. Almost at once the School began to grow more quickly than was planned, because on August 21st, a new teacher was appointed for the youngest children and a carpenter summoned to shorten the legs of fifty chairs for them. By September 1933, there were Two hundred and fifty-three children on roll and classes were reorganised, extra teachers appointed, so that each class had forty-four pupils. There were four Senior and four Primary classes. In 1935, the numbers had risen to Four hundred and two children on roll, rising again in 1936, so there were six classes in the Seniors and six in the Primary. Classes 5 and 6 were accommodated in the Hall. 1937 was a very busy year. The numbers had risen again to Six hundred and sixty-seven. The School took over the Methodist Hall on Fletchampstead Highway. Ninety-five children and two teachers were transferred there. Miss Porter, an infant teacher, eighty-nine years young this year, remembers teaching there with a very large class. By September of this year, 1937, things improved a little when children from Canley were moved to their temporary new School. Also the end of overcrowding was in sight as a new building, solely for the Infants, was being built. The official opening of the new School by the Mayor, took place on the 27th July, 1939 and tea was taken in the nursery. Already seven classes had been transferred to the new building but this happy situation did not last long. Soon it was back to the old building and overcrowding. This period in the School's history shows how it gradually settled and developed. On June 2 1st, 1931, the land near the boiler house was taken for a School garden and arrangements had been made for seniors to visit the Centaur Road Centre for Handicrafts and Domestic Science. Miss Porter, a retired teacher, who joined the School in 1935, describes the School as a ‘lovely, family school with a warm and friendly atmosphere’. She says she really enjoyed her time at Whoberley from 1935-1950. This atmosphere is reflected in the logbook with the Infant Head, Miss Corson, recording her worries about the children who had to walk long distances through open fields in the dark from Canley. Because of this, on the 14th November, 1933, the time of afternoon School was changed to 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. to allow children living long distances away to get home in daylight. Mrs. M Gray recalls her years in School: "I was five years old when I went to School. My mum took me. I started to cry. Miss Corlon, the Headmistress, picked me up. She was a little silver-grey haired lady. She was very nice. My teacher was a Mrs. Clifton. She was nice too. At Christmas, Santa Claus came round. He sat by me and said ‘I know your name’ I told him he didn’t. So he said my name and said ‘I know your brother Ron’. Some years afterwards, I found out that it was Mr. Malins, the Senior Headmaster. "My sister came to school a year after me. She was in Miss Paul’s class. She kept crying, and 1 had to go into her class to help her. When she settled down, I went back to mine. "At Christmas we went into the Hall. There was a big Christmas Tree. It had a lot of candles on. Mrs Clifton put the fairy on. While she was doing this, we all sang ‘Every little girl would like to be the Fairy on the Christmas Tree’. "I also remember May Day. I was one of the children holding ribbons and dancing round the Maypole. That took part at the front of the School and parents came to watch. I remember doing P.E. At playtime they rang the bell and you ran into line. I can remember where the four classrooms for Infants were. "Miss Corson had some children in her office. My sister and I were with them. Some dolls were given to those not so well off. The youngest picked the first, then all the others, my turn last. I didn’t want one because all the best ones had gone, but she made me have one. I still think about it. (I love dolls) "Mr. Smith was Headmaster in the juniors. He was a nice man, grey hair and handsome. One year they were tarring the playground. We were all warned not to go on the playground but a girl either ran or fell on to the playground and a man stopped her and he fell and was badly burned. He died. We all had to take a three penny bit." "My last two years in the juniors were a nightmare. My teacher would have been just right in the SS. She made my, and a boy’s life hell. I will never forget her." "Mr. Maim was the Senior Headmaster. He was nice. Miss Kershaw and Miss Jeans were nice. Miss Jeans showed you how to sew. Miss Underhill was the cookery teacher. Above the cookery class, there were two rooms and down on the other side, down on the ground, was a fishpond and flower garden. Some children used to jump from the top to the bottom. This day a girl did. I think she hit her head. She died. One girl in my class fell down the steps and fainted. Mr. Aden picked her up. She wet his trousers. He was the woodwork teacher." "I lived right on top of the School but was always late, so we had to do lines ‘I must not be late’ I always did them in advance." "I remember the air-raid shelters. I didn’t like going down them." "’Whoberley’ put some good concerts on. Sometimes you had to sit with your hands on your head. Did your arms ache!" Mrs. M Gray Whoberley School must have been well in advance of its years in Education because it certainly gave its pupils many advantages. If we look through the logbooks (diaries), we can see many visits to places, theatres and cinemas. In 1932, the seniors visited ‘Port Sunlight’, the Lever Brothers’ factory, and in June, they went to the Zoo. There were visits to Stratford to see ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Twelfth Night’. There was a visit to the cinema to see a film on animal life and to the Coventry Museum. In 1933, there was a return visit to Stratford to see the 'Merchant of Venice' and on the 2nd September, a journey to Portsmouth Dockyard. On the 8th September School finished at 4.00 p.m. so that the children could go to the cinema to see a film of their visit to Portsmouth. 1934 brought visits to see the Artists at the Corn Exchange and a whole School visit to Windsor Castle. In July there was a film of their visit to see. September brought a trip to the Astoria Cinema to see a film of HRH the Prince of Wales ‘World Tour,’ and ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by the siris Players in Broadway. An educational visit was arranged in December to the Spon End Pump Station, Coventry Waterworks. The School visited London in May 1936 to see the Coronation Display and the Zoo. September brought a visit to the Circus. In June 1938, the senior boys went to St. Mary’s Hall and on the 3rd; fifteen boys went to Dymchurch Camp. On the 22nd June, the senior choir went to Broadway School for a practice session and on the 23rd, two hundred and thirty-one children and eighteen staff went to London to see the Tower, Madame Tussaud’s and have a coach tour of London. On the 23rd June 1939, there was another holiday camp at Dymchurch for senior boys. Throughout the logbooks we see that certain anniversaries are celebrated every year. On May 24th, Empire Day was held. The whole School assembled in the Hall, sang patriotic songs, listened to an address on ‘Empire Day’ by the Headmaster and saluted the flag. Fifty parents were present to see the ceremony. November 11th was Armistice Day. Again there, was the Headteacher’s address ‘War and Peace’ and two minutes’ silence. June brought Sport’s Day, another annual event. The children took part in singing games at the Rover Sports Ground. Maypole dancing on the front lawn celebrated May Day. There is much mention of music with the Senior Boys’ choir, Senior Girls’ choir and a Junior choir, all taking part in a Music Festival at Leamington. Many of the entries in the logbook mirror the history of Britain and the social conditions that existed at the time. It was a time of the Depression and great poverty and the great hope for the future was the Prince of Wales. In 1932, the Head of the Senior School explained to his pupils; a speech was made in the Albert Hall by the Prince entitled: ‘The Call to Youth’. In 1933, the seniors were given an address on the League of Nations begun to promote greater understanding and prevent another war. The School closed on the10th July for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Coventry. Two hundred and seventy-five children from the School took part in massed singing at the Butts Sports Ground. Jubilee celebrations for George V and Queen Mary took place on the 3rd of May 1935, and on the 6th, the School went to Highfield Road for massed singing and the formation of the Human Flag for the Jubilee. On the 6th November, there was a whole day’s holiday in honour of the marriage of the Duke of Gloucester, requested by the King. The death of King George V was on the 21st January 1936. All the children and the staff were gathered in the Hall to hear the proclamation of the new King in London. The children heard the last Christmas broadcast of the King, supplied by Messrs Hanson and were asked to keep the day quiet by good behaviour. The King’s funeral took place and the School was closed. The Coronation was on May 11th 1937, and ALDERMAN MR. W. H. Batchelor and Mr. Lee Gordon, representing the Mayor handed souvenirs to all the children. The 12th saw the School closed for the Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth. The senior boys and girls attended a P.E display at Highfield Road as part of the celebrations. There is no mention of the Abdication anywhere in the logbooks. The social conditions that existed in School are so different from today. Low attendance numbers are recorded through outbreaks of Scarlet Fever, (School disinfected), diphtheria, measles and other childhood illnesses, which are rarely heard of today. Milk was introduced into School for every child on the 10th October 1932. A third of a pint cost Id (one old penny). In 1934, swimming lessons began and forty children were taken to Coventry. On the 16th March 1933, a Meeting of Old Scholars took place and it was decided to form an Old Scholars’ Association. Officers were elected and a social followed. I suppose this disappeared during the war, never to be resumed. Miss Porter remembers: "I first heard of Whoberley Infants School from the Head Mistress, Miss F. Corson, who belonged to the same French Circle as I did. I was in my sixth year of teaching in a very big School in the City, where there was much poverty. Miss Corson told me that there would be a vacancy on her staff and asked me to apply. I thought it honest to tell my present Head, and she persuaded me that I hadn’t been teaching long enough to move, so 1 did not apply. My mother was Head of a Senior Girls School, and when I went home for the week-end and told her, she pointed out how foolish I had been, as the chance might never come again. Well, the next year Miss Corson again invited me to join her staff, so I applied and was accepted. What a lovely, happy experience, with a wonderful, understanding Head Mistress! Children, parents and teachers just loved her." "Infants, Juniors and Seniors were in the original building until we moved into the new Infant School, about three weeks before war was declared, then we had to move back as it was made into a Wardens’ Post and I had the Junior Hall as classroom for my five year olds." "As there was very little money for individual apparatus for reading and numbers, it was most useful having a paper and cardboard factory and one that turned out wooden shapes at Canley, so I often called there for off-cuts and wooden misfits which I painted." "At dinner times and tea times, I had to stand in the middle of Tile Hill Lane, and hold up the Standard car testers in order to get the children safely across the road." Miss Porter Mary Watkins (Nee Morrison) gives us a vivid description of the School as it was in 1937, and of the surrounding area. She writes: "In 1937, my father, Andrew Morrison, known as Dan, was appointed caretaker of Whoberley School. He had previously been caretaker of Windmill Road School (now Longford Park). My mother was extremely pleased at the move since father’s wage would be ?3 per week, plus a house, coal, gas and electricity, all free. Untold wealth! We duly moved in, in May 1937, to the flat above the junior cloakroom. "The School was divided into three Schools, the Junior School where our house (flat) was situated, the Head being a Miss Jeffries (although my memory is a bit dim about her name). The Senior, or Top, School Head, Mr. Malins, and an Infant School across the farm lane by the side of our house (This would be the new School built 1938-39), the Head being Miss Corson. Beyond the Top School, there were cornfields up to Tile Hill Woods. At the back of the School there was a farm, Capel’s Farm, (the farm supplied our milk) and fields as far as the eye could see up to Ten Shilling Wood, with only the railway line in between. The Canley area had not been extended, so there was no Charter Avenue, no Torrington Avenue, no Templar Avenue, or even Standard Avenue, although building had commenced at the top and nearest Fletchampstead Highway, which was being developed. There were houses adjacent and opposite the School. The houses our side were ?540 each and opposite ?600 each. The end of the farm lane on to Tile Hill Lane had a gate, a bush and a stile next to the School. There were iron railings all around the School. There was plenty of space for us children to play after School and during the long holidays. We had a tent on the back field, played Rounders in the playground and had a marvellous time playing hide and seek. "Father not only kept the keys and stoked up the boilers. His duties included cleaning all the windows, maintaining the grounds and doing any odd painting jobs! He had several ladies, who came to do the cleaning, for which they received the grand total of 1 1/2d per hour. "Although my School days at Whoberley were few, since I went on to Grammar School, of course I still went to any functions, concerts etc., which the School held. "In 1939, the Council took away the iron railings fronting the School, to help the ‘war effort’, we were told. They would be replaced after the war. "Father had been appointed to replace Mr. Grainger, who I always understood to be the first caretaker and who lived at Whoberley School for some seven years. The family was under the impression that the School had been opened about 1930." Mary Watkins (Nee. Morrison) Of course, for quite a time, preparations were being made quietly for the war that now seemed inevitable. In 1937, the Heads attended lectures on Anti-Gas protection measures, and in 1938, arrangements were being made for ARP (Air Raid Precaution) duties. The Infants had now moved to their new School and managed a very short time in their spacious new quarters. Then ‘War was declared’.

[click here] ... continued Chapter Three

Thank you to all the old pupils and staff who have helped in the production of this history.
Thank you to Mrs. Clay who has put this History together.

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