Trinity School was one big room divided into three classes with a screen. The first thing you did – we had these square sand trays to play with. As far as I know there was Miss Stafford and Miss Abbott, I used to walk home with Miss Abbott, of course they had long skirts then, hanging onto her skirt, I was only four mind you, I can remember that very clearly.
A dress, possibly a calico type material, a white pinafore always, and a piece of rag pinned to your pinafore, that was your handkerchief. You used to take some bread and lard possibly, or dripping, wrapped in newspaper, that was your lunch. They’d be your ordinary dress, you couldn’t afford extras. We had basic needlework classes when we were at St Mary’s school, we used to have to go up to the council school for cookery, the boys would go to woodwork, and we also did laundry up there. Not a lot. I know, for instance, I took a baby’s dress once, handkerchiefs, only small things and they were washed and we had to learn how to iron them properly.
The pen then was a pen with a nib that you could pull out and put another one in…you dipped it in the ink well you see to get your ink on, oh yes, it made a mess. I know I wore black stockings at that time and I used to wipe the nib on the stockings. You weren’t supposed to but I did. One pupil would be detailed to fill the ink pots. Boys and girls sat separately you know – same room but separately. When we got to St Mary’s we didn’t use slates did we? Only in the infants. I liked arithmetic and English composition, I would have liked to go into an office but it wasn’t as easy in those days, there was no help. I just missed getting to the grammar school and that was it.
Short trousers, a jersey serge type of material, not cottony things. The most uncomfortable thing I wore as a lad was a collar – celluloid collar – I used to hate it. One was celluloid collar another one was a starch collar, separate, of course, all collars were separate in those days. The three R’s mainly, reading, writing and arithmetic. You had to do what they
called copybook writing, you know, really nice writing. When I was at the infants school, I’m left handed and everything I did naturally was left-handed but when I started to write left-handed that was knocked out of me, I was made to write right-handed. If you had the cane for anything, if you went back home and said that you’d had the cane, ‘Why?’ and you’d done something wrong you’d probably get another one.
I went to Miss Wrigley’s school in Hill Street, it was a private school – two Miss Wrigleys, two sisters. Seven I started going there. The private school was quite good really, I learnt French and all the rest of it. The only trouble was with my father’s ill health they couldn’t afford to keep me there, I had to go to the council school.
I’m afraid it was a bit of a stark awakening when I went to the council school. There’s one thing they did teach you at the private school – I learnt a lot more there than I did at the council school – for one thing, I could write and when I say write I mean write. I was back at the council school, of course I get me paper, starts writing. The teacher says, ‘You can’t do that, you must do the same as the others.’ I had to go back to printing. I thought it was a bit stupid but there you are. I never really settled in because everything was so strange to me, you know. It’s a lot different…from a small school of about 30 to a big council place, I was really lost. I was only there for 18 months… we moved to Barwell so I had to go to Barwell school. It was a very nice school, small, and I got on very well there.
When you were on your last term they’d take you round the different factories to show you what they done. Just when I were leaving school they started night school and the technical college were just build and I learnt the overlocking there.
Most of the girls went in the hosiery factories and I did and I enjoyed it. There weren’t no choice. The first one was down Station Road at Hood & Masons – it’s gone now, the building’s there. Stockings. I enjoyed it really, we hadn’t got the discipline we had at school. I mean, we were thrust into the adult world immediately. I always enjoyed needlework and I went in as a mender, with a needle, you know.
Weren’t many things as careers. No – you didn’t get any desires like that. The first thing was that you’d got to go to work and earn some money.