Smeaton Street School – 1948-52

I ‘graduated’ to Smeaton Street Junior Boys School and formed new friendships with lads from other parts of North Ormesby and Cargo Fleet. I was appointed to the ‘A’ class and placed in the third section (row) in accordance with my perceived academic ability. All work was transcribed using a nib pen periodically dipped into the ink well in the corner of each desk.

The Festival of Britain was opened by King George VI in May 1951. Many of the activities at school that year revolved around this event, which was the anniversary of the Great Exhibition held in 1851. The British Commonwealth was promoted shamelessly and Britannia still ‘Rules the Waves’.

Everest was conquered by Hillary and Tenzin in 1953 and the headmaster interrupted our class to announce the great news. War rationing was still enforced at that time. In 1953 a consignment of crates of rosy red apples arrived at the school. Each case bore the inscription ‘A gift from Canada’.

Nutrition was still a focus and every day at playtime all children were given a third of a pint of milk, distributed from steel crates. During winter, the milk froze in the bottles. If there was spare coal, the fire was lit in the corner of the room and the milk crate was placed on the hearth to warm through.

In the later years of junior school my eyesight started to deteriorate and I was horrified at the prospect of having to wear glasses. I tried, but not very successfully, to hide the worsening problem. It was difficult seeing the blackboard. Tommy Fox, my desk partner, let me copy the questions from his book, but not if it was a test and consequently my results suffered. The seats were still arranged in rows according to ability, but I somehow still managed to graduate to section one.

Chuck Berry – ‘School Days’
Soon as three o’clock rolls around
You finally lay your burden down
Close up your books, get out of your seat
Down the halls and into the street
Up to the corner and ’round the bend
Right to the juke joint, you go in

It was during a routine medical examination in my final year, which included an eye test, that the deception was uncovered. As I waited in line for my turn to read the chart, I tried to memorize the letters. However, I was told to start at a different spot on the sheet. On the way home from Coopers with new glasses I could hardly believe how clear everything was – actually seeing the individual leaves on the trees across the road! The day was spoilt however by a lad from the end of the street calling out ‘Specky four eyes!’

Smeaton Street Junior School – North Ormesby – 1952

Back Row – Mr Gledhill; Mark Curry; Tony Brown; Robert Savage; Bobby Shell; ?; Barry  Pearson; John Jones; Frankie Layton; Graham Rutherford; Colin Best; Bobby Ryder; Mr Dyson.

3rd Row – Teddy Hoyland; Tony Coats; Donald Holt; Tommy?; Peter Hurly; Lesley Hurst; Hilton Knott; Peter Cook; Brian Fletcher; Derek Fowler; Les Allan; Kenny Duck.

2nd Row – Don Williams; Alan Jones; Tommy Fox; Stuart Hobson; Keith Jennings; Malcolm Ford; George Sturdy; Mick Tosh; Norman Gill; Dennis Chatten; Len Hamersley; Alan Newton.

1st Row – Ray Jones; George Curnow; Archie Pettit; Cliffy Williams1My next door neighbour.

Next: 2014 – Remembering high school

Previous: 2014 – Remembering school days