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 Mistral. Journal of the Mersea Island Society. January 1994. Page 25

Mersea School, by Freda Smith.



It has been suggested that I jot down some memories of my years at Mersea School, both as a pupil and a teacher. They are random thoughts and I am sure others could write recalling much more than I.



So, in 1932 I entered Miss Wooldridge's class as an infant. Boys and girls ...
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Mistral. Journal of the Mersea Island Society. January 1994. Page 25
Mersea School, by Freda Smith.

It has been suggested that I jot down some memories of my years at Mersea School, both as a pupil and a teacher. They are random thoughts and I am sure others could write recalling much more than I.

So, in 1932 I entered Miss Wooldridge's class as an infant. Boys and girls entered the premises by separate entrances. The payground behind the main block and house was divided by a high fence with a door in the middle. I remember on one very snowy day, the door was opened and there was a grand snowball fight.

The school was an all-age one then, and boys did woodwork and the girls did cookery, in a large corrugated building which jutted out into the playground. Lunch was eaten there at one time and there was a lovely smell of wood. Later we lunched in the small room at the Legion Hall. The house then was the home of the Head, Mr Toombs, an awe-inspiring figure to me. Behind the old Senior Block (the smaller building opposite the entrance to the school garden) were a few very tidy gardens, which certain of us tended. The hall (now the Youth Club premises) had cases of stuffed birds attached to the walls.

Some of the teachers' names I recall are Mr Rolls, Mr Barrell, Miss Pascoe and Mr Wilkinson who taught Rural Science - the gardens used for this subject were at the top of the field behind the school garden. I still have m mug which commemorated the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. They were handed out to every child from a table set up in the garden, by the flag pole. Later, we all received one for the Coronation of KingGeorge VI and Queen Elizabeth. Horticultural Shows were held in the field. The rectangular flower bed by the left hand bounary of the garden was a pond and I remember beinggiven the task of netting the dead leaes off the surface. Behind it stood an aviary.

I left to attend the County High School for Girls, little thinking that one day I would return, to stand in front of the class this time. It was just after the war and I remember wearing my ATS battle blouse and skirt dyed brown, to save clothing coupons! I was filling in time whilst waiting to go to college. Later, after teaching at Wivenhoe, I joined the staff at West Mersea. Mr Cotgrove was the Head, followed by Mr Westcott. Certain changes occurred; the wood-work building war removed, for instance. I can't remember when the seniors were sent to Colchester. The classes were large - 52 being the record for me! Dinners were cooked in the kitchen at the canteen, now demolished. They were good, being freshly cooked on the day. The staff ate with the children, with one poor teacher on duty, trying to keep down the babble! I had a class in there (freezing in winter), when Cook came to tell that it had just been announced that King George VI had died. I can recall the deep sense of loss that was felt. Some teachers I remember from this time are Miss Aldridge, Mrs Chesney, Mrs Johnson, Mrs South, Mrs Farthing, Mr Hucklesby, Mr Davis, Mrs Ruffell and Miss Scott. I am hoping someonewill put names to some other faces that I recall. Our care-taker was Don Woolf.

Teaching was really enjoyable, and we were allowed to work without interference - except when we had HMI inspection!. I left when I married, but surprise, surprise, seven years later I was back on the staff again. there had been changed - the woodwork room gone, the swimming pool provided. These names will be recalled by many; - Mrs Shelton, Mrs Kerr, Mrs Neal, Mr Stimpson, Mr Gotsell, Mrs Sellar, Mrs Newomb, Mrs Levett, Mrs Mottershaw, Mrs Gibb and Mrs Coxford. Only two remain from my time, Mrs Hucklesby and Mrs Bermingham.

The greatest event in recent years was the building of the new Infant's Block, and the Junior Hall. Howe I would like to see the Junior School re-housed in their own new building. May-be ?

[ From the School Log Book:
1936 Freda Keene listed in Examination Successes
20 July 1984 Mrs Freda Smith retired after 26 years service. She died November 2015.]

There is an audio recording of Freda talking about her school days. See LN021301_002


Date: January 1994      

Photo: Mersea Museum
Image ID MIS_1994_057


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This image is part of the Mersea Museum Collection.