Parochial School

Starting Trimdon Parochial School (TPS) in 1937 was a new experience, the classrooms were in a single large room divided by a folding sliding screen wall. The moveable screen allowed the schoolroom to be used for social and community events such as dances. The age range in the school was from about five to fourteen years, divided between the two rooms. The east end had the largest class with about forty to fifty pupils. The “babies” as we were called then were taught by a Miss Curtis (later married Mark Walker), Mrs. Stubbs shared the same room teaching the older end of the class. From memory there were four (or 5) grades (standards) in the classroom.

The west end room was taught by the headmaster Mr. Stubbs who also taught five (or 4) grades with again about forty or so pupils in the class. There were two visiting teachers, Mr. Don Burton who taught woodwork and Mr. Cootes who was teaching science to the older classes. These classes took place in an upstairs room. The older girls got instruction in domestic science also in this upstairs classroom from Mrs. Stubbs.

The school was not centrally heated, the two classrooms shared a single pot-bellied stove which was in the junior room, the partition wall was left open near the stove to allow heat in the senior room. The school milk came in one third pint glass bottles with a cardboard stopper. In winter it was always frozen and the stoppers popped out by the ice. The milk crates were always arranged around the stove to melt the ice before the children got them to drink.

Miss Curtis is fondly remembered by the young children as a kind and gentle person. I remember her class sitting in a tiny desk with a wooden top with carved out squares like a chequer board where we arranged cardboard letters to spell words. Writing was done on slate boards using chalk. By contrast Mrs. (and Mr.) Stubbs were strict disciplinarians.

Billy was the only sibling at TPS when I started, he was in his last year of school. We lived about ¾ mile from the school all downhill going and uphill coming back. He had a bicycle and usually gave me a ride to and from school sitting on his crossbar. It was a long walk at lunchtime to get home and back to school on time.

In total, I spent seven years at the TPS and don’t recall any bad experiences. Being mostly wartime, there were no organised sports and play was limited to the school playground. I do remember the occasional game of rounders in Danby’s field when it was in pasture.

I do not have any memories of personal academic achievement during those early years at school, it has to be recognized that practically all male pupils were either destined to work in the local mining industries (or farming), and, the females to domestic service. While all pupils took the Scholarship Exam at about the age of 11, only fifty boys and fifty girls were accepted into the Secondary School (High School) system each year, from the thousand or so taking the exam in that region. I do not recall any pressure being put on the pupils other than natural ability to do classwork. There was never any homework given out in the school at that time. In retrospect, the teachers did have high standards for those with the ability to learn. In the year that I took the 11-plus exam, there were five of us from TPS that passed, a high percentage from a small two roomed school.