My first school.

Run by elderly ladies

I started at Carlton House Preparatory School, 50 Great College Street, Kemp Town, Brighton in September 1946. The school was run by an elderly lady called Miss Swan. (Nora Blake Swan 1879 – 1970) She was assisted by another couple of ladies whose names escape me now. The school occupied the ground and first floors of an end of terrace Victorian house. The ground floor front room was the class for the new five-year-old first year pupils and the older children used the rooms upstairs. I think Miss Swan lived in the basement as we weren’t allowed down there.

Makeshift gymnasium

The music teacher was a Miss Loder, who was of a similar age to Miss Swan and lived in a flat on the sea front, possibly Chichester Terrace or Clarendon Terrace, where I would go once a week for my piano lessons after school. For gym we would go down to St George’s Church or church hall where there was a makeshift gymnasium. I remember climbing up a rope and being able to look down into the large glass bowl of the lights which hung on chains from the ceiling. Miss Swan was very keen on good manners and she would often tell us, “Manners maketh man”. I have always tried to adhere to this advice.

The walk to school

My family lived in Sussex Square and many other children from the Square, Lewes Crescent, and the local area also attended Carlton House. Unfortunately, I am afraid their names are now lost in the mists of time. In the mornings, several of us would gather outside Mr Jones the newsagent’s kiosk opposite St Mark’s Church. and walk along Eastern Road, past the Clarence Garage, St Mary’s Hall girls’ school and the Royal Sussex County Hospital where we would turn downAbbey Road to the school in Great College Street.

Interesting things along the way

The journey was quite interesting as there was often a pavement artist outside St Mark’s Church who would collect a few pennies for his work, the roads were still being repaired by men with real steam rollers belching smoke and a night watchman would often be on guard with his coke brazier going. There was very little traffic about then as petrol rationing was still in force. The few cars that passed us were mostly pre-War and I could tell the different makes without looking as each had its own distinctive sound. I do not remember seeing any foreign cars in those days.

Comments about this page

  • I was born in 1938 and lived at 15 Great College Street and walked up the road to Carlton House School at age of five during wartime. My father died In RAF but my mother doing dressmaking always found the money to pay the fees (I think, six guineas a term). Miss Swan was a formidable lady. The extension had not been built then and there was a garden with white Japanese anemones. Miss Swan gave my mother a root which was highly prized. This was possibly in return for the empty Canadian dried egg cartons she collected to scrape off the wax covering to polish the desks. I don’t remember what we did during air raids.
    She was severe and I was frightened of her but it did me no harm. She told me not to eat the cores of apples and would search the waste paper basket to check the core was there. I spent a lesson holding my rubber in the air because I had dropped it. All of us went on to pass exams. I was doing fractions at eight, learning a dozen spellings every lunch hour, reading Dickens and Shakespeare, elocution lessons and I was not the only one. Miss Swann kept order threatening a dunce’s cap and there was usually a small boy wearing it in the corner. Her sister, taught us French and needlework. I remember Miss Loder.
    I can also remember children ,Ian Tebbutt, Brenda Page and also Eddy Whaley, a child film star. Thanks to Miss Swan I passed the entrance to the GPDST school at age 10. I am greatly indebted to her.

    By Elizabeth Brown (nee Allen) (18/11/2020)
  • How nice to know that there is at last someone else who went to Carlton House School and remembers Miss Swan. You were obviously there at the same time but a couple of years ahead of me. You mention a ‘Brenda’; I used to sit next to a girl called Brenda but can’t remember her other name. The photo I put on My B&H was only taken in 2019 so as you rightly say it didn’t look like that in the 1940s. Miss Swan must have retired about 1949 as the school closed and I went to another school for a term before I was old enough to go to the Xaverian College up at Queen’s Park. TCS.

    By Tim Sargeant (19/11/2020)

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