Photos and articles about Brighton and Hove in the time of coronavirus. See our collection and add your own!

Mr Taylor's class c1958

Downs School: Mr Taylor's class c1958
From the private collection of Honor Wimlett

I started at the Downs School either in late 1953 or early 1954. What I do know is that the School Inspector had to knock at the door to ask why I wasn’t attending  school, as I was past the age when you were supposed to start. I remember my first day in the Infant’s Class – it was frozen outside, there were icicles on the school porch but in the classroom there was a roaring coal fire in an open grate. The frozen milk bottles in their crates were put in front of the fire to thaw.  We were given cod-liver oil – from a teaspoon, capsules weren’t invented then – and I seem to remember orange juice as well.

First lesson
The teacher wrote the letters of the alphabet on the board, pronouncing them phonetically. As she put them up, I told everyone the “correct” way to say the letters. At the time I thought I was being helpful. The teacher appeared to take this very well, but the next morning when I arrived at school I found I had been bumped up into the next class. This was something of a shock and I spent the morning sobbing on the new teacher’s lap.  This teacher was Miss Webb, a very nice, gentle young woman.

The next shock – school dinners
The next shock came a few weeks later, when I was happily getting my coat to go home for lunch as usual – and was told that from now on I was staying to school dinner. The headmistress had discovered that because my mother was on a widow’s pension, I was entitled to free school dinners.  I didn’t really ‘do’ eating in those days, so those school meals were a personal torment. I was always the last one left in the canteen, with all the dinner ladies gathered round, persuading me to take another mouthful.

The girls’ playground
There was a mixed playground, and another one where only the girls were allowed. The girls’ playground would be lined with girls playing ‘jacks’ or ‘fivestones’ along one side, upside-down girls doing handstands would be along another wall and skipping girls in the middle. I was useless at all of these.

The choir
By the time of the photograph shown here, I was in Mr Taylor’s class, over in the annexe. Mr Taylor was lovely, or so I thought anyway. I was in the choir which he ran; there were some things I could do.  We won an inter-school competition singing a song that I think was about Hiawatha.  A short while afterwards, a man from the BBC I think it would have been the Home Service in those days, turned up out of the blue to record us for the radio. We were totally unprepared – and I think our conductor, Mr Taylor must have been nervous and somehow communicated this to us –  so we sang really badly. The programme was never broadcast.

Names of classmates
I was convinced that, whilst still at school, I had written the names of all my classmates on the back of the photo.  The good news is that, yes, I had written the names.  The bad news is that it was done in retrospect in the mid 1990s!  The record is therefore incomplete and probably inaccurate – if anyone has any corrections (including spellings) or additions to the list of names, please comment. 

Photo details
Back row: L-R :Leonard Liechti, John Young, David Kydd, Paul (or David?) Yates, (??), Christopher Mason, Michael Stringer, Mr Taylor.

Next row: L-R (Jennifer Saunders), Hazel French, Margaret Syrett, (Eva Johnson), Pat Smith, (??), (??), Jane Baker, (Madeline Voller).

Next row: L-R: Rosemary Payne, (??), Judith Beynon, (??), (Heather Kydd), (??), Honor Patching, (??), (??), Susan Penfold, Margaret Carpenter.

Front row: For some reason I don’t remember any of these boys’ names!

I am in the third row from the back, the fifth from the right – the one with the incredibly skinny knees!  I was previously Honor Dixon but in 1956 my widowed mother remarried and my surname changed to Patching. Shortly before the photo was taken my hair had been cut and a well-meaning relative paid for me to have a perm.  Before that I had long hair, always worn in two plaits.



Comments about this page

  • Great pic, Honor. This is undoubtedly year 1957-58 as the teacher is certainly Mr Taylor. This makes my earlier picture on this website either 1955-56 or 1956 – I can’t remember if we were photographed in the Autumn or Summer terms. If Miss Webb was indeed an Infants teacher, then it must be the former. Come to think of it, the background in my pic does look like the original Infants’ School wall. In an e-mail she sent to me after she sent the pic to MyBH, Honor listed more names than in the above post. I’ve filled in some more gaps and the list now looks like this: Back row: Len Liechti, John Young, David Kydd, David Yates, Brian Reeve, Chris Mason, Michael Stringer, Mr Taylor. 2nd row: Sally Cotton, Hazel French, Margaret Syrett, Eva Johnson, Pat Smith, Janice Barnes (?), (or the next girl could be Janice Barnes?), Jane Baker, Madeline Voller. 3d row: Rosemary Payne, June Willett, Monica Eckert, Judith Beynon, Rosemary Oxley, Heather Kifford, ??, Honor Patching, ??, ??, Susan Penfold, Margaret Carpenter. Front row: ??, Francis Ward, Graham Pitney, Roger Sweetman, Alan Hayler (?), David Marum, Michael Dartnell, Michael Fanstone. Anyone out there want to correct or add to this list? I expect Mike Dartnell could fill in some of the ??s.

    By Len Liechti (31/01/2010)
  • Thank you, Len. I apologise to the people whose names I didn’t remember before (and some I still don’t) – your faces are all familiar, it’s the names that don’t quite surface in the brain. (By the way, what appears to be horrible scarring on the forehead of Michael Dartnell is caused by the scanner’s reaction to some misplaced gold pen marks on the photo, which has been mounted at some point and outlined in gold.) As far as Miss Webb is concerned, I think I have documentary proof that she was an Infants teacher: we used to write an entry in a personal News Book every morning and I still have mine. I’m pretty sure it has Miss Webb’s Class written on the front – just a question of finding it!

    By Honor Wimlett (07/02/2010)
  • The two unknown names to the left of Susan Penfold are me, Susan Genin then, and Jennifer Spells. I’m not surprised that nobody remembers my name because I was always shy and as quiet as the proverbial mouse. The reason they might remember me but not my name is that in the year of this photo is because when I was in the playground one day I was doing ‘twisters’ with my then boyfriend Francis Ward when the other boys started a football game and he let go of me letting me fly into one of the concrete airshelters there and breaking my leg. This meant that during lessons I had to have one of the double desks to myself with my foot on the bench which we sat on behind the desks. I don’t know if anybody else remembers those shelters but I certainly do. I remember Jennifer because she lived in the next road to me. I hope this will jog a few memories.

    By Sue Harman (12/02/2010)
  • Sue – thank you very much for supplying these names. Are you the one in the spotted dress or the one in the striped dress? I remember both faces well, just not the names. If you are the one in the spotted dress, did you have auburn hair? It sounds as though you have good reason to remember the air raid shelters! I don’t personally remember your broken leg – perhaps it was after I had moved to Portslade. Best wishes.

    By Honor Wimlett (21/02/2010)
  • I’m in the striped dress with Jennifer in the spotted one. I can’t remember the year my leg happened, probably because I don’t want to!

    By Sue Harman (21/03/2010)
  • Second from the left in the front row – my dad, Francis Ward.

    By Kate Vincent (03/05/2010)
  • I was wondering if anyone knows anything about June Willett?

    By Rachel Hancock (15/07/2010)
  • Is the Francis Ward “Francis Louis Ward”?

    By David Ward (07/08/2010)
  • Yes, I remember the air raid shelters and would always try to peer through the concrete slabs to see what was inside. Somebody else told me he’d been scratched by a gorilla inside and showed me the mark on his hand to prove it so I didn’t stick my fingers inside after that.

    By David Scott (17/11/2011)
  • I am fifth from the left in the front row.

    By Terry Green (02/12/2011)
  • Dear all. I joined this class a year later as Edwin Jenner. We were then under Miss Cox who was strict but magical. I remember most of the faces in the photo and recall many happy times playing with Len and Francis Ward. I would love to know what happened to you all. Best wishes.

    By Edwin Campbell-Jenner (12/08/2013)
  • In the picture back row second from left: John Young was my next door neighbour in Horton Road and as far as I know still lives in Canada.

    By P.Rice (08/12/2014)
  • A message for Edwin Campbell Jenner do I recollect that you and I went to Varndean Boys after leaving Downs. I guess that would have been 1961 I think you left the first year we were there I left the next  year as the family moved to Scotland on the east coast a small town called Arbroath Scottish 2nd division. Anyway good to hear your name again took me back over 50 years – be good to hear what you are doing now.Best wishes

    By David Kydd (28/08/2015)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *