Camp beds and joined up writing

Downs School
Wikipedia Commons: Photographer - Hassocks5489

Started school at four

My first school experience happened at the age of four in the 1950s. I had not previously been to a kindergarten or nursery school. For the first few days, I was taken to school by my mother. After that, I was on my own; the walk to school took about 15 minutes. In the first year of school, we sat on the floor, at small tables. Most of the time was taken up with games and with some formal lessons. We progressed to sitting at desks; each desk housing two pupils. In the early days, we had a snooze in the afternoon. Camp beds were laid out in the school hall and we curled up on them, under blankets. 

Learning ‘joined up’ writing

Later on, we were taught letters and numbers. We were shown how to write them and used wooden pens with simple nibs These were dipped into inkwells, to the right of each pupil. I always enjoyed watching the teacher filling these inkwells from a large container of ink. Later, still, we were taught ‘joined-up’ writing. The style was very simple and with no ‘looped’ characters. I have only ever written in this style, since. 

Do you remember those camp beds? Please share your school memories by posting below

Remembering playground events

Apart from general play, two events remain with me about being in the playground. First, every first of May, we danced around a maypole. It had coloured ribbons, falling from the top of the pole. By dancing and holding these ribbons, the maypole slowly got covered in a swirl of colour.  On another occasion, we were taken out to witness an eclipse of the moon (or, perhaps, the sun).  We were told not to look, directly at the sun and given photographic negatives to view the event. The sky went dark for a few minutes. I am not sure we knew what we were looking at but felt – in our own childish way, that it must have been something important. 


Comments about this page

  • Other than the Maypole ritual, the above rings clearly with me. I attended the Downs CP from 1955 to 1960. I clearly recall the camp-beds in the Infants School hall for the post-prandial snooze, but in fact I never slept a wink on these. The style of handwriting we were taught was called Marion Richardson and was indeed joined-up but loopless. I still use it to this day.

    By Len Liechti (20/10/2018)
  • I also remember those camp beds. Flat iron frames with two fold-out legs and stretched canvas. I seem to recall that they were stored either under or alongside the stage.
    I was there from 1954 until 1957 when we moved to Lancing. My memories of my time at this school are the segregated boys’ and girls’ play areas and the wonderful puddle that built up behind the bomb shelter when it rained. Oh! And my one wish was to lean out of the top-floor window and ring the handbell signalling the end of break-time.

    By Dick Saunders (18/06/2021)
  • I went to the Downs in 1950 and remember the camp beds very well.I also remember sitting on the floor and listening to “listen with mother” on the BBC in front of a big loudspeaker. It was a very good school (and I believe still is) and saw me through to 11plus.

    By valerie ann sinden (25/08/2021)

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