School life in the 1930s

I began my schooling at Elm Grove Infant’s School in 1934. The Head Teacher was Miss Gill, an intimidating lady who wore a long black dress with a small ‘train’ which swept the floor after her. Miss Gill stood no nonsense.

My first class
I was placed in Miss English’s class where my cousin Eileen was already a pupil. All went well until the day Eileen was transferred to the next class which was taught by Miss Jenman. I decided that I would not be parted from my cousin and screaming and crying I ran out to go with her. This sudden eruption of temperament took everyone by surprise but eventually sobbing broken heartedly I was persuaded to stay at my desk and learn to live without Eileen.

Silver Jubilee celebrations
The Silver Jubilee of King George V was celebrated with a party. The pupils’ preparation towards this was in making a paper plate in Handwork class. This involved a great deal of measuring and cutting squares of red and blue adhesive paper which were stuck onto a circle of white card.

A memorial to George V
Each morning the whole school assembled in the Hall. When the ‘Old King’ George V died we were told that his favourite tune was The Skye Boat Song. As a memorial to him we all sat on the floor in long even lines with our legs straight out and sang ‘Speed Bonny Boat’ accompanied by rowing movements.

A pear-drop reward
It was in the Infant’s School that I discovered that I could retell stories and earn the reward of a large peardrop from the jar that Miss English kept on her desk. We learned many Old Testament stories. My favourite was Joseph and his coat of many colours and being sold into Egypt and I remember very well re-telling this to my mother following the exciting daily episodes at school.

There was no provision for meals at school and as everyone lived within walking distance the return journey was made twice a day.

Comments about this page

  • My father, Stanley Thomas PAGE (known as Nick PAGE) went to the school in 1920 when he was living at 47 Elm Grove. I would love to have any information about Elm Grove and the school and what it was like in 1920.

    By Christopher J Page (20/04/2004)
  • My grandmother (Ellen Ann) lived in Bonchurch Road until she died in about 1951. I think most of her family went to Elm Grove School. Her maiden name was Jones, married name Terry. My grandfather was Henry Charles. I also think her sister and offspring went there, married name Upton. I do have some old class photographs which I think must be Elm Grove but I cannot identify anybody. If this is of interest please contact me by e mail:

    We lived with my grandmother until I was about four, in 1947, but I never went to Elm Grove as we moved to Kemp Town.

    By Dennis Parrett (29/01/2007)
  • Dear Dennis, please could you email me. I have my Edwards family tree, there is some confusion, I can shed some light on Henry Edwards, there were in fact two one born in 1857 and one in 1891.

    Editor’s note: Due to the restrictions of the UK Data Protection Act e-mail addresses are hidden from public view – the exception is if an e-mail address appears within the body of the message, in which case it is seen as ‘permission to be made public’ and will be published.

    By Glynis Leaney (Nee Edwards) (27/09/2008)

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