Attending Senior School c1950s
A pupil in the 1950s
There does not seem to be much existing information about Pelham Street Secondary School. Over the years I have tried to find memoirs or pictures of the school but without success. I attended the school from 1953-1957. My name was Trudy Wirthmiller then, and I was at the school from 12 years of age onward.
Remembering my teachers
The teacher’s names I can remember are; Miss Funnell who was an extremely patient teacher with a class of pupils who didn’t really show great enthusiasm for French; Miss Goodall and Miss Scott Physical training, which in those days seemed to consist of jumping over a wooden horse onto a mat. And the unforgettable form mistress of my class Miss Freda Markwick.
Miss Markwick also took us for general lessons as well as French. She would read books to us, ‘The Secret Garden, and ‘The Little Wizard of White Cloud Hill’, being the most memorable. Although she was not young at the time, Miss Markwick was always very attractively dressed. I remember vividly when after the holidays one year, she acquired a pair of lorgnettes. It was so hard not to laugh.
A gift for teacher
I spoke far too much during lessons, and of course one day, due punishment fell to me, to stay behind and write lines. I did not want to ‘fall foul’ of teacher, so the next day I went with my best friend Rosemary Kent to a cake shop in Bond Street. I bought a stale gateaux cake with an iced violet on top, as a sort of placatory gift. To my relief it was received with gratitude, teacher little knowing the actual scheming behind the plot.
Break time was best
In Domestic Science, the lesson seemed to consist of scrubbing wooden tables and ‘going with the grain’. I remember the cookery classes were problematic because it was so hard for my parents to afford the ingredients. And as my Father would say when I took my efforts home, “Trudy it’s not even edible”. After so many years it is hard to remember names, but my best friends were Rosemary Kent, Vivien Mayles, and Joyce Richmond The best time was break time; of course taking great care to miss the obligatory bottle of milk.
In the playground we played hoola- hoop, skipping games, Mikado (with Lolly sticks) 5 stones, ‘Fag Cards’, and marbles. It was the era of luminous socks and waspie belts! School dinners were in fact very good, but as kids you think it’s your duty to complain, and so sometimes we would give lunch a miss. On these days we would go to a workman’s café at the corner of Bond St for soup and bread. We continued to do this until we were caught and earned a red disorder card.
A sad incident
The head girl was called Diane Woodward. I think of all my memories of the school, the most powerful was of a girl called Pat who was at school on a specific Friday and was due to appear on the stage in a local pantomime. When we returned to school on Monday morning were told she had died of pneumonia. I never forgot this incident all my life long and in some way it influenced my own journey to God. The teachers did there best God bless them, with what I realise now was ‘ raw material’. I wonder if anyone remembers anything else about the school?