Starting school in 1948

The photos posted by John Leach bring back memories. I started at St. John the Baptist in 1948 and went to the secondary school in 1954 in Woodingdean. I recognise the boys’ toilet from the photo in the playground.

Sweets through the fence
When I first went to the school, my mum would sometimes come to the playground fence when she was on a shopping trip to St James’s Street and pass sweets through a small opening in the fence. These were always Rowntrees Fruit Gums.

A dark and frightening place
Just near to where the group photo was taken there was an alleyway leading to the nun’s garden and the convent. We were frightened stiff of this dark place and we would only venture a few feet along it.

Class photographs
John Leach was, I think, two years behind me, but in the same row as him, 4th from the left is Kenny Macklin who lived in my road, Bennett Road. The other photo in the garden looks like a first holy communion photo. I remember Father Flanagan and Mr Beech who was my class teacher in one year, he was a kind teacher. The nun on the left was Sister Mary of Mercy, who had a large pointed nose and was stern looking and very strict.

Sister Anthony taught my brother, and it looks like Sister Gertrude on the right who taught my sister. The nun that I loved best was Sister Carmella, she was a really kind and loving soul. She later ended up in Ditchling as head of the retirement home for nuns. If ever I met her when I was grown up, she never forgot my name. I kept promising myself to go and visit her St St. Georges’ Retreat, but kept putting it off – only to be too late when she died. She was lovely. I remember Mr. Head, he always looked like he needed a good meal and had a very prominent Adam’s Apple. He had two daughters, I think Angela was one and the other I forget.

The school choir
I was in the choir at school when I was in Mr. Mcquaid’s class. He was a good shot with chalk and blackboard rubbers. But we were a good choir and sang at the Dome in Brighton one year. We sang All in the April Evening. Do you remember those little blackboards we used to write on with chalk, and the little bottles of milk at playtime? I also had a grandfather living in St. Georges’ Terrace. He was my father’s father and lived at number 16.

Happy days
I am afraid that all the annual photos of my school times have all gone by the wayside for some reason or other. Does anyone remember the the time of the Coronation at school. We had a photo taken in the dining room/gym. We were given a blue coronation mug with an orange sitting in the top. Nice to hear from you John, if you ever find any more photos it would be great if you could post them.

Comments about this page

  • I remember the blue coronation mug and orange.I still have my blue coronation mug, it is a bit faded now but I now keep it safe in our glass cabinet.

    By John Leach (08/11/2006)

    St. John the Baptist Parish was born from the Brighton Catholic Mission,
    which dates from 1798. The present church building was completed in 1835
    and was the fourth Catholic church to be consecrated in England and
    Wales. It is the Mother Church for the South of England. Maria
    Fitzherbert is one of the many notable parishioners and patrons of the
    parish. She was the Catholic morganatic wife of King George IV and had a
    high profile in Regency Brighton. Maria is buried in the parish church,
    which she dearly loved.

    The parish is a busy community with many Catechists and Eucharistic
    Ministers who care educationally and pastorally for the parish.
    Additionally, there are a number of Societies and organisations that
    support parish life. The parish and school continue a long relationship
    of mutual awareness and partnership. Both parish and school continue to
    be beacons of hope for the East of Brighton.

    St. John the Baptist School has an enviable history. It is one of the
    oldest schools in Brighton. It began as a convent school in Bristol
    Road. In April 1989 the building that is now the school was finished. It
    is built in the style of a Roman Villa and has magnificent views of
    Brighton city, seacoast and the South Downs.

    By John Leach (09/11/2006)
  • I share all the above memories. I started at St.Johns in 1945. Would love to hear from any school peers in Brighton.

    By jackie soutar(nee gladwell) (20/02/2007)
  • Jackie Gladwell, I was also at St John The Baptist at the same time as you. Did you live in Chesham Road at any time?

    By Vera Wakefield (Bridger) (09/09/2007)
  • John, contact me at The Butler family of 33 St Georges Road Kemptown, Brighton. Born 1945, attended John the Baptist Juniors and Fitzherbert Secondary Modern.

    By Cavan (07/12/2007)
  • Mick Pierson, I am sure you are the older brother of Tony and Pippy and I also lived in Bennet Road and had 7 brothers and 1 sister. I am Linda and I emigrated to Australia and became a singer/musician and am now a music teacher. I remember all the teachers you spoke of and also sang at the Dome. I was in the choir since the junior school at Bedford Street and loved it but was frightened of the nuns. I now live in Melbourne; Michael lives in Cairnes and Colin lives in Byron Bay. My other brothers live in S.A and I have one brother left in Brighton. He is my eldest Jim, who is in his 80’s and still going strong. He used to give the kids a ride up the street in his side car…very exciting in the 50’s. As you will remember we only had about three cars in the entire street.  Love to hear from you … always scared me when I was little.

    By Linda George (06/01/2008)
  • Hello Linda, what a wonderful website to be able to connect people that knew each other over half a century ago. I am six years older than you but I don’t remember being the “Boogyman”, and sorry to hear that you were scared of me, I have no idea why. Mick Peirson….a gentle “Boogyman” from the past.

    By Mick Peirson (12/01/2008)
  • Hi Mick. Are you by any chance related to Albert Edward Pierson, a one time Brighton postman?

    By Andrew Barrowcliff (30/01/2009)
  • Hi Mick. In that last message, I misspelt the surname as Pierson. I did actually mean PEIRSON. Regards, Andrew.

    By Andrew Barrowcliff (31/01/2009)
  • Mick P – somewhere you mention remembering my name, I can’t recall you, although we seem to share so many of the same memories . My previous entry is an error, I was born in 1944 and started at Bedford Street in 1949, going on to Woodingdean in 1955.

    By Jackie Soutar (nee Gladwell) (27/05/2010)
  • Remembering the Coronation mug and oranges, my late parents who ran The Black Horse pub in Montague Place brought them for the school. If anyone remembers me, I was very ill in foredown hospital with T.B. for 9 months and missed about 12 months schooling over the ending of 1951- 52. Happy days.

    By Tony Lago (05/02/2015)
  • Dear Tony, I remember you so well and the lovely gesture of your Mum and Dad buying the mug and the oranges for us all. I remember you getting ill but did not know that you had caught TB. I will always remember the kindness of Mr McQuade I lost my voice but he never let on and allowed me to go to the Dome in the choir. You must have followed me to Woodingdean in the year behind me because I cannot remember you in my class. I left Brighton in 1973 and have lived in London ever since. 

    By Ann Heffernan (24/08/2015)

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