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School dinners and the pig men

Whitehawk Road in the 1970s
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Not a salad in sight

Thinking back on my school days brought to my mind memories of the school meals we used to get. Of the savoury dishes I remember hot pots and sausages, fish and chips and shepherd’s pie. But mostly I remember the sweets; spotted dick, chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce, treacle sponge, jelly and custard and rice puddings. Not a salad in sight, but there were plenty of vegetables,  either mashed roast or boiled. Sometimes you were called up for seconds, if your table was lucky. Those smells were fantastic and for many of the kids that had school meals, that was there only hot meal of the day.

The arrival of the ‘pig men’

In those days nothing was wasted and so once a week, usually after the school had closed for the day, a truck would turn up from the local pig farms and collect the waste food. Having been left in the sun for days on end it used to smell bad. When I was in the infants’ school, and the wind was in the wrong direction, I innocently asked my Mum where that awful smell was coming from over at the school. “Yes”, she said, “it is very bad today, but the pig men will be arriving tonight so it won’t be so bad by tomorrow”. For a six year old boy the thought of what these pig men might have looked like gave me many a sleepless night.

Do you have Whitehawk memories to share? Please leave a comment below

Jockeying in the lunch queue

The juniors used the bottom half of the canteen and the seniors came down from the secondary school to the top half. There always seemed to be so many and it was hilarious to watch them jockeying to get to the front of the queue without the accompanying teachers spotting them. Elbows and the occasional trip were all called into play as the line sped up to a gentle gallop by the time it was twenty yards from the canteen gate.

School meals today?

The pushing and shoving continued until the teachers managed to catch up and slap the backs of a few heads. Once order had been restored, the seniors trooped in for their lunch, with some gently administering to the occasional blackened/elbowed eye or staunching a bloody nose. What a testament to how good the school meals were. How many kids would run to get a school meal today?

Comments about this page

  • My mother was the head school cook at the three Whitehawk schools kitchen for some years. She started out as a kitchen helper and worked her way up. Where she cooked for the three schools. As she used to say she was a industrial cook as has she cooked for over a thousand people at a times in some places during her working life. As one person as already said it was often the only cooked meal of the day for many kid from the estate and surrounding areas, and more often than not a free school meal. It was good food and seconds was often the order of the day for the senior school as they had what was left over from the other two sitting. Both my two brother and sister ate there during our time living in Whitehawk.

    By R H Scott-Spencer (08/02/2015)
  • I remember the pigmen coming round. We never had a bin as there were so many of us there was never any food over!

    By Maureen Doughty nee Muzzell (05/07/2016)

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