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A five year old in 1939

24/25 Montpelier Crescent
Photo by Tony Mould

Evacuated from London

I became a pupil at Montpelier College, which was either number 24 or 25 in September 1939 after being evacuated from London at the start of WWII. I stayed with my aunt who rented the basement flat at 21B Montpelier Crescent. My name was Jack Richmond at the time, it was changed to Ward after my mother remarried. The flat had only two electric lights; one in the living room and one in the central hall. The kitchen, toilet and bathroom were lit with oil lamps, and candles were used in the bedrooms. As far as I can recall the remainder of the house was owned or rented by a Mrs Bussey or Hussey.

Caps with long peaks

I was five years old at the time and was put in the lowest class at Montpelier College, which occupied the brick built classroom at the far end of the playground. I remember the mistress was strict but cannot recall her name. I certainly learned to read, write and spell, and do simple sums in her class. I have a photograph of my class standing in front of the classroom. We had to wear caps with long peaks to make us keep our heads up, otherwise you could not see where you were going.

Sausages on the camp fire

I was sent to the Christian Science Sunday School for the simple reason that it was the closest Sunday School to where I lived. It influenced the course of my life until I was about 17 when I joined the Navy instead of studying to become a doctor as my mother wanted. Dr Mason from the school was keen on scouting; I seem to remember that he had stars for over thirty years in the Scouts. I joined the Wolf Cubs and enjoyed cooking sausages on a camp fire, under the supervision of Dr Mason but disliked my Sixer who was a bully.

A bomb near Seven Dials

My parents sent me to Blackpool after the Germans started bombing seaside towns using single aircraft. I remember one dropped a bomb which hit a block of flats near Seven Dials. It then turned round and flew out to sea strafing along Montpelier Road. I was out in the crescent at the time and it was so low I could see the pilot as he flew past. I think it was a ME 109. I was so fascinated that I remained standing and did not throw myself on the ground until it was past. I then did it with such gusto that I still have the scars on my left knee from the gravel – how I played to the gallery afterwards. The railings around the gardens were removed for scrap so we had free access and there were no gardeners. We had a den in a beech tree which was accessed via a holly bush.

Do you remember?

Did you attend Montpelier Crescent? Maybe you lived in the area? Do you remember the bombing? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I have a photo of the bombing of the flats at the Seven Dials, the copyright is Southern Publishing so I am not sure if I can show it on this site?  I think it was 1942/3, perhaps after 70 years the copyright might have expired?

    Editor’s note: If you are absolutely sure about the date of the original, then we can publish it Peter. Mail

    By Peter Groves (26/01/2014)
  • I attended Montpelier College from 1941 to 1947 when it moved under a new Head to near Hassocks, I think to a house called Danny. The original Head was Mr or Dr Mason and the first form teacher was Miss Channel. Later the first form moved from the building in the playground to the front first floor room.

    By Ken Ross (29/01/2014)
  • I was a pupil at Montpellier College, and I was a friend of Peter Drummond, and stayed with him at his aunt’s flat whilst my mother worked on munitions during the night.I was in that classroom in the rear of the building and remember Miss Channel very well. I remember the bombing and the building it demolished it was replaced with a small block of flats.I would love to hear from anyone from the school.
    Pat Norris

    By Pat Norris (26/02/2019)

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