I know it’s been a long time coming, but it’s taken me nearly 7 hours to edit this up.
Earlier in the year, I started a series of posts containing log book entries for St. John’s School, Walsall Wood. I commenced with the record of the Girl’s School, from it’s opening in 1886 to merger with the Boy’s facility in 1912. I then continued with the logs of the Boy’s School, from 1880 to 1912.
I now complete the series with the time period from the 1912 merger to 1945, when the records end. The note that they strike, the language use and degree of formality understandably change, but the concerns do not. Meagre facilities, outbreaks of disease and strike-related non-attendance all still figure, but one can see that this is a chronicle of a changing place. Kids going on to Grammar School, the warning about traffic, the notes that speak of a wide world beyond The Wood.
David Evans has worked incredibly hard to transcribe these notes, which is no small task. We all owe David a huge debt of gratitude for a wonderful job. I owe that man not just a drink, but a small brewery.
The boys’ section and the girls’ sections of the St Johns school in Walsall Wood had been combined into one administrative unit in 1912 and from here one log is kept. A note written in the first log book of 1880 states that ‘Log books are intended to be kept by the Schoolmaster in the same sense as a captain keeps a ship’s log.’ Sadly, as the original logbooks seem to have been lost forever, we only have these notes.
Girls’ school headmistresses from 1886 to 1912:
E Meadon; F Caldicott; Lizzie Henderson; R C Tabbutt; W.E.Franklin; Elizabeth Cook; Jane Middlemass; Miss Richards; G Carthy; Nellie Rye Green; Emma J Fryer; E Shepperd.
Boys school head teachers (and then combined school) 1880 to 1945(?):
W J Burrows, (1880 to 1890) Frederick Davis (1890 to 1896); S A Heeley (1896 to 1899); Frederick Victor Garner (1899 to1932 ); G Boot ( 1932 to 1942); J F Oakes (temporary headmaster Sept 1942 to Nov 1942) Charles Edward Pye ( 1942 onwards).
A parcel containing 14 pairs of socks, 13 woollen belts, 9 pairs of mittens and 2 woollen helmets was sent to the men of the South Staffordshire Regiment. The garments were made by the girls for their contribution to the War Effort.
Parcels were sent in January, February and July to France to help the War Effort. Handicraft Centre now closed as the instructors now on Military Service.
Master out from 11.15 till noon to interview ‘night workers on recruitment business’.
A great blizzard lasting al night and most of today has beaten all records for force of wind and depth of snow during last 40 years. I took the liberty of shutting the school as attendance was most poor and children that did arrive were soaked through.
Have today received a gift of 100 books for school library from Mrs Cook, the Beeches, Aldridge. This is a splendid start to the new project of opening a library for the children’.
Have today sent another parcel to prisoners in Germany containing more than 300 woollen garments for our valiant men.
A library has been established in this school. Many of the books have been donated by the parishioners and patrons of this school.
Weather very severe. There is also much sickness. There is a scarcity of food and warm clothing and children are frequently away from school. It is a sorry sight to see.
School closed to enable staff to make out and distribute ration cards. 478 were delivered today.
Master away in the afternoon for Medical for Military Service.
A strike is mentioned.
Outbreak of scabies amongst the children.
School closed until September 6th owing to alterations to lavatories and rooms coloured and painted.
A number of children have been irregular in attendance during the week owing to coalpicking during the strike which has now ended.
School closed in the afternoon for the unveiling of the War Memorial to the men and boys who died in the war from Walsall Wood. Nurse called for routine visit to check on the health of the children.
These visits started in about 1916 and soon became a regular part of school years, as did Employment Officer and Army Recruiting Officer also School Dentistry started about this time.
Vicar has obtained a grant of £6 from the Betty Hussey Book Charity to which he contributed £1 and as a result 30 new books have been added to the school library much to the delight of the children.
Anyone know about the Betty Hussey Book Charity? Local? Caonnected to Phineas Fowke Hussey, or something else? – Bob
Attendance fell owing to coal strike. Children are to be provided with soup and bread on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. Teachers have offered to assist in this matter.
Attendance still very low; children are being kept away to puick coal from mounds for their families’
Provision of meals ceases today as the strike ended last week.
Some happy times; some innovation.
Shrove Tuesday and a whole days holiday was given at the request of His Majesty the King for the wedding of Princess Mary.
Madeline Taylor was elected captain of this school and Keziah Brown and Gladys Price and May Langford as prefects. This new idea will one hopes innovate the children. The posts will be reviewed after 6 months.
Outbreak of whooping cough and scarlet fever in the village.
School is being closed on the occasion of the wedding of H.R.H. Duke of York.
Empire Day. King’s message to schoolchildren was read out and the flag was shown.
School was closed on account of H.R.H. Prince of Wales visit to Walsall.
The modern age encroaches…
I have today warned all children of the dangers of motor vehicles on the road. 19 children have transferred to other schools to ease overcrowding.
School reorganised so that boys and girls in Standards 5,6,7 are no longer taught separately.
Mr David Dickenson Ex Mayor of Blackpool and old scholar of this school which was his only school called and gave a brief address to the children.
Phenomenally cold. 20 degrees below zero. Many children ill.
Would he be using Celsius or Fahrenheit here? It’s actually the difference between -20 deg C or -29(ish) deg C – Bob
Juvenile Employment Officer made his first visit to the school this year to talk to the Standard 7 about their future careers.
G. Boot commences as Head teacher of this school.
A Christmas Party was held by the staff for the scholars. It was an immense success and an enjoyable time was held by all. It is worth recording that we will make this an annual event.
Mrs Boulton, wife of the late vicar who died 13th June has presented the school with a small ‘Washington’ organ.
Major Thompson, architect and surveyor, inspected the school buildings in connection with roof repairs.
Royal Wedding: school closed.
That would be Prince George marrying Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. Prince George was, I believe, father to Prince Michael of Kent. He was tragically killed in 1942 when on active service with the RAF in a plane crash near Dunbeath, Scotland. – Bob
Dr. Knight (School Inspector) inspected the children regarding milk recommendation.
Jubilee Day. Tea and sports were provided for the children, souvenir mugs were provided by Walsall District Council.
School closed for the funeral of the late King George Fifth.
Joan Doreen Seedhouse and Geoffrey Clayton were successful in exam for free places for Queen Mary School and Lichfield Priory (sic).
Coronation day. The children were provided with tea and a souvenir beaker by the Urban District Council.
School closed for the midsummer holidays. Schools were painted and decorated.
Rev. J. Edwards, an old boy of this school and now a missionary in the Solomon Islands visited this morning to talk about his work in the islands. Curious exhibits were shown and were most interesting.
One entry only.
Outbreak of war. School is closed to re-open 18th September.
Two amazing logbook entries.
School closed for Whitsun on the 10th but owing to the state of emergency was re-opened this morning.
Operation Dynamo, Dunkirk evacuation 27 May to 4 June 1940 gives a hint here.
Following the air raidduring the night and the one the night before less and 50% of the children came to school. The majority of those were upset and weary that it became impossible to carry on and classes were abandoned.
It may well have been wartime, but Nitty Nora the Lice Lady was still at large…
January 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd:
Snow blizzards and floods and fog forces me to close the school till Monday.
Evacuees from St Michael’s R.C. School Liverpool admitted today.
At 3.10 Nurse More excluded (named pupils, not evacuees) for having nits.
Arrangements made for the transfer of some of the evacuees to attend the Council School.
Free place at Lichfield Grammar went to Bernard Buckroyd and Leslie Jeffcott. Enid Morgan passed the entrance exam to Queen Mary Grammar School in Walsall.
J.F.Oakes commenced duties as temporary headmaster.
Charles Edward Pye commences as head of this school.
Attendance bad owing to outbreak of scarlet fever.
An unusually strong gale today caused tiles to fall from the roof and the outside door of the girls cloakroom was torn off its hinges.
A half day holiday was granted today in recognition of the a successful effort made by the children during ‘Wings for Victory’.
Miss Belasco a teacher evacuated from London commenced here today and will remain until the end of the year to teach some London evacuees that are here.
Interesting, that. Did this allude to accent problems, perhaps? – Bob.
(Written in bold capital letters in the logbook)
VE DAY HOSTILITIES IN EUROPE CEASED. 8TH AND 9TH HAVE BEEN DECLARED PUBLIC HOLIDAYS THEREFORE THE SCHOOL WAS CLOSED.
A radio Gramophone has been installed in this school. The purchase price was £40 and the money was raised by Jumble Sale.
The last 2 evacuees left today to return to London.
The log notes end here.
One entry concerning a naughty pupil… From the girls’ section log, late 1800s, makes interesting reading and I quote it in full:
Report. For some days I had considerable trouble with (named) a girl in Standard 4. On Tuesday the 6th she purposely remained outside and came in to school late for which I gave her one stroke on the hand with a cane, in consequence she was very sulky and defiant and refused to do her lesson. I then had repeated complaints from her teacher as to her behaviour. I called her from class to give her another stroke from the cane,she refused to hold out her hand and insolently told me that her mother said she was not to hold out her hand. As I was leaving school in the afternoon I met the girl with her mother. The mother stopped me in a very abrasive and coarse manner and accused me of beating and knocking her child about. I told her what punishment I had given and why it was inflicted. She told me that she would not allow me or anyone else to chastise a child of her. I said in that case she had better keep her daughter away from school till I laid the case before the Managers. The Managers decided that the girl must not be admitted again till the mother apologised. Up to this present time she has not complied with this request.