Burnal Martin and the class of 1922-3


Great headgear – Watling Street School boys, from the early 1920s – either 22 or 23. Burnal Martin is centre wearing the small cap. A terrific picture supplied by George Martin.

I’m very pleased to note the continued interest in Watling Street School’s history, a thread started by Adrian Reid before Christmas. A couple of days ago, I received the above scan from reader George Martin, taken around 1922 or 1923, featuring his father.

George said:

Hello Bob

Please find the attached photo of a boys class at Watling Street school circa 1922/23 – my father Burnal Martin is on the front row in the center wearing the small cap.

Is this photo of any interest?

Does anyone recoginise the other boys in the photo?

George Martin

I can assure you George that both I and other readers will find the photo very interesting indeed and a great addition to the historical record. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

While on the subject of the school up on the A5, Mike Stackhouse commented yesterday:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for running my two items on my childhood at Watling Street School and the Middleton House one.

I am amazed at the memories stirred by other people replying to the items.

The best thing of all is that I now have a copy of 125 years of Watling Street, I was invited by Eryl to the school and had a fantastic afternoon. I saw paperwork (Register) of the day i started school in 1949 and similar for both my brother and sister.

I am going back again when it can be arranged.

Memories came flooding back and you sparked me to at least getting a start on my life around Brownhills and Beechdale.

Only done 1000 words so far, but it’s a start.

So thank you once more.


Thanks Mike, so kind. As I said in reply, connecting people with their history, and reader helping reader is why I do this. Thanks for you lovely words.

Mike’s memories can be read at his new blog here.

f you can put a name to anyone pictured above, or have any further material relating to Watling Street School, please do comment or email me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Cheers, as ever.

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7 Responses to Burnal Martin and the class of 1922-3

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Can’t help with names, but it might help to know that Burnal was born in 1914 (registered Jul-Sep), so these chaps are 8 or 9 years old (assuming it is a year group).

  2. Caz says:

    What a fantastic picture.It must have been taken during a cold period as some of the boys are wearing scarves and some have socks pulled up over their knees, and yet they’re all wearing short trousers? And don’t they look serious ? When they take school pictures now they ask everyone to smile. Thanks Mike for sharing it.

  3. David Oakley. says:

    Picking up on the ‘short trousers’ mentioned in the photo, this was the regular clothing in those days, with boys wearing short trousers up to the school-leaving age of fourteen. Indeed, I knew one or two who went to their first job, in ‘shorts’. This was the custom right up to the war. When a boy reached the age of thirteen, his fervent desire was for a pair of ‘long ‘uns’ , so termed, which he made known to his parents, quite loudly, every Christmas and every birthday. This wish was sometimes gratified, sometimes not. I wore short trousers until I was fourteen, so did many of my peers. Boys caps were also common wear, at that time.

  4. Ped says:

    Some schools, even in the late 50s, insisted on short trousers up to 12 years of age.

    I must have had about 50 caps. Sometimes certain devils, when losing a cap, would half inch someone else’s cap. One endless roundabout!

  5. John Anslow says:

    What a well turned-out group of young fellows this is! They (and their parents and teacher) have made a real effort: boots neatly laced and polished, stockings pulled up; one proud mother has pressed her son’s trousers and provided him with a pocket handkerchief.

    There are no pinched faces or sullen expressions, suggesting the lads were well fed and content, if a little bemused.

    No one shows his teeth. I was told that to show one’s teeth when smiling was regarded as a mark of lunacy in those days; presumably the wide grin became acceptable once Hollywood pictures arrived.

  6. Alan Wint says:

    The boy 2nd from right is my uncle Horace Taylor eldest of seven children. Joseph amd Olive Taylor ( my grandparents ) were caretakers at the school for a number of years and lived in the school house. I lived there too as as child with my parents Olive and Dennis Wint until moving ro Bradford Road Brownhills in 1952. I remember Miss Topliss Mr Lees and Mr Shingler .I organised a reunion ther some years ago and had a great time reminiscing.
    Ive been trying to find a copy of Memories of Watling street school for ages to see if there are references to my grandparents – a loan or just a sight would be truly appreciated
    Alan Wint

  7. ray share says:

    hi i was at school with neena martin i think george.s sister we lived in lindon road burnel played football for freezland lane club

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