Watling Street School – 125 Year Anniversary Book available for download!

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Watling Street has a long history and is a popular local school. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

Right – here’s something I’ve been wanting to feature here for a while, but have been having trouble getting my hands on, as finding a copy of ‘Memories of Watling Street School 125 Year Anniversary 1878-2003’ by Jan Farrow is rather hard.

Thankfully, due to some legwork by a couple of contacts, I can present the following complete, scanned copy of the 100 page, A4 sized work in electronic format for all to download and peruse.

The book was produced by the school 13 years ago as a limited run of hand-bound booklets, which seem to have been either laser printed of photocopied. The version presented here was scanned by friend of the blog Richard Burnell after being lent a copy, for which I’m very grateful indeed. Note the text in the scanned version is searchable.

It’s a wonderfully competent work, as one would expect from a top local historian like Jan Farrow; but I didn’t expect it to be as lively and engaging as it is. It’s beautifully arranged and presented, with a constantly varying range of content and is much better than these things generally tend to be. It’s a highly professional book, and it’s sad that up until now, it’s not been more widely available.

I know a few of you were after a copy, so here you go.

I’ve posted the first 20 pages in a gallery below, but there are nearly a hundred in the full work which can be downloaded at this link – it’s a necessarily large file, so be patient if on a slow connection.

Memories of Watling Street School 125 Year Anniversary PDF format – 56 megabytes

There’s a huge range of stuff in here, and I hope some of it might spark discussion: if you have anything to say, please feel free to comment or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!


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17 Responses to Watling Street School – 125 Year Anniversary Book available for download!

  1. stuart says:

    Thanks for that Bob,
    My aunt Marjorie June Smith was secretary here for a while so I look forward to sifting through the detail to see if I can find a mention,she used to live over the road from the school in Pinewood close.

    • You’re in luck. Page 51 onwards, a 2½ page contribution from June about her memories.



      • stuart says:

        Thanks for that chap. do you never sleep?
        Just read it and I will notify any family that I can contact, sadly she passed away almost 10 years ago but I know she was very fond of the school. Didn’t realise until reading it that she attended as a pupil along with my mother Dorothy and their father George (surname would have been Wright) They lived on the Old Hednesford Road and I always thought there would have been a school a bit closer. Interesting to read about the school garden and also the Church over the road from the school probably long gone now.
        Thanks again for all of that and yet another example of why this blog is so good, it keeps the memories alive.
        All the best

  2. Violet. Jelves says:

    My mother went to this school ,with all my aunts&uncles.they lived in Hednesford road Brownhills west,my great grannie kept a flower shop in Brownhills opposite the picture house ,there name was Mason ,my great grand-dad was a well known figure ,his name was John .when we were bombed out of our house in Nechells B.ham my two brothers and I were sent to live with my grannie Parker in Hednesford rd.and we also went to Watling St. School,my grannie used to give us a penny bus fare (Harper’s buses) we could catch the bus to school and walk home ,or vice versa ,not allowed to use the bus both ways to expensive with us all ,love to read your blog it brings back memories both happy & sad.

  3. Ade Reid says:

    Happy happy days.Never forget the time when myself,Trevor Jackson,and Stuart Edwards fitted a home made firework to the fence and lit it.Oh dear,what a loud bang and what a big hole..So many fond memories of our time at Watling Street..

  4. Andy Dennis says:

    Great memories! I enjoyed Mr Caffrey’s class, too. I think he awarded a Mars bar for conspicuous intelligence, and I seem to recall winning a comb, though not the achievement. “Tha Toon” connection led to singing Football Crazy (the Match of the Day theme is based on that), among other things. In the evenings he was a DJ (feeling all of 45 going on 15) and had a small van (Austin A30?) packed full of records, yes the old vinyl stuff – would be worth a fortune today – and ran a disco at the school on Thursday (?) nights. Mr Caffrey left before my final year, 1969-70. He thought that education should be fun and, for me, what came after was a shade flat.

    Does anyone remember the little play we used to do – the one that had the permutations of sad-happy-slow-fast? I seem to remember something accompanied by The Move’s song Fire Brigade.

    There was also a snowball fight, which Mr Caffery organised, and a legendary ice slide. This started at the top of the slope from the little kids’ playground (which was normally out of bounds for older kids) and extended in a slight curve all the way to the grass. A couple of teachers joined in, which sort of legitimised our encroachment.

    I guess teachers and parents alike these days would throw up their hands in horror, but the truth is no one was hurt, these activities were vigorous exercise when ordinary PE (such as football or netball) was not available, and were much safer than the melee of cars outside school gates that you find today.

  5. Clive says:

    Nice one Bob, have downloaded the book and look forward to the read. Thank you.

  6. alan thacker says:

    thnx for the memories —attended watling st schools from 1948 till 1959 before going to central –also lived next door to john wright in wilkin rd during my childhood great memories thnx again

    • Elaine Venables says:

      Hi Alan do you remember me Elaine Boulton? My Gran lived next door to your Gran in Wilkin Road

  7. Pedro says:

    “We were unaware that our local twang was very close to the pure Anglo-Saxon, we only knew that was definitely not brummie.”

    Amazing how the pure Anglo-Saxon endured through hundreds and hundreds of years and great influxes of Salopians, men from Wales and other parts of the Kingdom.

    Back in 1928 in a speech to the Devonian Society it was claimed that the speech of Devon and adjacent parts was among the purist remains of the Anglo-Saxon Tongue. (Not a mention of Brummagem)

  8. David Evans says:

    HI Pedro
    Ancient Brownhillian( celtic derivation;Wiki) is the single remaining pre-ice age faux-gutteral language still in existence and is spoken hereabouts,I believe. It is sometimes heard as a high pitch expletive phrase (including gerund) carried in the breeze. This emanates from the direction of local cycle tracks,and is usually accompanied by the “twang”( hence the name) of snapping wheel spokes which on rare occasions during the dark winter times,precedes the shrill sound of ice cracking and water gurgling,though briefly.
    kind regards

  9. Shirley Ashley says:

    I attended watling st 1941-1944 .I livedin the lane at the side of the police house before it was built. My great-grandfatherMr marklew and my grandmar Florence Aldridge as she was later were caretakers. .l remember Miss Topliss being a teacher there.

  10. Eryl Powell says:

    Hi Bob – this has always been available from the school – still getting asked for copies occasionally.
    All the best,

  11. I was a pupil at Watling Street between 1961 and 1967. I remember five teachers – Mrs Jones, Miss Topliss, Mr Hancock, Mr Neville and Mr Bates – and one headmaster, Mr Preece. I seem to remember being pretty terrified most of the time, and cannot remember very much very specific about what I learned while there. However, the teachers must have done a reasonable job on me, as I eventually became a Consultant Physician and a Professor of Infectious Diseases/Medicine in Sheffield, and I am eiernally grateful to them for providing what turned out to be a super start in life for me. Rest in peace those who taught, who must surely all have passed on to a better place by now! Best wishes to all, Steve Green (formerly of Howdles Lane)

  12. Louise Fell says:

    I attended Watling St school between 1968 and 1979. I remember the church across the road from the school at the junction of Watling St/The Parade.

    We had 4 mobile classrooms at the school , 2 on the edge of the playing field and 2 where the carpark is now. My teachers through the years included Mrs Jackson, Mrs Whitworth, Miss Gaunt, Mr Lacey and Mr Metcalfe. The head cook was Mrs Chapman . The headmaster was Mr Preece and his wife also worked there as a teacher. He was a very tall, stiff looking man with grey hair and silver rimmed glasses. I was very scared of him!

    I remember the steps leading down to the boiler room and the big pile of coal that was always stacked up outside.

    Lovely happy days, lovely teachers, lovely school!

  13. STEVEN says:

    hi does anybody know if the school class photos are available was a pupil between 1973 to 1978 and am on the silver jubilee photo as have no class photos ffrom that time ?

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