It was autumn in the 1940s when I started school. My mum had just started work, so Pat Lord and Christine Shackleton took me to school on the first day. Like me, they lived at Bank Top, Southowram. I still have a photograph of the 3 of us walking past the Post Office in Halifax, on the way to the Holy Trinity Infants School – the Bell school – on Harrison Road.
The Bluecoats School was still there at that time, and it made the lane between Harrison Road and the school shadowy and forbidding. School dinners had just started, and I can still remember the smell of gravy that wafted through the Bluecoats where the meals were served.
My first teacher was Miss Addenbrook. I remember the music-and-movement programme on the radio, and those oval straw mats that made ridges in your knees.
Then there was Mrs Gore, and the head-mistress was Mrs Woodhead.
We were mixed infants. I remember the name of some of the children: there was Heather Forrester, Michael Rayner (whose family owned the furniture store down Woolshops), Joyce Pickersgill (who used to wet herself in times of stress, such as having to recite the times-tables). Michael left Trinity Infants to go to a private school shortly afterwards, and the next time I saw him was when I bumped into him at age 18 and discovered we were both studying Astronomy at University College London.
When we were 7, we split up, the boys going to the Junior Boys at West Parade, and the girls going to the Junior Girls next door to the Infants School. I still remember walking in a crocodile from Harrison Road up Blackwall to the Junior Boys.
The headmaster at the Junior School was Mr Pepperell. He was retiring shortly after I arrived and he was returning to his native Devon. We had to learn and sing "Devon, glorious Devon" for his farewell concert.
The replacement head was Mr Wadsworth. I remember his coming into the classroom one grey February morning to tell us that the King – George VI – had died.
My first teacher in the Juniors was Mrs Higgins. She read us Dr Doolittle stories, and Prester John was another I remember.
Then there was Miss Maude. I often saw her around Halifax when I returned to Yorkshire in the 1990s. The first male teacher was Mr Sabine, but he left and moved to Flockton.
I remember taking the 11-plus exam. We didn't agonise about it so much in those days. Quite a few of us from Trinity went on to Heath Grammar School, including Malcolm Bussey, Stuart Garnett, Geoffrey Mitchell, Rodney Steele, and Roger Swallow
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