Memories of Hebden school in about 1970
Chris Foster has kindly written down his memories from attending Hebden School in the early 1970s. They are an evocative reminder of what is now a bye-gone era. It is interesting to compare them with Thomas Hammond's from 120 years before!
Chris Foster's Memories
I started school in 1967 at the age of 4, as a preliminary taste of school life, going full time when I was 5 yrs old.
School started at 9:00 am sharp, the pupils stood around the piano, Mrs Hawkins read a story from the Bible, we all then sang a hymn, and finally said the Lord's prayer.
Every morning a crate of bottles (3rd of a pint in each) of milk were delivered to the school, by Derek Herd, a local farmer who had a small dairy herd. Each child nationally at that period was given free milk, this would be drunk before lessons began. During winter the milk used to freeze and come out of the top of bottle like a milk lolly pop. In order to defrost them we used to let the bottles sit on the radiators until the milk had defrosted
Once the milk had been drunk it was time for the lessons.
School lessons consisted sums, reading and writing, nature, and art and craft (lino cutting with tools as sharp as scalpels entrusted to a six year old, digit counting being the order of the day after each lesson!). And once a week the music teacher from Upper Wharfedale School, Mr Page, would give us lessons usually in the morning. Recorders and tambourine were order of the day, the mouth piece of the recorders were dipped in disinfectant as they didn't belong to any one person... I can still taste it now. Eventually a celeste, a drum and two xylophones were purchased to raise the musical stakes - but that didn't happen!!
Occasionally residing over school proceedings was Mrs Hawkins's dog, called Major, who was a completely white Alsatian. He generally curled up on the floor next to her desk and slept, but sometimes he would give that German Shepherd look, like he was contemplating you being his next meal!
Every Wednesday afternoon, the juniors would be taken to Aireville Swimming Baths to learn how to swim or to advance their swimming! A Hargreaves coach would pick us up and then Grassington and Cracoe juniors would be collected along the way, the responsibility of looking after us all was Mrs Darwin from Grassington. She didn't suffer much nonsense, but was fair!
The school day consisted of two lessons in the morning, with a break in between, playtime, and then lunchtime from 12:00 until 1:00 another two lessons with playtime in between. When it was raining playtime was indoors, more often than not playing with plasticine which each child had, it was kept in our desks, in old tobacco tins, along with pens, note books etc.
On very rare occasions the classroom floor was cleared of desks and chairs and a series of hurdles were erected to jump over. The hurdle stands were wooden and of different colours and height and had a grove on the top end. A bamboo cane was placed on top of two of the same height, so by the time they were all set up, you had a series of hurdles all at different heights to jump over. I’m pretty sure the reason that the hurdles were only ever used on very rare occasions, is because if a child wasn’t careful, they hit the cane with their foot and the whole structure would come crashing down onto the wooden floor, the sound of which would no doubt test the nervous system of any adult at close range.
Finally, the last lesson of the day came round which was much shorter than the previous ones, as a story was always read before the end of the school day. We would all sit in a semi-circle and Mrs Hawkins would read from a book. Two that I remember are the stories from Ancient Greece and the Secret Garden. Lastly we stood around the piano, prayers were given for the day and we were free to go home at 3:30.
At that time the school had two classrooms, Infant and Junior. The infants were taught in what was originally the Head Teachers rest room. A square room with three windows on the west wall and one on the East wall. We were taught by a very young teacher, whose name has slipped my memory, but I know she lived in Foxup. She wasn't with us very long, but I can still picture her.
The infants room was adjacent to the cloakroom, which had an inside door and a outside door which led onto the grass playing area to the south of the school. To gain access to the cloakroom from the inside, you descended down a flight of steep stone steps. There was a sink and a line of coat pegs, this is were you left your coat and pump bag, the pump bags were homemade affairs, a cotton bag with a drawstring. Pumps were worn for physical activities, and to wear during "Music with Movement" which usually meant some form of movement, which was brought to us via the radio... a huge thing, robably made in the 50's, valve driven with large detached speaker... took forever to warm up!
The cloakroom was always very nice and warm as the stove pipe from the adjacent coke-fuelled boiler, came through the cloakroom at a 45 degree angle, it was heavily lagged but still generated a lot of heat. Dick Simpson looked after the boiler and his wife was the caretaker for the school.
The whole of the south side of the school was renovated in the early 70's, the infants room became the toilet block, and the cloakroom had its floor raised to the level of the main classroom.. I think the roof was raised also, and a new outside door was installed with steps leading to the grass playing area. The old coke boiler was replaced with oil fuelled one at this period.
Prior to the new toilets being installed, within the main school building, they were situated in an outside block situated on the eastern side of the school, the boys on the North side the girls on the South side divided by a wall which ran to the boiler house... the coke was stockpiled here so when there was a fresh delivery some of the older lads could run up the pile and clear the wall. The boys had an open roofed urinal with one lavatory with no electric. Once the new toilets were built the block was used as a storage building.
The reading room on the eastern side was also built in the early 1970's... I remember they took out a large section of wall and covered it with a plastic sheet, whilst building commenced. I don't know just how long it took before the hole was sealed, but it seemed like forever.. I recall it being very cold!! What are now the toilets for the Tea Rooms was once a kitchen.
School meals were delivered by Daggetts Taxis (Grassington firm, who also had a garage opposite the Newspaper shop) in aluminium food containers from Upper Wharfedale School, they catered not only for their own pupils and staff but also for all the schools in the local area. Mrs Edna Allen (lived at No 5 Chapel Lane) was the dinner lady and it was her responsibility to dish out the meals. The plates of food where brought to the table on a tray by a pupil, who would serve on every dinnertime for the week, the following week another pupil would take on the duty and so it went on till it was your turn again. At 12:00 it was lunchtime. All the Pupils were involved with setting up the benches and long tables which when not in use were stacked at the North end of the school under the interior clock, by the stationary cupboard! As soon as lunch was over everything was tidied up and it was into the playground for 30 minutes or so. The playground at that period wasn't tarmacked just concreted, it was very rough and had a lot of cracks. I think it was either 1970 or 1971, when they tarmacked it, it must have been in the school holidays as I remember myself and Martyn Richards watching the process from the rec.
The three teaching assistants who were there in my time, excluding the young teacher I mentioned earlier, were Mrs Spencer from Grassington, she worked at the school for a good number of years, Mrs Thompson who was lovely, she lives up Skirethornes lane at Wood Nook and Mrs Sherer, who lived at Linton, her son David attended the school for a short time, before she left.
By the time I left the school, 1974 there were only 17 pupils and 6 of us left in one go, depleting the number to just 11! Nine years later it closed for good.