CRESCENT SCHOOL, PONTEFRACT
ADDED 17 SEPTEMBER 2007
I was interested in the picture on page 19 of the
September issue of the Digest Magazine. It is of the Crescent School,
Pontefract, and must have been taken about 1937-38. The school was started
by Principal Miss Nella M. Ebbutt in the upper floor of the Crescent
Ballroom, in rooms used for suppers when there was a dance. I went there
in about 1933 when I was five years old. Soon after that, it moved to
rooms over Barclays Bank. We entered by the back from the gated driveway
from Gillygate. There was a lawn with a central flagged path, but this
was soon reduced to level soil by constant traffic. In the early days
there was a grapevine on the east wall of the flagged area by the entrance.
Upstairs, the first floor had, at the south east corner, a large room
where we assembled in the morning for a hymn, after which we marched
out to stirring piano music, played by Miss Zoe Wordsworth. The room
at the north east was a classroom and it was there that I learnt to
write, doing first exercises in loops and curves, using a pen with a
J nib and dip-in ink pot. Next to this was a small kitchen and then
up a step or two was Miss Ebbutt’s private room. Over the stairs on
the garden side was the only toilet I can recall which had a decorated
pot. There were one or two rooms on the second floor, one of which was
called the Art Room.
The school moved after I left, to St. Catherine’s, a large house on
the corner of Mayor’s Walk and Mill Hill. The school rooms were used
as the Food Office during the war. At Mill Hill it changed its name
as I understood the new owners of the Crescent Cinema did not like it
being associated with them. It remained there until Miss Ebbutt retired
and closed the school.
To return to the picture, I can recall some of the names, but after
seventy years could get some wrong! Starting on the back row from left
to right, no. 1 was Jack Keighley who lived on Mayor’s Walk with his
family, who had for many years, a large part of what is now the Valley
Gardens. Next is Gerald Smith, second son of G.T. Smiths. Third is Neville
Wilkinson who lived in the big house on Carleton Road next to the road
to the RAFA. His father was at the furniture Works in Mill Dam. Fifth
was, I think, Margaret Taylor who lived at The Beeches in Mill Hill.
Her father was the Taylor of Pennington Hustler and Taylor and was architect
for the alterations at The Alexandra when it became a cinema. I felt
very important when he took me on a tour round the projection room etc.
Seventh is Jimmy Claxton Smith and at the end of the row is John Hanson
whose father was a Castleford accountant and John later opened an office
On the second row forward, I think the first is Gordon Miles, whose
father was manager of Exchange Furnishing, which is now Pontefract Travel.
Third is Biddy Mackie, who lived on Carleton Road with her brother,
Jimmy Mackie (tenth on the front row). Fourth was, I think, Sheila Burnett,
daughter of the Doctors who lived in The Mount. Sixth, and I think,
‘head girl’, is Brenda Hudson, whose father managed the Gas Works. I
stand next to her and on my left is Derek O’Connor who later became
a solicitor at Clayton Smith’s in Ropergate House. On his left is Alistair
Johnson who lived in ‘Brierlen’, a large house on the left, just before
Carleton Green. I always admired the large monkey puzzle tree they had.
Third from the end is Megan Spence who lived nearest the school in the
house at the bottom of the lawn in Barclays Yard. On the end of this
row is Peter Ewbank whose grandfather started Ewbank’s Liquorice. His
father had the cycle shop on the corner of Mill Hill and Wakefield Road
On the row next to the front at no. 3 is Claire Ferris and in front
of Brenda Hudson is Shirley Bullock of the South Yorkshire Buses family.
In front of myself is Ann Burnett, youngest sister of Sheila, and next
to the end is Anne Wilkinson, sister of Neville.
As they were not in my year, the only front row member I can recall
is Jimmy Mackie, as mentioned earlier.
We were all very happy at the school and I was sorry when I left in
1938-39 for the King’s School.
John O. E. Holmes
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