SCHOOLDAYS AT LOVE LANE
School Days at Love Lane was previously
published in the Pontefract Family History Society Journal and is
reproduced here with the permission of Marian Roberts.
I was a pupil at Love Lane School,
Pontefract, during the war years from September 1939 to July 1944. I
think the army took possession of the Infant School as a couple of
infant classes that I attended were held in the Junior School building.
My first teacher, when I was six years old, was Mrs Wood, a very elderly
lady who had also taught my mother before the turn of the century at the
British School in Gillygate. My next teacher was Miss Rose.
When I moved up into the juniors, boys and girls were educated
separately. We did not even play together and the railings that had
previously divided the area had been taken for the war effort. We were
not allowed to pass over the imaginary line where they had previously
stood and so we were still segregated. A very large water tank, in case
of air raids perhaps, was installed in the girls’ area, taking up quite
a lot of space.
We always put on a display for 'Empire Day' and sang songs that today
would be considered patronising. The Mayor of Pontefract attended and we
all waited anxiously for him to announce an extra days holiday. We also
looked forward to a holiday for the Statutes Fair, which was always held
on the first Thursday in November.
There was of course no National Health Service but there was a clinic
opposite the Municipal Offices. The dentist, Mr. Fisher, would examine
our teeth at school. At a later date, if treatment was considered to be
necessary, we would walk down, in crocodile, to the clinic, carrying our
gas masks. The nurse at the clinic was Mrs Lillian Tomlinson, the sister
of the Headmaster of Love Lane Boys School. A doctor would also visit
the school and I recollect being examined by Dr. Hessel Snr. (Michael's
father), who announced that my tonsils needed to be removed. Two years
elapsed before I went in to hospital. How does that compare with the
present N.H.S. waiting lists? School dinners were not supplied but as we
all lived locally we went home for lunch. As the war progressed, meals
were provided at the Town Hall, in the British Restaurant.
The teachers at that time were :- Miss Hood, Mrs Brown, Mrs Wilberforce
and Miss Todd. The Headmistress was Miss Hall. During the last six
months I was at Love Lane School the 1944 Education Act came into being
and the school became a Junior Mixed School. Quite an event in our
lives. Several of the girls were concerned that they might be in Mr.
Wheatley's class. He had lost an arm in World War One and carried a cane
around, hooked through his jacket button hole. Mr. Tomlinson became
Headmaster. I recall accompanying him and a boy called Billy Lawrence to
an evening function at the Municipal Offices. We received an award on
behalf of the school in connection with National Savings.
The pupils of Form IV were the last children to sit the County Minor
Scholarship Examination. I believe five girls and two boys were
fortunate to get places at the local Grammar Schools. I was one of
those. There were other scholarships awarded and if my memory is
correct, they were named Borough and Governors, but I cannot bring to
mind how many children received them. I still have my prize, a book
entitled "Cuchulain", chosen, I must admit, for its leather binding
embossed with gold. This was war time and most other books were
paperbacks. I think mine must have been old stock. I thought the "Hound
of Ulster" was a dog, imagine my surprise when I discovered he was an
Miss Todd encouraged us to read poetry and my continuing interest in any
form of history was kindled by her. Mrs Wilberforce instilled in us the
importance of "good English". "Remember", she would say, "Do not
pronounce the T in often and never the W in towards". Mrs Wilberforce I
Marian Denton Roberts (nee Johnson)