PAULINE HADLEY, nee Daniels, of Priory Road, Dudley, tells us of a recent visit back to the place where she grew up, and the many changes she found.
The kind of journey that most of us take at some time or other...
“Some time ago I took a short walk down memory lane, revisiting childhood haunts in West Bromwich. I was born in 1953 and lived in Oak Lane, opposite the bus garage for my first fifteen years. Our row of terraced houses is long gone, demolished to make way for a traffic island, and a social club for the bus station. The houses were small, had no hot water, no bathroom and the outside toilet was at the bottom of the garden. We had to share ours with the next door neighbours.
When you are very young and scared of the dark a trip to the toilet at night could be very scary. In the winter there was always a hurricane lamp sitting under the water pipes to prevent them from freezing up.
There were no luxuries back then but it was home and leaving it to be demolished was heart breaking.
“Over the years more familiar places disappeared including our favourite little shop — ‘Stewarts’ — and the corner shops ‘Eades’ and ‘Hortons.’ There used to be a Salvation Army Citadel opposite the Cross Keys P.H. Only a few of the pubs were left then – The Hop & Barleycorn – The Loving Lamb.
“My revisit was quite a shock when I found that the whole neighbourhood had been demolished for redevelopment.
Chapman Street with its fish & chip shop and Edith Street were just empty spaces. At least my old infants’ school, Lodge Estate, was still standing.
“There were more shocks at Earl Street where Guns Village Junior School had been replaced with – nothing. Then the realisation that the Technical High School (formerly the Cronehills) had been flattened to make way for a new Tesco.
“Remembering Guns Village prompted me to dig out some old cuttings I’d saved from the Black Country Bugle from 2008. The first by Doug Haynes was from Oct. 2nd and is titled “Incident in class at Guns Village.” It is about an irate mother who slapped a certain ‘Miss Edwards’ – a formidable teacher I remember very well! An incident like this was very rare in schools in the early 60’s.
“The follow up story was sent in by Margaret A . Cooper (nee Hackwood) and was about happy times at Guns Village.
“My own memories of the school and Miss Edwards are very clear.
She was my teacher for two years as she taught class 3A and the following year 4A, taking us through the 11plus exam. This was between 1962 and 1964. She certainly was fierce and took action for the slightest misdemeanour.
I remember being punished for having a squeaky desk lid! (we didn’t carry oil cans around with us, perhaps we should have).
I recall that during a Christmas party a small group of pupils who’d failed a test earlier in the day were hunched up in a corner doing arithmetic.
This was while the rest of us tucked into jelly, trifle and cakes.
Failure meant punishment.
“Yet, she did have a kind side to her character. After she returned from a lengthy illness she treated us all to a trip to Drayton Manor Park.
This was because we were well behaved during her absence. She was very artistic and creative with crafts. She even taught us basket weaving. She may have had a military background. This would explain the way she made us call out our names and numbers during morning register. I remember to this day how it started… “ONE - Ian Bishop, TWO - Alan Clarke, THREE - Ian Collett, FOUR - Alan Cooper, FIVE - Ronnie Dixon, SIX - Barry Fieldhouse, SEVEN - Martin Finch, EIGHT - Stephen Gandy… and so on. I believe I was No.36.
“Out of all the classes she taught, Miss Edwards would remember us.
This is because we sang at her wedding.
She married a military man named Harcourt in 1963 or 64 at, I believe, St. Philip’s Church, Beeches Road, West Bromwich, A number of us were chosen to form a choir and she paid us 2/6d each. We may even be on the wedding photos.
“One of the singers, Linda Westwood (now Boswell) is my oldest friend. Our friendship has lasted 50 years. We were both in classes 3A and 4A.
“Linda recently unearthed a school photo (attached) taken in class 2A in 1961 or 1962. This was Mr Davies’s class. I remember most of the pupils’ names. They are… Back row, left to right… Corrine Woodall, Ian Collett, Ian Bishop, Malcolm Greenhalgh, Bonnie Lightfoot? Linda Squires, Alan Clarke, Pauline Jones, -?-, Pauline Daniels (me), Next row… Sheila Cutler, Stephen Gandy, Lynne Bartlett, Alan Cooper, David Jones, Martin Thompson, Philip Howard, -?-, Susan Smith? David Williams, Barry Fieldhouse.
First row… John Corbett, Christopher Hickman, Valerie Hammond, Ann Sylvester, Josephine Mc Donald, Pat Bowker, Linda Westwood, Robert Western, Pat Povey, Joy Francis, -?-, Lesley Elbrow? (Joy Francis went on to marry WBA footballer Asa Hartford).
Sitting… Geoffrey Ginn, Graham Martin, - ?-, Brian Wood.
Standing teacher… Mr. Davies.
“After we left Guns Village I never saw Miss Edwards/Mrs. Harcourt again. I wonder if any readers have a photo? I can’t remember a school photo of 3A/ 4A with her on it. I also wonder what happened to her.
Did she have a family of her own? Did she carry on teaching? She could still be alive and kicking and in her 70’s or 80’s. I’d like to think she’s still around. If anyone knows I’d love to hear about it.
“Sometimes it seems like only yesterday when I was sitting at a desk at Guns Village. It’s hard to believe that half a century has gone by. I hope this story brings back a few memories for some readers out there”.