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TIVIDALE SCHOOL KIDS' 1959 TRIP TO LONDON

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: May 31, 2007

TIVIDALE SCHOOL KIDS' 1959 TRIP TO LONDON

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In Bugle 768 we featured a story on the early days of Tividale School, which was built in Lower City Road in 1956. Former pupil Mike Beasley, of Byfield, near Daventry, Northamptonshire, had supplied us with a copy of the Tividale School Magazine from the summer of 1959, the first year that the school published one. The magazine featured reports and stories by the pupils on the activities, trips and events they had been involved with in the previous year.

In February 1959 a group of pupils went on a long weekend trip to London and the report on this trip was so well written we thought that we would reprint it for you to enjoy.

The tale is written by M. Rogers of class 2S. The school party arrived in London on the Friday afternoon and over the next few days they took in the sights of the capital. For many of these Black Country boys and girls it must surely have been their first time in London, and maybe even their first time beyond our own region.

The Tividale kids certainly had an eventful time. They set off on Friday 13th but they suffered no ill-fortune in their time away from home. They were taken to the Houses of Parliament where they were given a tour by the local MP, Arthur Henderson, the member for Rowley Regis and Tipton. Henderson had been the MP for the borough since 1950, prior to that he had sat for Kingswinford, and he was later created Baron Rowley when he went to the House of Lords. He was the son of the leading Labour politician, also called Arthur Henderson, who was leader of the party three times, served has Home and Foreign Secretary and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934.

The Tividale children also had a near encounter with another international figure of the 1950s, Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus. While the children were visiting Heathrow airport they were almost delayed as the Cypriot leader flew in for talks on the island's independence.

The children spent the weekend touring the London area before returning back to Tividale on the Monday and the report from the school magazine is a lively account from a child's perspective, with emphasis on what they ate for breakfast, impressions of the city's landmarks and an insight into the drinking habits of dockers. However, the question remains, who was M. Rogers of class 2S? We don't even know what their first name was. Are they among our readers or does anyone remember them? We would be very glad to hear from them or from any other Tividale pupils that went on this trip to London and can tell us more about it.

And so, this is M. Rogers' account of those exciting four days in London in 1959.

"One Friday morning I was up at about 7.30. The date in fact was 13th February, 1959, and the reason was that I was going to London.

"We arrived at London at about 2 o'clock. When we went to the Houses of Parliament, we were met by Mr Arthur Henderson, who showed us round the house.

"While we were there he showed us into the member's balcony where the MPs have their tea in the summer.

"When we left Mr Henderson we went on a tour round the Embankment, where we saw Scott's ship, 'Discovery'.

"We got to camp at about five past six. We all had a wash and some tea, which was fish and chips, then got back on the coach and went back to the Empire Pool Wembley, where we saw 'Holiday on Ice'. It was about 11.15 when we were getting to bed.

"On Saturday we got up at about seven o'clock and later on, after we had had a wash, we all went in for breakfast, where we had sausage and tomatoes, I enjoyed this very much.

"We started off at 9.30 on the next stage of our journey.

"Our first stop on Saturday was the Bank of England, where the Head Doorman showed us round. In the large hall there were lots of mosaics, which were of coins or things to do with coins. When he had finished talking we asked him questions.

"Afterwards we went to St Paul's. We had our lunch outside and then we went round the Cathedral and Mr Jones pointed out things of interest. We split up into groups, some going to the crypt and others into the Galleries.

"We saw the monument which commemorates the Great Fire of London and afterwards we went to the Fish-market. when we had walked round we drove round Dockland where on every corner there is a public house. This is because the dockers like a drink to keep up their strength. After we had gone round this interesting part of London we started back for camp.

"Sunday. After a short service we started off for Hampstead Heath and on the way we passed the Spaniard Inn, where Dick Turpin used to hide. When we got out of the coach and started to walk down the hill Geoff Ward fell down and when he got up he looked like an abonibal-snowman [sic] but covered with mud not snow.

"When we reached the coach we drove through the town of Hampstead where we saw the place where John Keats was born and also we saw the houses of the higher grade people. We drove on and came to the houses of the lower grade people. This area, like the Dockland, has a Public House on every corner.

"From here we carried on to Regent's Park, a park built for the Prince Regent, and Harley Street and was passed the Planetarium and then stopped at the Wax Works where we had a tour round.

"From the Wax Works we went to Buckingham Palace where we saw the guards and also noticed that the Queen was not in residence.

"On our way to Wandsworth we passed Vauxhall Station.

"London is full of wide open spaces which are reserved for common land, a good example of this is Clapham Common, which we also passed. To get to the town of Wanstead you have to go down the valley of river Wandle, which once flowed there. Wanstead is the largest borough in London.

"We carried on to Kingston-on-Thames, which is a big market town. The chief store is Bentall's. As we were going out of Kingston we passed the Old Deer Park, which is part of Hampton Court grounds. Our next stop was Hampton Court but we only had time to walk round the grounds.

"From there we carried on to London Airport where an Official took us on tour. When we had completed our tour we went on to the roof garden where we watched the planes.

"At about four o'clock we met up again and saw a lot of police cars and vans. A police-man came and told us that if we wanted to get away that we should go now because Archbishop Makarios was due. When we left the Airport we made our way back to camp.

"When we had finished tea we went into the Recreation Room where we played Table Tennis.

"On Monday morning before breakfast we started to pack because it was our last day in London. When we had finished our breakfast we picked up our luggage and put it in the coach, then we started off for Selfridges, one of the largest stores in Oxford Street. After we met up we got back into the coach and started back home. We came via St Albans, Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon. We arrived here at about five past five. I enjoyed it very much and I should like to go again."

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