Huntingdon Grammar School in the 1930s
After being transferred from the Council school to Huntingdon Grammar School, my nights are taken up with homework which has to be done.
There is none of that, “O that can wait until tomorrow!” it has to be done today.
We have a long journey of twelve miles each way every morning and night. We leave home at seven and bring our dinners with us.
We arrive back home at night at about a quarter to six.
Being in the third form we have a fair amount of homework.
We have Physical Education twice a week and a games period on Friday afternoons.
We play football in the winter, cricket in the summer and in between these two we have cross country runs.
In the Physical Education period in the summer, we go bathing at Huntingdon Baths.
I have been at the Grammar School for three years now and I do not detest it quite so much as I used to!
[Written by John Wales while in the 3rd form at Huntingdon Grammar School]
1930s Earith getting to school
The children living over the High Bridge (Earith Suspension Bridge) in 1930’s Earith at the Hermitage and from the farms in the fen had to walk to school and bring their lunch with them.
In the winter months, they would be allowed out half an hour early so they could get home before dark.
When the causeway was flooded, as it usually was every winter then, the children would be ferried across by Harry Harper in his boat.
Learning about farming in the 1930s
Some children, mainly of the business families and some farmers and fruit growers would go to private schools in St Ives: Slepe Hall and Miss Patricks for the girls and St Ives Grammar School for the boys.
Some went by train, walking to Earith Bridge station in the morning, to St Ives Station at the opposite end of the town from the Grammar School.
Others piled onto an open-topped sports car driven by an elder brother, and yet others cycled.
From a very early age, I was taught all the basic farming skills of the day by my father – how to:
- milk a cow by hand,
- plough with a horse,
- cut and lay a hedge,
- mow with a scythe,
- load a cart,
- stack loose hay and corn.
Everything, hay, straw and sheaves was loose so it was most important to learn how to handle a fork until it was an extension of your hand, and also how to thatch both hay and corn stacks.
Unfortunately when I came out of the army after the war and started farming on my own practically all these skills were obsolete because of mechanisation.
Nine of my school friends were killed in the war and when as Chairman of our Royal British Legion I read out their names on Remembrance Sunday, I have a memory of each one of them.
Jack Wales April 2008
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