Barbara Stott Lewis provided us with a wonderful handwritten account relating to the Birkenhead Primary School Dental Clinic.
I feel the dental clinic need recognition as part of the history of Birkenhead School. The dental service began in 1921. The year of first graduates was 1923. One of the first clinics on the North Shore was Birkenhead Clinic. I believe the clinic was opened early 1930's. I attended the clinic from 1939-1946. My dental nurse was Phyllis Webster. The clinic is still there, a veery solid building - now the classroom for children with English as a second language.
I trained as a School Dental Nurse in 1952-53, worked in the far north with very primitive conditions and equipment. My Dental Nurse Inspector was Phyllis Webster, my old Birkenhead Nurse. I was looked after very well.
I came back to Birkenhead Clinic in 1955 and worked here for four years. Most of the time on my own. Sometimes a 2nd Nurse. We treated a wide area - Birkenhead, Birkdale, Albany and Coatesville.
It was a busy clinic. I visited these schools for examinations in school staff rooms, then parents brought the children to Birkenhead Clinic for treatment.
I joined in the school events, fairs, bottle drives etc. for fundraising. We had a good group of teachers. Headmaster Mr Soloman, then Mr Fryer-Raisher and Ian Menzies as Head Teacher.
An updated clinic was built in the 60's and now a modern clinic build in the 2000's. With the equipment now available and again serving all the district it is built on the school boundary.
Barbara Stott Lewis
1. Starting School
I started school at a time when there was one intake at the beginning of the term. I went to school with my father, mother stayed home with my younger brother then about 7 months old. I remember a long queue outside the infant/ primers block. In the end Father left me in the care of Joy Brown, mother of Jocelyn, and went to work. Jocelyn Brown and I shared a birthday. The Browns lived next door to the school. Mr Brown was the founder of Brown’s Pharmacy.
2. Polio Epidemic Closure
I remember the day schools were closed. It was a Friday evening, mother was taking us to see Santa, the first opportunity as she was expecting her third child. As the ferry arrived, we were greeted with the news that schools and many other places were to be closed.
The next year, while school was still closed, I recall going with father to see the teacher, Mr Boyd, in a large classroom in the primary block. I remember a small man in a big room. Mr Boyd’s father was, at that time, the Presbyterian minister.
3. Promotion from Primer 3 direct to Standard 1
On our return to school at the beginning of the year we went into Primer 4. I think this would have been 1947. The teacher was Miss Frew, who was feared by the students. After lunch four of us, Jocelyn Brown, Gary Moller, myself and one other whose name escapes me were called up, taken out and promoted to Standard 1.
4. School cocoa
In the winter there was hot cocoa, prepared and served by mothers from a room at the end of the primers block. We took to school our own mug, most of us had an enamel mug.
5. Standard 3 – 8 teachers in one year
Standard 3 was year when we had eight teachers. The last one was Miss Edna Steel, who had returned from overseas and was good friends with my parents. Father advised her of the vacancy, she applied for it and was appointed. In her first week I developed the six-month relapse of whooping cough. Miss Steel sent me home as she did not like my coughing and felt she knew enough about me that she did not need me in the class as she got to know the pupils.
Miss Steel was a gifted teacher. She had us playing the Three Little Pigs, building houses out of brown paper and we blew them down. She also ran a competition each week and took the winning team to the beach. Miss Steel’s mother owned the Victoria Hall in the Crescent, now Mariposa Crescent.
6. New headmaster – Mr Turner
Towards the end of my time at Birkenhead Primary father joined the school committee. There was a new headmaster, Mr Turner. When the committee members realised that Mr Turner was staying back for the evening meeting, he was invited on the night of the meeting to share an evening meal with various families.
Brian FitzPatrick, Student 1945 - 1950
Our Learning Trust is collecting memories from both the students and teachers who attended Birkenhead Primary School since 1919. We would love to hear from you!