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!