Getting to school. The school bags were made from leather. We did not wear uniforms. Not everyone wore shoes as I recall. We took cut lunches to school but on Monday's we could buy our lunch at the school or from Wrightson's Baker next door. Those kids who were better off could walk to the fish shop at Highbury shops to get fish & chips. Thick slices of potato cooked in batter was popular. The fish shop is still operating. I can remember bread and dripping sandwiches sprinkled with salt and pepper. Everyone walked or road their bikes or scooters. Very few people owned cars.
At school. All of the old buildings from the 1950s have gone. The only structure recognisable is the swimming pool. There was the murder house of course where a dental nurse would drill without anaesthetic. The bell was rung by a senior student who walked around the school swinging the heavy brass bell. Punishment was delved out by having to write "forty lines" or in more serious cases by "getting the cuts". This was by way of a few smacks on the head with either a wooden ruler or leather strap. Milk was delivered to the school in small glass bottles which had cardboard seals with a small hole for the drinking straw. Sometimes the milk was heated by the sun but we still had to drink it.
Equipment. We learned to write with pencils until perhaps year five (standard 3) when we used pen and ink. The pens were a wooden handle with a steel nib which was dipped in the bottle of Stevenson's blue ink. I think I was able to get more ink on my clothes, school bag and the desk than on the paper. I can remember using a sharpened feather from grandmother's chook run when I had broken the nib. We were not meant to leave primary school until we could recite the "times tables" and spell the last word in the "Essential" spelling book which was theatre. Although there are differing opinions to the value of "learning off by heart" I know that the times table has served me well for 60 plus years. We used to sing "God Save the King" on a daily basis.
Entertainment. We had class and school concerts attended by family members. Entertainers would do the rounds of the schools putting on shows. There was the "Fun Doctor" who could do magic tricks and play the piano with his nose. Sometimes there were movies.
Sport. We have annual sports competitions with Northcote Primary School. I can recall playing rugby. We travelled to Northcote in the bus only to find that both teams had black and white hooped jerseys. The next time we played, we used jerseys made from sugar bags.
School trips. I can remember going to the museum several times which meant two ferry rides and four bus trips.
It's good to see that the school is still serving the area well.
Malcolm Hall (1948-1952)
Photo - Std 4 1952
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!