Memories of Calderdale

Stones Primary School: 1950s


John Orton

Stones Primary School – which is now closed – had a cloakroom, 2 small rooms and a big room, which could be divided in half to make 2 classrooms. When we held our pantomimes, concert etc., we opened it up and there was a stage at one end.

There was a dining room off to one side and another cloakroom.

Underneath the school was a kitchen, which made hot meals for our school and another school down in the village.

We used to sit at individual desks with a high desk at the front for the teacher. She smoked Craven A filter cigarettes and always seemed to have a cup of coffee or tea always on her desk. When it got dark, they would light the gas mantles, as gas was our only source of power.

The school playground was in the shape of a C, with a stone and iron fence around it and across one side. At the back were the boys' and girls' outside toilets. In the playground we would play skipping, marbles, hopscotch, chasing etc.

If our class was the only one, we would play a game of tag. One person would be it and your job was to tag somebody else. When that was done, you would hold hands and tag another until everybody was tagged.

In class, we used to stand up in rows to be asked different mathematical questions. You kept standing until you got it wrong then you sat down. Last person standing was the winner. For reading, there was a series of books about animals like beavers or foxes, which started off when they were first born, learning to survive becoming mature and starting their own family. This was great and was my introduction to the pleasure of reading.

Our desks had ink wells, as we used a pen to dip in the ink as a way of writing. Dipping the pen into ink, making sure you did not have too much. You would write so many words before the ink ran out. With blotting paper, it gave you a chance to make sure the words did not get smudged and so looked neat. We used to make our own ink, which was done by the year 7 ink monitors, by mixing ink powder with water.

Another job was a rain gauge monitor, which was to record the rain everyday in a book. The gauge kept in the vegetable garden, just behind the school.

At lunchtime, we would go into the dining room. The table had 2 benches with 2 chairs at the end and would seat 8 people. It was our job as year 7s to be food monitors and we sat at the end. We would go to the serving table, pick up 2 plates and the cooks would put the food on the plates. These were taken back to the table and given to the students. As food monitors, we would always get an extra scoop of potato and some times an extra scoop for somebody else. We would be the last ones to eat.

Semolina pudding was almost always on the menu, which was always served with a teaspoon of jam in the middle. There was two ways of eating it. Either eat all around the jam which you kept to last or you made a dogs dinner by mixing it to be come pink.

At Christmas, we would have a traditional turkey, potato, peas, stuffing with gravy, followed by Christmas pudding – with at least one sixpence in it – with custard.

One year we did a play based around Old King Cole and I played the part of a cat. I had a black, one piece suit on with a tail that stuck out the back filled with newspaper. They were going to operate on me to get my guts for the violin bows!

Not far away was the local cricket ground – which is called Stones Cricket Club and still going [in 2007] – where we went for cricket. I remember the gloves had lots of rubber spikes on the back to protect the fingers and I was not very good at this sport. Towards the end of the 1960/61 at the primary school we did our 11+ examination.

In England, the school year went from September to June, with the big holiday in the summer – middle of the year. The examination was basically an IQ test, to see what kind of school you would go to and the level of education you would receive

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 5978

Page Ref: M_12

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