Brockham School - Personal Memories

Johnson Batchelar: 1886 when aged 86: I being more at home than at school, I never had much schooling, and the first school that I went to was a Dame School, a Mrs James Harman. Her husband was called Scotch Harman a labouring man, this I should say was 80 years ago.  The next was a very good school kept by a Scotch man and again I was more at home than at school. The school stands now where it stood 80 years since, in Betchworth Common Fields, the only school at the time for Brockham, Leigh, Buckland, Headley and Walton that is a good school, the master's name was John Oliver, and he was Parish Clerk besides.  The school has been very much enlarged since and is now a Board school. 

I believe we found our own books and we paid 8d a week for being taught.  This master was Steward to Chas Henry Bouverie Esq. at Betchworth House but he was an unprofitable servant he proved to be. 

Johnson Batchelar:I went to Mr Oliver's school with his daughter. 

Johnson Batchelar: 1886: The next (Wheelers Lane) is a newly built Board School for Girls and Boys the master Mr Owen a good master and organist at the Church. 

1922 by Major J W Humphrey, who was born in Brockham in 1846 Very few boys attended school at 10 years of age; they were invariably put to work of some sort, on the land chiefly, especially during haymaking and harvesting.

Syd Budd: Schooling started at five years (1917) in the school in Wheelers Lane before the hall and kitchens were built. There were five classes and five teachers including the Head Mr H B Pinnock. The classes were all about the same size with about ninety pupils in the school. Half term holidays were just a Friday and Monday although summer was about six weeks. We had a fortnight off in September to pick potatoes. On Pondtail we grew two acres of potatoes. Syd left school at fourteen to work with his father and Mr Holman in their coal merchant business.

Edith Meadows told her daughter Marion: Edith talked of the headmaster Mr Pinnock (known as the Gaffer) whom she said should have been on the stage.  He produced various performances in which the pupils took part and apparently the Pinnock family were musical and sang harmonies.  Another teacher was Miss Sherlock described as a good teacher but very strict.  Mum recalled that on Thursday afternoons the boys were taught gardening by the caretaker Mr Rich and the girls had needlework lessons taken by Miss Sherlock. My Mum told of an incident when caught talking to another girl and was called to bring her work out front.  This was an apron pleated into a waistband which she had tacked and on inspection was told to "take it undone" and whilst telling her this Mum said Miss Sherlock pulled the offending garment and as it was only tacked it came undone whereupon she laughed and was rebuked and told to "take that beastly grin off your face" which was apparently a common cry.

Reg Glanfield: I went to the village school when I was five in 1923. The main buildings included what was called the drill hall which was covered and used for us to play games and have assembly. The head was aMr Pinnockwho taught the top class and there were four other teachers in the school with one more for the infants. I left aged fourteen

Reg Glanfield believes that there may have been between 20 to 25 pupils in each class in the 1920s with Len Jordan recalling that there could have been as many as250 children at the school on 1930s.

Len Jordan: In the 1920sDr. Thorne's house, also pharmacy was next to the chapel and the Dukes Head. He was a nice old fellow with a white beard.  He rode a ladies bike with a basket on the front, to do his rounds.  He attended me for measles when there was a big epidemic in the early '30's. So many kids in the village had measles the school had to be closed!  No sooner had we started back to school, than I had chicken pox.  So it was back to Dr. Thorne again, and another couple of weeks off. 

Len Jordan: Over the road to Birch Cottage, where lived George Sherlock, his sisters, and niece Ida. George's shop was a few yards away where Century Cottage now is. The shop was built for George by his father I believe. He apparently started off as a gent's outfitter, and in fact I can recall one of his shop windows always had gents clothes hanging in it. But he soon became a grocer, newsagent etc. Mr. Sherlock was very popular and well respected in the village. He sang in the Choir, and Ida was the organist for a number of years. One of his sisters, Alice, was a teacher at Brockham School all of her working life. When she retired, in 1936, the headmaster Mr. Pinnock, collected from all the pupils, and as many of her ex-pupils as he could trace, and she was presented with a bureau at a concert in the Village Hall held in her honour.

Len Jordan: In the 1930s there were about 250 pupils at the school from the village and surrounding areas. Local children went home fro lunch and the more distant ones brought sandwiches. A lad Bowry walked from Root Hill and Boxall from Gadbrook.

Reg Glanfield: Jack Tickner had a cottage where the hairdressers now are. He was a taxi driver, chimney sweep, looked after the Green, was the school caretaker, charged accumulators for the radio and cut hair for two pennies

Sue Smith: In Brockham Mr Poland bought shoes for the school children, paid for them to have a bus outing to the sea and was a general benefactor.

Reg Glanfield: All the children at school went every year to his house where the staff would measure us and give us shoes. On another occasion each year we would go and be given wet fish for a meal for the whole family. With others from the school we travelled by charabanc to London Zoo. The charabanc was opened top and seats were lined up singly one behind the other, five rows of them. The school went to Ramsgate, again funded by Mr Poland for four days. We went at different times accompanied by village adults, Mr Houghton and Mr Chance and stayed in boarding houses

Ken Luff started school aged five in 1931 leaving in 1939 when he was14. The Head was a Mr Pinnock followed by Mr Audrick. Miss Katie Dodson was one of the teachers. There were four classes plus an infant class

Iris Muggeridge: We moved to Bushbury Farm in Old School Lane and I came to Brockham School. I would come by bike and was often late and would leave the bike at the side of the school and get into trouble for not putting it in the bike shed. There were two entrances to the school, one for the infants and girls and the other for boys. My brother sister and I often missed school because we were working on the farm and it was quite regular to be chased by the Board School man Mr Rose who came on his motor cycle and side car to find out where we were. During the war there were so many evacuees that we could not all go to school so we would have a half day and make up some of the time on Saturday.

Alec Overton: Sometimes during the War, school dinners were taken at Brockham Home (Way House) and whenever haricot beans were on the menu they were always cooked with their shoots on - I thought they were worms and meticulously cut them all off. At Brockham Home at dinner time we used to put the dinner knife in a slot on the table and "twang" the knife vigorously up and down. One such knife was found broken under the table where I sat. I did not break it but was still given a good telling off by the then Headmaster Mr Audric. Mr H. E. A. Day, at one point of the war Headmaster at Brockham School, was injured by a Doodle Bug. He was blown off his bike in the Old Coach Road. We were surprised to see him at school assembly the next day, still fit enough to sort out some of the boys with his cane that he used to hide up his sleeve.

Connie Homewood: The weekend that war was declared, my neighbour got married - married on Saturday, war declared on Sunday; and on the Monday bus and lorry loads of evacuee children arrived on the village green with their teachers and parents. My neighbours had a "Family" within forty-eight hours of being married - two evacuees, who stayed with them for the duration of the war. Brockham School could not cope with all the additional children. We went to school for half a day - the evacuees for the other half. Eventually classes were held in the Village Hall and Church Room. During the early part of the war when the air raid sirens sounded we used to sit in the school corridor. Some while time later shelters were built in the front playground, in the garden and under the play shed. Sometimes we would spend the best part of the day in the shelters. If planes were passing directly overhead we would all sing at the top of our voices to drown the sound of their engines." Connie recalls that they "dare not run" when the sirens sounded. School life was very strict. "It was all very frightening; I'm surprised we learnt anything. Young John Gallimore was called to the Head Master's Office. A short while later he returned to the class with his head held high and his shoulders back. His eyes though were full of tears. His mother had just heard that the lad's father, who was in the Navy, had been killed in action. "One lasting impression is the rabbits and pigs we kept at school. One minute they were the school pets and the next they were sent to Mr Humphrey the Butcher. I've never eaten meat again to this day."

Joan Redmond: During the War children walked to the school from all over the area including Box Hill. There were lots of soldiers about but there were never any problems with the children nor were there restrictions placed on us. We spent a great deal of time at school in the air raid shelter. I watched doodlebugs fly over. I remember being upset when they issued gas masks - I was too old for a Mickey Mouse one! Both my mother and father were in the Army and never got home at the same time.

Ann Clinch nee Budd: I went to Brockham School in 1944 from my home on Pondtail Farm in Old School Lane where my father was the farmer. I vaguely remember a shelter from the air raids. Mr Day was the headmaster and he was as I recall strict. Children went on to Sondes Place and later some to the girls school Mowbray which is now a part of Ashcombe. I recall Mrs Hobby in the infant school, Miss Wilkins in the church hall, Miss Sanders taught in the school library. She also taught my father. She would walk to school from Betchworth and taught the top class. She had lovely writing on the blackboard, and she took us for needlework during which stories were read to the class. There was also Miss Katie Dodson who became the village historian, Miss Giles and Mrs Knight. There was also Mr Davies, Mr Roberts and Mr Longley who taught the boys sports. Mr Roberts taught my class in the village hall about the Peasants Revolt! School dinners were in the village hall or in Mrs Hobby's room. We had a spoon and fork - they probably did not trust us with knives. The school caretaker was a First World War veteran Mr Dudley who lost a part of his finger and would wag what was left of it at the children. He served the school dinners and at some stage his daughter worked in a fish and chip shop in Dene Street in Dorking.

John Muggeridge: In the middle 1950s the village hall served as a classroom for the school along with the church hall. All the school came to the Village hall for their lunch which was delivered in shiny metal containers. Mr Rogers was the head teacher in the 1950s and it was after 1955 that the new hall and kitchens were added.

Sue Smith: I don't actually remember Mr. Pinnock but I think he was well loved. I do however remember Mr. Audric who was very ambitious both for his pupils. He was less than kind to the slower pupils and I have been told that one boy who often arrived late had to stand on his desk while the other children had to sing "Now the day is over ...." after that came the gentle Mr. Day, then Mr. Rogers. Mrs. Rogers was a private person and when they were about to move when he retired I went over to wish them all happiness in their new home - Mrs. Rogers said I shall never forget you, such a wild girl, you and your motor bike! I didn't put her right but I was never wild and I never had a motor bike but I think I know who she had muddled me with - my friend, Jill. The next head was a lady and I have forgotten her name, then came Mr. Learmond and then Mr. Starkie. Mr. Learmond took over the school when Martin was eight so that makes it 1972.

Alan and Jennifer Fiest August 2000 : My first knowledge of Brockham Home Training School was as a boy of six years of age when I moved to Brockham in 1934. I attended Brockham School as did the girls from the Home. Although we were all dressed rather plainly compared with modern day standards my impression of those which we rather cruelly called "The Romans" because when they went out walking they always walked in files and they were harshly dressed. They wore boots with studded soles, which slipped on the stone floors of the school corridors. During the winter they had a bag of camphor tied to their waist under their dresses. They also wore pinafores to school. Girls only were accommodated at that time. The Matron was a rather large lady named Miss Couchman who had an assistant called Miss Taylor, known to the girls as "Tay Tay". As a small child I always thought that the children looked hungry and that they always had colds. (Note: This is not supported by any of the "old girls" who have visited Number Two Way House in recent years. They have always indicated that they had plenty to eat and helped with the cooking in rotation.) The girls were not allowed to mix with the village children after school, so they kept very much to themselves and did not make lasting friendships outside the Home. The school leaving age was then fourteen and at that age the girls generally went into service.

Brockham Badgers' Co-Founder, Bill Songhurst: On the first training evening several members of the Fulham squad arrived to support the new club. By the end of the evening, fifty boys had been registered to play. The new club had support from the Brockham senior club who let us have the use of their pitch on the recreation ground and also from Bob Learmond, headmaster of Brockham school, who let us have the use of the school pitches.