Local Schooldays

Thanks to our contributors for these School day memories.

Any photos to share please?

Cary Park School

This school must have been the best ever.  All the memories are so special.

I absolutely loved Cary Park School. It was quite a relaxed atmosphere there, but the teachers were great and you wanted to learn. I was in touch with Mrs Butt for many years, but unfortunately I think she has passed over now. I remember the sports days at Walls Hill and our year put on an unrehearsed play to show the other classes to make money for charity!

Penny Fleming

I was at Cary Park school 1959 to 1963.  Mrs Butt picked me up at Kingskerswell in the morning and took me home after school.

My friends were Linda Slade, Sonja Gordon , Lynsey Aronld and my name was Gillian Ayres.

Gillian Purches

Cary Park School was started by my parents (Mr & Mrs Butt) and my grandparents on my mothers side (Mr & Mrs Kelly), in the late 1950’s.

My mother and her family grew up in Kalimpong, India, where my grandfather worked for Dr. Graham’s homes, returning to England during WWII.

Amongst others they had contact with the Dalai Lama as well as the Bhutanese Royal family, so she has many fascinating tales of life in the Himalayas.

My parents studied music at Dartington (and met each other come to think of it), at the time Imogen Holst was teaching there, and my father was given composition lessons by Benjamin Britten amongst others.

The earliest memories I have of the school were in the nursery class (this would have been around 1967), and particularly ‘music & movement’ and those little bottles of milk at eleven.

My grandmother Mrs Kelly had an encyclopedic knowledge of history, a subject which she really enthused others with her natural way to story tell our past.

Other teachers names are hazy in my memory, but Mrs Chambers and Mrs Hayward spring to mind. Not to forget Mr Widdecombe the caretaker.

Later came events such as the trips to Kents Cavern and further afield to Longleat, or the day the classroom ceiling fell down on us when there was a dancing class going on on the floor above!

Then there was watching the moon landings on a black and white television set which expired in a cloud of acrid smoke at the wrong moment, the pupils were also allowed to watch the investiture of Prince Charles when he was made Prince of Wales.

Other enduring childhood memories are the smell in ‘Drowers’ hardware shop, and the sound of the cliff railway buzzing across the downs.  There was the fascination with the Tessier Gardens which was forbidden territory for children, but the stable classroom had a windows offering a tantalising glimpse into a corner of this mysterious place.

We left Babbacombe when the school closed it’s doors for the last time in July 1971, and relocated to Suffolk.  However my mother continued teaching until retiring in 1995.

Jeremy Butt.

Best school ever!  Mr and Mrs Kelly and Mr and Mrs Butt, a great family of teachers.  I was always a bit afraid of Miss Battersby the science teacher.   I remember swimming at The Queens Hotel, Tennis at the local club and dear Mrs Radmore the cook

Gillian Purches

Plenty of memories of Cary Park School in Babbacombe. It was a lovely friendly little school, I don’t think we were all that well behaved. I remember getting lines for not wearing my white gloves outside school and still in uniform. I remember going home after being told if I wanted to talk go home. Riding two on a bike between school and St. Annes Hall where we had dancing lessons. Answering the school telephone, and pretending not to speak English very well. I am only in touch with one other friend who went there. I was once in an advert for the school taken about 1964, holding a tennis racket, probably the worst tennis player in the school. I also remember the wonderful stories our headmistress used to tell us about her time in India, and how she would read to us even at the age of 15, which gave me a love of reading. And Yes I also remember Mr White the swimming instructor at the Palace Hotel. 

Ann Davy

I was a pupil at Cary Park School from 1960 to 1963 and have very fond memories.  One of my highlights was performing in The Snow Queen at the Babbacombe Theatre.  Such a wonderful opportunity for all of us.  

Jane Aldous.

I went to Cary Park School in the ’60s and my teacher was a Miss Hufflemann, we had elocution lessons by pretending to speak with toffee in our mouths.  Deportment was with books on our heads walking around the playground.  The food was 4 star, incredible.
The cost of lunch….2 shillings and 6 pence a day!
Simon Kniveton

Hampton Court School (now Abbey School)

I remember the bottles of milk being warmed on the oil stove in one of the classrooms at Hampton Court, and being chastised for not being able to plait my own hair!

Swimming lessons were taken at the Palace Hotel with Mr White – not a good experience for me, his method of teaching nervous children was to push us in.  I think I had extra French instead.  Learning then was by rote, spelling and times tables in a competitive situation of each ‘house’ sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Woe betide us if we made a mistake.


Hampton Court school photo by kind permission of John Avery

In 1951 I was enrolled as a pupil at the Hampton Court School where Miss James was the headmistress (she lived there with her parents, the elderly Mr and Mrs James; Mrs James being a dead ringer for Queen Mary, the grandmother of our present Queen.)

Margaret Powling

Westhill Road School

I remember in the infants, when I was about 7, being chosen to present the Mayor with a flower for his buttonhole when he toured the school and I practised my curtsy for days.

I was in Mrs Marjorie Corbett’s class.  She was a good teacher, and I remember one needlework lesson when one of the girls swallowed a button and was choking.  Mrs Corbett held her upside down by her legs, and thumped her back until she coughed it up.  It was quite dramatic at the time, as we children thought she was going to die.

We had to repeat our times tables over and over every day, and we had spelling B’s on Fridays.  It was always one side of the class against the other – and it made us learn our spellings as we were keen to win.

A lot of my friends from Westhill School still live locally, and we see one another from time to time.  A few come to our lovely Babbacombe & St Marychurch Local History Society.

Mary Gill

 Westhill School

 My earliest recollection is that of the building – funny thing for a kid to remember!  The classrooms had glass sides that could be opened.  Running alongside was a covered walkway and you could look in at the kids as you walked by

When you were “too big” to stay in the infants, it was time to join the “big kids” in the juniors.

The teachers I had were all women.  Miss Baker was short, round faced and wore glasses – not sure what she taught me.

Miss Pack, I seem to remember her having a very white face.

Schooling is all about learning, but I was not that interested in the 3R’s – my passion was all about making things.  During the war years, Westhill School was open during the summer holidays.  During one of these sessions I was taught to knit!  My needles were twisted square steel meat skewers, probably the most difficult “needles” anyone could use!

“Milktops” was a game most of us played.  Four milk tops (cardboard discs with a straw hole in the middle) were leant up against a wall, and each player flicked a milktop trying to knock them down.

I think the best thing I learnt at Westhill was friendship and happiness, despite the traumas of war.

Jim Gill

I went to Westhill school when I was 7, we moved down from the North east to be near our grandparents.

I went to Westhill secondary modern the same year as it changed to a secondary modern school.

Mr Stiles was head master then and he lived opposite our house in Warbro road.

Pam Roberts

Torquay Girls Grammar School

From 1960 – 1967 I attended Torquay Grammar School for Girls under the headship of Miss Robertson.  Another lady not to be crossed.  The school then consisted of two large triangles, with the classrooms on the outside, and the inside corridors open to the elements, the toilets were at the points of the triangles and frequently froze in winter.  The canteen was in the middle of the triangles and in those days we had to eat what we were given – no choices then.

Not being over-fond of sports and hating our navy gym knickers, any excuse was used, but I remember to my chagrin being found hiding under the coats in the cloakroom on one occasion with my friend ‘Gus’ – uncovered by Miss Robertson escorting an important visitor round the school.  Oh – and reading Lady Chatterley on the school playing field!


re above;  reading Lady Chatterley on the school playing field, may have been a friend of mine as it was me that brought the book in in the first place!  Would love to know.

Glynis E

Also I remember Mr White at Palace Hotel who gave me a lifelong fear of water.

Glynis E

…. more from Margaret Powling

One thing which still causes me amusement was when I had to be kitted out for the grammar school.   My cousin Jean from Lancashire was staying with us at the time.   I was 12, going on 13 and Jean was two years my junior, she was nine,  going on 10.

… it was the height of summer, the school holidays before I was to start at Torquay Girls’ Grammar School in September 1957.  My mother had been to a meeting at the school and had been given a long list of all the uniform and kit I had to have, from navy blue knickers to jockey stick, science overall to Aertex shirt for PE.  You had to go to the school outfitter in those days, no getting away with cheapies from George at Asda (supermarkets had not been invented, apart from perhaps a few Sainsbury’s in London, and then they were grocers not supermarkets with baskets or trolleys.)  I think the name of the shop in Torquay was Pickards. It was a gents’ outfitter in Union Street and of course, had only male shop assistants, all rather like the chaps in Are you Being Served? with tape measure hung around their necks like doctors wear stethoscopes.

We were shown into a cubicle where I could try on a gym slip (yes, old fashioned gym slips in those days, but the new headmistress, Miss Robertson changed all that the moment she arrived, and told us skirts were the order of the day.  (I only wore the gym slip for a term, what a waste of money that was.)  Right, where was I?  In the cubicle with my Mum and my cousin Jean.

Now, in those days they had polished linoleum on the floors of such places, and when I say polished.  I mean POLISHED.  You could see your face in it and it was slippery.  Well you can guess what’s coming, can’t you?  I was busy trying on the clothes, Mum was trying not to get to het up looking after two little girls in this gents’ outfitters (as we were wont fits of the giggles) and Jean was propping up the wall, bored witless.  She was wearing Clarks T-bar sandals, those tan ones all children wore in those days, and then, in slow motion she began to slide down the wall, her feet stretched out in front of her making a royal progress across the polished linoleum, until she was spread like butter across the floor.

Mum, Jean and I were wetting ourselves with laughter, I can see it now, and Jean and I (we’re both now in our 70s) often mention this to each other in emails when we feel like a good laugh, as in “Do you remember when we were getting my/your uniform?”

I don’t think the chaps in the shop were terribly impressed.  But it certainly made our day!

Margaret Powling

   Babbacombe School P.T.A.

 During the late 60’s the P.T.A. were challenged by the Headmaster, Mr Ozzie Yates to produce a Christmas show, and it was decided to put on a Pantomime at St Anne’s Hall in Babbacombe.  This proved very successful as the children saw their parents dressed up in pantomime gear and the cast made fun of the teachers.  Mr Yates prepared the shows, and there were the usual pantomime characters, the most popular with the children being the Ugly Sisters.

After two years it was decided to put on an Old Time Music Hall and Mr Yates was in the chair.  There were many hilarious skits performed by the parents such as, a Pakistani selling nylons and dirty postcards, (mostly in a Welsh accent!) and three men with glasses – one to drink, one to gargle and one to spit out!  These shows were performed for four years.

The P.T.A. organised a fete every Tuesday in the summer  in Coronation Park, and raised money for a swimming pool at the school in the mid 70’s.

St Marychurch Church of England Primary School

I began my primary school education at St Marychurch Church of England Primary School, known locally as Hartop School, in the autumn term of 1938.  This was of course before the days of school transport or parents with cars.  We walked to school and it was quite a fair step, mainly uphill, from home to school.  My mother would take me to school in the morning, collect me again at dinner time, no school dinners, return me to school after dinner and again, she would collect me at the end of the school day.  Perhaps this is where my love of walking began.

When I joined the school the head mistress was a Miss Edmunds, a lovely homely lady, not at all intimidating for us little people who were starting school and away from home for the first time.  JG

Homelands Infants School

Miss Toms, the headmistress was appointed in 1950 and stayed until she retired in 1968.  She took the Nursery Class in the first room on the right.  She did this because if the phone rang or visitors arrived she could leave the children in the capable hands of her assistant, Mrs Morris.

Mary McLean

Being in an area designated as “deprived” we were allowed a Nursery Class.  There were 120 children from a wide variety of backgrounds, from professional homes to families living in two rooms.  In those days catchment areas did not seem to matter so we had children from as far afield as Watcombe and Wellswood.  All our children came to school well dressed and beautifully behaved.  We were extremely proud of all of them.  Other teachers in the area said we were snobs and that “Homelands” was like a private school.

……….anymore anyone?

           …..memories of schooldays are slow to come, surely they were not that bad.  Do you remember any tiny scraps of going to school!  Go to our contact page or Facebook and send us your story.