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.
I attended the infants school in war time when evacuated to my grandmother’s home in St Marychurch Road opposite ‘Cusses Corner’ and later, the primary school when we moved down to Torquay to live.
Mr Blake was the Headmaster and there was a fine organ to the right on the stage in the main hall with the kitchens at the far end for school meals. I remember Miss Pack, Mr Roberts and Marjorie Corbett as teachers.
A chap from a shop in St Marychurch Road used to come and sell Iced lollies over the gate from an ice cream tricycle ( one with the box on the front) at lunch times! I think it was Dave Pollard, his shop was where the Dominos Pizza shop is now.
My aunt also attended the same school at a time when it was a secondary school, probably in the 1930’s.
I went to Westhill from 1943 to 1950 I didn’t take my coat off on the first day and in the afternoons in Infants we had to go to sleep on coconut matting on the floor, the teacher would come round and say “ I want to hear a pin drop. I remember Mr Blake and Miss Pack in the Primary School and our course Marjorie Corbett the music teacher, I always got a Triangle in the band.
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.
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.
I attended Westhill School September 1944 to July 1951. Although home was on Black’s Hill, I had spent much of my younger years in London as my parents were in the forces. Accordingly I hadn’t any schooling – or contact with other children – until my first day at Westhill when I was all but 5. I shall never forget that first day – after lunch little beds were put out for us to sleep on. No way – almost five, I had never slept in the afternoon so wasn’t prepared to play their game. Then they looked at my d.o.b. and immediately put me up into the next class – in those days classes were in calendar years, not school years, as now. When I got to year 1 in 1946, I remember slates appearing – just the once – and being told they would never be used again as they were to be replaced by paper. Post-war economies meant we had to write on both sides and use the top line and we were loudly rebuked if we strayed. Books were in short supply so we read out loud in groups of seven by handing around the reading book. About the same time, teachers were excited when coloured chalks came out – also the ones with special finish so the chalk didn’t go all over their hands. When I was in year 4, the school year changed to start in September. Having a September birthday, I was held back a year whilst my friends moved on to their secondary schools. Which meant I became one of the oldest in the year and was banned from spelling words because the teacher said I knew them all. Teachers used to clock up the number of correct sums in a week and I almost always came second to Raymond Green who beat me every week. Class teachers I remember were Mrs Corbett (year 2); Miss Pack (years 3 & 4) and Miss Baker (year 4 repeated). Classes were huge, as we had taken on many of the children from the bombed Hartop Road school. Fortunately classrooms were big and airy as a single teacher (no assistants) coped with up to 47 of us; she had difficulty getting in the door. I well remember the Head, Mr Blake, who seemed rather keen on marching us out of assembly with his “left – left – left” military timing. Meat shortages meant they offered us lunch-time rabbit. I was not one to be sick and always cleared the plate – so the lunch assistant was well surprised when I refused the rabbit and proved it by emptying myself all over the plate and surrounds. I remember tripe having a similar effect at home. Now used for storage, the bomb shelter was still in the playground and the boys urinals were open-air. We still enjoyed the annual Empire Day as it gave us the afternoon off to go and play in the fields. Occasionally someone important would visit the school and give us an additional day off for half-term to enhance their popularity.
In 1952 they had a caretaker called Mr Hill, lovely man, used to oil our racing cars for us. And there was an eleven o’clock round up, had to take your books to the headmasters office. I think the music teacher was called Mr Fletcher, could be my poor old brain playing tricks.
I was there briefly in about 1954/55. I remember little about it I’m afraid except there were two pupils who were twin sisters with the surname Foot. We used to joke about whether to say “Here comes the Foots” or “Here come the Feet”. I do retain the impression of a happy school and remember walking from there to our home which was Henbury in Bronshill Road.
When I was there when Mr Stiles was Head, Mr Rowden ( Moggy) was Geography teacher. I also remember Kellows, had to have school uniform from there.
I was there in 66, Mr styles was the headmaster.