I remain involved in riding, timekeeping races, and enjoy the companionship and camaraderie the sport offers those of all ages. Some of my present day clubmates are over 80 years of age, and are still active, so there must be some benefits to cycling!
North End School in the 1960s
Back to life at North End School, in the early 1960s.
We realised that we had to get stuck in to learning, as exams loomed as we moved towards the end of our school days.
In the 1960s you could leave school at 15, and one of my schoolmates did just that, to take up an apprenticeship with William R. Selwood & Co., the plant-hire and engineering company, which was then family owned.
In fact, Mr Selwood had an early involvement in the rotary petrol engine, which was taken on in due course by a German Company called Wankel, and eventually by the Japanese Car maker Mazda. There was an open morning one Saturday I remember, at Selwood, when lots of we lads were able to view the early rotary engine working, and its basics were explained to all of us.
I elected to stay on beyond my 15th birthday, and carry on into the fifth year (at Secondary School), which I suppose would now be called “Year 11″?
The “A” stream of the fifth year took GCE exams (O-Level), while those of us in “5G” (All the rest!) were to study for the then new “UEI” exams (Union of Educational Institute).
Our Fifth Year commenced in September 1962, but before then I ought to relate that during our time at North End School, two of my classmates sadly died.
Death of two classmates
In the first or second year, a girl from Eastleigh in our class sadly drowned at the Bishopstoke Swimming Pool. This was sited opposite what is now Chickenhall Lane, and we had been taken to this pool for school swimming lessons.
During the summer holiday in 1961 I think, another boy, with whom I had been in the same class since Kings Road school days, sadly died as a result of an accident at a Boy Scouts camp in Oxfordshire I believe.
Stiff upper lip
These sad events were quickly brushed aside in those days. There was no grief counselling or allowance for the effects of the tragedies on young people.
You were expected to adopt a “stiff upper lip”, accept what had happened and move on. Maybe it was a throwback to the war, which was still fresh in many peoples’ memories and when deaths were more ‘expected’.
I think that death was actually a topic we often discussed in the school playground then. One of my schoolmates always took note when a prisoner would be executed for murder. The death sentence was still in operation then. We lads sometimes discussed this, but rarely felt sympathy for the murderer being executed – our view being that he deserved what was coming to him. It was “an eye for an eye” anyway. We sometimes ruminated on what it would be like, in the hours leading up to one’s own execution!
[Note: The last execution in Winchester prison was on 17th December 1963 when Dennis Whitty was hanged for murder. The death penalty was abolished in 1964 except for Treason and Piracy. It was not totally abolished until 1998.]
Were we morbid? I don’t know. It was just our view on the world, but at that age, one thinks one will live forever anyway.
The confidence of youth of course.
What’s next: The Big Freeze in 1963
Note: Don’t miss Martin Napier’s article series: Part 7, on Monday 27th July 2015.
- Hazel Bateman: An Interactive Local History Talk by Martin Napier
Article Series by Martin Napier
- Part 1: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s
- Part 2: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Paper Boy; North End School
- Part 3: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s Bonfire Night
- Part 4: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: North End School
- Part 5: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bicycle, Bicycle!
- Part 6: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: A Summer of Hope and Sorrow
- Part 7: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: The Big Freeze in 1963
- Part 8: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Breaking Free from North End School
- Part 9: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: My Passions with Bikes and Boats
- Part 10: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bikes, Boats, and Adventures
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