Continuation of my memories of North End School in Eastleigh.
I recently met up with one of my boyhood friends whom I have kept in touch with ever since.
We met over a coffee recently, and agreed that we must have caused our teachers a great deal of anguish.
Youngsters quickly detect a weakness in others. We found the weak links and took advantage – of each other as well as of teachers!
If one of us had a weakness in some way, it could be exploited to others’ advantage, especially if it meant redressing a grievance.
Gardening vs cookery lessons
In either the second or third year at North End School, we lads had gardening classes, while the girls had cookery or similar.
No equality in those days!
The gardening master was Mr Goodwin, who was a great chap, but totally unable to cope with a scheming bunch of lads.
He was dedicated to gardening, but we just wanted to play around.
Classes took place in the potting shed (a small classroom really, but with all the items that enabled it to be used as a true potting shed, with bins of potting compost, grit, etc, easily to hand). We often became riotous.
A small handful of grit put down someone’s neck, brought something of a “grit fight” with everyone joining in. Mr Goodwin earnestly pleaded “Come on Lads, cut it out, please” in desperation.
Out in the school garden, while we did learn much, we also continued our wicked ways.
There was a hose pipe running alongside the greenhouse, with its tap nearby.
One or two lads thought it a good idea to perforate the hose by using a garden fork.
Then when Mr Goodwin walked by, the tap was turned on, with the resulting spray soaking him!
We were never really punished for such pranks, maybe he was scared of what we might do to him, if we were brought to justice!
I also remember that, in Woodside Avenue was Barron & Crowthers Factory, where Matalan, Halfords etc are now.
One of our numbers (the one who blew up the glass jar cupboard) was able to throw stones from the school garden, onto the high roof of the factory.
Another prank: stone throwing
In the summer, the roof lights were open to increase ventilation. The stones could, and did, fall through the roof lights and into the factory below! No doubt there were some potentially dangerous incidents as a result.
The inevitable complaining phone call to the school headmaster brought a messenger to the garden while we were still there.
Mr Goodwin, bless him, knew nothing of our prank, and said that he thought no-one could throw that far.
A trial was rapidly arranged, with witnesses!
Of course, the prime culprit, when he threw a stone, fell well short of the factory, so “proving Mr Goodwin right”!
Of course, it was easy to throw short, so the case was never proven, but I’m sure there were suspicious!
On another occasion, in the summer, I and another lad, being thought of as trustworthy, were asked to water the flower beds under the headmaster’s study and staffroom windows, and along the side of the building.
Incident in the science lab
Above these rooms, but on the first floor was the science lab.
The Science lab was inhabited by another of our targets, Mr Smith, known to us as “Robot”.
We were expressly instructed that the hose there had been set to a spray, ready for watering the flower beds, and under no circumstances were we to alter the setting.
Well, the science lab windows, centrally pivoted were open, and a jet of water would easily shoot through the gaps.
So, we turned the hose nozzle from spray to jet, aimed and got a bull’s eye!
Cries and laughs came from above, a somewhat damp Mr Smith quickly closed the windows, and we quickly turned the hose nozzle back to its preferred setting!
We returned to watering the flower border, expecting a reaction.
We both expected swift retribution for our actions, but, no, nothing seemed to happen and we got away with it, again!
We gained a fairly good education at North End School
You may think that we were like wild animals, and learned little.
Nothing could be further from the truth though. We learned much, and I think gained a fairly good education, well balanced and useful for our futures.
Christmas was a good time for us. The school held its carol service, with Mr Tryhorn, the Music Master, at the old parish church in Romsey Road, Eastleigh.
Amazingly we were allowed to walk, unsupervised, into Eastleigh, to the service after school lunch (or dinner). Those of us in the choir would go ahead, as we had practise for our extra duties in the service.
On the way, we passed a shop which sold newspapers and toys (the shop now selling window blinds I think).
This shop also sold cap bombs. Caps were small explosive strips of paper with black spots of explosive powder in them.
Tear one off, and put it under the plunger of a “Cap Bomb”, drop it onto a hard surface, and hear the loud bang!
Ideal for the floor of the church of course!
But, we all joined heartily in singing the carols, and enjoyed doing so. It was just a prank to punctuate the service with a few bangs.
Of course, no one gave away the names of those responsible (Fear of being “beaten up”!), when the inevitable questions were asked!
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What’s next: “Bicycle, Bicycle!”
Note: Don’t miss Martin Napier’s article series: Part 5, on Monday 13th 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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