Ch 5

Chapter Five

SETTLING DOWN

So peace had come as last, V.E. Day was on 8th May 1945 and the school enjoyed two days holiday. Now was the time for life to begin to settle down. The school blackouts were removed in July, and the buildings were ‘over-hauled’. On 3rd August, the attendance was very low, as both Basted Paper Mills and the Stone Quarry were on holiday, with seventeen Scouts at camp. At the end of year in September, school reports were revived – there is no mention of the pupils’ reaction to this news! In October, with the Borough Green canteen supplying Platt, Wrotham and Offham, 333 dinners were cooked, a figure which rose to 409 by October 1946.

December was a very cold month, with classroom temperatures varying from 38-44 degrees Fahrenheit. In January 1946 a bus was provided for the first time for pupils coming from Crouch and Comp, with the Wrotham Heath children being given season tickets. With temperatures at school being so cold, it is possible that the children were warmer on the journey to school than when they were actually sitting in lessons.

On 6th January architects from the Kent County Council came to mark the school’s boundaries, and the Kent Electric Power Company removed the fuses from the heaters in the air raid shelters.

After the Easter holidays there was an intake of 23 senior pupils from Mereworth, with one teacher. This entailed the use of the woodwork room as a classroom. On 29th May, all the senior children saw Henry V, a moving film at the cinema, with all the children paying their own entrance money.

In 1946 seventeen pupils gained places at Technical and Grammar schools.

The following year, 1947, opened with seven weeks of heavy snow and hard frost. At one time attendance was down to 57%, until the thaw started on 10th March. There were problems with water and sanitation, but with help from the staff, the caretaker and volunteers, they somehow managed to cope.

By June things were brighter however. The children visited local firms to conduct a village survey, and ten schools took part in a District Sports competition.

In September furniture began to arrive for the proposed secondary school near Wrotham. There had been conferences regarding this school as long ago as 1931. In October German Prisoners of War began digging out the foundations for the ‘temporary’ Horsa huts, some of which are still in existence today. A later entry, September 1948, says that woodwork and cookery are now at Wrotham Secondary School. This meant that the woodwork rodm could now be used as a proper classroom, leaving the Hall free for the first time since Easter 1946.

It was in October 1947 that the first polio case was recorded. It was not

until 1st December that the school was fully staffed, there having been many staff absences due to illness, since June.

In 1948 the Juvenile Employment Officer arranged for the senior boys to visit an R.A.F. exhibition at Messrs Rootes, Maidstone.

In May, a large food parcel arrived from a school in New Zealand, with which the school had been corresponding. On 17th December, a further food parcel arrived, weighing over one hundredweight, just in time for the Christmas party. October had seen the first visit of a Mobile Film unit, and in November the Canteen moved to the old Cookery room, fully equipped with new gas and electric appliances, in order to be ready for opening in January.

On 10th January 1949 the top three classes joined Wrotham Secondary School, accompanied by three teachers, Mr R.T. Dixon, Mrs Money and Miss Dale. This move also brought the subsequent unusual entry: ‘The Excise Officer called and collected the Methylated Spirit Book, as this commodity has been transferred to Wrotham Secondary School.’ In June of this year there were 52 cases of measles reported, and at Christmas prizes were presented for good work and endeavour for the first time.

In April 1949 there was a fall of some six inches of wet snow, which festooned the roads with telephone and electricity wires, bringing traffic to a standstill until the wires were removed. The snow then thawed that same afternoon, by which time many young trees and bushes had been destroyed.

A visit was made to Linton Park to see the West Kent Federation of Women’s Institutes producing ‘A Pageant of Kentish History’ and a concert including pieces by Mozart and Hayden was given in school by a string quartet, enthralling the children.

1951 opened with a variety of epidemics, including measles, flu and whooping cough. The absences went up from 50 children on 15th January to one hundred and one by the 18th. By 2nd March there had been 38 days lost through staff absences. One week later there were 152 children absent, and it was not until the middle of April that attendance climbed back to 90%.

The Festival of Britain was taking place on the South Bank, with Wrotham Secondary School staging a marvellous exhibition in the Educational Hall. Seventy seniors from Borough Green visited the exhibition on 28th May.

At the close of the school year in September a note is made in the Log Book to the effect that the spare classrooms, used to this point by Wrotham Secondary School, are once again vacant, with the hall once more being free.

1952 saw the usual measles epidemic in July, and schoolwork was lightened by visits to the Tower of London and London Zoo.

1953 opened with very heavy snow, resulting in 61 children being absent for the week commencing 6th January Scripture lessons were being taken by two Church Army Sisters. It was also during this year that Herbert Marsh first joined the staff at the school. At the end of May there were

three days holiday for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, followed by two days for half-term In June two hundred and seventy nine children were taken to the Odeon in Sevenoaks to see the film, A Queen is Crowned.

In 1954 there was hard frost and slight snow at the end of January and the beginning of February, causing worries for the caretaker and staff. Wash basins and waste pipes were frozen as were the outside toilets, which had to be flushed by bucket.

In April a professional educational puppet show was arranged. Children from Offham were invited and the 6d attendance fee covered the hire cost of eight guineas. In June the senior boys visited R.O.S.P.A. house, on a trip organised by the Maidstone and District Road Safety Committee.

When the new school year started on 24th September 1954, there were 335 children on roll, with ten teachers and the Headmaster. Many of the children lived on the new estates at Tollgate and Fairfield, which were well established by this time.

The statistics show that 1955 was a worrying year for staff, parents and of course the children. There was snow, snow and more snow from 6th January until 7th March. It was not until 7th May that things began to get back to normal with attendance being up to 92%. Over the same period there were outbreaks of flu, colds, mumps and chicken pox.

In July there was a visit to the Kent Agricultural Show in Mote Park, attended by 77 senior boys and girls.

Borough Green was growing and as evidence of this, class registers were ordered which could hold sixty names. In November the Kent County Police started cycle maintenance and proficiency classes, which continued until taken over by volunteers, amongst whom the late Mrs J. Kelsey was outstanding.

At the end of the year Mr Hickman left after 11 years’ dedicated service. The school said goodbye, presenting him with a gold watch.


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