Memories of William Newton School

Memories of William Newton School

The following articles are taken from a project undertaken at the Millbeck Care Home, Norton.

The Life Story project captured the memories and stories of some of its residents.  Below we recount the memories of two former pupils of William Newton School.

The Good Times - Violett Colpitt (nee Mason) 

I looked forward to going to William Newton after the poor conditions at Norton Board.

It had indoor toilets, a different room for every subject and a lovely playing field.  It also had a big hall where we did country dancing!  Miss Thompson used to play the piano and I used to lark about with my friends Joyce, Eadie and Olive because she couldn’t see us!

I liked all the lessons, but I loved the sewing class.  The only thing was I was very slow and by the time I finished the garment, it was too small.

In Art lessons my friend Olive always came top.  She would sometimes try to help me out by drawing an outline.  The teacher, Miss Saunders, always used to know and would say ‘use your imagination!’.

It was a happy school. Yes it was strict with rules but we learnt good manners.  Mrs Barnett, the Headmistress, was strict.  If you got sent to her it was usually the strap. Once, on the playing field, some wood was delivered to make frames.  We were given strict instructions not to touch it.  For a long time we didn’t, but one day my friends decided to have a jump on it.  We were sent to Mrs Barnett’s room and were each given the strap, twice on each hand.

With regards to the Gym at William Newton – I was very clumsy.  I was so tall I used to get in the way.  Miss Dixon, the teacher, once said that instead of a lesson she would take us for a walk.  We walked in pairs up Junction Road.  We were having a great time; we’d found grass to sit on and a beck when the Air Raid Siren sounded.  We froze but Miss Dixon, I recall, kept her cool and kept telling us all to remain calm and to walk in an orderly fashion, ‘No Running!’.  We were petrified and by the time we had reached the School we all ran to get to the shelter!  Miss Dixon had said we would go for a walk each week.  We never went again.

Everything changed in the War.  In fact my father was in the ARP (Air Raid Precaution).  Their headquarters were based in the cellars of William Newton School.

There was a school uniform too, but at that time you needed clothing coupons so it fell by the wayside.  The food was also rationed at that time (you only got coupons) but I loved the Cookery lessons.  They were basic but, if you had a few pennies, you could take what you made home.  I always remember my brothers used to look at it suspiciously. My dad though, who always thought ‘the sun shone out of me’ (being the only girl – he’d even chosen my name Violet after the flower), smacked his lips and said once of a vegetable broth I had made, that it was ‘the best stew he had ever tasted!’.


Memories Good and Bad - Betty Davis (nee Thompson)

I must say I detested school.  I joined William Newton at the age of eleven hoping for better treatment than that which was meted out at Frederick Nattrass, but it was no better.  There was ‘the dreaded strap’ – corporal punishment as my grandaugher calls it today.

One good thing was when two girls had to spend a week in the ‘school flat’.  We had to cook, clean, launder and iron.  We had to make a special meal to which we had to invite the Headmistress, Miss Barnaby, and our mothers.  I can remember it was a huge success and of course it was there that I met my best friend Wynn, a friendship which has lasted a lifetime, what more could anyone ask for!


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