- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Patricia Shepard (now Cooper)
- Location of story:
- Homelands school for girls, normanton, Derby.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 July 2005
I went to Homelands school in September 1938 when it first opened. I started in form 1C and Miss Moore was our form mistress. She took us for English, History and R.E. In English we had to write a composition every week and it had to consist of three paragraphs. We also had to learn a piece of poetry every week and recite it in front of the class! In History we learnt about the Greeks and Romans and had to draw the 3 types of Roman columns — Corinthian, Ionic and Doric — information which I have never forgotten!
We had to cover all our exercise and text books with brown paper. In those days most people would have a stash of brown paper at home because all purchases were put into paper bags or wrapped in large sheets of brown paper and tied with string. (Plastic and sellotape had not been invented.) Sometimes if brown paper was not available left over pieces of wallpaper were used and dirty covers could be given a new lease of life by turning inside out and refolding. Woe betide anyone who did not cover their books!
One of the first things we made during our first year in needlework was a needlecase — made in green material and the front was decorated with various stitches (our own design) and a sample of darning (who darns anything today?!). I have always been keen on dressmaking and embroidery and I used this same needlecase until 1976 when, after my mother’s death, I inherited the contents of her sewing drawer and found a much superior needlecase. I didn’t feel too guilty about throwing the old one out after 38 years of constant use! During the mid 1950s I made friends with a neighbour and one day, when I was at her home, I saw a needlecase which could only have come from one place. On enquiring — yes she had been at Homelands though not my year but the needlecase had not changed one iota!
In spite of wartime restrictions, rules about uniform were quite strict and tunics had to be a regulation length (checked regularly by Miss Land, our P.E. teacher). Hats were worn summer and winter!
There was a barrage balloon tethered on the triangle of grass in front of the school. After the initial interest had died down it became part of our daily lives and I don’t think we took much notice of it. I don’t remember any daytime raids while I was at school but I do remember occasional air-raid practices when we had to go and sit in the underground shelters built in the grounds at the back of the school.
The all female staff were all single ladies in 1938. Married teachers were not employed in those days. I only remember one married teacher who joined the staff during the latter part of the war. We respected the teachers and called them by their surnames (Miss Moore etc).
As part of our P.E. lessons we learnt country and ballroom dancing (old fashioned waltz, quick-step etc) and we had Christmas parties when the pupils had to dance with each other and with the staff! When we reached the VI form we were allowed to join the Derby School boys at St Helen’s House for Xmas dances!
I think we enjoyed our school days — I know I did. There was no bullying, no drugs, no playing truant and I never heard of anyone getting pregnant while still at school.
Needless to say we had no calculators or computers and the knowledge of tables was essential — that knowledge has stood in good stead all my life.
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