Hazelbury Road Open Air School reminiscences pg1

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In August 2012 I received an email from Tony Whitmarsh who attended the Hazelbury Road Open Air School in the early 1950’s. He shared some of his memories of the school and I thought it would be interesting to put together some pages to share these memories with others. Wendy, my sister, who was also at the school at that time, joined in the discussion. Since then, other former pupils have discovered these pages and have contacted me to add their remembrances.

The following people have now contributed memories. They are shown in the order of the years they attended the school.

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Reminiscences of the Hazelbury Road Open Air School

Wendy Crawley (née Avery) [1949-1952]. My sister Wendy attended the Open Air School from 1949 to 1952 (ages 7 to 9). She spent all of those years in Mr. Robinson’s class and has a good memory of her time at the school.

After she left the Open Air School she went to Wilbury Way Junior School.

Wendy continues to live in England.


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Tony Whitmarsh [1951/2-1954]. Tony attended the Open Air School from either 1951 or 1952 (he’s not sure) to 1954. He spent a year in Mr. Robinson's class, then moved up for two years to Mrs. Male's class, and from there left to go to secondary school.

Tony says the photo is taken about the time he was at the Open Air School. He adds, though, that he acquired glasses while he was there, “so you might have to mentally pencil in the dark wire round-lensed NHS specs. of the time.”

Tony now lives in Australia.

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Headmaster/Headmistress: Mr. Rapley, later succeeded by Miss Moscrop.

Teachers: Mrs. Blight, who taught the youngest class (and other classes later); Mr. Robinson, who taught the second class; Mrs. M. F. Male, who taught the third class and, later, the fourth class; Mr. Moscrop and Miss Moscrop who taught the fourth class; Mr. Ellis; Mr. Young.

Nursing staff: Mrs. Aupers; Nurse Fahy; Sister Keysbrown.

Other staff: Mr. Mack.

Bus drivers: Mr Rudolph; Mr. Martin; Jim?

Bus attendants: Miss Myrtle; Mrs. Collins; Mrs. Merton; Mrs. Clarke,.

Boys: Alan Lodge; Alfred Hoy; Brian Overington; Christopher Pye; Dennis Jeffs; Dennis Turner; Donald French; Eddie Cook; Gareth Whiting; Geoffery Walker; Geoffrey Christmas; Gerald Blick; John Duncan; John Quilfeldt; Kenneth Cole; Lenny Ovens; Martin Jones; Maurice Russell; Michael Morley; Michael Murray; Peter Blick; Philip Widger; Robin Blick; Robin Hall; Ronald Pursey; Roy Holmes; Stanley Avery.

Plus (only first names remembered): Barry; Eddie, Fred (always kept us laughing); Geoffrey who had had polio; Hugh; Norman; Paul?; Richard, who died; four boys with the name of Peter.

Girls:  Annette Howard; Bernadette Howard; Betty Eastwood; Betty Hatchelor (not sure of the spelling); Betty Powell; Brenda Chester; Brenda Walker; Doreen Cullen; Doris King; Elsie Mottram; Jeannie Mitchell; Joan Jeffs; Josephine Stephens; Linda Rogers; Rita Watts; Rosie Piggott; Shelley Sarojini Selwyn; Shelley (Selwyn).

Plus (only first names remembered): Anne (who lived in Wood Green); Eileen;  June; June (ginger hair); Linda (fair hair); Margaret; Margaret (dark bobbed hair); Reid.

Other people mentioned in these reminiscences:

Jeff Avery (me) [1948-1953]. My history is similar to Margaret’s. I spent nine months in the Victoria Convalescent Home in Margate before moving to the Open Air School in 1948 at age 6. I stayed until 1953 at age 11 when I passed the 11+ exam and moved to Latymer grammar school.

I started at the Open Air School in the lower class, advanced to Mr. Robinson’s class, and ended up in Mrs. Male’s class. The photo of me was taken in 1949.

I now live in Canada.

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Pauline Kenward [1961-1965]. Pauline attended the Open Air School from January 1961 to July 1965 and although this was somewhat later than the others, the staff was much the same. She started in the first class with Mrs. Blight and then moved to Mrs. Male’s class, skipping Mr. Robinson’s class. In her final year, she moved to the fourth class, again with Mrs. Male, who had moved up.

After passing the 11+ exam, she moved to Minchenden School in Southgate, after which she went on to university at York to read English. She then became a teacher.

Pauline continues to live in England.

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Doreen Murray (née Withers) [1940-1947]. Doreen attended the school from 1940 at the age of 7 until 1947 when she reached the mandatory leaving age of 14. She then transferred to "the big girls’ school”, Hazelbury Girls School, just across the field, where she stayed only a year before leaving to start work.

Doreen says that, sadly, she does not have any photos of anything relating to the school, nor any of herself at that time. In fact she doesn't recall any photos being taken at all during the time she was there. However she still retains a very good memory of her time there..

Doreen continues to live in England.

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Page index (click on one to go there):

Margaret Hicks (née Warrilow) [1948-1951]. It was after becoming ill with rheumatic fever that Margaret was confined to bed for six months followed by three months at The Metropolitan Convalescent Home in Broadstairs. It was in March 1948 that she started at the Open Air School and she was there until 1951.

Mr. Robinson was her teacher and she has provided a photo of a beautiful little painting in her autograph book that he did and a small paper cutting concerning his death. Also from her autograph book is a photo of a small poem by Nurse Fahy.

Margaret continues to live in England.


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Brian Moxey [1941-1948]. Brian attended the Open Air School from September 1941 to June 1948 and remembers several boys and girls who were there at the time including Doreen who he remembers very well as they were in the same class for several years.

The photo of Brian was taken during his Open Air School years although it was not taken at the school. He does not have any photos of the school and can’t remember any photos being taken while he was there. He thinks that maybe it was because film was hard to get during the war.

Brian continues to live in England.

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Peter Marchese [1937-1939]. As a child, Peter had bad asthma, made worse by his parents keeping a dog, cats and chickens to which he was allergic, and aggravated by the damp smoky climate in that part of London at the time.

Although the Hazelbury Open Air School was officially opened in 1938, Peter’s memory is that he started there at age 8 in 1937. Apparently it was not uncommon to have children attend a school before its official opening. He left the school in April 1939.

Peter does not have a photo of himself at that age. He says: “Photography was different in the thirties. My mother would buy a film and make about four exposures then leave it in the camera until next year before getting it developed.”

Peter continues to live in England.

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Peter Walker [1952-1957]. Peter attended the Open Air School from 1952 to 1957 (ages 7 to 12). He was in Miss Blight’s class, then Mr. Robinson’s, and finally Mrs. Male’s.

Peter’s sister Brenda attended the school from 1945 to 48 and his brother Geoffery (photo at right) from 1946 to 48 (these dates are approximate).

In later life, Peter became a steam locomotive driver and a publican!

Peter continues to live in England.


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Other contributors (click on a name for details):