Feedback1 - Hazelbury Road Open Air School

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Hazelbury Open Air School - Feedback 1

Hi  Jeff,

Found your pages interesting when looking for the Open Air School which I attended between 1942 and 1948. This was before your time. I later transferred to Hazelbury School. Mr Rapley was the Headmaster during my stay. Like you we spent our holidays at Jaywick Sands and had a very happy time. It’s a very different place today.

Best wishes,

Shirley Stimson (Hunt)

March 2010 - Shirley Stimson (Hunt) [1942 - 1948]

Recently, I was cleaning up some old emails when, to my surprise, I came across an exchange I had back in March 2010 with Shirley Stimson (Hunt). This was two years before I heard from Tony Whitmarsh and decided to create an Open Air School section on my website. I have not been able to contact Shirley recently.

Hi, Shirley.

I suppose I joined the Open Air School in the year you left. Mr. Rapley was still the headmaster. I don't remember the teacher's name in the first class at age 6. The teacher of the 2nd class was Mr. Robinson. In the third class my teacher was Mrs. Male. She had a major influence on my upbringing. It was in this class that I passed the 11-plus so I didn't make it to the 4th class. I don't remember the name of the teacher in the 4th class but I believe it was a man who's wife also worked at the school in some manner. I have a vague recollection of a formidable woman.

Do you have memories of spoons of malt and bran in the nurse's room? The showers in the adjacent room? Sun lamp treatment? I was a very shy person and managed to get a letter from my mother to forgo the showers! Our family went to Knight's Lane baths in Lower Edmonton for a bath. I don't remember how frequently!

The meals? I remember once we had an oatmeal biscuit. It was a very small thing but, at the time, I found the taste horrible and didn't think I could stomach it. I guess I did. We had to eat everything if I remember.

Talking about having to eat everything... my absolute favourite was mashed potatoes. I think we were allowed to say if we wanted a large portion or a small one (I remember that being true of all school dinners at that time). When I reached the mashed potato station I said LARGE. When I got back to my seat, I dug into the mashed potatoes and found that they were actually mashed SWEDES. Since I chose a large portion, I had to finish it. I nearly died accomplishing this (or at least that's what I remember).

I remember the morning hymn. My favourite was "Morning Has Broken".

I wore shorts in the summer and the girls had "sun suits". There was a netball court or something marked out in the playground and we had some sort of a tag game running along the lines. I remember peach trees on the edge of the field.

In the summer, the prize was to wangle a cot under the cherry tree on the small lawn adjacent to the classrooms. Then one could surreptitiously pick up cherries to eat during sleep break.

One day in the winter we had a lot of snow and the school bus didn't come. I guess our parents were working so going home was maybe a problem. Anyway, the group of us walked to school from the Angel. Mr. Rapley (remember the raised section that he sat at in the dining room?) had us up the front to commend us on our efforts to get to school!

My sister also attended the school but not for as long as I did and a year behind me. She now lives in Hertford. I had a best friend, Martin Jones, at the school who passed the 11-plus and went to Latymer the year before me. I lost contact with him after Latymer.

Well, that's enough reminiscing.

Good to hear from you.


Hi Jeff,

Thank you for your message of the 14th March.

It all came back to me when I read it. Yes I remember having to eat everything that we were given. What I could not manage my friend would usually take off my plate. My favourite breakfast was baked tomatoes with bread and butter. My worst memory was cooked figs. I’ve never looked at figs since. Do you remember them?

I remember the Edmonton Baths, but we were one of the lucky ones in those days to have a bathroom.

I don’t know when you last visited Edmonton but if it was not recently you would not recognize it. The people have changed and most everything else; it’s not a place to visit anymore. I still have a long-standing friend still living in Edmonton who I still visit from time to time, otherwise I would not go there. It’s best remembered as it was when we were young.

I often visit Frinton-on-sea where we still have family. We sometimes take a ride into Jaywick which has changed since your day.

Best wishes,


February 2014 - Barry (last name withheld) [1969/70 - 1974]

Hi Jeff,

I, too, was a pupil at Hazelbury Open Air School. It’s not clear when I started, possibly at age 8 or 9 in 1969/1970. I arrived just as Mrs Moscrop was leaving. She was then the headmistress and was replaced by Mr Jones as headmaster. I was there until age 13 in 1974. Although I had two photo's taken at the school I don't have them now. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the school.

I came from Haringey and was taken by borough bus to the school and back again. My bus used to run through Haringey, Wood Green, Tottenham into Enfield via the Cambridge Road. The buses/coaches were not identified with names at this time, just their regions (mine being the Haringey coach).

Your map of the school is very accurate to my recollection, even into the seventies. We gained a few more classrooms a few years after I arrived. They were in a prefab building further away - to the east of your map.

During my time there we were not required to wear shorts, etc. We all wore just our regular clothes. Neither do I remember ever carrying desks out onto the field. In addition, there was no sun-lamp room that I recall - at least I never used it if there was. However, there were showers and these were one of the "big deals" about the school.

It sounds as if the daily routine stayed the same as during earlier times, with an hours rest/sleep in the two classrooms/rest rooms after the midday meal. One for the boys (east) and the other for the girls (west). We were all given our own canvas beds, as well as our own toothbrushes and toothpaste (well tooth powder actually).

That’s interesting, Barry. Others have said that the rest shelters were converted into classrooms after my time and had a dual use. However, I didn’t know that when used as rest areas the boys and girls were segregated. When I was at the school they were allocated by classroom with both boys and girls in each.

I had thought that we changed from dentifrice to toothpaste while I was there. Maybe I mis-remembered and the toothpaste was only a trial.

Yes, the toothpaste was a pink slab type and came in a circular container, possibly a tin, possibly plastic. We had this all the time I was there.

My reason for being taken out of junior school was asthma. It seemed unwise at the time to talk about having asthma since parents thought it could be caught. I was told to stay quiet, but I didn't and so I stopped being invited to schoolfriends’ parties and so on. I wanted to stay at my current school but I quickly realized that there was no choice. It was made clear that I was going to Hazelbury anyway.

I felt that there was no real practical reason as to why I really needed to be there, other than the fears of others about asthma being contagious and the prejudice that created. I also remember one teacher telling me that I shouldn't really be at Hazelbury. Anyway, I obviously was - whatever the reason.

My time at the school was difficult and I think the school’s purpose was becoming unclear; the pupils felt kind of outcast. The kids from the mainstream school which partly sided onto the field area, were told not to talk to us and not go over to the fence, near us. We had for a time befriended some but were considered undesirable, or possibly infectious, I don't really know exactly.

The place itself was a very beautiful and had a countryside atmosphere with plenty of space to play. The teachers were mainly friendly. Mr Jones had a fierce reputation although, ironically, he seemed to like me and I never came to any grief. I remember, though, desperately wanting to go back to mainstream school, which I eventually did at the age of 13. I moved on to a large comprehensive with 1,200 kids, back in Haringey.

By the way, I came across reference to another person that attended the Open Air School in the 60’s and 70’s: Katerina Loizi-Read. See page 12 of this .pdf file.


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