Growing up in the 50's and 60's

What it was like going to your first schools in the 1950s

Welcome to the Down the Lane 'Extras'
Supplement features & Articles to the Down the Lane Website              

1950's - Going to your first School

A walk accross the fields, beside the railway track !!

The 1950's saw me going to three schools. It should have been only two, but a move of house intervened (something I always blame failing the 11+ plus on!!).

Back then there was no Comprehensive system, just the 11+ and into either Secondary or Grammar education.
Most of them were male / female segregated and it could be argued over this being a good policy or not!

I started at Chevening Primary in 1953 nestled away on the Chipstead to Chevening Road and not far from Chevening Halt, the railway station on the Dunton Green to Westerham Line, later shut by the infamous Mr.Beeching and now the M25!

Probably the biggest difference between now and then was actually getting there and coming home. Not many parents would drive their young one's to School (mainly because not many people had cars). You were left more to your own devices and my sister Julia and myself would make the two mile walk over ground no Parent would ever allow now.
It entailed going across fields, crossing two Stream's where no one would hear you if you fell in and along a fairly quiet Road.

I don't remember much of Chevening Primary, with the exception of running away one day. I had asked Teacher once too often to be excused for personal needs and she was not amused.
I was out the Gate like no one's business. About 100 meters on and I could hear Teacher following me, blasting a Whistle and shouting "Stop that Lad".
Chance would have it that Mrs.Stone, a typical Aunty type, came out her House and stopped me, but making sure some sympathy was warranted.

The other great memory and again something which would be frowned upon now, was taking the Dinner left overs across the road to the Farm opposite, where we would dump it upon the resident Pigs. Oh great fun.

That was a mixed School, but we moved home and I went to Bayham Road Primary in Sevenoaks.
I never quite fitted in there. Maybe it was the fact I was always 'the new chap' and not there from the Start.
Also, it was more of a 'townie' place and had expectations which I tended to find difficult.

Come the 11+ and I didn't get through, so it was off to Wildernesse Secondary for Boys, somewhere I enjoyed very much for many reasons pertaining to that period in time.

Firstly it meant a fairly long Bicycle ride and the route could take you through 'The Woods' where there was a huge WW2 Bomb Crater which made for superb jumps and crashes.
On the way home we were uninvited, but always a welcome, guest to 'Skipper Gordon's' garden.
This was a huge garden with loads of tree's, dips and a pond. We only went inside the house once and came away thrilled with imagination. He had served in the Boar War and there were 'trophies', tribal masks and uniforms galore along the dark passageways.
This made for many hours of devastating imaginative battles all over the place!
The Rhododendron Bushes alongside the Road made for excellent hiding places to go 'psssst' to people walking past. I'd spend hours sitting in the branches. It was just me and nothing.

But, between these times, I did do a little work!  The day would always start with Assembly, which would comprise of a Hymn, a Bible Reading, a Talk from the Headmaster, Prayers and another Hymn. Usually someone would faint at some point and often lead to a chain reaction. You'd hear thumps and bumps all round the Hall, quite amusing to most of us who didn't have that problem!

You took the basic subjects; Maths, English, PE, Geography, Music and History. To these there was some choice between Biology, Science, Physics a 'skilled' class in either Woodwork or Metalwork.

I got branded the Class Creep as we progressed through the years. I'd always been a neat writer and loved maps. By chance, the Headmaster taught us Geography and would always use my Book work as the example of how it should be done.
To avoid the Cane on my  from the Headmaster and spoiling my credibility after being caught throwing a Rubber Bung at the Stand-in Biology Teacher, I gave my name as Paul Eaton to him. He got six of the best and 48 years on he still doesn't know it was me!
I did get the cane once though. This followed a tremendous in-swinging snow ball landing right on the back of Mr.Wright's (the Gardening Teachers) head. This comes back to me every time I put the Runner Bean poles up in Spring!

They were good schooling days though. After Assembly, we'd sit down in our Class and have to spell twelve words. If one single person got one wrong, we'd have that word again the next day. Any sign of 'cheating' was severely dealt with by a Chinese Grip on your elbow - and boy, did that hurt!

You would never wear your shirt outside your trousers, always wear your tie. You'd know your Anthem off by heart, drink your free one third of a pint bottle of milk at morning break and ALWAYS keep our handwriting upright !

Oh how it's changed! 

BTW - Mrs. Thatcher put an end to the free milk.



Schoolboy Chevening Kent School 1954 (Richard Cannon)

Chevening School Kent
Chevening School (53-57)

Would you let your 5 and 6 year old walk to school 2 miles on their own through fields and over streams?.....

My sister and I did !!!

Bayham Road School, Sevenoaks, Kent


Growing up in
50s and 60s
The 1960s

50's & 60's In the Blog

1960's Year by Year

Prime Ministers of the 50's

Clement Atlee
Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Anthony Eden

Sir Harold MacMillan