Chronicles – Albert Street School Part 3: The 1950s, the final years of the school

The 1950s were the final years for Albert Street School, and we get a flavour of school life in this review in the local press of the ‘Junior School Show’ at the Town Hall in 1952:

Last Thursday evening was a big night for about 150 pupils of the C of E Junior School in Albert Street.  The concert at the Town Hall was their first attempt before the general public and a jolly good show it was too.  The hall was packed to capacity with parents and friends.  . . . The slight make-up improved the appearance of the children on the stage, although the following day we overheard an evidently disapproving young lad say ‘Wasn’t that awful lipstick and rouge hard to get off!’

To open the evening’s entertainment, Forms 3 and 4 sang ‘The Poacher’, ‘Berries’ and ‘The Open Road’ with great gusto.  The youngsters of Form 1 played their parts exceedingly well in the play and dance ‘Who will hold the giant?’ We especially liked ‘Tiny’ played by A Berry, and other principal parts were played by C Whittington, C Heming, S Pattenden, J. Bartlett, L Corby, S. Colley, M. Jones, M. Tigg and C. Hopkins. 

After the interval, Forms 1 and 2 sang ‘Grandpa’s Snuffbox’, ‘Robin-a-Thrush’, and ‘While the Herds were Watching.’ ‘Dirge for a bad boy’ and ‘The Camel’ followed . . . Form 2’s effort included a mime called ‘The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse’, Ruth Wellington being the narrator. The children carried out their parts admirably.  John Wright was the Country Mouse and John Wheeler the Town Mouse.  Maureen Rawley played the Cat, and also taking part were Dianne Scammell, David Phillips, Clifford Scovell and Janet O’Brien.

We have two photographs here from those days; Michael Hardy and Margaret Gardiner have managed to identify most of the faces, but as usual we would be most grateful if anyone can fill in any of the missing names – or provide any more photographs of this generation of Ventnor children.

The first photograph here was taken in about May 1955, and shows a group of girls assembled for a school trip to London.  They are probably the top class, as the picture includes three of the girls who were in Form 2 in the 1952 Concert, performing ‘The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse’ – Ruth Wellington, the narrator, Maureen Rawley who played the cat, and Janet O’Brien. From left to right the faces are: Back row: Unknown, Unknown, Enid Schule, Maureen Rawley, Ann Trapp, Margaret George, Kay Mountford, Carol Barber, Dawn Allanby, Liz Croad. Middle row: Janet (surname unknown), Susan Curtis, Unknown, Mavis MacLeod, Ruth Wellington, June Cullen. Front row: Christine Williams, Marion Grant, Margaret Horton, Angela Glaine, Janet O’Brien, Unknown

The last photograph was taken in Albert Street School’s final year, 1955-6. From left to right, the faces are:  Back row: Mr Baker (Teacher), Jimmy Pickering, Dave Chambers, Margaret Clark, Juliet Marshall, Unknown, Unknown, Sandra Walters, Mary Ford, Elaine Russell, Unknown, Reg Remnant.  Front row: Ray Barton, Barry Grant, Unknown, Mike Wade, Richard Read, Nigel Keates, Steve Griffith, Margaret Spanner, Unknown, Mike Hopkinson, Geoff Whittington, Dave Jeffries, Tony Gawn, Mike Hardy, Graham Collier (?)

In 1956 the Junior School moved from Albert Street to the building in Leeson Road that had been the Secondary School.  One of the pupils summed up the move many years later: “From outdoor toilets to sheer luxury – and we had a playing field, and swimming lessons at Sandown open air pool!”

Lesley Telford, Ventnor & District Local History Society.  Information from our Archives and from ‘A School Scrapbook’ by Fay Brown. This article first published in the South Wight Chronicle in October 2015.