The Craxford Family Magazine Red Pages

{$text['mgr_red1']} Cottingham 1.2b


by Janice Binley



My old school

Our school days in the village school were magical. The pupils were mainly from Cottingham and Middleton, but smaller numbers from East Carlton Park and Rockingham also attended the school. The school was of course Church of England and they were very keen that we attended Church and Sunday School, which the majority of us did. When we went to Sunday School, which was actually held in the school building, we were given a little book. Each Sunday of the year represented something in the religious calendar and so each time we attended we were given a stamp to stick in our book. It became a one-up-manship exercise with some to see who could attend most and get the most stamps. I had several of these albums which were lost over time. The stamps, 32 in all, are about an inch wide by an inch and a half long. I doubt that many people still have them after nearly 70 years! This particular album belonged to Martin Abbot who was the great grandson of Martin Philpotts. It was given to me by his mother along with some family photographs before she died in 2005 and I kept it because it meant a lot to her. She would be pleased to know that it is being published.

In school we were told wonderful stories by a much loved teacher, Mr Kisby. Being in his class was a joy. He was an exceptional teacher. We learned about Greek mythology, The Trojan Wars, Odysseus, Penelope, Circe, Telemachus, Polyphemus and Menelaus, in literature, and classics like Oliver Twist, Masterman Ready, A Christmas Carol and the Last of the Mohicans to name but a few. Mr Kisby would tell us stories about adventures he and his cousin Leslie had as young boys. He probably made them up, but everyone sat enthralled and so quiet a pin would be heard falling to the floor. And he had the knack of ending the story at an exciting part so that we always wanted more. I remember a new book being delivered to him by post and it was by someone called Grey Owl who appeared on the dust cover in Red Indian dress complete with full War Bonnet. The book was called Sajo and her Beaver People about two red indian children who found two orphaned beaver kittens and raised them. Many years later I found out that Grey Owl was really an Englishman called Archibald Belaney who was a conservationist and fur trapper in Canada. He realised that overlogging had a bad effect on the environment and over trapping beaver was likely to lead to their extinction and after writing the book became a full-time conservationist of note. A film has been made about him in recent years and two or three years ago Canada issued postage stamps in his honour.

We were taught the "3 R's" by Mrs Muggleton who, I remember, had nice handwriting. We would go to her when our milk teeth were loose and she would gently wiggle it. Sometimes she tested it over a day or two before deciding it was ready to be pulled and then instruct us to put our arms round her waist whilst she pulled out the tooth with a piece of cotton wool held between her fingers. We were very proud of the tooth and carried it around with us all day until we could take it home - it's cotton wool wrapping was grubby by this time. Eventually it was time to go to bed and the precious molar was put under our pillow hopefully to receive sixpence from the tooth fairy. The dentist also visited the school regularly in the 1950s and any teeth needing attention were treated at school. Our dentist was Mr Perrin who had a rather nice gold tooth. The Health Nurse also visited regularly to inspect our hair for lice, or nits, and between our fingers for scabies.


LEFT: School days with Mrs Muggleton; RIGHT: Mr Kisby's class

The cover


The cover

Page 1


Cod liver oil


Milk break

Another aspect of our schooldays were dinner times when it was either too wet or too cold for us to go outside. We only had four classrooms in the school, infants at the back, then a large middle room at the front of the school divided off by a wooden and glass partition to make Mrs Muggleton's and Mr Kisby's classrooms. The Headmaster's room was the fourth classroom and was situated at the end of the school nearest to the Cross. Our school dinners were eaten at our desks, which were covered in green and white oilcloth and set with cutlery by the dinner monitor. We collected our dinner from the kitchen, built specially on the side of the school, and carried it back to our classrooms to eat. They were generally good and we were always excited when a delicious pudding called 'Chocolate Crunch' was on the menu, made by a lovely lady called Mrs Funnel the Cook and her helpers. After dinner on bad weather days when we couldn't go out to play, the partition was pushed back and all the children converged into the big room for more of Mr Kisby's adventures with Leslie.

A minor downside in our lives at school whilst we were in the infants class was the yearly dose of cod liver oil, delivered to all with the same spoon, and the taste washed away with a weak beaker of diluted orange juice concentrate. Both provided by the new National Health Service. Each child also received a third of a pint bottle of milk each day to be drunk during the morning break. This was very popular with some children, especially in winter, when the milk would be really cold and sometimes partially frozen. One of the upsides of the infants class was the roaring coal fire we had in the winter, which was made up regularly by the school caretaker. The fire always had a large guard in front of it and on some afternoons we were allowed to take our chairs and sit in front of it in a semi-circle while Mrs Liquorish read us a story.

Page 1

Page 1

The stamps are:
LEFT: "Appearance in the room"; "The tomb in the garden"; "Appearance by the sea"
RIGHT: "Appearance on a mountain"; "Rogationtide procession"; "After the Ascension"

Page 2


L - R: Snowdrop wood; Primrose; Violets; Bluebell wood

Our games, as children, were usually determined by the seasons and we spent a lot of time outdoors, going out in the morning and returning mid-afternoon. Around early February the older girls would take the younger ones to gather snowdrops from East Carlton Park, where they grew in abundance. The park was private really, but we helped each other over the wall and managed to pick snowdrops without being caught. Next, it was primrose and violet gathering time - primroses from the woods and violets from under hedgerows around the village. Lastly we gathered bluebells - armfuls of them, again, from the woods. We proudly took these home to our mothers and aunts. Sadly by the time we arrived home with our bounty they were in a very sorry state, had wilted, and only lasted about a day when put in water. These days people aren't allowed to gather wild flowers from woodlands. We played two-ball, rounders, skipping, cat's cradle and drew hopscotch squares on pavements with chalk. There were games of 'Poor Mary Sits a Weeping', 'The Farmer's in his den' and 'The Big Ship sails on the ally, ally oo' and 'Oranges and Lemons' where many children could join in. Some children also gathered rose hips to be sent to a well known factory to be made into Rose Hip Syrup. I can't remember how many pounds of rose hips had to be collected but the required amount earned the picker a little white tin badge decorated with rose hips which was proudly pinned to their clothing. Rose Hip Syrup was a favourite with mothers during the 1950s and 60s as an extra source of vitamin C for their young children. Hot summers were also an excuse to go down to the river Welland and paddle or try to catch 'tiddlers' (minnows) in a jam jar.


L - R: Hopscotch; Cat's cradle; Rose hips; Delrosa Rose Hip Syrup (1950s advert)

Page 2

Page 2

The stamps are:
LEFT: (Upper) "Palestine children"; "The Prodigal Son"; (Lower) "Peter's Mother-in-law"; "Man who found a friend"
RIGHT:(Upper) "Journey into Egypt"; "Washing Disciples' feet"; (Lower) "The nobleman's son"; "The home at Nazareth"

Page 3

Often children went with their mothers to pick potatoes which everyone seemed to enjoy and they were a good source of seasonal labour for the farmers in the area and extra cash for the housewives. In autumn we gathered beech nuts and conkers, blackberries and field mushrooms and looked forward to fireworks on bonfire night and then Christmas. I don't remember a winter without deep snow and this also was an opportunity for building snowmen, playing snowballs and, best of all, going sledging in the Dale. There are two very steep hills and the largest one was the one we used. Hardly anyone had a real sledge, but we were good at improvising and tin trays or pieces of corrugated metal became a way to get from the top to the bottom of the hill at speed. If we fell off into the snow, it was all the more fun, but I'm sure 'Health and Safety' experts would have had a heart attack to see us taking such risks. Even so, I don't ever remember anyone being seriously hurt. We also made lethal slides in the school playground and on pavements, only to find that they had disappeared the next morning under a covering ashes or salt.

At Christmas we had a School Christmas Party (everyone's mum contributed to this, providing jellies, cakes etc) and afterwards we played games like musical chairs. Wallis and Linnell also held a party for their workers' children. This was held at their factory in School Lane, Kettering and usually began by taking us to a show of some kind, a magician or a pantomime and then back to School Lane for tea. Mrs Kisby was also very active in the village arranging activities for children, the over 60s, and anyone who had a sense of fun who could be roped in. Her ballet troupe was a favourite activity for many children and she schooled them to perform in the Christmas Concerts she organised, delighting parents and children alike.


Mrs Kisby's ballet troupe

Page 3

Page 3

The stamps are:
LEFT: (Upper) "Jesus the carpenter"; "Jesus goes to the Synagogue"; (Lower) "Jesus at the Temple"; "Jesus baptized by John"
RIGHT:(Upper) "Stilling the storm"; "A gift of love"; (Lower) "The triumphal entry"; "Appearance on the road"

Page 4

The over 60s had a club held in the afternoons once or twice a month organised by Mrs Kisby and at Christmas they were given a meal in the school prepared by volunteer housewives. After the meal, the partition between the two classrooms was drawn back and the Christmas Concert began. My mother, Olive, and her sister-in-law, my Aunt Nancy, performed in one of the concerts as native girls in grass skirts and in another sketch called 'Buttons and Bows'. Sometimes talent from the surrounding area was invited to perform and on one occasion a young Jim Dale from Rothwell was part of the entertainment. No one knew then how famous he was to become and since then he has been in 11 Carry-on films and narrated 7 Harry Potter audio books as well as being a singer, song writer and composer.

Sometimes picture shows or films were shown in Jubilee Hall in Middleton. This was the village hall for both Middleton and Cottingham and it was made of wood. Wedding receptions were also held their until the 1960s. We also had a small fair visit on Cottingham Feast Day (August I think). It was very low key with Swing Boats, a few side shows and a coconut shy. But it was exciting for children at that time. I can also remember having a donkey ride on one occasion when a Circus visited which was sited on the football ground. There was also Cubs and a Scouts for the boys and Guides and the Girls Friendly Society for the girls. When we started school, it was almost expected that we would contract all the usual children's diseases, Mumps, Measles, Chicken Pox, and Whooping Cough. Many of us did catch some or all of these but now, thanks to immunisation, they are almost unheard of. I am sure our Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Jackson, would be relieved to know no child need die from Whooping Cough these days.

Group photos

A concert for the over 60s
(Mrs Kisby, wearing a dark bonnet and dress, is one of the performers in the first and fourth photographs)

Page 4

Page 4

The stamps are:
LEFT: (Upper) "Pentecost"; "A creature of our God"; (Lower) "Philip and the eunuch"; "Lame man at Beautiful Gate"
RIGHT:(Upper) "Peter delivered from prison"; "Paul's escape"; (Lower) "Timothy at home"; "Paul shipwrecked"

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"Mr Kisby's Class" from Cottingham and Middleton forum, Facebook
"Cod Liver Oil", "Milk Break" and "Cat's Cradle" from Born and Raised in Leicester forum, Facebook.
Photograph: Snowdrop woods at Welford © Stuart Logan, on Geograph and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Photograph: Primrose (Primula Vulgaris) © Anne Burgess, on Geograph and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Photograph: Violet (Viola odorata) © Anne Burgess, on Geograph and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Photograph: Bluebell Woods © Arthur Bruse, on Geograph and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Photograph: Daily Delrosa, Original Delrosa Rose Hip Syrup Advertisment, pinterest

Added: October 18th 2019
Last update: November 5th 2019

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