Winifred Bridgford 1940-42
My school friends & I from St Georges met one morning in October in 1940 & proceeded to the new school which had been built especially for pupils of the ages of 11 plus by the Church of England & public donations.
When we arrived we were shown the way to the main hall & told to take off our shoes & leave them outside in the corridor, we were allowed to wear plimsolls otherwise you proceeded in barefoot with just your socks. The aim was to protect the extremely fine newly laid floor. Our names were called & we went to various parts of the hall to form the 9 classes as follows, 1A, 2A, & 3A for very bright scholars, 1B, 2B, & 3B for average scholars & 1C, 2C, & 3C for the slower learners. The Head Master Mr Tweddle was on the stage with the rest of the staff, he came forward & welcomed us all & said we were very lucky to have such a lovely new building & our school was to be called the Sladen Modern School.
The School motto would be “deeds not words” & the School song “Jerusalem”. The School uniform was green gym slips & blazers for the girls, & green blazers, caps & grey trousers for the boys, a badge was designed from the town coat of arms & contained the initials S M S, the badge was worn on blazers and caps for the boys with hats for the girls.
We were taken to our various class rooms & as some of the furniture from the old schools had not arrived we just sat where we could. We then had a look around the school & found the luxury of a nice big cloakroom to hang our clothes, below the pegs was a box for our shoes, adjoining were toilets & wash basins, after the old schools we had come from this was really great. We saw the domestic science room, the science lab, the gym & changing rooms complete with showers. This was a cultural shock after having p t in the playground & having to use outside toilets.
We all started to get to know every one from the other schools, St Mary’s & St John’s although now & again there were a few fall outs.
As the 2nd World War was going on & the air raids were becoming more frequent there had not been time to build air raid shelters, when the siren sounded the girls from each class room proceeded to the hall & down a few steps under the stage where we would be safe from flying glass, there was not room for the boys so they had to sit at the end of the corridors where there were no windows. We were not allowed to go home or leave the school premises while the air raid was in progress, fortunately it didn’t happen too often during our time at school. Later on in 1942 they built air raid shelters in the quadrangles.
After we had been at school for a few days we started to settle into a regular routine, we assembled every day for a short service in the hall. Eventually we were sorted into houses, Baxter, Rowland Hill, Whittall, & Baskerville, house captains were chosen & also prefects with a head boy & girl. We were awarded house points for doing good work & we strove to make our particular house top each week with the most house points, this was announced at assembly every Monday morning after the Headmaster’s chat normally regarding bad behaviour, poor attendance, but sometimes some compliments as well.
The School soon settled down & the girls had domestic science, sewing & netball, the boy’s science, woodwork, & football or cricket. We all went to the local swimming baths once a week & sports activities were held at the Land Oak. The other lessons, maths, English geography etc were carried out in mixed classes. We had singing lessons & a School orchestra was formed.
There were several rooms above the headmaster’s office at the front of the School, one became the School library, there was a staff room & the School Governors including Canon Sladen met there quite frequently. It was the duty of the girls in the domestic science class to provide & serve cups of tea to the Governors which at the ages of 12 & 13 was quite an ordeal; I once nearly spilt tea all over Canon Sladen in trying to be super efficient.
I enjoyed my days at Sladen, 2 years in all & always found the staff to be most helpful, it must have been a difficult task to mould together such a mixed bunch of children from different schools.
After I left School I went back to see Mr Tweddle about my career prospects, I found he was always prepared to give his time to help in whatever way he could, he was indeed an excellent first Headmaster of Sladen School.
Memories of Bryan J Morris, pupil August 1944-October 1948.
I joined Sladen School in August 1944 having failed the examination for the Grammar School, I was absent from St George’s, my previous school, for a considerable time due to having an injured leg & I have always felt this was the reason I failed the examination.
My first class at Sladen was 1A, I cannot recall the teacher’s name, we were taught basic arithmetic & English.
2A was much the same; I do not recall this teachers name either.
In 3A we were taught by various teachers with specialist subjects but we had one main form teacher.
It was a similar set up for 4A & the teachers were as follows, English was taught by Major Reynolds, an extremely nice man & very tolerant, he was the first person I knew who owned a Biro which I believe had only recently been invented. I can remember in one of his lessons being taught an extremely long word “antidisestablishmentarianism”.
Major Reynolds was a petty officer in the Royal Navy during the 1st World War, he was possibly the reason I decided to join the Royal Navy upon leaving school.
Maths & history were taught by Mr Luker, a somewhat distant man but a very good teacher, he was also the 4A form teacher & was nick named “Daddy”.
Mr Thrustle took the art class, he was alright but he expected us all to be good at drawing & painting which many of us were not, we suffered a little for this.
The science class was taken by the late Gilbert Henry Walter & it was made very interesting with little experiments, the 3A & 4A girls had needlework & cooking or domestic science to give it its proper title, Miss Gill was the needle work teacher & I think Miss Dignam took domestic science.
Mr Walter also took us for music & he led the School orchestra, he was also very much into the annual School plays which were put on just before Christmas, these would take place after School hours in the evening & children’s families & friends would attend the performances, & very professional they were too.
Mr Walter persuaded me to take up the cello & join the School orchestra but alas I was not a great success.
The boys were also taught woodwork & took on various woodwork projects, the Teacher was a Mr Jukes, he had a very bad temper but I think he put it on at times for effect, he was known to throw objects at boys who were messing about but the missiles always missed.
The sports master was Mr Ken Pickering, he was ex R. A. F. & an excellent man, & we did gym work, football, cricket, & athletics. I opened the batting for the cricket games & mostly we travelled away including a school as far away as Bromsgrove which seemed a long way in the forties, we had a high percentage of wins & we always got great satisfaction on beating Harry Cheshire. We had our own sports field situated at the rear of the school & this was used for all our sporting activities, the inter house competitions were always competitive.
We had good changing room facilities complete with showers which most of us had never seen before.
Miss Cunningham was the girl’s gym mistress with netball being one of their popular games, boys being boys often strayed to watch their games, the lady herself was very attractive & wore the shortest skirt we had ever seen, and for many of us it was the highlight of our week.
Mr Mcgilvery & Mr Mosey were two of our main teachers with Mr Ovens teaching us on occasions.
Mr Gardner tried to teach us to sing, his favourite song was “Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes” but he did not get a very good response from us.
There was a competition when I was in the 3rd year to name the School magazine or news letter that was to be printed at various times during the School year, the competition was won by a lad named Alfred Guest, his chosen name was “Forward”. The newsletter was printed on a small hand printing machine & news of sport & other subjects were reported on, Alfred Guest was the editor.
None of us had school uniform, times were extremely hard due to the Second World War but everyone dressed as smart as possible.
One of our star pupils in 3A & 4A was Warren Bond, he was an excellent violinist, so good in fact he played for the “Midland Light Orchestra”; he also had a butchers shop in Bewdley.
Around 1947/48 the School was approached by one of the farmers in the area a Mr Needham, after discussions with Mr Tweddle a number of boys from fourth year were selected to go & pick potatoes one day a week, this was due to the shortage of a male workforce. Many of us volunteered & I seem to recall we were paid 2/6d per day (12.5p), it was a great experience for us & we also had some free spuds to take home.
I enjoyed the majority of my time at Sladen it was a happy school, we were well disciplined and the odd one who misbehaved was sent to stand outside Mr Tweddle’s office when they would probably be caned, I believe it was very painful & the majority of them would not offend again. I was a prefect in the fourth year & belonged to Baxter house which I feel was the best at that time, but perhaps I am a little biased.
I left school in October 1948 & joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman, there were a few more from Sladen that followed, Tony Hadley who served 40 years, Clive Humphries, Cyril Savage & myself all served 10 years, I was invalided out in 1959. Three of my brothers also went to Sladen the eldest who is now 80 attended there in 1941.
I met my wife at school & she is nearly 2 years younger than me, she was the “Caliph of Baghdad” in one of the annual school plays, she wasn’t very keen on me at the time but we met again twice in 1950 & 53, we got married in 1955.
So to sum up I felt Sladen was a great school & I had an extremely happy time there but when I visited the school on the first reunion I was amazed at all the modern facilities & what vast improvements had been made since my time there, the fact that our School has now been demolished is a great loss to us all & those people who will never have the chance to attend it but it still lives on in the memory.
THE 1950'S FROM PETER PAGE (HEAD BOY 1954)
MR. W. ELLIOTT (Revd. W. Elliott)
"I have only recently discovered that Mr. Elliott was also a new boy when we arrived at Sladen. The one thing I think everyone remembers about Mr. Elliott was the way he used to sit on the edge of his desk, never behind it".
You may recall that our Headmaster, Mr. Tweddle, was very proud that he had managed to get the school title changed from Sladen Secondary Modern to Sladen Secondary School. To achieve this, the school was subjected to innumerable inspections. It was always possible to tell when these were due. The fragrance from the disinfectant sprays would increase to such a level, you had to walk around with handkerchiefs over your mouth to stop choking.
On one such occasion, Mr. Elliott related to us a story from his college days. They had also been due an inspection but to get out of the work involved he and a friend had carried round an imaginary piece of glass.
A favourite exercise of Mr. Elliott was to get individuals up to talk on a subject of their own choice. During one of these sessions, Ian Charteris spoke on the breeding and training of budgerigars. Mr. Elliott was so enthralled that no-one else got to speak that day. I also enjoyed the mock elections. Did he actually say that in those days, M.P. salaries were £1000 pa plus first class train travel?
MAJOR P.N. REYNOLDS (Nick)
Geoff Lloyd (former Head Boy of Sladen and Old Sladenians Founder) remarks in his recollections how easy it was to sidetrack Nick. Here are just two of those Nick stories.
Nick had received orders to arrange a training exercise. Due to shortage of time he did this from his office with the aid of a local OS map, without going out on reconnaissance. The exercise duly took place. The only problem was that all those lovely woods shown on the OS map had been cut down for the war effort, leaving no cover for the field troops.
Moral – always do your homework!
Nick was a well known thespian and told us he was once invited to attend a performance of a play at a local village hall close to the army camp. After the show, his friend enquired how he had liked the show. Nick’s reply was to say that he had always enjoyed the play as he had written it and could they please ensure he got his royalties.
Just one story about our woodwork master. Being a boy scout, I was always getting my leg pulled about such things as starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together. One day in the woodwork room some of us were messing about, trying to do just that. We had rigged up the traditional bow and were sawing away like mad. Mr. Smith came up behind us and said you will never manage it like that – you are not creating enough friction. Rather than telling us off, he gave us the benefit of his knowledge of woods. To our advantage he replaced the traditional bow with a drill wedged in a piece of hard dowling. This was the first and only time I have seen fire created by rubbing sticks together, even if it was a slight cheat using the drill.