The Thurlows

Village News & Information

Schooldays

I had now started school and my first year was spent in the ‘little room’, where my teacher was a Miss Baker. The school was divided by a folding partition, and I later moved into the ‘big room’ where the teacher was Miss Linacre. My main memory of the school building was how cold it was during the winter months: the very high ceilings went up to the undersides of the rafters, and during the severe frosts ice would remain on the insides of the windows most of the day. I also remember the wet and cold roller towels in the washroom. Heating was by an open fire, with a large fire-guard, and a coke-burning tortoise stove, and the windows were quite high up in the building. There was a bell tower and a bell was rung for the end of playtime. The toilets were at the far end of the playground, and we were not allowed to go round to the front of the school at playtimes. The Rev Basil le Fleming of Gt Thurlow was a school governor, and often came to visit us. Most of our lessons were carried out using slates. When I first started school I was taken there by Eva Smith, who lived in one of the cottages (now all one large cottage) next to the Village Hall.

In 1935 my grandfather died and it was the end of the shoe-repairing business, although my father who had helped my grandfather at times continued to mend our own shoes.

During the school holidays and after school we played the usual games. There used to be certain times of the year for each game. We played most of these on the road as there was very little traffic – mainly tradesmen’s vans. The games played were skipping, bowling the hoop, touch and spinning the top. Sometimes the metal stud would come out of the base of the spinning top and be lost. I used to supply replacement studs from the old cobbler’s shop – a hobnail boot stud was ideal. We also made whistles from the young wood of the chestnut trees in the spring. The only time when there was more traffic through the village was on race days at Newmarket.

We used to look forward to the visit of the ice cream man during the summer holidays. He came from Newmarket on a B.S.A motorcycle and a box sidecar, and always rang a large hand bell when he had stopped his motorcycle. He went under the name of ‘Dolfie’.