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Our Grange School Days

What was The Grange School like sixty years ago? Very different, undoubtedly, but our underpinning values seem to have been present from the very early days. In this fascinating insight two Old Roburians, Claire Charley and Margaret Prickett, remember the school that they knew six decades ago.

“We recently celebrated, on 11th September 2015, a Diamond Anniversary of sixty years since we began school at The Grange, Hartford, both aged 4 years 8 months.

“We remember The Grange School being on two campuses; the Infants Department at the Chester Road Crossroads, with its huge white climbing frame near the front entrance and popular Wendy House.  Then further up the road was ‘Beechfield’, the Junior School site.  Here, in the front play area was a large beech tree with a trillion coloured leaves in Autumn to play in. Bordering the Local Council Childrens’ Play Area were the rhododendron shrubbery bushes where we delighted in making dens.

“The school always had an interesting and broad curriculum including Nature Study, with nature walks and surveys.  One year we raised silk worms which duly devoured the mulberry leaves from a fellow pupil’s garden!

“There was a high standard of music and singing under the tutelage of Mrs Boyle, the Head Mistress who succeeded Mrs Perry.  Also poetry played a key part in our education, and, ‘The Black Arrow’ by Robert Louis Stevenson left an indelible impression on my mind! (Claire).

“Of key importance was the routine teaching of tables, spelling, poetry, writing précises and writing our alphabet letters in a certain style.  We also learnt how to formally write letters, and with good etiquette, learnt how to write ‘thank you’ letters and R.S.V.Ps.

“We also wrote holiday diaries and I still have my account of a visit to the Blue John Mines (Claire).  Margaret also recalls the school trip to the Anderton Lift and being transported from the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal.  Then there was creative basket work with Miss Taylor (Deputy Head) and memories of soaking our canes in an old bath at Beechfield to make them more pliable!

“Desks faced the front and ‘Vintage Platignum’ fountain pens were filled by little metal levers on the pens - with ink from the ink wells in the desks.  There was an ink monitor who kept these topped up.

“There were delicious cooked lunches – with the exception of rice pudding for some – and the daily drinking of a third pint of milk, in glass bottles, and drunk with a straw.  Also, for the young ones, a restful short story time followed lunch.

“Mrs Perry, our Headmistress, deserves a special mention.  She was a devout Quaker; a calm and universally respected lady and a ‘gently authoritative figure’ who set a high moral standard for the school.  There was an ethos of caring and respect, and a keen sense of community / team spirit in the school.  There was an emphasis of perseverance and determination, and an openness to all forms of learning and debate.

“‘Grange School Days’ conjure up good childhood memories for us.  Those were the days before sophisticated I.T. Days when there was ‘Listen with Mother’ on the radio, a limited number of childrens’ programmes on TV, comics to read, stamps to collect, tea cards to collect and many imaginative games to play…

Did we miss out on anything?  We think not, as these remained amongst the happiest days of our lives."

Claire (nee Gibbon) and Margaret (nee Eaden) are married and live in Worcestershire and have remained lifelong friends.