Lady Bankes School
Lady Bankes School | Dawlish Drive Ruislip Manor
RUISLIP MANOR COUNCIL SCHOOL/LADY BANKES SCHOOL
The school fi.rst opened as the Ruislip Manor Council school in temporary accommodation at Victoria Hall, Linden Avenue, Ruislip Manor on 17th October 1934. There were 150 chiIdren (aged from 5 to 11+) on the roll who attended lessons 9 a.m. - 12 noon and 1.45 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. Miss Mabel Doris Christian was the headmistress, assisted by four supply teachers.
The School Attendance Officer visited the school on the first day to warn the children that they were not allowed to be employed and to accept renumeration under any circumstances. The children were given tests in spelling, composition and arithmetic and organized into classes according to age and ability.
The new school, Lady Banked Junior Mixed and Infant, opened on 7th January 1936. 314 children transferred from the Temporary School joined by 194 new admissions, making a total of 508 children. The headmistress was still Miss Christian, and there were seven junior teachers and five inf ant teachers. The school was officially named and declared open by Sir John Eldon Banked G.C.B. at a dedication ceremony in the evening of 19th May 1936. Mr. Kelland (County-Alderman and Vice-chairnan of the Middlesex Education Committee) was in the chair and the service was conducted by the Rev. Canon E. Cornwall Jones, vicar of Ruislip. This was followed by a concert of songs and dances performed by the children, followed by refreshments and the opportunity for all parents to inspect the school.
Lady Bankes School/-
In August of the same year, when Lady Banked re-opened after the summer holidays, the junior and inf ants opened as two separate departments: the junior mixed consisted of nine classes under the headship of Miss M. D. Christian, and Miss Polden was in charge of the infants. By October discussions were already taking place on extensions to the school, and by November 1937 three new classrooms had opened.
H.M. INSPECTORS' REPORTS
The war years of 1939 - 1945 severely disrupted the smooth running of the school however H.M. Inspector made the following report on the junior mixed department after his visit to Lady Bankes on 7th November 1944.
This department has grown rapidly since its opening eight years ago. All classrooms are now full., there are two hut classrooms on the site, and 200 children are housed in a hall a short distance from the main building. The evacuated children are gradually returning and the school is now working normally.
The Headteacher is fortunate in her staff, who are working well and who co-operate loyally. The children obviously enjoy their work, which reaches a good standard i.n the A and B streams. In general, the children in the C and D steams are well-catered for; they are responsive and leave the school with a working knowledge of fundamental processes and with a feeling of confidence in themselves.
Needlework and Handwork schemes need revision; this was discussed with the Headteacher at the time of the visit
The Headteacher supervises her school thoroughly, no small achievement in a school of over 650 children in three separate buildings. There is everywhere an atmosphere of hard work; the children are attentive and respond easily to questioning; their books are well kept. The tone of the school is good."
In 1949 H.M. Inspectors made a seven page report on the junior mixed department. They reported that there were 664 junior children on the roll organized in 16 classes with four streams in each year group. The first year was accommodated at Victoria Hall, part of the second year was in huts built on the playing field during the war, the remainder of the second plus the third and fourth years were on the upper floor of the main building. The infants occupied the lower floor. They reported good work in all subjects but recommended a more adventurous approach to the teaching. They considered that the upper fourth year classes reached a high level of general intelligence and were very responsive despite an average of 48 pupils per class. It was clear that all the children enjoyed a sense of security in their school environment. The subjects mentioned were arithmetic, English, history, geography, handwork, needlework, nature study and physical education. An assembly, described as an Act of corporate Worship, was held every day, but lack of room in the hall meant that not all children could attend together.
Lady Bankes School/-
Two very happy "birthdays" were recorded in the log books. The first, in January 1957, was the 21st anniversary of the opening of the school when a week of celebrations was enjoyed. Events included a Parent Teacher Association social, a commemoration service, reception for 250 guests and a party with entertainment for the children. Both headteachers from 1936: junior head, Miss Christian and infants head, Miss Pollen were still in office, though it was only two months until Miss Christian's retirement .
The second was the 50th anniversary held in October 1984. This was also celebrated with a full programme of events: visits by former staff and pupils, an assembly and a special programme of lessons, films and music from the 1930s, the planting of a commemorative silver birch tree in the school grounds and a Golden Jubilee buffet/dance.
1980s AND 90s
In 1987 it was estimated that repairs costing £1.224m were needed for Lady Banked School, so Hillingdon Education Committee decided that the school should move to the Southbourne School site.
Hillingdon CounciI were in favour of knocking down the empty Southbourne School in order to build new premises for Lady Bankes. However, local concern that Lady Banked School would also be knocked down, prompted a visit by English Heritage who agreed that the architecture of the building merited its preservation, and Lady Banked School was declared a Grade ll listed buiIding in 1989. In January 1990, 120 parents, the governors and teachers of Lady Bankes School voted not to move the school.
The description of the building, quoted by the Department of the Environnent from "Architecture illustrated" , November 1936 , reads as follows :
SCHOOL. 1935-6, by W.T. Curtis and H. W. Burchett.
Lady Bankes School/-
SCHOOL TRIPS AND JOURNEYS
Frequent day trips and an annual school journey were already features of the school year. Excursions were made to local places of interest, notably Hall's Farm, Windsor Castle, St Albans, Hampton Court, St. Paul's Cathedral, the House of Commons, and further afield to Winchester and Canterbury. The same places proved as popular in the thirties and forties as they are today.
The highlight of the year f or some children was undoubtedly the school journey which took place usually during May. The first journey made was from 5 to 19 May 1939, when 15 boys and 15 girls, accompanied by two teachers, spent the time in Shanklin, Isle of Wight. After the war, journeys were made annually to the County's Holiday Camp Schools. From 7 - 20 May 1947, 30 children stayed at West Mark School Camp, Petersfield.
In 1958, under the new headship of Mr. Batchelor, 60 children accompanied by four teachers, spent two weeks (12 April - 5 May) at the Beverley Hotel, Swanage. There was a busy programme of trips to farms and factories, geological and wiId life excursions, walks around Thomas Hardy country and, of course, a visit to Corfe Castle, once defended by Lady Mary Bankes and adopted as the motif for the school badge.
Lady Bankes School/-
Extract from one of my Mother’s letters to my Father dated 5 – 1 - 1944
My first day at school
Really a day to be marked on the calendar, my darling. I think I’ve been more excited than Keith.
Well first we got up and Keith had a jolly good scrub, and then got dressed in all his clean things – I helped him – almost as if he were a bride! He could hardly eat his breakfast he was so excited – and I couldn’t eat any!
He kept asking what time we had to leave and I kept answering “When the big hand is on the 3”.
At ten past nine, he (and I) could hardly contain himself and we both set out for school – all spick and span and not even noticing it was freezing cold.
We arrived at the school building and after walking through corridors swarming with children and teachers we arrived at a spot simply crowded with proud mothers and offspring. Immediately Keith caught sight of Eric, and Mrs Perkins caught sight of me. She told me that Eric was just as bubbly with joy at the thought of school as Keith and had wanted to call for Keith – just as Keith had wanted to call for Eric. I then noticed that Eric and all the new children were carrying mugs with their names on. I had forgotten all about a milk receptacle!
After about a ¼ of an hour, all us hundreds of mums were ushered into a small bare hall, sans chairs.
“Oooh! I like the smell!” says our son and heir “oh! You’ll soon get to know this smell very well in time” says I. (Do you remember that school disinfectant? I was wafted back to childhood by it immediately)
All the children and mothers stood patiently and quietly about, waiting for the advent of Miss Polden. All that is with the exception of 2 small boys – yes, you’ve guessed the two, they were playing noisy trains.
I began to get anxious about the time and thought of Brian in bed although I had left the key with Lil next door in case I was very late.
At last Miss Polden entered with a massive list of names and addresses, a box with slips of paper with names on them and another box of pins.
She first treated all the Ma’s to a school lecture – “Mothers may bring their children only to the school gates, not across the playground. If they do their names will be taken and I will ask the council to prosecute them as trespassers! Make sure ALL clothes and shoes are marked (I’d forgotten shoes) 6d per week will be collected on Monday mornings for saving stamps and there was also a Red Cross box. Milk money was to be paid in advance, 21/2d for once a day and 5d for twice. There were no vacancies for school dinners until next week” and so on and so on.
Then she proceeded to call out the girls names in alphabetic order. My heart sank – I couldn’t see how she could possibly have Keith’s name down, also she was not asking for birth certificates, so apparently I should have come earlier.
As each child was brought forward, a label bearing its name was pinned on it, and the Ma was asked for milk money and told to go straight out. The faces of both the mothers and kids were better than a visit to the cinema!!
Then came the boy’s list. As the M’s drew near I held my breath. When Martin Martin’s name was called out I knew Keith’s name wasn’t there, so of course I had to wait until the list was finished. There were about 11 of us left – all looking lost! Even Mrs Perkins, whose husband had come in October complete with birth certificate, and had Eric’s name put down. However there was yet another list and Eric was labelled and gleefully said “I’m in Keith”
Then I butted in. “I came in September….You called out Martin Martin but….
Me “No but the address is 138 Vic…”
Miss P (looking back at list) “That’s right, Why have I got MARTIN Martin?”
Me “I don’t know!”
The name is duly altered, Keith is ticketed, I bung his hat and gloves on to him, pay his milk money, and say “Bye bye dear” and rush out leaving him looking a little bewildered, and a little scared.
I rushed home, cleaned up and procured a bakelite beaker (1/6) and wrote Keith’s name on it in yellow ink. And then it was 12 o clock, no spuds peeled and Keith knocking on the door.
Him “alright - babble babble babble
Me “Do you like the teacher?
Him “Oh it’s not a teacher it’s a girl – not a little girl, but a big one – much bigger than you!”
Me “How do you know it’s a girl, and not a woman if she is so big?”
Him “Oh! I can tell – by her hands and her shoes”
(This must be Miss Foster, a woman of about 40 I should think. She’d be flattered I’m sure)
Me “What did you do?”
Him “Oh we played with bricks, but I got fed up so my girl teacher gave me something else to play with…..she’s a nice girl teacher because she knows when I’m fed up!”
Me “and were you good?”
Him “Weeell…. nearly good.”
Me “Why what did you do?”
Him “Oh nothing, but she said me and Eric were two noisy boys”
Him “We all had to hold our hands up to see if they were clean”
Then dinner and rinse off and back to school – clutching new mug. He had to borrow a mug from the cupboard in the morning.
3.30 arrives – so does Keith
Me “Well How…..”
Him “Ooh we had a story, a lovely story, all about a gingerbread boy. My girl teacher does read it nice. And there was a cow, and a fox …”(and so on)
Me “how nice, but were you better behaved?”
Him “Oh yes I was very good. And then we played steam trains when we came out”
Me “With the teacher?”
Him “Yes – and d’you know what she said to me? – she said I was a naughty little boy, and I laughed at her”
Me “Ohh, why were you naughty”
Him “Because I said “teacher will you do my belt up for me please?” and she said “you’re a naughty little boy, you should have asked inside” – and I laughed”
(Shrug of shoulders)
Me “Well now you know, and do you still like her?”
Him “Not ‘arf” (Said definitely in true school slang manner!)
Then more about the gingerbread man story
Me “And did you do a wee?”
Him “Yes. I put my hand up and said “please teacher may I leave the room?” and my girl teacher said “Yes” and it was right in the middle of the story, and I went out, and I was going the wrong way, but a lady came and said “where are you going?” and I said “I am going to the lavatory” and then Eric came along and we both went and it was like a long train. My girl teacher don’t ‘arf wash up the mugs nicely and the fox said “jump on my tail…..”
Eventually tea and bed
Keith Martin © 2005
I read the Lady Bankes entry you had on the site and certainly enjoyed scanning the faces on the class photo, several of whom I thought I recognised, although if it goes with the letter (which I think was dated in the 1940s) I can't possibly know them!!!! Maybe we all looked alike in black and white! I have all my Lady Bankes Junior School class photos : Miss Giles' class (1960-1), Miss King's class (1961-2), Miss Evans' (who became Mrs Crook) class (1962-3) and Miss Wells' class (1963-4) and remember many of the names of my classmates. I also have the school journey group photo of Easter 1964, which includes Headmaster Mr Batchelor.
I have only a few memories of Lady Bankes' Infants - like your correspondent, I also remember that smell of the newly varnished hall floor on my first day and indeed every first day of the new school term! (I also remember the smell of bleach from the horrible wooden toilet seats which had a terrifying gap at the front but were obviously very thoroughly cleaned.) New arrivals were gathered in the hall, with their parents on the first day, and collected and taken to class. On my first day I met a girl, Jackie, with whom I became best friends and we are still friends some 48 yrs on! My first teacher was Miss Mandeville and, as I recall, my first classroom let out onto the playground. We kept our school belongings - chunky pencil and exercise books - in what were known as 'tidy boxes', thick, durable, manila cardboard boxes with lids, upon which our names were clearly written in beautiful rounded print. After lunch each day we had to have a little rest by folding our arms on the desk and resting our heads on our arms. Some 48 yrs on, I still remember the shame of being told off one day during 'rest hour' for walking my fingers across the desk towards my friend Darnelda (who I think must have been the daughter of an American serviceman at the USAF base. She certainly didn't stay at Lady Bankes for long). I vaguely remember dressing up at school - there was a beautiful evening dress with several layers of pale blue net and a fawn satin affair with a velvet collar - which was my favourite pastime. Strangely, I also remember an odd-shaped, heavy chunk of green glass which was used 'for weighing'. Bizarre! I remember being reluctant to move on to reading books with more words and less pictures but that's about all I recall of the Infants.
I remember far more about the Juniors. If I think of Lady Bankes' Juniors I immediately conjure up an image of blocks of dark pink carbolic soap (I can almost smell it!) and heavy wire art trolleys - cleaning paint brushes during assembly whilst learning from another pupil the words of Johnny Halliday's 'Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket'! Being a monitor was an honour. The poor rubber plant at the top of the tower staircase suffered when I was plant monitor for a week...every day it lost another leaf...too much loving attention and water, perhaps! Everyone, except those doing some sort of monitor's duty, went to assembly each day but Jewish pupils were excused the religious aspects - they stood outside the hall, one to each window embrasure, and learned their Hebrew, if I remember correctly. I remember a Welsh male teacher who was responsible for the boys' football matches, which Lady Bankes invariably lost. His reports in assembly would usually start, "Well...I think the gremlins were in the ball because..." and he'd then go on to tell how many goals we'd lost by! I'd never heard of 'gremlins' before his arrival at Lady Bankes! Occasionally we'd have visitors - for example, Coco the Clown, who talked about road safety and taught us a song to help us remember to look right, left then right again before crossing the road. Even more exciting was the road safety visit by uniformed police, including a motor cycle cop who 'staged' in the playground someone being knocked down. Great stuff...We were a ghoulish lot! The staffroom at break times, probably like most other schools' staff rooms at that time, was always lost in a fog of cigarette smoke. One felt very responsible if chosen to take to the staffroom the empty mug of the teacher 'on duty' at playtime. That corridor was otherwise out of bounds so it was quite scary going along it.
Playground games included swapping (beads - crystals and 'diamonds', bubble gum cards etc), tag and pompom (of course!), What's the Time Mr Wolf?, Grandma's shoes, jacks, five-stones, various ball games against the red brick school walls, skipping - individually or with a long rope, American skipping (with two long ropes turned in different directions) and French or Canadian skipping (with a loop of elastic held round the ankles of two people, while the third 'skipped'). Boys also played football or 'raced' Dinky cars. I remember 'lost hankies' being knotted to the wire rubbish bins on the school wall - no tissues then. In the winter there would be a small mountain of coke piled up against the school on the side which bordered the old Ruislip Manor Library and Clinic. This mountain would gradually go down as weeks went by. In the summer months, at lunchtime, if it was dry, we were allowed to play on the grassy mounds formed over the top of the old air-raid shelters (used in those days for housing unwanted desks and other furniture). Mostly we liked rolling down them, getting covered in grass. Grass and twigs were frequently collected and formed into fake birds' nests which were deposited in the bushes and the poor dinner ladies (like Mrs Marsden) were then dragged over to look at our 'find'! Such was the peak of our naughtiness in those days. Girls also enjoyed tucking their dresses up their knicker legs and doing handstands and cartwheels, cleaning our hands afterwards with 'Quickies' (the fore-runners to todays' babywipes - 2" diameter circles of lint, soaked in perfumed lotion which came in a small blue tin...we would rub our foreheads and hands with a 'Quickie' until it was dry and grey with grime!)
School dinners were eaten in the separate dining hall, up a flight of concrete steps. I can still recall the fascinating sight of pure white soap bubbles frothing up, over 1 foot high, from the drains outside! We had to queue until we were allowed in (lunches were staggered) to file into the bench seats in silence. We also ate lunch in silence although this wasn't a problem for me as my friend, whose mother was blind, taught me how to do blind-deaf sign language so we could hold silent conversations under the table. After grace ("For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.") we'd line up to collect a plate (marked in blue on the bottom MCC - Middlesex County Council) and make our way along past the hatch where a row of white-hair-netted women would each serve up their part of today's meal. There were no choices - you ate what you were given and you weren't allowed to leave anything. Spam fritters, cheese flan (now called Quiche) and meat pie were favourites in those days. Mashed potato was the most common form of spud but I think we occasionally got chips and, if there were no potatoes, we got sliced white bread with a smear of marg. I can remember enjoying the novelty of this in those days, because it was something different. Can you imagine a child in 2006 enjoying the novelty of a slice of bread and marg?!!!) I always 'brought a note' each term to excuse me from eating greens which I still detest...I'll swear you could smell them cooking as you arrived at school in the morning! Puddings were pretty good - always served with custard, which was sometimes pink! There was often bright pinky-red jelly and there were plenty of steamed sponges but a speciality seemed to be a sort of rock-hard biscuit which required the spoon and fork to be used like a hammer and chisel! Of course, rice pudding featured often and semolina. In those days, when rickets was still a problem in some places, they got milk into us as often and in as many guises as possible. We also drank milk from one-third-of-a-pint bottles each morning. The metal crate containing the requisite number of bottles, according to the number of pupils present, was delivered outside each classroom door by the schoolkeeper. In those pre-freezer days ice cream was a special treat reserved for Christmas party time when we'd receive one wax-paper-wrapped, cylinder-shaped blob each, served on a saucer and eaten with a teaspoon.
As for lessons, I don't remember much! I do remember a student teacher's project on the Industrial Revolution which inspired me to a lifelong love of this period, although sadly I don't remember the name of the student teacher. We always had to write in fountain pen and blots were abhorred. I remember having to borrow a horrible, scratchy school dip pen when I forgot my own fountain pen. Nibs were 1d each and you licked a new nib to remove the varnish from it. (You could also borrow a school recorder, which tasted of TCP, if you forgot your's.) I remember double, solid oak (?) desks with lift-up bench seats, and lift-up lids with holes to hold the white china ink wells, refilled by the ink monitor. I recall, when in the fourth year (now called Year 6), having to take a coach each week to Uxbridge outdoor pool - Highgrove had not yet been built - for swimming lessons with a rather large lady (Mrs Hedley?) who always made us jump into the freezing cold water. When we arrived at the baths I was usually feeling a little travel sick. The first somewhat masochistic habit was to check the blackboard outside the baths to see what temperature the water was today. We prayed for it to be more than 55! Suffice it to say I didn't learn to swim until Highgrove opened when I was about 13! The only other lessons I remember were Mr Batchelor's science lessons. These occurred on a Friday afternoon in my last term at Lady Bankes'. Science, to me, was obviously an extremely difficult subject because only the Head was clever enough to teach it. (I hadn't realised at that time that 'nature walks' constituted science!) We explored floating and sinking and one memorable day we were taught about 'the binary system' which I didn't grasp at all. I wasn't too concerned as I felt sure my parents or my brother could help, but to my horror they'd never heard of it. I was then frantic, certain that I'd need to know all about the binary system before starting Secondary school. Of course, it wasn't mentioned at secondary school and it was almost 30 yrs later before I came across the binary system in a library book and understood how it worked.
I remember Mr Batchelor with great fondness, though, if only for his story reading ability - he managed to do all the voices in Rikki Tikki Tavi which earned my undying devotion! He came with us on the school journey in 1964, which was a week at Porth Veor Hotel, Porth, near Newquay, Cornwall (totally unspoilt then, pre-Torrey Canyon and pre-mass-tourist-industry). We were, I believe, the first Lady Bankes' pupils to go this far away. We travelled by train and had to change trains at Par, for the local service to Newquay - Beeching hadn't axed this line yet! This was the first time I had been away from home, the first time I'd been as far away as Cornwall which seemed like a foreign land to me and I found it very exciting but I was also quite homesick. We did a lot of preparatory homework before the trip, mainly considering local industry, which in those days meant the fishing industry and tin mining. We found out about: Robert (?)Trevethick whose steam engines were used for pumping water out of tin mines; the various types of fish to be caught off the Cornish coast and the different fishing methods used; the lighthouses off the Cornish coast; and other relevant stuff.
Memories other than school include the Ruislip Manor shops, Sunday School, ballet, Brownies and Guides. Shopwise, of course, my most vivid memories are of the local sweet and toy shops. Rolands in the Victoria Rd sold revoltingly perfumed floral gums and rather more delicious 1d fingers of Cadburys chocolate wrapped in purple and silver foil. They also sold liquorice alsort strips about 8" long which cost 1d each. I usually visited Rolands after receiving money for my birthday or Christmas. I would go and look at the selection of Pelham puppets and Pedigree dolls in their cellophaned boxes, then, being soft-hearted, I would invariably choose one of the 'seconds' from the top shelf...for example, the doll whose wig had come unglued (I still have her). There was a sweet shop next door to the record shop on the Cornwall Rd corner which relieved me of most of my pocket money in my early years. Tiger nuts, sweet tobacco, pretend cigarettes, sherbert fountains, flying saucers, lemonade powder (bright yellow fingers!), black jacks and fruit salad (4 for 1d - a farthing each!) were among my favourites. Palm Toffee (in umpteen flavours) would threaten to pull your teeth out as you bit into it and tugged! 'Lovely Jublee' frozen orange, which came in a clever shaped waxed cardboard package could be sucked for ages until there was no orange colour left in it.
My parents sent me to the Ruislip Manor Methodist Sunday School when we moved to Torrington Rd in 1957. I previously went to the Sunday School at the old Community Centre in Southbourne Gardens where I once lost my 3d bit down the crack between the splintery floorboards. (I don't know if they found it when they pulled that building down to make way for the new hall...if they did, please may I have it back as it's loss has clearly scarred me mentally!) I know I have (somewhere) a picture of Ruislip Manor Methodist Church's May Queen's coronation - I think it was about 1967...the May Queen was Andrea Dennis and I was a May Queen's attendant, along with, if I remember correctly, Rosemary Topley. This was the last May Day celebration we had at the church as the Scout Hut (in which the May Pole and other materials were kept) burnt down later that same year.
I attended ballet lessons with Mrs Gross in a room which for many years now has been a kindergarten in Thurlstone Rd, although I think we later transferred to St Paul's Church Hall. My frequent dancing partner then was a girl called Pat whom I met again when my own children started dancing lessons many years later in Hayes - she was, by that time, running her own dance school and was known as Tricia Stevens. Mrs Gross sadly finished offering dance classes in 1962 when she left to become a professional dance teacher.
I was a Brownie at 1st Ruislip Manor who met at Ruislip Manor Methodist Church. My first Brown Owl, Mrs Bryant, moved away from the area and the pack was taken over by Shirley Crowe, who was initially told she was too young to hold a warrant. She persisted, however, and became Brown Owl, a role from which she is only just reluctantly retiring in 2006! My Mum, Bea Leech, took over running 1st Ruislip Manor Guides (who also met at Ruislip Manor Methodist Church,) while I was in Brownies. Guides frequently came to our house to learn the various elements they needed to 'pass' from Tenderfoot to First Class. She continued to run the Guide Company, as well as being a youth leader in the Junior Church, for many years before stepping down and over the years she was known to a great number of young people for her kindness, guidance, support and understanding.
Brief details are show below. Some of the web sites are very large!
Main Ruislip site
Up to date information about Ruislip and the area. Plus sections with suggested walks and even why houses are so expensive. Not forgetting the spies and USAF South Ruislip, so some history too.
Ruislip In Pictures
Ruislip's premier attraction and so important it gets a web site all to itself.
Everything from the history from years back to struggling to park today. It is all here.
Some classic pictures from years gone by.
We also run the community web site for Ickenham. Loads of old pictures and some more up to date one plus details of all that Ickenham has to offer.
Details of all the pubs and more is just one click away.