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If you are an Ex-Pupil of Castle Bromwich Junior School we'd love to hear your stories or pictures and we will show them here. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The school opened in 1939 with 66 pupils. The first headteacher was Mrs Olive Bott.
I attended what was then Castle Bromwich County Junior School in the 1961-1962 and 1962-1963 academic years, between the ages of seven and nine, having been a pupil at the infant school down the road before then. Unfortunately, my family moved out of the area, and I then attended another three primary schools before going on to Marsh Hill Boys Grammar-Technical Birmingham, in 1965.
I have the fondest memories of what has always been a highly-regarded school; and, following a recent, nostalgic return visit in February this year (2017), it is good to see the same standards are being maintained some 54 years on! All credit to the current Head Teacher Sarah Hobden and her staff.
Some of the teachers’ names remembered from all those years ago are Mr Cooper, the Headmaster, Mr Pidgeon, Mr Evans, Mr Thompson, Miss Scarf, Mr Mowbray, and Mr Cork – my much-feared form teacher in my second year there. I played football for the school B team at the age of eight. I am at the end of the second row on the right as you look at the attached team photograph, which also includes Mr Cork. Some names from the picture include Martin Davies, Stephen Moffat (the goalkeeper). Other surnames from the team, I think, are Larter, Middleton, Cope, and Howard.
I remember the school as being a very happy one, where although a relatively strict discipline was maintained, all the pupils always seemed fully engaged in work and play. The heating system, as another former pupil notes, broke down quite often, and in the big freeze of 1963 this was a regular occurrence. It was not unusual in those days at the school for teachers and children alike to engage in fully-blown snowball fights on the football pitch.
My career path has taken me back into education, and for the last 20 years I have been an economics lecturer at university. I guess some of what I was taught at Castle Bromwich must have stuck!
The school will always hold very special memories for me.
Dr David Jenkins
Hello there from Letchworth in Hertfordshire. My name is Stephen James, the elder son of John and Brenda James, and I attended Castle Bromwich County Infant and Junior Schools from 1956 to 1962. I started at the mixed (Infant and Junior) School, where Mr (Jack) Cooper was headmaster and I was then one of the first children to attend the newly opened Infant School (in 1956). As our family lived in a recently built semi-detached house situated on Hurst Lane North (having moved from Small Heath in 1954), both the Infant and the Junior Schools were less than 5 minutes walk away. This allowed me to go home for a mid-day meal during the week and to watch "Lunchbox with Noelle Gordon" with my mother, on the new fangled, commercial television channel ATV. Happy days. Another favourite tv programme at that time, also on ATV, was "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Richard Greene. I particularly liked this because the theme song was sung by Stephen James (amongst others).
To be honest, the memories of my time at the Infant School are a bit hazy, although I do remember the awarding of stars for good work/good behaviour/good you name it. And the reward for accumulating a bucketful of stars? Well, at least in the summer, it was the privilege of opening the classroom's windows with a long handled pull. However, you had to do that before the rest of the class arrived and therefore it involved getting out of bed much earlier than usual. In two years at the Infant School, I never recognised the significant disadvantage of winning stars.
So, in September 1958, it was back to Castle Bromwich County Junior School and its rather fearsome headmaster, Mr Cooper. In those days, the caning of young children (or, at least, young boys) was an accepted part of primary school life. Although I managed to escape the ultimate punishment (though I came close a few times), a number of others were not so lucky. In spite of this shadow over the school's culture, I still remember my 4 years at the Junior School (1958-62) with a lot of affection.The teaching that my classes received was good including that given by Mr Pigeon (class 5.1, I think) and Mr (George) Evans (class 6.1, the fourth year). I should also mention a young, much loved female teacher who looked after us in either our first or second year (class 3.1 or 4.1). She died at a very young age (in 1960 or 1961 I believe). Unforgivably, I now cannot remember her name. Perhaps someone can help me out.
Probably best not to list all of my memories from those innocent years, so I will set out just a few, entirely at random:
The summer of 1959; it seemed to go on for ever, certainly from early May to late October;
The introduction of a refrigerated choc ice dispenser outside the Hurst Lane Post Office. For just sixpence (6d,
2 1/2p) you could calm your fevered brow during the heatwave of '59. And they say that technology is more advanced today;
The school's heating system breaking down on a regular basis during the winter months. News of this was always greeted with great jubilation. Of course, in those days, nearly everbody's mother was a full-time housewife and would therefore be at home when you appeared at the front door unexpectedly early;
Being taken by coach to the Woodcock Street swimming baths in Birmingham to learn to swim, to swim and (mostly) to muck around;
Going to my first live football match at St Andrews in August 1960 with my good schoolfriend, Keith Bowes (Birmingham City v Sheffield Wednesday; 1-1);
Being told by our form teacher, Mr Pigeon, at the beginning of 1961 that this new year was a very unusual one. He asked us to explain why. Obviously none of us could provide a reason. And the answer was.....? It read the same if you turned the numbers upside down;
Watching the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, receiving a hero's welcome in Moscow in April 1961 LIVE ON TV! How mad was that and how did they do it?
The process by which those who were deemed unable to sing (known as The Growlers as I recall) were removed from the various choirs prior to the annual school concert. Each class came into the assembly room, was formed into rows and then began to sing. The teacher(s) would walk up and down each row and identify those who did not meet the required standard. No doubt this led to a much purer sound on the night, as well as to many children being put off singing for life. What The Growlers actually did during the evening of the concert I have no idea;
A partial eclipse of the sun in either October 1959 or February 1961, I'm not sure which. The whole school trooped out into the playground to observe the event. I'm pretty sure that the eye protection rules were not as strict then as they would be today;
The opening of The Farthings pub on Green Lane around 1961 or 1962. On this establishment's first day, if you could produce a farthing coin (of which there were 960 in a pound), it would buy you a pint of beer. As, at the time, a pint would have normally cost about 24 farthings (6d), this was a pretty good deal. The only problem was that the farthing had been phased out as legal tender between 1956 and 1960 and, as a result, there weren't many of them still around. So, a few of us from the school had the bright idea of standing outside the pub and offering farthing coins for sale for something like thruppence (3d, about 1p). It was a very profitable evening;
The testing of the school's air raid alarm on a regular basis, presumably so that we would know in advance when Castle Bromwich (or, more likely, Birmingham) was under nuclear attack. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the severe German bombings of Birmingham and Coventry were still quite recent memories, some of the school's staff found this reminder of terrible events difficult to deal with. I can certainly remember some anguished cries on occasions;
The annual free film show for local primary schools held at the magnificent Castle cinema (which was subsequently replaced by the less magnificent Tesco store). I recall this film show resulting in absolute mayhem each year. It appeared to be virtually an adult free zone. Certainly, noone, young or old, seemed to watch the film.
Enough; apologies to all concerned if any of the above turn out to be a mere figments of my fevered imagination.
In addition to the threat of caning and of being identified as a Growler, there was one further shadow over the experience of those educated at primary school in the 1950s and 1960s; the divisive cruelty of the 11-plus examination. As I recall it, the Junior School's policy to deal with the examination was rigorous streaming on academic lines. Certainly, the fourth year, when the 11-plus was taken, was streamed into three classes, 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3. Again, my recollection is that the top streams received considerable help in answering IQ questions of the type that would feature in the forthcoming examination, whilst those in the lowest stream (6.3) were not so lucky.
Anyway, we all took the exam and some passed and others did not. This led to a final indignity that those who had failed had to suffer. They had to face their friends/classmates who had passed. A young girl in class 6.1 who had failed, a good friend of mine, was in floods of tears the day after the results came out. Even at the age of 11, I could see that branding children as failures at such an early age (or indeed at any age) was a very mean trick.
So, those who were lucky enough to pass the 11-plus examination went off to grammar school (Bishop Vesey and Coleshill Grammar, I think) and those who failed generally moved onto a secondary modern (Park Hall). There was however a third way in those days for Birmingham children whose families could not afford private school fees. That was to take the entrance examinations for King Edward's School (boys) and King Edward VI High School (girls), both situated in Edgbaston. According to my father's account, Mr Cooper was of the opinion that there was no "King Edward's" material amongst the boys in our class. In spite of this gloomy prognosis, the parents of three boys, Martin Leadbetter, Stephen (Sid) Taylor and the writer, put their names forward to take these additional exams. To the School's credit, we received a lot of further training aimed at achieving a pass and indeed we all did pass. In my case at least, it remains a complete mystery how this could have happened. I think that at least one girl in our class (Lindsay Smith) also passed the KEHS exams.
Finally, I arrived at July 1962 and the end of my time in Castle Bromwich's schools. It was rather a sad period for me, not only having to move on after nearly 7 years, but also facing the prospect of losing most of my close friends to different schools. Looking back, although I have reservations about the corporal punishment, the rigorous streaming purely on academic lines and the nature of the 11-plus, I recognise that, for some of us, this period (1956-62) represented a golden era in education for the children of families of fairly limited means. Opportunities were considerable and social mobility was a reality. Mine has turned out to be a pretty happy life, both at work and at home, and it all started at Castle Bromwich's Infant and Junior Schools. So many belated thanks to the headmaster, the teachers and all of the other staff or, more likely, to their children and grandchildren.
For some reason, I don't have any class photo, although I do have rather a sweet one of me aged 10 or 11, see below. My younger brother, Philip James, who also attended Castle Bromwich's two primary schools, as well as King Edward's in Edgbaston, is rather luckier. He has a school photo which I believe was taken when he was 8 in 1964, see below. Philip is on the back row, second from the right. I also have a (digitalised) cine film taken at a Junior School sports day in 1964. It features my brother (dropping the relay baton), his good friend David Webb (Castle Bromwich's answer to Usain Bolt during the mid-1960s) streaking away from rest of the field, as well as brief glimpses of Mr Cooper and (I think) Mr Pigeon. If you have the means to upload it, and wish to do so, please let me know.
My name is Stan Hornsby. I lived on Chester Road, Castle Bromwich just opposite where the Toby Jug pub is now and was a pupil at Bentley Road School from 1941 – 1947.[Now Castle Bromwich Junior]
I walked to school (as we all did) passed Smiths Service Station on the left and Hazlehurst Road on the right. On the corner of Hazlehurst Road stood a large house, part of which was the local doctor’s surgery – my doctor was Dr Chitnis and I understand there is still a Dr Chitnis (my doctors grandson?) practising there, although the surgery is now very much larger. Then on across a plot of waste ground and along in front of a small block of shops to the Timberly Pub. At the far side of the pub was an unmade path we called Dead Woman’s Lane off which was a footpath running at the back of houses and into the school grounds. From there a path lead through a grassed area and onto a tarmac playground. At the far side of the playground a paved path sloped down to Bentley Road entrance.
The school then comprised of four wooden classrooms, raised off the ground, heated by a tall cast iron coke burning stove which sometimes, when the wind was bad, blew fumes back into the room making you cough and stinging your eyes. We also stood our daily milk ration around the stove when it arrived frozen solid in the winter.
I remember the Head Mistress, Mrs Campbell, who rode to school on a large ‘sit up & beg’ bicycle with a basket on the handlebars. She always seemed to be very scary. Our teacher was Mrs Horseman, who I still remember with great respect and affection. She encouraged us all to read anything we could lay our hands on and had a great stock of old comics which we could borrow. My love of reading endures to this day and I’m now 80 years old. She gave us a good grounding in English and Maths and our lessons ranged wide, giving us a great general knowledge.
The attached photograph (above) shows our class – I’m not sure which year – with Mrs Horseman. I am front row, second from the right.
I moved on to Central Grammar School, Birmingham and then became a Quantity Surveyor. I now live by Chester.
I have many fond memories of life during those war years and will always be grateful to Bentley Road School for a great start in life.
Email From Karen
I was a pupil at your school. (I left 1977 to go to Park Hall)
I was also a pupil of the infants, in the old wooden class rooms.
If I remember correctly the head at the time was Mrs Cadman Smith.
I can’t recall the teacher from A4 but I remember a student teacher we had it was the first time I had seen an Asian lady. Other teachers I had were Mrs Booth and Mrs Maisie. But my favourite was Mr Keep
I use to be the school teams "skittle guard” in skittle ball. I have never played that game since!
I recall having our swimming lessons at Woodcock Baths. It was heaven when we finally went to Tudor Grange.
The coach driver was called "Tiny" because he wasn’t tiny at all!
The tree that is shown in the picture was hit by lightning; it was a very sad day at school!
I remember Dolly the lollipop lady; she always had a pocketful of sweets and a smile.
The music teacher, I can’t recall her name, had an identical twin, it was a huge shock to us kids at the time to see them together!
My house was "Kenilworth” we were always in first or second place with "Warwick”, we were so competitive, especially on sports day.
Was great to look over your website, it brought back some very happy memories.
Hello from New Zealand
I attended the school from 1951 to 1957 when we lived in Wyckham Road. . Jack Cooper was of course the headmaster very ably assisted by Mrs Clements who was always there to soothe the nerves whilst I was waiting to see Mr Cooper who introduced the cane to my left hand on more than one occasion. What great times they were with such teachers as Miss Parton, Ken Hardcastle and George Evans for our final year. The annual school concerts were always a highlight and we rehearsed for months to ensure a flawless performance on the day. Perhaps the most memorable was one dedicated to songs from the American Civil War, I can see it now in my mind’s eye.
I moved onto Bishop Veseys Grammar School in 1957 then spent three years in an insurance company in the city before emigrating to New Zealand at the age of 18. An excellent move and one I have never regretted. My parents, two sisters Val and Pam and brother Jeff emigrated to NZ 18 months later so we were reunited. Four children and seven grandchildren later I am heading for retirement but trying to delay it as long as possible. I operate an independent risk consulting business in the insurance industry which involves travel throughout NZ with a special bonus being the magnificent scenery the country is famous for. It is interesting that I made my mind up to emigrate to NZ whilst still at CBJS following a geography lesson on Australia and New Zealand, I think I was 10 years old at the time.
The photograph (above) is of the 1st 1X football team in 1957 of which I was the captain. I can recall some of the names. Gary Eccles, Brian Stonehouse, Roger Galpin and Peter Sayward (goalie) but sadly the others have been mislaid somewhere in my memory banks. Of course Ken Hardcastle and Jack Cooper figure prominently as they were always there supporting our endeavours. I enjoy reading the website so keep up the good work and if anyone is ever in New Zealand we would be happy to meet up with you.
Hurst Lane North, Birmingham, West Midlands, B36 0HD