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Maltonians' Memories

Doreen Smith (nee Wilkinson)

Evacuee MGS 1941 - 45
Malton Grammar School: My time there as a wartime evacuee during World War 2

Having previously passed my then 11+ examinations in 1940 whilst evacuated to Thorne, to go to the Hull Newland High School for Girls, I was subsequently transferred rather late to the Malton Grammar School. In fact, it was May 1941 when I finally arrived at Malton.

As I was lodging in Norton, initially I had to walk all the way through Norton & Malton to the school on the outskirts of Malton up the steep Newbiggin there and back, but later I was lucky enough to acquire an old cycle (such things were difficult to come by during the War years with all metals being required for munitions etc) which made the journeys much quicker and easier especially when carrying a heavy satchel of school books etc. - better still I could leave home later! Coming from Norton through the centre of Malton and up the Newbiggin hill we entered the path through the back of the school where the bike stands were. Being a Newland High School pupil our school uniform was different from that of that worn by the Grammar school pupils - our colours being orange, yellow & navy blue, i.e. in the winter wore navy tunics, white shirts & ties of navy with orange & yellow stripes and had to wear an awful navy 'pork-pie' hat with the school badge - thankfully this changed to an orange beret with the school badge - still awful but better than the 'pork-pie' which we always shoved to the back of our heads! The summer uniform consisted of blue & white dress but again with an awful panama hat with a band of the school colours. Thankfully the latter could not be obtained after the school outfitters in Hull was bombed. We hated wearing hats anyway & I remember once flying down the hill on my bike from the back of the school into Malton minus hat - oh, the freedom but next day - summoned to the staffroom for a 'dressing down' & an imposition from Miss Lamen, a senior teacher, who had unfortunately witnessed this terrible faux pas! Write out 20 times "I must always wear my uniform hat when going to and from school".

At assembly, usually led by the headmaster, Mr Thomas Arthur Williams, each morning after prayers the Malton Grammar pupils sang their school song/hymns but we evacuees sang our 'Newland anthem' - guided by two evacuee teachers from Newland, the song being - "Have you heard the golden city, mentioned in the legends old, everlasting light shines o-er it, Wonderful things of it are told, Only righteous men and women dwell within its gleaming walls, wrong is banished from its borders, justice reigns o-er all, justice reigns supreme o-er all".

The only teaching staff I can remember are Mr Williams, Headmaster, Mrs Williams who taught French, Mr Barty, senior master; Miss Lamen teaching Latin, Mr Bruce Rolls for English, Mr Mudge for Maths., Miss Fraser for P.E. and Mr Hicklin who gamely tried to teach us science subjects! I'm afraid in the laboratory we got up to awful tricks, i.e. putting the tubes of the Bunsen burners onto the taps and retaliating at the boys who were also squirting water. One instance poor Mr Hicklin was leaning on the blackboard pointer at the front of the benches complaining about the amount of breakages of the glass tubes etc. & that we never admitted responsibility but would always say "It broke Sir". With that the wooden stick he was leaning on snapped and as one, we horrible lot shouted "It broke Sir" - in retrospect what patience that dear man had! We had to go to Mr Barty during break time for all our stationery, pens, exercise books etc and take our pencil stubs, full exercise books etc. as proof of our need. I imagine the Newland requirements would be charged to the Hull Education Committee.

Mid-morning we had 'milk breaks' when we each had a small bottle of milk with a straw - nice in the winter when the bottles were cold, sometimes with icy cardboard tops but not so popular in the summer when the milk tended to be warm after the 'crates had been delivered earlier in the morning. The 'tuck shop' was a little corner shop further down the road at the front of the school where we would make a beeline for with our sweet coupons when word got around that the shop had sweets or chocolate to sell. Otherwise, sacks of cleaned local carrots were delivered to the school and we could buy them for either ½p or lp each to munch at break - much healthier of course but being kids naturally we snapped up the preferred sweets when available. As I remember it school dinners were held in the school gymnasium and of course, pupils could take their own packed lunches - a lot of pupils came on the bus from outlying districts and villages.

My time at MGS was happy and I made many friends, some of whom made entries in my autograph album which I still have to this day, although in a bit of a dilapidated state. However, three of us were 'best pals' and got up to our tricks - Audrey Perrin who lived with her parents at their pub in Old Malton Road called the "White Swan" (or was it the Black Swan? - sadly she died at only age 18)); Marjorie Usher (a Newland girl) and myself. I remember once after I had gone home for lunch I cycled back only to be met by a junior little girl who took my bike to the stand whilst another one hurried me to the "domsci' room (Domestic Science) and thence into the small walk-in linen cupboard. Looking up was a leg hanging from the loft door into the ceiling rafters - the leg belonging to friend 'Mush'! The pupils staying over the lunch break and getting bored discovered that if they climbed up the aforesaid cupboard they could crawl along until over the teacher's staff room and listen in to conversations! Unfortunately for Marjorie she had trodden too near the opening and aforesaid foot went through. She was 'rescued' down some steps but then had to go to TAW (Mr Williams) to confess and apologise. Her father was on leave from the RAF and went to see the Head to discuss payment for the damage but I cannot remember what transpired. Needless to say the room was then out of bounds until class-time!

Another escapade - during art lessons we were sometimes allowed out to sketch in the nearby woods, but during the winter we three would go down into the boiler room where the dear old caretaker chap would give us apples and let us get warm by the stove - we would then quickly sketch a few trees with undergrowth etc. and go to the woods with our sketch boards and join the others returning to school. Fortunately these escapades were never noticed and sadly the art lessons progressed to 'still form' when we sketched someone who was posing - sometimes the emphasis being on a hand or a foot with shoes as well as the frill figure. Other art classes were painting and poster work etc. - bearing in mind the wartime scarcity of materials we were fortunate to enjoy these classes and used our own paint-boxes procured from Mr Barty.

Some other Newland pupils I remember of my era were the three Gale sisters, Eileen, Brenda and Pam, Molly and Sheila Coverdale (now Lownsborough), Mary Kirk (now Ledraw).

The school had nice tennis courts and, of course, a large playing field where the boys played football and the girls netball and hockey - I was in the school team playing left inner with Nancy Lusby on the left wing. We entertained other schools to play matches and also played away games usually on a Saturday when we were met at Malton Railway station by Miss Fraser, games mistress and, of course, we had to wear school uniform! I always loved going to play various school teams in York and particularly enjoyed visiting the renowned Castle Museum, especially seeing the old cobbled street there with its stuffed horse and carriage, fire engine, candle factory etc. - very fascinating to a young person! When I have visited there in subsequent years with my family it always brings back happy memories of my days at MGS.

Whilst at Malton I sat and passed the examinations for the then Northern School Certificate but as I wanted to return home my scholarship was transferred to the College of Commerce in Hull to resume studies and examinations there.

However, I look back on the war years of my youth whilst a pupil at Malton Grammar School with happy nostalgia and look forward each year, with Eileen Gale and Sheila Lownsborough and Mary Ledraw, to the yearly Old Maltonian Reunions kindly set up by ex-pupil, Colin Gaden - so nice to reminisce and swap memories of those byegone days during World War 2 and meet up with some with whom I have kept in touch over the years such as Elsie Grice (now Clarkson), Mary Thompson (now Towse) and Mary Kirk (now Ledrow).