NOSTALGIA: Fun times at two-room school

The Westmorland Gazette: Dorothy C. Maguire Dorothy C. Maguire

Dorothy C Maguire, aged 83, of Arnside, recalls time as head teacher at Underbarrow School from the 1950s to 80s

I HAVE many happy memories of running Underbarrow School near Kendal, in the old County of Westmorland for 27 years.

When I took over the school in April 1958, aged only 27 years old, I must have been one of the youngest headteachers in Westmorland.

Underbarrow School had been founded in 1859, so was celebrating its centenary the following year.

The school consisted of two rooms: the small one for dinners, with long tables, and the larger for the classroom.

The small room was heated by a coal fire, and the larger by a coke stove and coal fire.

There were fire-guards round then, but they were not very safe by today’s standards. We did have electric lighting.

The washroom was a ‘lean-to’ shed on the side of the classroom, with one cold water tap and two enamel bowls.

The two toilets were ‘down the yard’ – no water, and they were emptied weekly. The smell was terrible in summer, but we all accepted the conditions.

There were only 16 children in the school and I had to teach them all, from the four-year-olds to 11-year-olds, who had to be prepared for the ‘scholarship’ to the grammar schools.

The only help I had was at lunch time when the ‘dinner lady’, Taggy, came in for two hours to serve the meals delivered in containers.

She heated the ‘washing-up’ water in a wash boiler.

I’d help her to serve and clear away. There was no time to myself.

We were a happy school and everyone was so helpful to each other.

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