Peter Collett was born at Walthamstow in August 1921 and moved to Wickhamford as an infant, living at 7 Pitchers Hill. He attended Badsey Council School from 1926 to 1932 and then proceeded to Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Evesham, after gaining a scholarship. He trained as a teacher and taught at a school in Kingswinford. He died in early 2004. His essay, "Memories of Badsey Council School", has been lent by his former classmate, Mrs Janice Gresty (née Allard).
Boys and girls all walked to school from Badsey village itself, including Wickhamford, Aldington, Bretforton and Bowers Hill. It must have been a trial for five-year-olds when Bulley Brook flooded or there was thick snow. The best the Wickhamford children could hope was that some kind market gardener would come with horse and dray to take us home.
The journey to school was never very fast and from Wickhamford where I lived we usually started at 8 am to be in school for 8.50 am. Many of us would leave milk cans at Mason’s farm on the way, which we were to pick up on our route home after school. Not infrequently we would see the Headmaster, Mr Amos, as we approached the school and we were expected to salute and wish him, "Good morning, Sir".
Morning school started with a prayer in each classroom because there was no school hall. This was followed by the whole class chanting multiplication tables followed by the Kings and Queens of England from 1066 to 1910. Lessons then commenced, English and Arithmetic being of primary importance and other subjects including History, Geography, Drawing and Painting, Singing and Drill. As there was only one piano in the school, most classes had to make do with the teacher using a tuning fork to attain the right pitch for the scales which we always sang prior to learning an actual song. Drill was always done in the playground when the weather was reasonably fine. No apparatus was available so it was a question of walking, running and various exercises. As many of the boys wore hob-nailed boots, it was sometimes a very noisy drill period. These hob-nailed boots were wonderful in the winter when there was an ice slide right across the playground.
We had a break mid-morning when various games were played – boys and girls used separate playgrounds. These boys’ games included Football, Bedlam, Jack and the Mop Stick – all of which could be a somewhat bruising experience. The end of the break saw us lined up in silence ready to march back into our classrooms where all our lessons took place.
Midday break commenced at 12 noon until 1.30 pm when the boys and girls who lived in Badsey went home for dinner while the rest of us had sandwiches in one classroom which had to be swept by us when we had finished eating. There were some very poor children – two brothers in particular were given one old penny to buy a batch cake from Cull’s bakery which they broke in two and ate without butter or margarine. We would sometimes exchange this delicious hot bread for our sandwiches, but on no account did we ever tell our mothers what had happened.
Having eaten our sandwiches, etc, there was time to fill in and often we would adjourn to the Recreation ground to play football or, in the summer, practise for school sports which took place on the day Badsey Flower Show was planned. Another favourite place was down by the brook near the old Silk Mill Cottages where we could paddle in spite of being warned by parents not to do this. On hot summer days we would sometimes strip off and bathe in the brook towards Wickhamford and then have to lie our way out of a difficult situation as to why we were so clean!! All these activities were carried out with my school boyfriends.
Carrying on during our trip home to Wickhamford, we picked up our milk cans from Mason’s farm. A not uncommon game was to swing the can round and round, hoping that we did not spill any milk. Of course someone usually had a disaster and stopped the can in such a way that all the milk spilled out! Therefore it was necessary to return to Mrs Mason and beg for some more milk.
Returning to sports day triggers memories of the 100 yards dash, three-legged races and slow cycling races. Mr Amos organised all this and was present at the finishing line to reward the first three places: 1st 1/6, 2nd 1/-, 3rd 6d. All the winnings were usually spent on the fair which always accompanied the Badsey Flower Show.