Wartime Memories

Photo:Moulsecoomb Senior Boys' School this end, girls' the other.  The allotments were across the lane at this end of the school.   Also at the foot of that lane was a temporary mortuary, situated up the lane above the allotments.

Moulsecoomb Senior Boys' School this end, girls' the other. The allotments were across the lane at this end of the school. Also at the foot of that lane was a temporary mortuary, situated up the lane above the allotments.

Photo by Ron Spicer.

Moulsecoomb School allotments

By Ron Spicer

During the war, Churchill's call to dig for victory was answered at Moulsecoomb School. The teachers at the senior school took turns in escorting their pupils to the allotments across the way by the old mortuary building.

Class allotments
So far as I'm aware, each class had its own special allotment to cultivate and, without at first realising it, the teachers soon became aware of the fact that their poor pupils out of necessity were used to cultivating crops so they more or less ceased to advise on what to do! I can't imagine such areas totally open to anyone, as they were, remaining without vandalism nowadays.

Proud of their achievements
All the kids were so proud of their achievements, possibly because they knew they were engaged in an activity in which the teachers' knowledge was inferior! I wonder who else can remember those times, and the way the watering had to be done in the dry weather?

This page was added on 05/11/2008.
Comments about this page

Great to read about that time. I'm a teacher at the school and you'll be pleased to know that in the last eight years we have not had any cases of vandalism at the school and that includes our outside buildings which some people thought would get wrecked. You can view the grounds and school on our website:
http://www.moulsecoomb.brighton-hove.sch.uk/

By Andrew Bradstreet (12/11/2008)

I've been away for a considerable time, Andrew. Nice to 'hear' from you. My understanding is that the school building in the photograph is now all three schools together (declining child population ... ?), a far cry from the 1930s and a sign of the times!  To assist in their Brighton knowledge, do you quote this and the school website to the pupils?

By Ron Spicer (14/12/2008)

I did presume that some of the old school members would still be around and contribute to the info flow so didn't travel too far with my input.
Mr. Croucher, the headmaster in those times, was a rather aloof, pipe-smoking character who would always light his pipe before advising or upbraiding. His appearances were seldom and he was regarded as a snob. One of my favourite memories of one of his visits to our class was on the subject of swearing when he advised that the use of the word 'bloody' was blasphemous and really meant 'by our lady' - referring to Mary! There were hidden grins around the room! (Comment on other staff members I've made in part of the other contributions.)
During the war the schooling periods were split with the local children attending mainly in the mornings and the refugees in the afternoons for an overall period of time; then the system would change round.  The air raid shelters were separately situated at the rear of the school. That didn't stop them from becoming meeting points for the girls and boys in out of school hours. The fallacy of separating the girls from the boys well proved itself with a greater interest being shown by both sides at most opportune moments!  One particular memory of the girls was their music lessons when they sang in harmony. For those who can remember the Luton Girls Choir, the Moulsecoomb Senior Girls School Choir seemed the equivalent.  Another recall is the total difference between school attendance, with blue knickers at PT, as it was then known, and the out of school periods when the lipstick would appear together with whatever sexy clothing could be managed - difficult in the times, but managed. I fell in love with one of them, Joan Bell. Are you there Joan? Remember those gingerly gentle and polite times? Such puppy love is remembered now with a smile.

By Ron Spicer (10/02/2009)

There were two Mr. Webb characters. One was sweet in comparison with the other who was known as Gangster Webb due, not only to his appearance with a raked trilby hat, but his quick show of temper combined with florid complexion when roused. He was the science master. When he showed us how he would obtain hot water fairly quickly by heating a coiled copper tube over a gas flame whilst passing water through it, I suffered his ire on saying that my dad had done that a number of times in the past. Mind you, I'm not so sure about his punishment methods. Can't remember him ever giving anyone the strap so maybe his nickname was more down to his bluster and noise than anything else. The Deputy Head was a Mr. Barnes. Quiet, calm, with a commending presence that obtained instant respect and liking. He moved from the school about 1938 to become the headmaster of another one. The pupils gladly contributed to his leaving present; a well done picture by a good artist. Mr. Cox was the P.T. teacher as well teaching maths and english, although I understand from a later entry elsewhere in the forum, he was relegated to the 'B' stream teaching. I wonder what really happened there. Another teacher, Mr. Williams, took on the responsibility of teaching a team of the lads at football and was very successful at it. Surely quite a number can remember the goal scoring Moulsecoomb Rovers? He started it and progressed with it for quite a time, eventually leaving the school to join the Royal Navy. I remember him coming to the school at a later time wearing a lieutenant's uniform (two rings) and came across as a most cheerful type with a ready joke, yet when teaching at the school, his buttoned lip and threatening style with more than the occasional use of the strap could be recalled by many. The navy must have done a good job. I've already partly described the headmaster, Mr. Croucher. Just a bit more. I was called to his office when it was time for me to leave school and he adopted his usual stance of pipe lighting and reclining back in his chair before speaking. "I don't know what we are going to do with you" he said. Well, I didn't care. "For what, Sir," I said. "I've got a job to go to and will start work as soon as possible after leaving." I gloried in his reaction. He was so obviously surprised. Was he also somewhat resentful? Lastly, the caretaker of the time, Mr. Head, who lived in the house within the school grounds. A good and honest type with a repartee that pleased the boys. Ever helpful and totally supportive. On one occasion, the lads found a used condom just inside the railing of the school playground and were standing in a group by it, joking and laughing when along came Mr. Head. Good as gold. He said, "Alright, does anyone not know what that is? Laughter ensued with nobody pleading ignorance and it was duly removed from sight. He would have probably made a better teacher than some!

By Ron Spicer (24/11/2009)

Regarding this school - does anyone remember my dad Robert 'Bob' Edwards and his brothers Jack and Frank Edwards who lived up The Avenue around and after WW2? It would be very interesting to meet someone who remembered them. Only Frank Edwards survives them.

By Paul Edwards (13/05/2010)

Hi Paul Edwards. I'm actually looking for information about a Frank Edwards. I'm curious to know whether it is the same Frank Edwards as your Uncle? All I have is his name, and that he was from the Brighton and Hove area. It would be very interesting for both of us to talk, if it is the same Frank Edwards. Hope to hear from you.

By Neil Novis (15/08/2010)

Neil Novis: Sorry to take so long to respond I only just saw your post. Frank was my dad's (Robert) 'Bob' Edwards younger brother and he is still alive and lives up in Warwick, just now but is considering moving back down south. I believe they all went to Moulsecomb school. And they and my nan lived up The Avenue in Moulsecomb. Frank and his brother Jack (deceased) were both very involved in the Brighton areas Cubs and Scouts and 'Young Frank' has been a very keen mountaineer until as recently as last year. He used to climb with Chris Bonninton etc. I spoke to him over Christmas and he told me he had a heart attack at the beginning of 2010 I believe he is in his 70's now and retired. He used to work for Johnsons in Brighton back in the 60's. He still regularly visits the Brighton area. Paul Edwards. itsmepaul57@gmail.com

By Paul Edwards (16/01/2011)

I lived in Ringmer Road during the war and went to all three of the schools.The last head master of my time was Mr Alphick. All our teachers then had been brought out of retirement to cover for those who had gone into the services. Mr Virgo was woodwork. Mr Hitchens took science. Mr Hugget was P.E. There was also Mr Lawrence (Sammy) who was a real gentleman, and whose lessons have stayed with me. The last years at school were marred by the tragic deaths of two of our classmates. Brian Chapman and Jimmy Drury, they were both killed by a mortar bomb at the back of Bevendean.These two lads went everywhere together and it was so ironic that they died together.

By donald smith (24/01/2012)

My Father (Gordon) was one of the pupils involved in this - he was taught by Mr Bolton when at the school.

By Peter Webb (20/01/2013)

This page is a fascinating read! My Mum and Dad (Eileen (b.1931) and Dennis (b.1929)) both went to Moulsecoomb Seniors during the Second World War and my Dad has told me some stories about the legendary Mr Croucher. One interesting story is that my Mum's cookery teacher was Miss Neat who was still at the school in the 1960's and taught my Sister. My Mum and Dad both lived in Moulsecoomb Way and were married at St Andrews Church in 1950. When I went to the Junior school in the 60's we used to play around the entrance to the old 'air raid shelters' and I have often wondered if there is still anything of interest behind the bricked up doors or how far they went into the bank at the back of the playground.

By Paul Clarkson (22/01/2013)

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