Memories of Mandeville School – Kelvin Callow

Kelvin Callow has kindly written up his memories of living on the Cottonmill Estate and kindly agreed to share them on the website. He was born in 1946. Here are his memories of Mandeville School. He lived in Nuns Lane.

“I started at the school following my 5th birthday in 1951. My mum walked me to school on the first day. I remember that day well as at playtime I was standing near the paddling pool when an older girl ran into me. I had a bad nose bleed and spent the rest of the morning in the medical room. I remember being the first in my infant class to learn up to the 12 times tables. For this I was given a set of coloured pencils.

As I got older I remember the noise of Victor jets being tested at Handley Page. This made it difficult to hear the teacher. The motorway was being built and could be seen out of the classroom window.

When the Olympics were held in Australia our teacher organised for us to write to an Australian school but in those days the post went by ship and by the time they replied the Olympics were over and the display taken down.

I remember we did a play of Robin Hood for the parents.

There was a wall alongside the playground and we used to play a game where a few stood against the wall and the rest tried to hit them with a tennis ball. It sharpened you up as it really hurt if you were hit. I seem to remember it was eventually banned. I remember taking a diving catch at rounders and stunning myself (I still held the catch)! The field was often used in the summer for “nature walks” which would take all afternoon.

In my last year under Mr. Staten, we had a very good football team. I was centre forward and we won the Debenhams Trophy. I was also picked for the athletics team but was somewhat worried as we had to wear a white singlet. I did not know what this was but didn’t think my mum would buy me one.

If we behaved well we were allowed to go swimming at Cottonmill baths. We had to be there at 9 o’clock. The temperature of the (unheated) water was displayed outside. The changing rooms were also unheated and were like huts. I am sure some of us must have enjoyed it.

In those days we took the 11 plus and in my year three of us passed and went to the boys Grammar school. Michael Sharpe went on to Cambridge.

Sometimes as we came out of school there would be a “rag and bone” man just near the entrance. If you raced home you could swap old woollens for a goldfish. Few goldfish ever survived this ordeal.

I remember also Assemblies were held in ABSOLUTE silence. One day Miss Knight heard a boy talk and caned him on stage in front of the whole assembly. I remember only Mr Staten, Mr Mottershead and Mrs. Robinson who played the piano (very loudly) in Assembly. I went home to Nuns Lane for dinner so have little idea what these were like.”

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