During the war
years everyone was air-raid conscious, and that included the school. There was
a deep ditch running from the School House to Hall Farm barn and this was the
school air-raid shelter. The children cut pieces of cardboard, covered them
with the inevitable wallpaper, and sat on them in the ditch. Most were hoping
to a bit of excitement. There was some - one afternoon a German aircraft
running the defences of Norwich flew low over the school and one of the crew
was seen to wave. The teachers were Mrs. Rowbottom, Head Teacher, who lived in
the School House; Mrs. Nicholls, Infant teacher, and Miss Larner taught the
middle class. She was a dead shot with a book. (Tony Kent)
course of the war I became five years old and started school at Mulbarton.I can
remember walking down Long Lane from the Woodlands (about a mile) to school and
back each day and sometimes going home to dinner as well. It seemed a long way
to a small child compared with other children who lived in the village itself,
but there were several of us who walked together ‑ the Baker family, who I
believe were evacuees from London, and Gerald Collins and later Myrtle Bullen -
as we all lived close together on the lane. It was a pleasant walk as there was
virtually no traffic. The bread delivery van was one of the most likely
motorised vehicles to come along and sometimes an army lorry but we were quite
- nee Collins)
A key memory is the loos. "There was a trap door at the back where the buckets were taken out by the scavenger (cleaner) and the contents were buried in the School House garden.....One day some lads opened the trap door and put stinging nettles inside....!"
(From tape of conversations at School Reunion recorded by Bill Alborough)
The '40s was also the decade when Mulbarton became a County Primary School in January 1947, as a direct result of the 1944 Education Act. More about that under SCHOOL.
There were 70 children on roll in January 1950, dropping to 46 in 1955 when all the Seniors finally moved. Mrs Rhodes left at the end of 1950 and Mr Hornsby came as the new Head Teacher in January 1951. The first thing he seems to have changed are the loos - during the summer holidays 'new type of lavatories installed' that flushed with water, and a wash basin was put in the porch. The number of pupils awarded Scholarship places rises, and the Log Book records the visit of Princess Elizabeth to Norwich (1951 - poor attendance at the school!); death of King George VI; the 1953 floods and Coronation; and an eclipse of the sun in 1954. Most entries are about deliveries of coke, faggots, endless problems with heating and overcrowding.
4 June 1953: Word received by managers from NEC that owing to overcrowding it is proposed to reorganise the school as Junior-mixed-Infants and transfer Seniors to Wymondham Seondary Modern School in due course.' This happened in September 1954 - 10 years after the 1944 Act!
The Inspector's Report in 1956 speaks of improvements to the school, but 'even so, the conditions remain very poor nor could this building be made suitable for its present purpose'. The Report is scathing about the Infants class: 'The mistress in charge of the Infants appears unable to train children in the early stages of reading, writing and numbers.... There is a curious state of anxiety, especially about the beginnings of reading, shared alike by the children and their teacher and the Headmaster.' No wonder so few succeeded in Scholarship exams!
Both the Infant teacher and the Head left very soon afterwards - Mr Hornsby to a teaching post in Canada. Mrs Batchelor moved from Hethersett Primary and the school took part in more activites. And - JOY! - mains water was connected in May 1957!