Recollections of Ickenham High School by Derek Cornish

These recollections add to and refer to those written by Robin Scagell]

I was older than your group, being about five-and-a-half years old around VE Day. We must have moved to Ickenham from Walton-on-Thames earlier that year, or the previous one. The bombing had become rather intense around Walton because of the nearby aircraft factories: a V1 fell at the end of our road there, demolishing a house and killing some people.

We lived in Malvern Close, Bushey Road – not far from Breakspear School. I was at Ickenham High School in 1945, and may have started there in Autumn 1944. Then I transferred to Breakspear – just up the road from me – and subsequently commuted to Alpha Preparatory School in Harrow (all by myself on the Metropolitan Line from Ickenham for a year or so, before we moved to Rayner’s Lane).

It’s an extraordinary thing, but for many, many years I had forgotten all about having attended IHS. It was only when watching Cary Grant and Mirna Loy in “The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer” on TV today, that reference to a “sack race” (see later) triggered the memory. I can’t tell you how weird that was... I seem to recall that the school was housed in a substantial old house.

My memories of the school are mostly about having to practice copperplate handwriting, and being forced to write with my right hand by Mrs Tucker (I am left-handed). I also seem to remember being hit on the palm of my hand with a ruler – but maybe that was later (I got into trouble a lot through most of my schooldays).

But it is the sack race memory that brought it all back. At the end of the Summer term – I think – there was a Sports Day, and the little children took part in a number of novelty races. I remember practising a lot for the sack race, and for the three-legged race. I seem to recall being paired with a little girl and winning that one – or was it just a heat? There was also an egg-and-spoon race, and an obstacle race, I think. Did we have to crawl under grey blankets or something as part of it?

In your earlier account (the 2001 one), you mentioned the Pelican Café. My mother used to take me shopping along that rank of shops. We would trade in our BUs (Bread Units) for bread at the Pelican, and often visited Aldridges, the ironmongers. We frequently ate a wartime lunch – of a sort – at the British Restaurant, which was on the right some way before the Pelican. After the war we used to go to the Pelican for tea, and my mother often bought cakes from there. I went back with my wife not so very long ago (in the mid-nineties, maybe) before it closed. I don't know when it first opened, but it certainly had a long run – 50 years or more.

Derek B Cornish, 2005