Memories of Glebe School and Glebe Estate

by Robin Scagell
These memories have no great importance, but I’m putting them down for the record of how things in Ickenham have changed over quite a short space of time. You don’t have to go back 100 years to be able to find green fields where there are now houses. I’m still in my 50s and no doubt many people have longer and better memories. It would be good to hear from others about their own similar reminiscences, and maybe corrections to what I’ve recalled. In 2002 Glebe School celebrated its 50th anniversary and it was partly their request to hear from early pupils that prompted me to write all this down. Since first uploading this I have found that some dates and other details I put down were wrong – so maybe I've got other things wrong, too! I have also received some comments from other pupils, Barbara Busst (neé Barbara Mott) and Peter Lower, which you can read by clicking on their names.

My first school was Ickenham High School, now demolished, in Swakeleys Road, This was a girls’ school, but they took boys from the age of 4 and I went along to a class run by a lady called Mrs Tucker. I lived in fear of her, though I am told she was really quite a kindly soul, but things appear differently when you are that age. I left there in 1953, Coronation year, and I remember some of the Coronation decorations in our classroom, notably a metallised gold plaque with the Queen’s head on it. That was my last term there. At the end of one of the terms one of the mothers, an American lady according to my mother, provided a tray of marshmallow men for the class. The body was made of marshmallows held together with cocktail sticks and the face and buttons were added in chocolate piping.

I have heard from Derek Cornish, who was also a pupil at Ickenham High School, and you can read his memories here.

Until 1951 we lived in Hillingdon, at 105 Lynhurst Crescent. Then in the summer of 1951 we moved to No 1 Milverton Drive. I stayed on at the High School for another year, I think, but from the summer of 1953 I was at Glebe School. The first time I visited Glebe was at the time of the Coronation. I don’t remember there being such things as street parties in our area, but there was some sort of event at the school and I remember being in the hall where there was an auction taking place run by a teacher named, I believe, Mr Oldfield. Another thing I recall was a sing-song that included one of the hit songs of the time ‘Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen’ – but people sang an alternative line, ‘Wonderful, Wonderful Gilbert Harding’, after the broadcasting personality Gilbert Harding.

The School

All that was before I joined the school when the autumn term began. I was six, and was in what was then called Class Five. The youngest children were in Class Seven, and the oldest in Class One. Mrs Nicholls was our class teacher. There were sheets of paper with the alphabet on the wall – A is for Apple and so on, with pictures of the objects. Then I moved on to Class Four with Miss Maynard, a nice young woman who played the piano for us to sing to.

Early artwork by me. Though the school began in 1952, the opening can't have been until 1953 otherwise I wouldn’t have been there.

Another teacher was Mrs Taylor, who usually played the piano for assembly. Class Three had a male teacher, Mr Burton, whom everyone called Sir. I think he took us in Class Two as well. There was also a teacher called Mr Jasper.

For Class One, a new teacher joined the school, Mr Cheslyn. He had the task of getting as many children as possible through the 11-Plus, the exam which would determine our future education. If you passed the 11-Plus you went to grammar school and had an academic education; if you failed, you went to a secondary modern and had more vocational training. Mr Cheslyn was faced with a class of about 50 children, the peak of the Baby Boom following the war. Educational budgets were low, and in order to economise on exercise books we had to fold each page vertically down the middle and write in two columns. I think this method was used particularly for such things as arithmetic, where there would otherwise be a lot of wasted space on each line.

Taking a pragmatic approach, Mr Cheslyn divided the class into two groups – those he expected to pass the exam, and those he didn’t. At least, that’s how I remember it. No doubt this would be regarded with horror now, but in the circumstances it might have been the best way to do it. I believe he achieved the best 11-Plus results ever from Glebe School despite the huge class size. Nowadays, I believe, each year is split into two groups of about 20-25 children.

I sat next to David Hermelin, and behind me sat David Cook and David Middleton, I believe. I think Davina Morris and another girl sat behind them. In front of me were perhaps Bobby Newman and someone else, maybe Arthur Norman, and in front of them I think were Peter Fenwick and I can’t remember who else.

Peter Fenwick was the only pupil who was always brought to school by car. There was a special reason for this – he had been affected by polio when younger, and had weak legs with a gangling walk. Each day he would be collected in a shiny black car with a lady chauffeur, wearing a smart black uniform and a peaked cap, presumably paid for by the council.

At the end of my time at Glebe I got some of the children in my class to sign a little booklet, which is shown here. I can’t even remember some of the people who signed! A couple of them weren’t in the class – Judith Blundell, my cousin, lived in Lancashire and Roger Searle was a couple of years below but lived at 11 Milverton Drive.

Click on the pages to see them larger. The signatures are of Judith Smith, Sheila Lambert, Shirley Perks, George Burchell, Barry Scott, Carol Marquiss (twice), Dinah Rogers, David Bennet, Neil Rackham, Alann Speck, David Hermelin, Arthur Norman, David Middleton, Brian Dowson, Brian Petley, Sally Moxon, Ian Hearn, Judith Blundell, Maureen Kempton, Peter Fenwick, Davina Morris, Meredith McCree, Roger Searle, Alan Pitt and David Cook. Sorry if I read some of the names wrong!

Other names I remember from my year were Janet Atkin, Clive King, Ronnie Mawby, Pamela Macalister, Janice Warren....

I’ve had an e-mail from Michael Head who was in my year. He comments:

I too remember Mr Cheslyn. I sat next to guy called Barry Knight in his class. Of the people who gave you a signature you might be interested to know that Barry Scott has lived in Australia for many years as has Brian Dowson.  Brian Petley lives in New York.  I remember all the others but have no idea where they are now.

School life
My memories of everyday life at Glebe in the early days are few and far between! The first event of the day was Assembly, where we used to sing a hymn or two (usually something like Morning has Broken or All Things Bright and Beautiful) and have prayers. The whole school gathered in the Hall for Assembly, sitting cross-legged in rows with the smallest children at the front.

I recall 'The Apparatus' at the back of the Hall which people used to climb on during PE – six (?) large leather-covered stools with three or four bars onto which you could hook wooden planks that you could then walk along or jump over or whatever, and there were the wall bars. Netting hung between a couple of columns for kids to climb on.

We had country dancing in the Hall as well. There was a blue Dansette record player, on which the teacher would put 78 rpm records for us. Then there was a radio on which we used to listen to the schools’ broadcasts (at 11 am I seem to remember), sitting cross-legged on the floor.

To begin with the field behind the school was just a meadow, too rough to be used for anything, but eventually I think machines came to flatten it and put down grass seed. They just left the bit at the far corner as a wild area for nature study. We did go on occasional nature study walks along Austin’s Lane in the summer.

Because the field was unusable for sports, such events as football and so on had to take place elsewhere. We used to have to march in a crocodile over to the playing fields at the back of the Breakspear Estate to play football. I think what is now the cricket field was then a football pitch.

Pupils at Glebe School sometime in the early 50s. My mother says that this was a May Day celebration. I am directly below the fire extinguisher at the far left, and I think below me is David Hermelin and below him Douglas Bartlett (sorry if I've got you wrong, chaps!). The girl in the white dress at right of centre is Janet Atkin. I can only judge the date from my age, about 7, so this would have been about 1954. There are about 110 pupils here, and none seem much older than me so I assume this was not the whole school as I thought that there were classes above mine in age all the time I was there. The folding doors behind us hid the dinner area and could be opened if necessary.
Click to get a larger version and find yourself! 
Photo courtesy Uxbridge Gazette (formerly Middlesex County Press)

Pictures taken at the 50th anniversary day

Click here to see a page of photos taken on 29 June 2002, when hundreds of former pupils from all years met up to see an exhibition of the school's past and have a chat.

The estate

The photographs we have of Milverton Drive of the 1950s and 60s show it almost empty of cars. Those that there were would have been put in the garage when not in use. Today, everyone’s garage is full of other things, but in those days the house was big enough for all the things people owned.

My sister Andrea on her way along Milverton Drive to Glebe. The date must have been about 1961 judging by her age. No cars at all in the road, unlike today when every household has two or three cars and parking is a misery. At this stage the road surface was still the original prewar concrete slabs but it is now tarmac.

During the early 1950s the milk was delivered by a horse-drawn milk float from United Dairies. Virtually every house would have had milk delivered in those days. Mr Shelvey, father of Roy who was in my class, was a grocer with a van packed with goods which he drove around the streets as a convenient way to shop. In those days there were no shops in Glebe Avenue apart from those at the Long Lane end. The bit of land where the three shops and Clovelly Avenue now stand was a field, separated from the road by a tall hedge or a line of trees, and I think there were always a few gypsies there so we never went in there. But there was a shop, on the wide verge on the left as you go towards the station. It was a small green-painted shed that was a newsagent, tobacconist, sweetshop and general store, run by Mr Hamer, who came from Blackpool.

He packed an amazing amount of stock into that shed. You could get a wide range of goods, from tins of peas to shoe polish. In the mid 50s, Clovelly and the other houses on that side were built, along with the parade of shops. Mr Hamer took the left-hand one, and it was increasingly run by his son Bob. I think the middle shop became a grocers, so he stopped stocking quite such a wide range of grocieries and concentrated on the more usual newsagent things, bottles of Corona fizzy drinks, and also toys. I got the bits and pieces for my Tri-ang railway set from Hamer’s.

On the right before you got to the bridge still stands a detached house. In the 50s this had a large orchard of fruit trees, among which were scattered caravans. Accommodation was still scarce at this time, and these caravans were I suppose the Ickenham equivalent of pre-fabs. I remember a girl called Anne Watts who lived in one of them for a while. Eventually the land was sold off and Crosier Road was built there.

As you went up the bridge, on the right was a large house used as offices,  I think built about the same time as the rest of the estate, owned by a company called Francis Jackson, who still exist in Northamptonshire and actually have to give their approval for any development work done on the Glebe Estate – not a lot of people know that. I think they were the builders of many of the estates in the area. Eventually the house was pulled down and Lawrence Drive was extended.

Many of the houses in this area were not built until the late 50s or early 60s. The parade of shops at the Long Lane end of Glebe Avenue was shorter, and there was waste ground opposite. The first shop on the left after the bridge was a newsagent (which it remained until quite recently) which we always referred to as The Cloisters, though the sign above it just said ‘Players Please’. The houses of Edinburgh Drive went up some time around 1960. You can see something of the building work on the colour photographs my Dad took at the time.

Robin Scagell
Last revised 12 April 2009

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