South Norwood - Memories

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Some interesting recollections of life at CSTS South Norwood.


Information supplied by Keith Varnals:

"South Norwood was like a village on the outskirts of London. When we were there, we only had one problem: Stanley Technical School. We were often in fights. They would jeer at us and shout ‘brick bashers’ and we retorted with ‘tin bashers’. It boiled over to the odd fight on occasions.
The recreation ground was our sports-field-come-playground and was really a very pleasant place right next to the main railway line. Our cross-country runs (which Mr Chapman made the whole school take part in on the same day) were most enjoyable and gave the games master Mr Clee an insight as to our fitness. The whole staff were placed at strategic points around the three miles to stamp our hands and arms to ensure we travelled the full distance. The results were put up on the notice board and it gave your time and overall position in the school.
Butlers shop in Station Approach was a place where one could get a penny drink from a machine that looked like a gas works. Many of us went to the park tuck shop and were treated very well by the two ladies who ran it. The shop keepers and residents were very proud of both schools because we behaved ourselves in the town (or "Charlie" as he was nicknamed would hit you with his cane - he carried it hung in the sleeve of his gown). I remember poor old Roy Hudd getting several wacks for fooling around in the corridor. I got a few myself for laughing at him".

"Our form master Mr Smith was a Geography Graduate from Newcastle. He had red hair and a temper to match.
We then had Killer Copley as our form master. He was called killer because he was an emergency trained teacher who was a Royal Marine Commando in the services. When he required your attention he threw the wooden black board rubber at your head. He left the school and went to teach at Kingston Poly".

"I was in the 6th form, the first 6th form the school had, and I sat next to Roy Hudd - who was a comedian then. He later went to work in an architects office; later to become a Butlins Redcoat at Clacton on Sea.
Our school ties were tied onto a wire frame with elastic around our necks. Ties cost money and clothing coupons in those days. They were made of a crap fabric that shredded after a few quick tieing & un-tieings for games and P.E. The frame and elastic called a tie saver was the answer. The staff were sticklers for ties. We had to wear them at all times in and out of school regardless of temperature. The wire frame made them cooler because thin elastic around our neck was less than a tie. Roy Hudd used to tie the end of his tie to a piece of string and tie the string around his leg so the tie went up and down as he walked. This was extremely funny at the time, but got him a crack from the cane - as well as those who laughed or made a noise in the corridor".

"I remember our last days at school. We took Tom Gibson, our form master (6th form) to see 'Seagulls over Sorrento' at the Apollo Theatre in London with a meal afterwards. Tom was the Communist Candidate for Peckham at the General Election in 1952. He lost his deposit. After the Election we were all very quiet with none of the usual banter. After a couple of days, Tom could stand it no longer; he said, 'I lost my deposit, so what, its not the end of the world'. Life returned to normal after that.
I left the school in South Norwood in 1952 when the headmaster Mr Chapman announced the start of construction on the new school in Pampisford Road. That was my last day at school".

"I played in a Skiffle Group and won a holiday to Butlins at Clacton, where I ran into my old school mate Roy Hudd who was strutting the boards in the evening".


Do you have any memories, anecdotes or stories to add about life at CSTS South Norwood?
If so, they could be added here. Please contact Tim Ecott here.

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