High Road School Youth Centre in the 1950/60s.

The High Road School supported a very active youth club in the late 50s early 60s and it was very well attended. My particular interest was in the pottery class run by Mr G Miniken who was the school art teacher at the time. I was always keen on pottery and it gave me the opportunity to do a little more than thumb and coil pots which was what we did in the classroom. His enthusiasm was infectious and we were soon to be quite proficient on the new electric wheels. The old treadle ones were still in use but electric was much easier. Mr Miniken took us off one day to dig our own clay (out on the side of the field I believe) and we came back and passed it through the pug mill to make an acceptable clay to ‘pot’ with. When I was to be married in 1963 Mr Miniken gave me a large pot that he had made with the Laindon clay and until recently it had been a lamp base in our lounge. Not a lamp any more it has been relegated to the conservatory and I have enclosed two photos of it. On the lower edge of the border in one shot  there is a M etched on it and further round LAINDON is also on it shown on the 2nd shot, so it is a truly local pot and holds very fond memories for me.

There were lots of activities on at the centre and I had a camping trip to East Mersea youth camp where we sailed for the weekend. I have quite a lot of photos of that weekend if any of you were also there and would like to see. Another trip was walking and youth hostelling in Devon. The name of the teacher that organised it escapes me but I do remember Jackie Nightingale and a June being among the gang. We went to Plymouth and then walked daily around that part of Devon that finished at Dartmouth I think. Remember being cut off by the tide at Bigbury bay and having to climb upwards into a garden at the top to walk back to the hostel and one day we all hitched a ride on a lorry to save having to walk!! Think that was the day that we arrived early at Salcombe and spending too long on the beach got sun burnt legs!! The bonus was going in for a cream tea and then finding it was some thing like 2/6d each and with not much spending money between us we had a good old giggle juggling the pennies till we had enough for the bill. Then lo and behold the waitress returned and gave us it all back to us as some kind gentleman and his wife had taken pity on us and paid for us all. I would have loved to have known who they were as I am sure we left still giggling and not really being as thankful to them as we should have been.

Another big part of going to the youth centre was that the Langdon Players used to use the hall there for their rehearsals and in the refreshment canteen (run by Mrs Moore I think) I became friendly with John Rugg and we all know where that led!!! 50 years this year since our wedding. I did join the players for a couple of productions but only aspired to Assistant Stage Manager. I always was best at behind the scenes activities and fought shy of anything that required you to be on the stage when the curtain was up.

The pottery wheel photo is of Mr George Miniken helping Ann Bullimore in 1961 at the youth centre evening class.
Ann Rugg née Bullimore
You can just make out the M (click on image to enlarge- use browser return to get back to article)
Ann Rugg
'LAINDON' is clearly visible (click on image to enlarge- use browser return to get back to article)
Ann Rugg

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  • Ann, really enjoyed your story and photos – your trip to the West Country sounded great and it would be good to see some photos of East Mersea, even though I wasn’t there! I am especially happy that through Laindon History site events, we have met up again after so many years. Best wishes.

    By Andrea (02/06/2012)
  • Ann Bullimore must have had a special talent, looking at the photo of the potters wheel with that beautiful bowl taking shape under her hand. That photo really does take me back to LHR, with one of my favourite teachers Mr Minikin in close attendance. Yes, that sure is his logo on the pot as well, the cool ‘m’ just visible, as it is in my blue report book where in the first year he has entered ‘Good’ then for the remaining four years ‘Satisfactory’ proving I was no great shakes when it came to Art. Looking at the pot it appears to be of a base London Clay as Ann describes it, with a kind of slip glazing applied. The other markings on it are amazing arent they?  It’s lovely. We were really lucky at that school with all the talented teachers. Thanks Ann.

    By Richard Haines (01/06/2012)
  • Ann, well done on this great article and the photos they really did stir some wonderful memories.  Mr Minikin was one of my favourite teachers, he was so laid back. Lovely photo of you too, that’s how you looked the last time I saw you all those years ago. I did go to the Youth Club and was in the netball team. I recall playing in the evening with Jo Bowen. I never went on any of the trips as I had had my eldest son in 1961. I can recall the canteen in the evenings. Thanks again for this lovely memory Ann ….

    By Gloria Sewell (01/06/2012)

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