Photographs of 5X and 5X2 1962.

Laindon High Road County Secondary Modern School

In light of various comments regarding the sad demolition of Laindon High Road School, here are some photos that I took in 1962. 

When I was 14, armed with a very simple little camera, I became a keen but not very good, amateur photographer.  I didn’t have much pocket money, so made use of a mail-order, film developing company based in Glasgow, called ‘Gratispool’ who sent me a free Kodak film along with my prints.  These films came on a spool, which I had to wind into the camera.   I wish I could remember the make and model of the camera, but unfortunately, I cannot.  However, I Googled ‘Gratispool’ and found a couple of very interesting sites.  They are well worth a look.

Along with taking snaps of my family and pets, I took my camera to school with me on several occasions and attach some of the results here.  I have just two regrets, the first being that on the evening of the leaving dance in the school hall, the camera jammed and three or four photos were taken on the same exposure.  The second is that it didn’t occur to me to take any photos of the neighbouring plotland bungalows in the area where I lived.  With hindsight, they would have been of great value.

I also enclose two photos from the archives at Essex Records Office in Chelmsford, concerning the careers conference that had been organised by Mr C Hawkins, the Careers Master, which took place in the last week of February 1962 (half term).  During that week pupils made visits to various companies and organisations within the area.  Myself along with Irene Peall visited two places.  Firstly Laindon Telephone exchange where we noticed how close together the girls on the switchboard had to sit but were most impressed when the supervisor informed us that some of the telephonists were earning as much as £10 a week.  That seemed a small fortune to us at that time.  Secondly we visited Gifford House, the headquarters of Basildon Development Corporation where we were shown around the offices and given lunch in their canteen.

Two of the boys from 5X2 who were taking part in The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme made a cine film of the proceedings throughout the week.  We were shown the result a week or two later and I have often wondered what happened to the film.

In the middle of the quad, there had originally been a little fishpond but by 1962, it had been emptied out.  I hope you enjoy seeing these photos and that they bring back even more memories of our great school. 

Careers Conference February 1962. Janet Gipson and Nina Burton in the front row.
Basildon Standard
Leaving day July 1962. Back row. Left to right. Eileen Clayton, Janet Gipson, Tony Trew, John Bird, Pamela Patrick, Sheila Spooner, Glen Cunningham, Joan Hewett. Front row sitting. Left to right. Janet Barratt, Nina Burton, Graham Godward, Philip Thomas.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Filming for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Basildon Standard.
Nina Burton and Janet Gipson
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Nina Burton and Janet Gipson
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Janet Gipson
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Christine Harrison and Irene Peall (Head Girl).
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Arthur Abbott, Christine Harrison, Pamela Patrick, Irene Peall
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Back. Janet Gipson, and Nina Burton. Front. Pamela Patrick, Christine Harrison, Irene Peall.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Glen Cunningham, Helen Brown and Graham Godward
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
From left. Janet Barratt, Jennifer Garrity, Christine Harrison, Irene Peall.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Back from left. Arthur Abbott, Graham Godward, Gregory Pead (Head Boy). Front from left Sheila Spooner and Pamela Patrick.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Tony Trew. Joan Hewett, Pamela Patrick, Sheila Spooner.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Left to right. Nina Burton, Graham Godward, Janet Gipson, Tony Trew, Sheila Spooner, Pamela Patrick, John Bird, Joan Hewett, Philip Thomas, Arthur Abbott, Glen Cunningham, George Le Surf, Robert Merrison.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Left to right. Janet Gipson, Joan Hewett, Arthur Abbott, Glen Cunningham, George Le Surf, John Bird, Graham Godward, Phil Thomas. Girls sitting , Sheila Spooner and Pamela Patrick.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Arthur Abbott and Gregory Pead.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Jan Labedski
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Robert Merrison and Jan Labedski
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Triple exposure when the camera jammed at the leaving dance.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Richard Schmeig on the corner of the canteen. Janet and I were on 'door duty' with him and Howard Webb. This was taken in the lunch break as pupils can be seen sitting on the playing field.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Leaving day parade on the school's milk trolley, outside the wooden buildings. From left sitting. Tony Trew and Joan Hewett. Standing. Graham Godward, John Bird and Philip Thomas
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Passing by the bicycle sheds.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
In the girl's playground. I believe the bungalow on the right was called Langside. The lady who lived there was sometimes asked to retreave balls that had gone over the fence into her garden from the playground. She was always happy to oblige.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
Janet Ellis (née Gipson) and Nina Humphrey (née Burton) taken in 2006. Still friends after all those years.
Nina Humphrey(née Burton)

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  • Hi there – in response to Paul Gibson’s email regarding my Dad, Greg Pead – how nice of you to send an email about my Dad saying nice words. I remember when he came up to Essex to go to the Reunion. How funny that you were both Governors at Lincewood to. My sister and I went there when Mr Morgan was Head. Dad would always be there on sports days giving out the 1st, 2nd, 3rd cards in the races. You’re totally right with regards to him being taken too soon and how lovely he was – totally the best. Dad and I still had lots to discuss and partake in! Instead I continue to enjoy looking every now and then at these photos. All the very best Paul.

    By Luisa Stallard (Greg Pead's daughter) (06/08/2020)
  • So sorry to hear that Greg Pead had passed away, Greg got in touch with me to book a place at the 2016 Laindon school reunion. Many years earlier we were both Governors at Lincewood school Langdon Hills neither of us aware that we were both ex pupils of Laindon High Road school. It’s a small world. Lovely man taken too soon.

    By Paul William Gibson (17/06/2020)
  • So lovely to see these pictures especially of my Dad, Gregory Pead. He suddenly and very sadly died in 2017 at 71yrs old. I know over the years he often looked at this website and shared stories with me.

    By Luisa Stallard (nee Pead) (06/06/2020)
  • Great to see so many faces from happy school days.  Missed all the end of term parties as I went on the Isle of Scilly trip and have never been back.  Now live in Norfolk.

    By Richard Schmeig (16/02/2016)
  • Looking through the photographs one thing makes a strong impression. Hair! Long hair. Healthy hair. Lots of hair. Bouffant hair. All sorts of hair. Regarding the twelfth photograph down. Sheila Spooner and Pamela Patrick! That is SOME hair.

    By Alan Davies (15/11/2014)
  • Hello Karen.  How lovely to hear from you.  Your mother Joan was in our class for a year or so when the family moved to Laindon from London.  She settled in very well and soon became a popular and well liked member of the class.  She enjoyed joining in our activities, especially our leaving day parade around the school playground as seen in some of the above photographs.  I was shocked and deeply saddened several years ago upon hearing the news of her untimely passing in Australia.  My very best wishes to you and your family. 

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (14/11/2014)
  • Funny how myself and Nina have the same memories. We too, watched the hod carriers sliding down the ladders with their boots being the only contact. A fascinating insight into the building trade for some. With today’s health and safety regulations there would be rules against such behaviour.

    They must have finished the building in summer 1962 because I can recall going in there in the 62-63 season. A shame because I loved the wooden building with Mr Rees being in his favourite habitat, the library. However, the first part of the 62-63 year we spent in the old school building close to the boys entrance nearest to the High Road. Our classroom was near the main doors but also with a view out to the quadrangle. We were all prefects in our class. The blue enamel badge worn on our blazers indicating our power.

    I was allocated Mr Angel’s class 3CA to supervise during breaks and that is where I met a really special girl during my last year at LHR. As we all know, the past can catch up suddenly with the availability of the internet these days so best not to name people. Suffice to say, that final year for me was very good indeed with GCE exams in competition with other interests- a very difficult combination at times.

    Everything was changing, some of the boys in my year becoming the early ‘mods’ with Vespas emerging onto the scene whilst others kept with tradition and preferring the rocker image. During the last few months I was visiting the Mecca every Sunday with my best friend from LHR and watching a relatively unknown band the Dave Clark Five. There were also records being played there including Surfing USA by the Beach Boys and Georgia by Ray Charles . There was an influx of mods on a Sunday, I guess from East London giving the whole thing a new perspective.

    My time at Laindon was at a close and we moved in August 1963 from Nichol Road to a little village called Tiptree near Colchester. I continued studying firstly at Braintree College then moving on to what is now Anglia Ruskin University afterwards becoming a Chartered Civil Engineer.

    I’m happy I didn’t get to drink anything like Nina’s cookery beverage, we much preferred a brown and mild from the Fortune of War or over at The Barge at Vange, then walking home to Laindon. I wonder what all those kids are doing now ?

    By Richard Haines (14/11/2014)
  • Oh how I agree with you Richard.  Those special years in the late fifties/early sixties when Laindon was how I liked it best.   Life seemed to revolve around our school and the music of the times.  When I started LHRS in 1957, the school had its own Skiffle Group.  I saw them walk down the corridor once, carrying a home-made double base (wooden box with one string attached), washboard and an acoustic guitar.  I wonder who those boys were!

    I loved the Oh Boy Show and soon had pictures of Marty Wilde and Cliff Richard pinned to the inside of my desk lid.  Remember those wooden desks with a ridge at the back for our pens with the scratchy nibs and an ink well at the side!  If I remember correctly the desks where in twos with bench seats attached.  We sat in rows with two pupils per double desk.  No open plan classrooms back then.  Using those pens was a messy business and most of us went home with ink stained fingers.  We also had pencils to write in our ‘rough books’ as we weren’t allowed to write in those with ink.  Teachers called the boys by their surnames and girls by their first names.

    I was in Miss Burt’s class in the second year 1958/59 which was in the canteen building.  I think Mr Hawkins started at the school sometime during that year.  My memory recalls at that time, the school had a Rural Science Department and raised chickens.  Mr Hawkins was involved in that department and I remember him and another teacher visiting our classrooms to ask if anybody wanted to buy some young chickens.  We kept chickens ourselves as we had a very large garden.  I told my mum and she agreed to buy the chickens.  So, one lunch time she accompanied me back to school, pulling a wicker shopping trolley on wheels.  We went to the back of the school where the chickens were kept and I’m sure it was Mr Hawkins who fetched the chickens and put them in my mum’s shopping trolley.  Mum paid for the chickens and took them home.  I thought Mr Hawkins was a nice man and was pleased when told I would be going into his class in the third year.  I enjoyed the third year which was in the typing room in the wooden buildings.  I remember Mr Hawkins reading us ‘The Lost World’ by Conan Doyle.  In the fourth year (4X) Mr Hawkins was our typing teacher and as he’d became ‘Careers Master’ he was involved with us throughout our extended course and until we left school.

    During the extended course, the music of the time was very important to us.  In 1961 I bought Cliff Richard’s LP ‘Me and My Shadows’ (which includes ‘Gee Whiz it’s you’).  I loved it and it became one of my all-time favourites. I still have that LP along with dozens of others (vinyl is best).  I’m hoping to go to see Cliff’s 75th birthday concert at O2 next October, I’m on the waiting list for tickets and keeping my fingers crossed.  Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (13/11/2014)
  • Hi Nina, yes the desks were in twos for most of our time at the school. I didn’t use the scratchy pens much as mum bought me a sealed unit pen where you screwed a new ink cartridge in when it ran out. Or there were the types with a lever on the side and you sucked the ink in through the nib. I still have some of my exercise books, covered in 1960 style wallpaper to preserve them at the time. I loved the rough books, so chunky and just right for doodling cartoons which Mr Cluff told me off for once.

    I loved the Shadows with Cliff singing. So cool weren’t they. I went to see the film The Young Ones in Southend with Trevor Reynolds who was in our year. There was a nice girl in it called Carole Grey who played Cliff’s girl. The best part was when the Shadows played The Savage, my idol was Jet Harris, the coolest guy on the planet at the time. Another time we went to see a live show in Southend with Joe Brown, Billy Fury and Marty Wilde such a big influence on a 14 year old LHR boy.

    Apart from the first year with Mr Rosen I was with Mr Rees for all of LHR. He would not stand any talking or any cheek from anyone. The strictest teacher I ever had at any school. This discipline was good for us at the time and we really respected him, this showed in my brilliant results in English – I loved Composition best, all my top marks were for this subject. I hated Maths even though I really liked Mr Bear. It wasn’t his fault, I just wasn’t interested. I loved Technical Drawing as well, also French (Miss Munt) and Woodwork (Mr Foley) I can still smell the wood now – a really restful subject at school. Mr Foley then took us for Metalwork, the beginning of my interest in engineering – he had a lot to answer for.

    In the fifth year we moved into the new buildings at the back of the wooden ones. We were upstairs in the final summer term 1963 and I am sure the desks then were single units with separate chairs. I had a beer bottle in mine, hurriedly put in there after a visit to the Fortune of War in the last week at school. I remember Mr Rees getting fed up with us once and stood looking out of the window over the fields at the back. Someone said ‘don’t jump sir, it’s not worth it’.

    Whenever I drive through Laindon it all comes back to me, even though so much of it has gone I still see it as it was and get really choked up if I let myself. Such happy days with wonderful friends.

    By Richard Haines (13/11/2014)
  • Mr Rees also earned our respect very quickly.  He was a good teacher, old school, very strict, but fair.  The one thing I thought he lacked was humour, until one day he told us about his daughter (who was at grammar school) having a school friend for a sleep-over and she had brought her teddy bear along.  He said he heard giggling, so looked in and saw that the two girls had rigged up a hammock above their beds for their teddy bears to sleep in.  He looked quite bemused as he told us and I think I even detected a smile on his face.

    I think Mr Rees may have been a Cliff Richard fan too.  He once pointed out to us that the words of the song ‘The Young Ones’ were very true and he quoted a few:- There’s a song to be sung and the best time is to sing it when we’re young.  For we won’t be the young ones very long.  A good bit of advice there from a good teacher.

    I’ve remembered that during the third year, we were offered a two week trip to Switzerland with the school.  We all had a letter about it to take home and read.  I think it was planned to take place in the six week summer holiday.  A number of pupils did go along, including one or two from my class, but it cost £20 which was a lot of money at that time and only a few could afford it.   

    I remember watching the new building being constructed.  I think us girls were probably in Mrs Badger’s cookery class in the wooden building at the time because we could see a couple of young hod-carriers taking bricks up and down the ladders.  They climbed up the rungs of the ladder but once they had unloaded the bricks, they put their feet either side of the ladder and slid down to the ground.  We found it quite amusing and I think they spotted us watching them through the window.

    After our cookery lessons, the boys always wanted to know if we’d cooked anything they could eat, biscuits etc.  Some of the girls made up a drink for them once.  They threw in all kinds of stuff and gave it a good stir, then took it back to our classroom and told them it was delicious.  They were very suspicious, narrowed their eyes and declined to taste it.  A wise decision – I think it got tipped away down a sink in the cloakroom.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (13/11/2014)
  • Hello. I am Joan Hewett’s eldest daughter, Karen. My Uncle, Eric Pasco, left a message a few years ago that Mum had passed away. She left us way too early (I was only 10) so it’s amazing to see photos of her and read about her past. I would love to get more stories of what Mum got up to.  Would love to hear from anyone who has a good story 🙂

    Editor’s note:  Karen has supplied her e-mail address which, upon request, we would be happy to pass onto anyone wishing to make contact with her.

    By Karen Zimmermann (12/11/2014)
  • These stories still pull at the heartstrings. That trip to Stratford on Avon, all of us together on that train. All of that time gone by. Definitely the best times of our lives really. Hope you are keeping well Nina, we must have been a year apart all through LHR. If you want to re-live those days have a look at Cliff singing’ Gee Whiz its You’ on youtube. cheers Rich.

    By Richard Haines (12/11/2014)
  • I was very interested to read about the Laindon High Rd. School although it was several decades after my own attendance for one term. One point which caught my eye was in reference to a fish pond in the quadrangle. As during my term this was a tennis court which I particularly remember as I entered the school competition and got to the final playing George Penk. I was doing quite well and the match was going on longer than expected and had to be halted for the dinner hour. When it resumed after dinner, he completely wiped me off the court in less than 15 minutes. Still, he was 2 years older than me.

    By W.H.Diment (09/07/2013)
  • Wow. How I have enjoyed reading the memories about our trip to Stratford upon Avon – thought I’d dreamed it. Jacqui Sheppard, Vanessa Crewe, Geoff Heather so many old names – the memories come flooding back. 

    I lived next door to Mary Baker – last saw her in about 1972 – she was living in Arab Emirates and her Mum and Dad had moved from Queens Road to Berry Lane. I suspect they are long gone and I have just lost my Dad aged 94.

    By Jan Wright nee Smithers (07/07/2013)
  • Graham. I’m pleased you’re enjoying the website. It has certainly kept me busy over the last year or so. I have contributed around 40 articles and still have a couple I am working on. 

    I hadn’t realised that Christine was also from the Plotlands like me. I am sure that any memories or photographs she would care to share with the Laindon Archive would be greatly appreciated. 

    In 2009 I contributed towards a book about the Laindon Plotlands. That also kept me busy for about a year. (See my article A Portrait of Basildon Plotlands -The Enduring Spirit. Written by Deanna Walker and Peter Jackson). Chapters 7 and 8 are about my home and family. 

    Yes it’s a shame about the school. You’re right, we did pay for the swimming pool. In the second year, we all had a little payment book and paid one shilling each week for a year to raise the £1,000 that it cost to build. A roof was added later but nothing remains now. The school site and playing field have been built on and also the onion field you mentioned. 

    In fact the High Road has changed completely since 1962. The Laindon Hotel and Fortune of War no longer exist. Laindon Station still remains and just a few of the original buildings in the High Road. 

    Hopefully another get together/reunion will be held in the not too distant future. These events are very popular and are advertised on the events page. So keep logging in, spread the word and maybe that reunion will happen soon. With best wishes to you both.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (13/11/2012)
  • Hello Nina I looked again at the website in more detail it is rather wonderfull. The memory walk, I recognised. 

    My wife Christine (formerly Elliott) lived at the top of First Avenue, so we have been back there. I have not been in Laindon High Road for many years, despite living quite close, shame about the school. I wonder what happened to the swimming pool I think that we may have helped to pay for that. 

    I am in touch with Arther Abbot and Peter Whiting, so already we are getting our reunion group. 

    As for the Stratford on Avon trip, it is all rather vague and if there was a strike in the playground, I hope that I didn’t miss it. 

    In terms of memories, I think of a camping trip to the Scilly Islands, ballroom dancing at lunchtimes and mixed cross country runs (is the onion field still there?). I also remember all of the camping and other activities for the Duke of Edingborough Award, I think that we were some of the first to do this. 

    I shall try to look more regularly at this website in future. Best regards

    By Graham Godward (12/11/2012)
  • Hi Jan It’s good to hear from you. So you live in New Zealand too. You couldn’t have moved any further away from that awful French teacher than that. How’s your shorthand these days? Miss Maitland was a good teacher but a bit fussy and prissy. Oh and that hair. I think we were all convinced it was a wig. I never did use shorthand after leaving school and I’ve forgotten it all now.

    Remember Mr Hawkins teaching us to type on those old manual typewriters that had ribbons that had to be changed, a bell that went ‘ting’ when reaching the end of each line and having to return the carriage with the handle? How times and technology have changed! We also had plenty of fun.

    Do you remember a sweepstake we had on a horse race. I took a small radio to school so we could listen to it in class and guess what – I won the sweep. I think it was ten shillings.

    We also had a girls v boys netball match after school one day. I remember a lot of pushing and cheating going on but I’m sure we girls were the winners. Hard to believe this year was the 50th anniversary of our leaving. Where has all that time gone? I hope you are keeping well and enjoying life. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (06/11/2012)
  • Hi all…from me in New Zealand….Janet and Nina looking good…How about that evil dutchwoman who taught French….did you get depressed like I did after a session with her….I often felt like running for the fence…and her poor husband teacher who the kids sent mad. The happy days at school…..not.

    By Jan Labedzki (04/11/2012)
  • Eric. That’s wonderful news. I look forward to seeing you sometime next year. There are so many memories to share. I will keep watching for the date. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (03/10/2012)
  • Richard. Here’s a coincidence! Rosemary Rawlinson was at Laindon Library last Friday with her husband Alan Shead. They live in Cumbria and while on a visit to Laindon, popped in to one of Laindon Archives’ “Memory Days”. See photo in the article “28 September 2012 – Laindon Library Memory Day”. I usually go along to ‘Memory Days’, but unfortunately, I couldn’t make it that day, otherwise I would have seen her. I didn’t know her husband Alan but his brother Michael Shead was in my class. They lived in Powell Road.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (02/10/2012)
  • And younger sister Penny was in my class. Hoping to attend a memory day next year sometime during a visit from Oz.

    Editor: Eric keep us informed of when you are visiting UK and we will see what we can arrange to make your visit to the Archive memory day memorable.

    By Eric Pasco (02/10/2012)
  • Hi Richard. I believe that clinches it – 1961. You could be right about the place we visited – it might have been his nibs’ birth place. We must have paid for the trip, but I can’t remember how much. I expect we took a packed lunch, but what did we have to eat in the evening – I know we didn’t get home until very late – a bit of a mystery!

    One memory I do have is of some of our class standing in the forecourt of the Fortune of War pub and a couple of the boys went in to get our drinks. I don’t know if it was when we got back from that trip or if it was another occasion, but I do remember Sheila Spooner and Pam Patrick asked for Babysham and I had a Lager and Lime. Oh dear, age 15 and already drinking and playing cards! (Actually if it was April 1961, I would still have been 14 as I was the youngest in the class and wasn’t 15 until July that year). I left school in 1962 just a few days after my 16th birthday. 

    The name Mary Baker rings a bell, in fact I thought she was in my class at Markhams Chase school. I only remember one person for certain from your year on the train, Rosemary Rawlinson. A dark haired girl who I sometimes talked to at school because she was friendly with Richard Schmeig, who I was on ‘door duty’ with. I seem to remember her stopping by the door of our carriage to talk to me, in between wandering around with some others, giggling and having fun. I will keep trying hard to remember more about that day.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (30/09/2012)
  • Nina, more information I found today includes some of the actors in the plays that year. In the one we now think we saw, Much Ado About Nothing the actors included Christopher Plummer (Sound of Music) who played Benedick, Geraldine McEwan (Miss Marple!) who played Beatrice and Paul Hardwick (in the TV series Man at the Top in the 1970s) who played Don Pedro. In the other play, As You Like It, Vanessa Redgrave played Rosalind. So you see it was quality all the way, good old Mr Rees. 

    As for Mary Baker she was the oldest girl in our class and by far the most attractive, petite and dark haired. She left early in the 4th year, about October 1961. However she did invite me to her house one evening after school in about September 1961 along with some others from our class, 4X to listen to records. She lived in Queens Road and her room had a record player which her dad had rigged up with a large extra speaker, brilliant times. I think she did go to Markhams Chase school earlier because she certainly wasn’t at Laindon Park. 

    Turning to Rosemary Rawlinson, she was in my year but I think she was in 4X2 and 5X2 rather than 4X and 5X with us. I think I’ve got her photograph somewhere when the two classes had their snap taken with Mr Rees in the final summer days in 1963. 

    Good to learn also that Sheila Spooner liked her Babychams, only 50 years too late to buy one for her!

    By Richard Haines (30/09/2012)
  • Hi Richard. Yes definitely, it was the same trip. We were on the same train. I think Mr Rees organised the whole thing. He was trying to teach us ‘Twelfth Night’ at the time. At that time I was more interested in studying Marti Wilde and Cliff Richard rather than Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek and Toby Belch. 

    I can’t remember the exact date of the trip but I’ve checked the internet for The Royal Shakespeare Theatre performances in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1961. ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was performed on 4th April 1961. ‘As You Like It’ was performed on 4th July 1961. Both dates fell on a Tuesday. I would think it was the April date, as July would have been quite late in the school year. In that case, it would have been ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Maybe we will find out for sure eventually. 

    History (Wikipedia) The Royal Shakespeare Theatre opened on 23 April 1932 on the site adjacent to the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened 19 April 1879), which had been destroyed by fire on 6 March 1926, whose name it took. The architect was Elisabeth Scott, so the theatre became the first important work erected in this country from the designs of a woman architect.[2] It is now owned and managed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and was renamed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961. So it seems we were one of the first groups to visit the theatre under its new name that year. 

    I don’t remember much about Ann Hathaway’s cottage except that ceilings were built very low in those days. I don’t expect the ancient thatched building benefitted much by dozen of us Laindon High Road School pupils traipsing through it. I have just read on Wikipedia, that it was badly burnt in 1969 and had to be restored by ‘The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’. It is now a museum. 

    Back to the train journey. Yes, I remember we had to catch the train at Pitsea and travel via London. The train had a corridor and I remember a few of your year wandering about giggling and flirting. (We didn’t do anything like that of course – far too responsible and mature!). I also remember someone pushing a refreshments trolley back and forth along the corridor trying to sell us chocolate bars, crisps and soft drinks. I think it was near midnight by the time I got to bed and after so many hours on the train, I could still feel the rhythm of the train as I was falling asleep. 

    I’m still a 1950/60s music fan. I’m off to see Marti Wilde at Cliffs Pavilion towards the end of October, guests appearing with him are Eden Kane and Johnny Leyton. Oh well, “If music be the food of love – play on”.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (29/09/2012)
  • Hi Richard. I have rechecked the performances at The Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford Upon Avon for 1961 and 1962. There was a performance of ‘Measure for Measure’ on 10th April 1962. That was my final year at school. I am now wondering if that was the one I went to. Do you remember whether Mr Rees organised one of these trips each year? If so, my trip may have been in 1962. If not, and it was a ‘one off’ trip, then it must have been in 1961. There were definitely members of your year on the train with us.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (29/09/2012)
  • Nina, it was April 1961. The only (nerdy) reason I know that is because Duane Eddy had a hit with Theme From Dixie that month which Geoff Heather was raving about during the trip. Like you say, July I guess would have been too late in the year, so Much Ado About Nothing it must have been. The weather that day was fine and sunny. There was no trip in 1962 otherwise I would have been on it, definitely.

    I recall a whole string of us LHR lot walking together out of the station at Stratford-upon-Avon, up to the town. I’m wondering now about the cottage, was it Shakespeare’s Birthplace we went to see, that’s in the town. I think Ann Hathaway’s Cottage is in a nearby village, Shottery. 

    Also what did we do for lunch, I don’t remember being taken to eat anywhere so we must have had packed lunches? After the orderly way we were all seated in the train in the morning, boys in one compartment etc, we soon changed that on the way home separating into groups of boys and girls who were seriously flirting (age 14 – no problem). Mary Baker was the girl I liked most then. Oh and also some were gambling according to your version!! 

    There were no more trips like that in my time at the school. I left in July 1963 aged 16 and we moved away to Tiptree (near Colchester) in the August. I got three O levels out of the five I took. Can you name any other members of my year on the train? So fascinating talking with you.

    By Richard Haines (29/09/2012)
  • Hi Graham. At last, someone on this website from my class, I thought it was never going to happen and I am glad it was you Graham, it’s great to hear from you. I really like your suggestion of a reunion, however, I’m not sure if that would be possible as many of us are now scattered far and wide. Irene Peall lives in New Zealand, Pam Patrick lives in Norwich, Arthur Abbott is in the Midlands, Jenny Garrity is in Clacton, I believe Christine Harrison is in Billericay and Eileen Clayton in Wickford. Janet Gipson lives near Braintree and I live in Langdon Hills. Goodness knows where all the others are! 

    It isn’t completely out of the question though, so I will have a think about it and see if something can be arranged. Reunions are very popular right now, especially in connection with this website. 

    Do you remember when lots of us in our year went by train to Stratford-Upon-Avon for the day? We visited Ann Hathaway’s Cottage in the morning and saw a Shakespeare play in the afternoon, it was either ‘As You Like It or Much Ado About Nothing’, I can’t quite remember. I do remember the very long train journey and seem to recall Janet and I playing cards with you and Arthur to pass the time. (Or maybe I dreamed that, the memory does play tricks occasionally after 50 years!). I regret not taking my camera with me that day. 

    Oh, and do you remember when 5X2 rebelled and went on a ‘sit down strike’ in the playground. I can’t remember what cause they were fighting for, but I remember they sat fast and refused to budge. 

    This is a great website isn’t it. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. It was launched about 18 months ago, so it’s still early days. I wonder who from our year will be next to find it – let’s keep logging in. I expect you have seen the long school photo from 1958 is on the site with many of the names given below. There’s still many faces I recognise but just can’t recall their names. With very best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (28/09/2012)
  • Hi Nina, I’m noting here your memory of the LHR school visit to Stratford on Avon. I was in the year below you. If the year was 1961 (Summer term) then I was on the trip. The special train went from Laindon to Pitsea where we changed to a different line and went back up through London (I think via Gospel Oak) to the Midlands. 

    I remember looking at the cottage in the morning and the play at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the banks of the Avon in the afternoon. If it was the same trip then you would remember Mr Rees being there, he was our teacher, based then in the library and a Shakespeare fanatic. I think the play was As You Like It but like you I am not 100% sure. 

    On the way back the boys chatted with the girls about pop music etc some preferring Adam Faith, others Cliff Richard, none of us was a bit interested in the play we had been taken all that way to see. Certainly I can recall Jacqui Sheppard and Janet Smithers on the train and my friend Geoff Heather was sitting with us. I suspect Vanessa Crew and Christine Thompson were also in our group. Let me know what you think, could we have all been on the same train that day?

    By Richard Haines (28/09/2012)
  • Well done Nina. It’s great to see the old photos. I wonder where they all are know. Perhaps you could organise a reunion.

    By Graham Godward (27/09/2012)
  • Nina, I remember many of the people in your photos especially the cute one, Sheila Spooner. Nice prefects badges, dark blue enamel, I used to hide mine on the way home. Good newspaper shot of Peter Darroch as well, such a poser.

    By Richard Haines (09/03/2012)

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