My First Day At School
This scene was based on memories of my very first day at school back in the early sixties. Our school was an old 1930s wooden building complete with outside loos. The only form of heating was the huge old coke stove. The entire project was featured over four issues of Dolls House & Miniatures Scene magazine (Issues 164-167) as a “how to make” project. Finally, this room box was auctioned off at the 2008 Thame Dolls House & Miniatures Fair in aid of Breast Cancer Campaign.
My infant school was a run down, dilapidated wooden building in Gloucester, a throwback from the 1930s complete with all the old pre-war furniture which was very basic. The only form of heating in our classroom was an ancient tortoise coke stove standing behind a large fireguard. Even now I can conjure up vivid memories of that smoky smell. The blackboard was the old fashioned kind, standing on an easel. Then there was “teacher’s cupboard” that no-one….and I mean NO-ONE was allowed to open without permission. A huge old-fashioned Belfast sink sat in one corner with just a cold water tap and was used for washing brushes and hands etc. In our cloakroom we all had our own little picture above our coat peg to signify which was ours; I seem to remember mine was the sun. Our daps, or should I say in our Gloucestrian accent “R daaps” were kept in our dap bag (black plimsolls in a material bag) for PE. If you were posh and came from up Cheltenham way then you would call them pumps, we used to say.
Some school memories were not particularly pleasant ones. Oh I did hate the disgustingly warm bottle of milk that we had to drink via a straw every morning. Plus how can one forget the outside toilets…you most definitely didn’t go to the loo unless you really had to, particularly on cold and wet days! Memories of school dinners are not particularly happy ones either. We would be crammed together elbow to elbow on rows of benches and forced to eat every single scrap off our plates! To this day I cannot eat rice pudding, semolina with jam or stewed prunes without heaving and can remember having the dinner lady standing over us, forcing us to eat up or else! It wasn’t all bad though as I did love the stew and dumplings, treacle tart and jelly with ice cream.
On the whole, despite everything, my infant school years were happy ones, quite carefree and uncomplicated. I hope you enjoyed this little nostalgic look back and maybe it will have prompted you to recall your own early school years. School life has certainly changed from my childhood days and no doubt from yours too……..whether it’s for better or for worse though……’tis a matter of opinion!
The dolls were created by Robin Britton of Coombe Crafts (now retired), the sink was supplied by Stokesay Ware, the tufts of hair for the paint brushes came from my then student son’s head (he had very long hair), and the small chairs were 1/16th scale vintage Barton chairs (perfect for this project), so too the teacher’s cupboard. The coke furnace was made from an old plastic film cannister and fireguard from wire mesh.