Thundersley Junior School Days 1950s

Thundersley County Junior School

Thundersley School c. 1930
The class photo - I am standing back row, far left.

My Thundersley Primary School Days from 1958 to 1963

As a small child, I attended Thundersley County Primary School in Dark Lane, Thundersley.  I lived in Hill Road, Benfleet but this was the closest school at that time.   We did not have a car, so the journey was made on foot every day and I remember I used to dawdle and get told to hurry up.

It’s about a mile from where I lived in Hill Road to the school gates and should have taken about twenty minutes to walk but my mum used to stop and chat to various people as we passed by their houses. More often than not people would be standing at their front gates passing the time of day.

My mum, like most others at that time, seemed to know everyone, so I was lucky enough to be able to call many of the villagers my friends in later years.

The Local People

There was one particular man who was known locally as a gentle giant.  His name was Ronnie Monk.  He was a very, very tall, deep and loud voiced man who could easily frighten you if you did not know him.   His favourite trick was to ride on the number 1 bus, which at that time was one of those where the back was open and there was a pole just at the exit.   He would hang on to the pole with his right arm, leaving his right leg on the platform and as the bus turned any corners he would push himself just off the platform so that his left arm and left leg would swing out of the bus.  All the while he would be singing loudly.

The fish and chip shop on the corner of Hart Road and Park Road used to have a lady working there called Emma.  I think it is only in the not too distant past that she died.  She was certainly there  for many years and everyone loved her.

Quite close to The White Hart Public House there used to be a sweet shop.  Most days after school my mum took me in there to buy some sweets.  The lady would only serve children who said please and thank you.  I could buy ‘surprise bags’ for sixpence  which would include sugar mice, flying saucers and black jacks. Sometimes as a treat I could have Penny Arrows or Frother Bars.  On hot days all the children wanted Orange Jubbly Ices.  These were orange flavoured ice pyramids, tightly wrapped in cardboard.  The trick was to open them and eat them without the orange dripping onto your school uniform, a feat I don’t think I ever managed.

First Days at School

My first days at the school were in Miss Watson’s class. I remember the classroom was in a wooden building, close to the front of the school boundary.  There was a Wendy house in the classroom for us to play in.  I hid myself in there and would not come out, so they had to send for my mum to come and get me. I did not get sweets that day!

Mr Clough was the headmaster but I can only remember one or two of the teachers.  Mr French, who I seem to recall always had us making papier mache masks.  Mr Barker, Miss Cartwright who taught us P.E. and Miss Watson, my first teacher.

I have added the names of those friends who I can remember. If you are in this photo or if you know any names, please contact us via the comments section at the bottom of this page.

If  Thundersley history interests you please take a look at our sister site.

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  • The first day at school there were too few desks and we had to sit on rush mats on the floor in front of the desks. The second week we were sent to an old “Womans Land Army Hostel” converted to be a temporary school, (no corridors just one class room to another) near Thundersley St Peters Church. There is a proper school built on the site now. I remember Terry, the farmer’s son from Marlas Farm in Hart Road oposite the caravan site. I got my first dog from the farm, it must have been about 1950-51?

    By Charles Summers (28/04/2023)
  • I remember Mary Cottle and also the attempts at writing with proper ink pens. There was a lot of blotting paper used and most of the boys thought that their inkwell should have a small notice saying “No Fishing”! attached to it.I remember Barry Brazier, Alec Adams (who told me he was going to be a mortician when he left school, that sounded very interesting I thought ?)

    By Charles Summers (19/04/2023)
  • Just found this article and memories came flooding back.
    Can add a few more names to the class photo.
    Back row 3rd and 4th from right Christopher Green and Robin Green (deceased).
    Back row 7th from right Ian Miller.
    3rd row 5th and 6th from right Stephen Clark and Nicholas Whitehead.
    Just turned 70 on 1st April and have been living near Lowestoft in Suffolk for past 33 years.
    Would be great to hear from anyone who remembers me.

    By Colin Ronald Gooding (14/04/2023)
  • Does anyone have any photos of Mr Brown’s class 1957/58 please? I was Mary Cottle. I remember a lot of the teachers and people in the village you all speak of.
    I would love to locate some old photos or get in touch with anyone who was in my class. I started in Miss Watson’s class in the building to the right of the school gates and finished my time there in Mr Brown’s class.

    By Maryanne Francis (Cottle) (26/01/2023)
  • I was at both the infants and junior school. I lived the other side of Dark Lane off Hart Road. I was at the juniors between 1961 – 1965 and then went onto King John’s school. I vividly remember some teachers and pupils in my class and also the fun playtimes with my friends as well as being a time of watching out for Jimmy Giles who loved the kiss chase game! Oh and the dinner ladies coming out with leftover cake from lunchtime, happy days!
    I remember the caravan park which was at the bottom of the road I lived in, I also remember the shops quite clearly. I left Thundersley in 1974.
    Many names I remember from my class are Patricia Blackwell, Linda White, Margaret Wilkinson (sadly now deceased) Christine Henderson, Mark Faulkner, George Cousins, Hedley Webber, Susan Weathersby? Susan Piper (who I am in contact with and have started to meet up with every couple of months after reconnecting). I have class photos of us all and can name pretty much everyone in them, not bad for someone who is almost 68 years old.

    By Mavourneen Moore (nee George) (19/01/2022)
  • Hi
    Benny Jones —Sister Cathy
    Lived 138 Hart Road (Hart Close) went to Dark Lane school from 1952—58, then on to King John. Chris McCormick, I must know you, we lived next door to Steve Diggins (1 year younger than me) then Pattisan the Chemist / then Browns the newsagents….were you next door to the Doorsets Stephanie & her widowed mother? In the top part of the close was The Medows–Daughter Caroline –The Dury’s 2 boys 2 girls—The Palmers 3 boys 1 girl. The Bucklins 1 boy Johnny…….and the rest the memory fails me.
    Looking at the dates I don’t suppose you come back and view these blogs now.

    By Benny Jones (24/11/2020)
  • My name is Alf Dummer one of my teachers was Mr Ratenbury and Mr Clough. I recognise some of the names on this photo so if anyone recognises my name please e mail me at

    By Alf Dummer (13/02/2016)
  • I went to Dark Lane School in 1956 and then on to King John. I remembered some of the faces in the photos, Linda Carlin, Susan Frampton, Chris McCormick, Michael Lowry  (my husband for 41 years), Peter Lowry, Raymond McKay, Victor King. I remember Ronnie Monk he used to pass my house in Park Road, I also remember Emma in the fish shop.

    By Sally-Ann Lowry (was Davies) (13/03/2014)
  • Hi

    I went to Dark Lane school between 1955 and 1965.  I then went on to King John along with my brother John and sister Janet, it brings back so many happy memories.  Mr Eastwood was one of our teachers and I lived in Hart Close. Sadly Roy Kemp who owned the fish shop has just died, he was a regular in the White Hart Pub.

    Don’t forget Danny Dooland, Melvin Moore, Sally Ann Davis, Paul Harvey and lots more, it would be good to keep in touch it just does not seem like 50 years ago!

    Best Wishes


    By chris McCormick (03/03/2014)
  • I went to Thundersley Primary School from 1955-56 until 1959-60 then went on to King John School. We lived on the caravan site at the other end of Dark Lane at number 27 Second Avenue ( now called The Rundles). Anyone remember?

    By Robert Kelly (28/07/2013)
  • So lovely to read all the comments about Thundersley School…which I attended from 1965-1971. My 1st teacher was Mrs Sumes (not sure of the spelling!) then Mrs Lee, then Mrs Goddard…I was in her class when the school burnt down in 1966 & my year were shipped off to some old huts near St. Peter’s Church that had been used during the war. We were there from Sept/Oct time till Xmas & then, because the huts were due to be demolished, we were moved on again to Westwood School near Hadleigh for the rest of the school year. We travelled to & from Westwood in buses that were hired just for us pupils. 

    I then moved up to the junior part of the school where my teachers were Miss Procter (who later married & became Mrs Outen), Miss Brawn, Mr Rattenbury…who was my favourite teacher of all time & Mr Bourne. 

    I also remember many other teachers there including some of those already mentioned on here such as Mr French, Mrs Cartwright, Mrs Ball, Mrs Rattenbury, Mr Davis, Mr Wilmore, Mr Lee, Mrs Barnard. Miss Newport was the infant school headmistress then in the juniors I had Mr Clough as headmaster until he retired & Mr Snowdon took over from him. 

    I also vividly remember Ronnie Monk, who although he was always lovely towards me used to scare me when I was very small because he was so loud. However, as I grew bigger I learnt that there was nothing to be afraid of & that that was just the way he was. I also remember Emma from the fish & chip shop….can’t believe she only passed away in fairly recent years, she seemed very old to me even then which is over 40 years ago, though now guess she must have only been middle aged then & it was just me seeing her through a childs eyes which makes anyone over 30 elderly 🙂 I remember she was a tiny woman & always very nice towards me & my parents.

    By Maureen Barnes (23/07/2013)
  • I think I started at the new infants school in about 1961. I believe it burnt down twice!!! I remember many of the teachers you mention especially Mrs Cartwright (who had beautiful writing), Miss Ball, Mr Lee and of course Mr French (who lived in a posh house in Western Rd, Rayleigh…they must have paid teachers good money then. 

    By Gary Allason (06/07/2013)
  • I attended the school from 1958/9 to 1963. Teacher names unmentioned so far that I can remember were Miss Mead, who taught me in Year 3 or 4 and Mrs Cartwright who taught me in Year 5. I remember having to line up outside the classroom steps in two rows- boys and girls from shortest to tallest. Being quite short I was near the front I also remember that we were seated in rows of twos and I sat next to Paul White. I had a crush on the girl who sat in front of Mr Barker’s desk, who I think was Irene ?. I and Terry Sheens (Tel) were the best of mates that year. 

    Outside of school, I also remember Ronnie Monk who I sometimes passed at the bus stop on the corner of Kenneth Road and Hart Road when older, and he always bummed cigarettes off me. He was always a cheerful friendly character. That final year at the school was the best year of my whole schooling. The class was well behaved and from what I remember everyone got on with everyone. I had good friends and a good time. Happy memories. Be great to catch up (even by the net) and find out what happened to the children in the class especially as the photo was taken 50 years ago. Be interested to know what has happened in your 50 years Eileen. Can you remember where you sat in the class?

    By Steve Nash (03/03/2013)
  • Interested to know if this photo is of Mr Barker’s 6B class of 1963, as I was in his class and the names are familiar. If it is I can help with other names of boys that were in his class. Regards Steve (Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia).

    By Stephen Nash (02/03/2013)
  • Hi Steve, Yes you are quite right, this is Mr Barker’s class of ’63. I was also in this class, in the photo I am in the back row, far left. I remember you were in my class, my maiden name was Emery and whilst at Thundersley School my best friend, who is also in the photo, was Susan Elsdon. If you can add any names that would be great. I have looked at the picture again but cannot work out which one is you, perhaps you could fill in some blanks!

    By Eileen Gamble (02/03/2013)
  • My brother Leslie and I attended Dark Lane School in the late 50’s before we moved to Basildon ‘The New Town’ we were living in 5th Avenue on the Caravan Site, with our parents Sheila and Reg, next door to our Aunt and Uncle, Shirley and Stan Fuller, and opposite our Grandparents Connie and Fred Green. 

    We used to look upon our walk to school as an adventure through Dark Lane, walking up the banks and through the trees. I also remember there being a big fire at the school, and my uncle filming it with his cine camera. My classroom was a wooden out building just inside the main gate to the right. I remember Ronnie Monk, he was rather scary when riding on the bus, but just a gentle giant really…..Friday night waiting in line at the fish shop, just wishing I could be a little taller so I could see over the counter…..great times

    By Susan Cole (Barrett) (26/11/2012)
  • I lived along the road from the Chafer’s and Carol Chafer I think was in my year along with Sylvia Holland, Jane Taylor, Susan Kempton and Jean Palmer (now my sister in law!). Lesley Todd lived in the next street and Lyn Bacon around the corner. Memories!

    By Denise Neale (Jeffs) (14/03/2012)
  • Alice Chafer has provided us with some more names to add to the school class photo above, as follows:

    Back row 2nd from right is Alice’s own daughter, Ann Chafer. Back row 5th from left is Lesley Todd. The young lady, 2nd row, named only as Carol may be Carol Scanning. The young man next to Ann Harvey, 3rd row may be Stephen.

    By Eileen Gamble on behalf of Alice Chafer (12/03/2012)
  • The class photo second row from the back, fourth from the left is Mary Ann Baxter.

    By Mrs M A Gibbons (09/01/2012)
  • I started my schooling at Dark Lane in 1948-49.  I remember there was no canteen then, so we used to have our dinners in the main hall in the school and the meals were deliverd by a canvas lorry, I think by Mr Cockgroves. 

    Some of the teachers I remember, Mr Whitehead, AND headmaster Mr Clough (I got the cane a few times). Mrs Clough (in charge of dinner time and made me eat my custard skin), also Miss Watson, Miss Galley, Miss Stevens, Mr Barker, Mr Thompsom?, and my best teacher of all Mr Swanson.

    By Pete Robbins (29/12/2011)
  • Thank you Eileen. Unfortunately I don’t know any of the children that you named, I must of been in Miss.Watson’s class three or four years earlier than you but I remember the same people as you such as Ronnie Monk, Mr.Clough and Mr.French, also teachers called Miss. Mackrill, Miss. Gray, Mr. Whitehead and Mr. Brown.

    Mr.French got us making paper mache heads to make puppets and then we had a puppet show. We also made a model village with balsa wood.

    I was in the country dancing shows we had on summer evenings, where other schools came and danced too.  I’ve got lots of memories of the school and the sweet shops etc

    By carol powley nee southward (07/12/2011)
  • Hello Carol, I can recall some of the names and I will add them to this page shortly.

    By Eileen Gamble (06/12/2011)
  • Do you know any of the childrens names in the photo please, I was in Mrs Watson’s class in about 1954/55.

    By Carol Powley nee Southward (05/12/2011)
  • The teachers named brought back some memories as our three children all went to the school, 1950/1960’s.  Miss Watson was our neighbour in Langford Crescent and a great friend.

    By Ian Hawks (04/12/2011)
  • Golly gosh – that brings back memories although I think that this class was below mine.

    By Susan Fogg nee Hawks (03/12/2011)

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