My Memories of Thundersley Primary School

Stephen Nash Recalls His School Days

Thundersley Primary School c. 1950s
The Bread & Cheese Public House and far left the building that can just be seen was once the Creamery Stores.
The Council Offices (now demolished) which stood on the corner of Kenneth Road/London Road.
Castle Point Council
Hart Road 2013. Still a barbers shop after all these years but in the 50s/60s it was called Jock's Barber shop. The large shop to the right used to be Partridge's.
Eileen Gamble
Back Row: left to right 1) Eileen Emery  2) ?  3) Richard Marchant 4) ?  5) Lesley Todd 6) Susan Elsdon 7) Ian Mills  8) ?  9)Vivien McIntosh 10) Robin Green 11) Christopher Green 12) Ann Chafer 13) ? Second Row down: left to right 14) Jennifer Francis 15) Lynn Bacon 16) Rita Hayzer 17) ? 18) Gillian ? 19) David Gibson  20) Nicholas Whitehead (or John Brown) 21) Stephen Clark 22) Ann Harvey  23) Brenda Russell  24) Ann Alden  25) ? Third Row down: left to right 26) ? 27) ? 28) Carol Scannell 29) ? 30) Colin Gooding 31) Terry Sheern 32) ? 33) Sheila Uren 34) ? Front Row: left to right 35) ? 36) ? 37) Susan Aubrey 38) ? 39) ? 40) ? 41) Edward Self 42) Carol Mowday 43) Wendy Panter 44) ? 45) ? Other names of children thought to be in the class are: Malcolm Pendlebury, Penny Pickering, Paul White.  Kenneth or Kenny? Vanessa? Trevor Jefferies (nickname Jaffa).
Thundersley Primary School
The White Hart Public House. c.1960s
Hart Road with the White Hart Public House on the left. The first shop with the pull down sun blind was the fish and chip shop. c.1960s
'Bodkins' wool shop 2013 but in the 50s/60s it was owned by a lady called Mrs Gladwin. In the 1970s a new owner called the shop "Laraine's".
Eileen Gamble
Mr French
My location
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My memories of attending Thundersley Primary School

I arrived in Thundersley with my two brothers Tony (elder) and Paul (younger) around 1957/8 when placed in a foster family at Mount Crescent from a Dr Banardos home in Braintree.

My earliest recollections of attending the school were in or around year 1 or 2, as I had already attended a school in Braintree. This I assume was my reception year. The three of us did the daily walk to school from our house in Mount Crescent, along Kenneth Road and then Hart Road.

Things I remember about the walk then was that the traffic wasn’t too busy along Kiln Road, so we were able to cross the road near the bus stop opposite the ambulance station and council building. We didn’t bother walking up to the pedestrian crossing further up near what I believe was a shoe factory.

The shops that we passed along the way, as I remember, were firstly the Creamery next to the Bread and Cheese Off Licence. The Creamery changed hands over time, as I remember it being a butcher shop and I believe an appliance store at one time. We often went to the Creamery on a Saturday morning to spend our sixpence pocket money on aniseed balls. There was a Bread and Cheese  pub at the time.

On the corner of Kenneth Road and Hart Road and next to St. Peter’s church hall was a type of convenience store. (It might still be there, but as I now live in Australia and have done so since 1974, I don’t know what changes have been made).

A visit to the barber shop for a ‘short back and sides’

There was a barber shop located next to what I think was some sort of furniture or appliance store half way along Hart Road to the school. I remember the barber shop as many of the boys used to go there for haircuts. (Mine always being the short back and sides, as insisted by my foster parents). I remember the barber shop as having only one large leather chair to sit in for the haircuts and one large long leather seat to sit and wait on. The shop was solely operated by a friendly man, whose name I can’t remember.  He was very patient with us boys, as we were always turning our heads around during the hair cut to watch the others in the shop mucking around on the waiting seat. He used to constantly have to turn our heads back facing the mirror, which he did in a gentle manner, to continue cutting our hair. I think the price then was 6 pence a haircut. Maybe someone might be able to put a name to the appliance store and the barber.

Further along Hart Road was a shoe repair shop, located next to, or near Wiggins the building company. I remember this shop as it was quite small and I had my shoes repaired there. Wiggins remains in my memory as one of the jobs I had after leaving secondary school was as an apprentice carpenter there. Unfortunately, my apprenticeship didn’t last long as I wasn’t that handy with carpentry tools. Further along opposite the school was a (and probably still is) a row of shops joined together. Of these I remember the menswear store, the wool shop, the sweet shop and at the further end the Fish and Chip shop.

My memories of these shops were that the wool shop was run by a rather large lady who used to sit behind her counter. I was often sent to this shop to get yarns of wool for my foster mother.

I always had to ask for three pieces of fish and sixpence worth of chips. They were always soaked in vinegar and wrapped in old newspaper.

The sweet (lolly) shop next to it was quite popular with the children attending the school, as we often went there after school to buy sweets. Some of the popular sweets were penny dips, (a small packet of sherbert that you put a finger in and then licked the sherbet off the finger, love hearts (which in the later grades, the boys shared with the girls and teased them that they were in love with a particular boy), gobstoppers and three coloured ice blocks referred to as traffic lights. I also remember the other ice blocks called Orange Jubbly Ices as they used to melt so quickly and leave the hands a very sticky orange. I also recollect the fish and chip shop as I was sometimes sent there by my foster parents to buy fish and chips on a Friday night. It was always busy on a Friday and I remember having to wait in the line that stretched outside the shop. I always had to ask for three pieces of fish and sixpence worth of chips. They were always soaked in vinegar and wrapped in old newspaper.

Opposite that row of shops was the White Hart pub (which checking the internet is still there), a butcher shop, another sweet shop and I think some sort of hardware store.

Memories of my school days at Thundersley Primary School

Whilst at Thundersley Primary School the teachers that I remember are Mr Clough, who was the Head Master at the time and wasn’t afraid  of using his cane. He had the pleasure of using it on me a few times. His method was to have us hold our hands out in front and then ‘wack’ us across the palms a few times. He would finish off by walking behind and then use his cane to ‘wack’ us across the back of the knees. I also remember that he had an extra finger, or what was a large growth on one of them. His wife, Mrs Clough, was a teacher at the school and taught the younger grades.

Hand writing practice using wooden ink pens and ink wells

I remember somewhere around grade 2-4 we had hand writing practice. This was done by copying down a sentence that the teacher had written on the blackboard. It was a time when we used those wooden ink pens and had ink wells on the desks. I could never get the hang of those pens as I was always leaving blobs of ink in my work where the ink spilled from the ink nib. Using the blotting paper didn’t help much either as it just made the blob larger. Thank goodness the biro was invented not too many years later.

My most memorable teacher was Mr Barker as my Grade 6B teacher. He was a very quiet mannered teacher who I recollect never became angry with his pupils. He liked to have us line up outside the classroom in two straight lines. One was the girl’s line and the other the boy’s line, both from shortest to tallest. (Being quite small I was near the front of the line). I remember enjoying his teaching method and hence I progressed well in his class. At the end of the school year I was placed 5th in the class in academic achievement. I seemed to have had very neat handwriting at the time as I remember getting 9 out of 10 for the writing test. (We must have used pencils for the test and not ink pens).

Life is so much easier these days with a decimal system

Maths those days was much harder than present day. It was a time when year 6 students were expected to be able to divide shilling and pence into pounds, shillings and pence and similarly pounds and ounces into hundredweight pounds and ounces. Life is so much easier these days with a decimal system.  I remember sitting for (but not passing) the 11 plus exam in one of the external timber classrooms near the front of the school that year.

Playtimes were fun

It was a year where everyone got on well with each other and good friendships were made. Playtimes were fun and I remember such games as the boys chasing the girls, flying paper airplanes over the power cable that stretched across the bitumen playground, making daisy chains on the playing field and getting to school early so that we boys could play football before school started. It was a sad occasion to leave at the end of the school year and progress onto secondary school, where quite a few of us went on to the King John Comprehensive School at Shipwrights Drive. The only negative event that I can remember that year was that once, when we had a game of cricket, Mr Barker placed me in a fielding position very near the batsman. Unfortunately for me, when David Gibson (the biggest boy in the class) had his turn at batting, he hit the ball straight into my eye. For the next few days I had a real ‘shiner’, and unknowingly at the time, had my retina damaged.

I believe it was the year before that I was in Miss Cartwright’s class and at the end of the school years I was placed 37 out of around 40 students. I went from 5A down to 6B the next year. I probably didn’t do so well in her class as she sat the students in long rows of highest achievers in the front row and the lowest in the back row. I was placed at the rear of the class.

I only have scant memories of other teachers. I remember being taught by a Miss Mead and Mr French. Mr French taught the 6A class and took the year 6 boys for woodwork while Mr Barker took the year 6 girls for (what I think was sewing or some other home economic project). By wood work, I mean that the boys’ parents would buy balsa wood kits of things such as trucks, cars or planes and use a balsa wood knife to cut out the shapes. A few of us boys whose parents couldn’t afford to buy the kits had to scrounge bits of wood from the others or from left over pieces in the cupboard at the back of the classroom. I remember by Mr French not being at all impressed with my effort at constructing an airplane. As I could only find a small piece of balsa wood from the cupboard my plane was very small. I personally thought I had done a good job with what little resources I had.

Mr French (if my memory serves me correctly) was also in charge of the boys football team, but it was a year of so much rain that we very seldom actually played a game, as the playing field was so wet.

If we didn’t have our own football boots we used to have to select a pair from the school set of assorted sizes. The boots then were the old leather type which had cork studs. The studs were attached to the boots by small nails. I always seemed to get a pair that had the nails poking through the soles and into my feet. It was very uncomfortable playing with these protruding nails. Like Carol Powley, I also remember Mr French’s model village which he kept at the front of the class near his desk. He was quite proud of it, even though a visiting policeman had informed him that the pedestrian crossing was in a dangerous location on the road and required relocating.

Some of the usual school routines of the time were that we had regular morning whole school assemblies in the school hall. All students carried a hymn book from which we used to sing the songs selected by Mr Clough. The hall was also used for the daily dinner lunches. My brothers and I worked out that if you lined up at the back of the lunch queue and were the last students in, then the dinner ladies would put extra food on your plate. This helped them use up the food instead of wasting it. We seemed to have had sausage rolls and mashed potatoes for the main meal and bread pudding for dessert a lot. In the morning we had our free 1/3 pint bottle of milk. This I recall in the early school years but not in the later ones. In winter, when the bottles were cold we would put them on the class radiators to warm them up before drinking from them.

I am not sure if the practice has continued to the present day, but we had the annual summer sports day. My favourite event was the hoop race, which I always seemed to do quite well at and won prizes for. There was always the 50 yard running race and other events that escape my mind.

After school time in summer was also an enjoyable time. We boys in year 6 would go home for our respective teas then would meet up again at Thundersley Common. There we would  play together for a couple of hours, especially during the long summer evenings. Friends that I remember from that time were John Brown, Paul White, Terry Sheern, Edward Self and Trevor Jefferies.

During that time some of us boys went to the Thundersley cub scouts together. A favourite activity at the time was to be taken down to St. Peter’s Church playing field to play rounders. When it was a teams turn to bat the usual chorus went up of I ‘bagsy’ 1st bat.

They were the days of innocence, being carefree and enjoyment.


This page was added by Stephen, who since 1974 has lived in Australia.  Stephen sent in a comment to the site suggesting some names for the children in the photo. Another reader of this site, Mrs Alice Chafer, also saw the photo and recognised her daughter Ann.  Between Stephen and Ann quite a few names have been added.

If you are in the class photo and can help us with more information, please do so via the comments section at the bottom of this page.

We are also keen to find some photos of the teachers at the school in and around the 50s and 60s.

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  • I only went to this school from 1965 until I believe it burned down for the second time. I remember making a ‘golliwog’ out of newspaper and paint. There was a teacher who used to keep a teddy bear in the cupboard and if you were good she would get it out. I remember the smell of school dinners, falling over in the playground and Father Christmas visiting. Unfortunately do not remember any teachers names or many classmates although Trudi Kemp and Robert ? ring a bell. I then was sent to St Margarets in Bowers Gifford and then King John and Seevic. Does anyone remember Year 1 and 2 teachers names ?
    Deborah Gridley

    By Deborah Hutcheon (23/10/2018)
  • What a fantastic page, so many memories of Thundersley. .I did find two class photos, 1959 and 1961 on the Hadleigh and Thundersley Community Archive site ( well recommended read ) but sadly none on here…..I do however remember so much that has been posted…Jock the barber especially, I still have a photo of some of his handy work, a short back n sides just before a school photo was due to be taken…happy days.
    [Editor’s note: Here are links to Thundersley School 1959 class photos and 1961 class photos.]

    By Michael Souter (27/02/2018)
  • Having stretched my memory back sixty years and with the added advantage of some recent news, I have managed to stimulate a few more neurons to lurch into action to enable me to give you a little more input.

    Two more names from Thundersley Primary have come to mind being Jon(no “h”) Lever and Alan Emery, (see photo 10 on this page). Jon had a skin complaint and Alan was a “ginger”. I can “see” them at the ice slide at the back of the school.

    During one of our many forages we got the fright of our lives. At the top of Langford Crescent was an undeveloped and bushy area. We came across a grassy clearing and saw a number of mounds with snakes on them. We ran away and from then on called it “Adder field”. With the benefit of modern technology I now believe these to have been Grass snakes on their eggs.(Adders give birth to live young)

    One of the loves of my youth were conkers. I now see that my beloved Horse Chestnut tree is under attack, inter alia, from an unwanted immigrant. To think that they are expected to disappear in a few years is more than sad.

    Another unwanted immigrant to England is the Gray Squirrel and seems determined to move our indigenous population out.

    Unfortunately it seems that if English borders are porous, the death of England as we have known it is inevitable. Certainly the England that was fought for in the 40’s and that my Neurons from the 50’s cling to has gone already.

    By John Garnham (17/10/2016)
  • We lived on the bend in Langford Crescent. I was at Thundersley Primary School until 1957 when we emigrated to South Africa. I was friends with Robert and Christopher Pond and enjoyed an occasional free ice cream from their father’s shop. Mr Clough and his cane are etched in my memory. He would storm into the classroom and hit a desk top violently. He did not have visible finger nail moons and the nails were only slightly visible. I was deeply in love with Susan Green (at age 9) and a group of us would walk down a tree covered lane towards her home after school. There could surely have been no better place to grow up in than Thundersley – the freedom I had was amazing and the words safety and security did not exist.

    By John Garnham (20/09/2016)
  • Anyone remember Blatchfords Green Grocers? when I was in Mrs Rockalls class ( 1R in a 1976 )  used to play Dr Who with Derek Pritchard and Paula Blatchfords.

    By Stephen Farrell (01/07/2016)
  • Hi Stephen, I too remember the incident with my cap. My friend with me suggested that I ignore it and walk on and you would soon come back with my cap. No chance! It was soon disappearing down Hart rd. Some early lessons in life for me that day?

    By anthony mace (06/04/2016)
  • Anthony Mace is correct,the lad in the photo at the top of this article is me, Stephen Clark not Stephen Nash. I remember Tony Nash well, as when in Mr French’s class, I threw Tony’s school cap onto a parked lorry delivering to the greengrocer and it promptly drove off !

    Editor’s note: It has been confirmed that the photo referred to above was not Stephen Nash.  Apologies to Stephen Clark and many thanks for pointing this out. The photo has now been removed. 

    If anyone out there can find a photo of Stephen Nash amongst our gallery of Thundersley School photos, he would be very pleased to know, as he has no photos from his childhood.

    By Stephen Clark (15/03/2016)
  • The shop next to the barbers was Partridge’s and dealt in electrical goods and kitchen equipment, cooking equipment etc. They also had a range of household effects and some furniture. In the early fifties when we lived in the caravan site by Swans Green playing field at the bottom of Dark Lane we would get our accumulators (batteries) charged which ran the radio. You could also get paraffin and some paints. There was also a shop on the left as you entered Common Approach by the name of Bambers which sold all sorts of Hardware including pots, pans etc and Garden tools.

    You mention the sweet shop on the same side of Hart Road as the Fish Shop this was Collins and you could get a halfpenny of sherbert and farthing chews. The smaller shop to the left of Collins that became the wool shop was in the early fifties Falkus’s fish shop as the one on the corner of Park Road/Hart Road had not been built.

    You may also remember that next to the White Hart was the blacksmiths. When we walked home from school we would sometimes go along Hart Road instead of down Dark Lane and stop by the blacksmiths and watch him working. After the blacksmiths there were no further buildings until you got round the corner and reached the Newsagents (Lockstons) and the chemist next door which was Quenby’s.

    Hope this of interest.

    By Lynn Peter Sharman (26/01/2016)
  • I used to go to Thundersley Primary School, I remember Ian Mills, Wendy Panter, David Gibson, Stephen Nash, Trevor Jeffieries, some of my teachers Mr Ratenbury, head Mr Clough, Mr Wanstell. My brother and my self came to the school Alf Dummer & Ian Dummer then we went onto King John, also remember Mr French.

    By Alf Dummer (25/01/2016)
  • Has anybody got pictures of the class of 72? I was only at the school for a year before going to King John but remember Mr French vividly!

    By Jenny Harris (06/03/2015)
  • The lad in the photo I recall as being Stephen Clark. I remember Steve Nash. We knocked about a bit in the early 70’s with the Thomas brothers. Steve drove a Ford zepher I think, just before he went to Oz.

    By Anthony Mace (18/01/2015)

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