John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Steven goes to school

Early Days

Perhaps Friday 13th February 1953
1. I think it was usual in those days to start school when one reached the age of five—on one’s actual birthday, as opposed to, say, the nearest start-of-term day. Steven’s fifth birthday was on Friday 13th February 1953; but whether Mum took him to school on that day or waited till the following Monday, I don’t know. Obviously, I wouldn’t be left alone in the house, so I would be taken along too.

Click on the image for a larger map.
Bray Street
 2. Steven went for a time to Bray Street school near the centre of Preston. All I can remember of this is an entrance door topped by a stone lintel, set in a brick wall the height of the lintel or a little higher.

View down Bray Street. I think the school building is the white structure on the left. Photo thanks to Google Maps Street View.

Closer view of the school building. The remains of “a brick wall” is here also. Photo thanks to Google Maps Street View.

Photo thanks to Google Maps Street View.
There was a road that we went along, with cobbled streets leading off it and the ends of terraced houses facing on to it.

Cobbled street leading off Tulketh Brow, Preston—i.e. not actually off the “road that we went along”, Waterloo Road, for all the cobbles have disappeared from there. Photo thanks to Google Maps Street View.
This road, and Bray Street, it seems to my memory, were quite steeply inclined, so the houses bordering them were built in “steps” and seemed to lean into the slope.

View back up Bray Street, showing a terrace of houses built in steps and seeming to lean into the slope.

Photos thanks to Google Maps Street View.
My memories get a little mixed up, but I think a recollection of broken glass set in cement on top of a wall, and one of a brown three-wheeled van going up the cobbles, belong in this context.

A three-wheeled van similar to the one of my memory
A rather bizarre memory comes to mind, which must come from a dream, of lifting myself effortlessly off the ground and slowly drifting, a few feet up, over one of these cobbled street junctions.

This photo was taken after Steven started school but before I did — so perhaps 1953. He and I are in the back garden at 20 Fairfield Drive, Ashton, Preston. The main west-coast railway line is behind the fence, and the trees beyond that belong to Haslam Park.
Perhaps June 1953
 3. I don’t think it was long before Steven started to go to St. Andrew’s school,[1] a Church of England school next door to St. Andrew’s church on Blackpool Road. At any rate I have a memory of him getting dressed up, and a lot of people being gathered—I think, at St. Andrew’s school—and him and a number of other children dancing round a maypole which wasn’t very secure and nearly toppled over.[2]
[1] Steven started to go to St. Andrew’s school: It seems strange that I don’t associate Steven either with my tearful first morning at St. Andrew’s, or indeed with any part of my attendance there.

[2] I have a memory of him… and a number of other children dancing round a maypole which wasn’t very secure and nearly toppled over: The following photo appeared in a “Coronation Special”, an article celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, in the edition of The Lady for 27 May to 2 June 2003, with the caption:

The Coronation was celebrated throughout the land with street-parties and traditional dances that had been specially rehearsed for the occasion.

 4. I also remember walking down Blackpool Road clutching a can of fruit, which might have been required for the same festivities, though it seems more likely that it would have been for a Harvest Festival.

 5. Another occasion of walking down Blackpool Road was when I was walking towards St. Andrew’s school on a cold, windy, rainy day, but I was well protected against the weather in my mac and sou’wester. I remember the odd, shuddery feeling—quite pleasant—that I got.
[3] The odd, shuddery feeling—quite pleasant—that I got: To this day I call it the “Blackpool Road Rainy Day Feeling”—that feeling I get sometimes when it rains, especially if it is windy too, and I am sheltered or well protected against the weather.

An old pic of Bray Street School;
Thanks. The link is here.
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