A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.
Not very difficult, considering that most buildings were bombed flat in the East End of London during the second world war. It was in the dock area which was a dangerous place to be between 1939 and 1945. The schools were evacuated out to the country, where it was safer. However what the bombs did not destroy the builders did although after I had left London for Switerland. The actual school was half in the City of London and was founded as some sort of charity school some time in the 18th century. Not really sure anymore why and how. It was a grammar school and I qualified for entry when I was 11 years old, having passed my 11+ scholarship exam as it was then known. I spent my school days there between the years 1959-1964.
It was a girls only school. The masculine part also existed, but in another area. Reflecting I must say we did have a good education and they did a good job of getting us through the GCE examinations as they were then known. The photo is a class photo, taken in our playground, as they all were. And me? – in the second row from the front, fifth from the left. Yes I was the tallest and I remember that when they took a class photo they always started with me in the middle and sort of planned everyone around me. It was a very old building in the middle of Spitalfields Fruit and Vegetable market. Memories remain of our morning break outside in the playground, being bombarded by soggy tomatoes and smelly oranges from the market boys thrown over the wall. It was an interesting place to go to school, just about ten minutes walk from the bank center of London.
We were all girls from the East End of London, cockneys if you like, so of course the school had the job of forming us into young ladies. I do not know if they succeeded. I still have my cockney accent if I am not careful, but living in another country I had to speak my english clearly for the foreigners to understand, although today I am bilingual in German and english, so no further problem. We had quite a high jewish percentage of girls in the school meaning that the morning assembly was divided into two places. We had our assembly in the main hall, and the jewish girls had theirs in the room. School dinners existed although I would take my own food and could eat it in a room provided for the girls that brought their own sandwiches and whatever. The jewish girls also had their own kitchen which prepared kosher food. I remember their cutlery and plates being marked with a large “K”.
The Main Hall
This hall is the only part of the school still standing, and the last I heard it had been converted into a French restaurant. The complete market no longer exists as such and has been redeveloped as one of the nicer parts of London to visit, especially if you are a tourist. As you can see the hall was also our gymnastic area. In the morning we would have benches to sit on. There was a stage at the far end where the headmisstress would read something religious from the bible, the music teacher would play the piano and we would all sing a few hymns. Those were the olden days.
As I said we had a dining room, quite large, with a stage. The teachers would eat on a table on the stage and the girls would eat in the surroundings.
So farewell Central Foundation School for girls, Spitalfields. Everything has to go eventually. The fruit and vegetable markets of London have moved out of London. I is all part of modern London. I grew up playing on bombed out buildings, remember London with war ruins, but eventually all was remodernised. I still know my way around London, I am a Londoner, but it is no longer the London I knew. I left in 1966 and when I return it is a bit of a shock. Something somewhere is different. You just cannot stop so-called progress I suppose. I could have written this blog about my infants school. That still exists but is now a boy’s school. My next school was a so-called primary school. That was also in the East End of London and no longer exists. It was demolished to make way for housing, appartment blocks which I would not qualify as the quality of life. So goodbye school years.
And yes, we have our own private little site in Facebook, where I took the photos, which all have their copyright sign on them. The school class photo is mine, the only one I have from the school.
The remains of the school