In 2011 the Gaynes School Parents Association organised a very special summer fun day as our school was celebrating its 75th Birthday. This was truly a momentous occasion in the history of our school and I know that all of the Parent Association committee and teaching staff are very proud to have played a small part in helping stage this historic event.
2011’s event was held on Saturday 25th June and the day’s proceedings opened at 11am and went through until around 3pm. We were lucky enough to have the Mayor of Havering and the local Member of Parliament Angela Watkinson attending. Entry to this special Anniversary day was only 50p, with all monies raised from the day going towards the PA funds, which in turn were used to assist with purchasing the much needed items the school may need.
This event was slightly different to any other fun day we have held, because we not only had many side shows, attractions and events running throughout the day on the school field but we also staged a large display depicting the history of the school from its opening in September 1936 right through to 2011. We also held a special reunion for many ex staff and pupils and we had some of the schools original pupils from its opening day attending and of course many more from other years came along on the day to rekindle their memories and friendships from their time at the school. Anyone who wished to see what the school looks like today joined the present Head Teacher Mr. Edgar and Assistant Head Ms Malakouna on one of the guided tours of the school.
Who would have thought that 75 years ago when those first children and teachers entered through the school gates that they would be laying down the foundations of our schools proud and illustrious history.
Staff and Students
OUR NEW SCHOOL, GAYNES 1936 – 1938
Leonard Chapman and Gweneth Shipley (much later to become Mrs. Chapman) both started at Upminster Central School (the Bell school) as infants, they went through the juniors together and then on to start at Gaynes at the age of 12, they were both in 2B Miss Coppin’s class and their school houses were Engayne and Esdaile.
A memory of Gwen’s was of Leonard and his friend Jack Smith tugging her hair as they both sat behind her in class, she recalls turning round and poking her tongue out at them.
They both recall that although the school had a uniform it was not compulsory as not everyone’s parents could afford to buy it, Leonard does remember that the boys would have had a cap and the girls wore a panama hat as part of the uniform but again not many people had them.
They were not allowed on the school playing fields in the first year as it had only just been seeded. Before first play all the children were given a Horlicks tablet and bottle of milk, during playtimes they were separated into separate boys and girls playgrounds. Many of the boys would play marbles or conkers and the girls would do skipping or just stand around chatting.
During break time a gentleman would arrive at the front gates park up his push bike and proceed to sell sweets from his saddle bag, Mr Young and Mr Lacey soon decided that it would be better for the school to sell their own sweets and keep the children on the premises and so a tuck shop was started up soon after.
Lunchtimes were between 12 noon and 1.45pm, which gave those children who did not stay for school dinners or fetch in sandwiches, plenty of time to go home and return in time for the afternoon lessons.
They also recall going on a Whitsun school holiday in 1937 to East Cowes Holiday camp on the Isle of Wight, where they stayed in wooden hutted dormitories, the cost for this holiday was 26 shillings (£48.07p in today’s money). They had travelled by train from Upminster to Portsmouth and then by boat, on the way Miss Eidsman had suffered an appendicitis, when we arrived at the port there was a ambulance waiting to take the teacher to hospital, all the children were terrified and upset as they thought their teacher might die, they didn’t know how the ambulance came to be waiting for them when they arrived, as at that time there would not have been any mobile phones to call ahead.
Another recollection was of the school exams which were taken in the classroom, unlike today where the pupils are seated in the school hall.
There have been three generation of the Chapman family attending Gaynes School, starting with Leonard followed by his three sons Philip, Trevor and Raymond, and then later Raymond’s children Stephen, Liam and Nicole.
Both Leonard and Gwen said that they had felt so proud to have been some of those very first children to have started at the new Gaynes School.