A Town With A Past --- And A Future
Page 12



Our Oldest Friend?

Is Mary, now 95 years old,
the oldest surviving School pupil?

Mary Bell was born in 1911 in Soutergate – in a cottage, long since demolished and now part of the site for the newly-erected 'Rosalie Terrace'. At the end of Soutergate was The Beck, fed by artesian springs, and the children were frightened of it. "They said there was no bottom to it," Mary told Vicky Lister during a recent interview which will be added to the School’s Oral History Archive.

Mary enjoyed her time at the nearby Church School, particularly loving geography and sewing lessons – "I got while I did button-holes perfectly”. She remembers the Vicar, Chad Varah's father, visiting the School and the children being taken for services at the Church. "The class rooms were heated by coke stoves and the toilets were at the bottom of the playground. In the School Holidays we would go brambling, picking violets and gathering watercress in the stream on Dam Road."

After leaving the School at 14, Mary's first job was at the Vicarage where she had to clean all the boys' boots and scrub the brick floors – "My knees were so raw!” She quickly left there and went to Hoppers' Cycle Works and then to Burkitt's Bakery.

But it was not all work; Mary went dancing in the Assembly Rooms and to the New Theatre (Barton's first cinema) in the Odd Fellows' Hall, and later to the other cinema – "I worked at the Star Cinema," she recalls.

Her family moved from Soutergate to 20 Dam Road where "we three girls had the back bedroom, the 5 boys were in the middle room, and Mum and Dad had the front bedroom."

In 1934 Mary married and moved to Scunthorpe, where she still lives with her son. "I remember a couple of the teachers – Miss Daddy and Miss Lawson, who gave me a big doll – and Ida Lambert, Nora and Mary Robinson, Molly Conway, Lilley …". "I would love to hear from any of the children in my class," Mary concluded.

We would like to know too – if you were in Mary’s class, or attended the School even earlier or, more likely, since and would like to share your memories to help with the displays and exhibition, please get in touch with Ian Wolseley at the Old Boathouse – see page 8 for details.
Reminiscences will be added to the Archive but will also be useful when the visitors’ displays are designed. These will hopefully include facilities for visitors to access the sound and image archives.
We are interested in schooldays memories beyond those of the Church School. Wherever you went to school, in Barton or elsewhere, we would like to know.

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