Rosemary, who also appears in the book Schools mentioned earlier, started school at Pickersleigh Road Council School in 1938 (now Great Malvern Primary). She remembered the strict discipline at the school which was reinforced by the cane. She did however regard the education as very good and her school days were happy ones. Chanting tables remained a strong memory, as well as singing and dancing in the hall.
Rosa started at the same school in the mid 1930s and stayed until she was 14 when she began work at RRE. She has clear memories of going with her class on nature rambles, as well as walking in crocodile fashion to the open air swimming pool in Priory Park. It was here where they learned to swim. Their teacher, Mr Moody had a long pole with a hook which was used to catch hold of the children’s swimming costumes to support and guide them along. Roy also attended this primary school, as did his own children later on.
The housing development along Pound Bank Road and Lower Chase Road began after the Second World War. Access to Pickersleigh Road School from Wedderburn Road was still via the passage way half way up Pound Bank during this time.
The Chase County Secondary School opened in 1953. It introduced a major change in the provision of secondary education for children in the town. Before 1953, a few children over the age of 11 attended Manor Park School, (now Malvern Hills College). Others gained scholarships while at primary school to go to grammar schools at Hanley Castle, Ledbury or Worcester. Rosemary can remember when she was 11 her class at Pickersleigh Road taking the scholarship exam to decide whether they would go to a grammar school in Worcester.
Pupils at The Chase School were given a broad education. There was a particular emphasis on commercial subjects (Pitman shorthand and typing, and book-keeping) and practical subjects. As well as GCEs (O-levels) in some of the traditional subjects, girls could also gain qualifications in courses such as hygiene, pre-nursing and domestic science. Boys left with qualifications in horticulture, rural science, wood and metal work.
The school’s first headmaster was Mr Garth. He had a staff of thirty five, half of whom were graduates.
Most pupils would leave school on reaching the age of fifteen, though the numbers of pupils choosing to stay on into the fifth and sixth years at The Chase School increased each year.
The Chase buildings
A reporter from the Malvern Gazette was given a tour of the school in October 1953. There was much to praise and admire. The accommodation was spacious and colourful. The Assembly Hall had ‘deep-rose’ furnishings and chairs, while the music room behind the Hall was a ‘warm rather unusual yellow’. The dining room (now a computer room) was white and turquoise, with lemon and grey seating. Classrooms were two-tone, such as peach pink and mushroom grey, or lime green and cream. By this time there were 699 pupils on the school register. They wore blue blazers and the familiar blue and yellow ties. Pupils came from 20 local primary schools.
The original school buildings consisted of the Assembly Hall, dressing rooms, a music room (now the lecture theatre), dining room and kitchen (now the IT suite of rooms), with a science room and library above. The present Textiles and Food Technology rooms were used for similar subjects in 1953, with a flat at the far end where the first headmaster, Mr Garth and his family lived.
The concourse looked directly out to the playground and the Malvern Hills beyond. The senior staff had their offices along the Concourse, as they still do today. There were separate staffrooms for male and female teachers.
The school boasted a good library. Along the long corridor there were drying rooms for wet clothes and elsewhere shower and feet baths as well as a special medical unit. Cooked lunches were provided for 9d (or the equivalent of 4p) a day.
The gymnasium, which had changing rooms and a medical inspection room, was linked to the school. Along the main corridor were cloakrooms and the present toilet blocks. The main classroom block was used for English, mathematics and general subjects.
At the far end was the final part of the school where pupils were taught in metal and woodwork shops. There were also a biology laboratory and rural science block, with its greenhouse behind.
Rosemary also recalled the evacuees from Birmingham who joined the many primary schools in and around Malvern. Some were very badly behaved and one boy in particular was caned often.