|Abstract||Before September 1921 local children who had gained county
scholarships to either of the grammar or secondary schools
at Chelmsferd or Maldon had to travel by train from
Tollesbury. No local toys had sat for the entrance
examinations during the Great War 1914-1918, although
local girls had done so, and two other boys and myself
were successful in passing the examination in the summer
of 1919. We were entered for Maldon Grammar School
for the Autumn term commencing mid-September. Medical
examinations followed at the Clinic in Wantz Road, and
our parents had to purchase at their expense, school
cap and badge, tie in school colours of amber and blue,
and a school satchel. Parents of girls had additional
expense as they had to provide, gym slip, white blouse,
black knickers and stockings, and blue felt hat with hat
ribbon and school badge, which was in actual fact a
replica of the Borough's crest.
It was with some eager excitement that we three boys
boarded the "Crab and Winkle" train on the appointed
day at 8.25 a.m., to travel to Kelvedon on the first
stage of the daily journey for the next three or
four years. We found that three very senior girls,
a lady school-teacher, also made the daily journey.
The girls were school prefects, and one was head girl
of Maldon Grammar School. They took charge of us eleven
year olds, and instructed us how to obtain our railway
season tickets at Kelvedon station, which was situated
on the main line level. I still have a season ticket
issued at the time which cost the Education Committee
£2. 10s. 2d for half-price quarterly travel between
Tollesbury and Maldon East Railway Stations ana return
each day. En route to Kelvedon the train, consisting
of two passenger coaches, with central gangways
similar to American Pullmans, and drawn by a G.E.R.
Eastern Region Class J69/1 tank steam engine,
made stops at Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Tolleshunt Knights,
Tiptree, Inworth, and Feering stations, arriving at
Kelvedon low level about 9 a.m. Here we had to
alight, make our way to the main line platform,
where we could obtain our season tickets, and wait
for the Ipswich to London train, which would convey us
for tne next part of the journey to Witham Station.
Each day whilst waiting for our train to Maldon East,
we would see the London to Hook-of-Holland Express
draw in on the opposite side of the platform, to take
on additional passengers and replenish the huge engine
with water. This train was usually packed with
passengers, as the war had just ceased, and in 1919
there were no air flights at all to the continent.
However it would appear that efforts were being made
to recruit men for the arned forces, posters on the
railway platforms urged men to "Join the Army and See
the World". Sadly one macabre joker had printed on
one such poster in thick black crayon "Join the R.I.C.
and see the next" a very sad reminder that the troubles
in Ireland existed in that day. Our train to Maldon
East Station made stops at Wickham Bishops and Langford
where we were joined by other pupils, and usually arrived
at its destination just after 10 a.m. The long walk
then followed, up the Market Hill and through the White
Horse Yard down to the school which is now known as
On arrival we were directed to wait outside the
Headmaster's study. Eventually we were
ushered in, and an interview then followed.
I felt that I did not impress the Headmaster, and I later
learned that he preferred fee paying pupils to free
scholarship ones. Fortunately we three new boys were
placed in the same class Form IIIb, where we found a mixed
class of 27 girls and boys in our age group.
We were each allotted single desks in which we were
instructed to place our satchels. Issue of text books and
exercise books were issued at each class.
Our entrance into class had disrupted the attention of the class,
and for the next two years this occurred daily, consequently it
was with some trepidation that we as quietly could be took our
places. Our late arrival each day, and early departure
at 3.30 p.m., meant that we missed some very important schooling.
I have copies of my school reports for the
the first four years at Maldon Grammar School, and at least
for the terms of the first two years
make very sorry reading. Instruction was given in History,
Geography, English, Latin, French, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry,
Science, Drawing and Woodwork. I note that I missed Scripture
lessons entirely, was absent for 17 half-days in my first term due
to late arrivals and early departures, work returned three times,
but conduct was assessed "very good". I refrain from repeating
the remarks of the masters and mistresses, but the Headmaster's
cryptic remark "Progress slow owing to lack of foundation" sums
it up. For my part I felt like someone being thrown in at the
deep end, or a ship without a rudder wallowing in a rough sea,
however I survived and progressed. No reports were made on our
games or gymnasium ability, just as well in my case, as I
found that I easily became winded, and only after some sixty
years on medical examination was told that I had had rheumatic
fever as a child. For a few shillings weekly, school dinners
could be purchased, which were taken in the main hall or gymnasium,
for the greater part of my time at the school I had to take
sandwiches, which could be eaten in the vacant class-room at
lunch time. Each day homework was allotted which had to be
presented the following day for correction, etc. As much
as possible would be done on the return journey home, but
arriving home no earlier than 6.30 p.m. each
evening, having a meal, and then settling down to two to three
hours study and writing with pen and ink, no ball-point pens in
those days, meant getting to bed no earlier than 10 p.m. each
week night. This was rendered all the more difficult in
winter-time, when the acetylene gas lighting in the trains
and paraffin lamps at home were not so good. The daily travel
to and from Maldon always proved most interesting. In time we
became friendly with daily commuters and knew the railway staffs
by name. The late Mr. Victor Lewis wrote an excellent article
on his life and commuting daily in the old "Crab and Winkle"
which was published in the Parish Magazine of August 1970.
By the summer of 1921, Messrs. G.W. Osborne and Sons had started
a 'bus service to Maldon, using their first 'bus "The Alpha" which
could seat twelve adults inside and two beside the driver outside.
Apparently a contract was completed with the Education Committee
and for the Autumn term commencing in September 1921 we were ordered
to travel by the 'bus. This meant that we would arrive
in time for commencement of school at 9 a.m. each day, and could
leave after 4 p.m. The 'bus was garaged at The Ship Inn yard at
the foot of Market Hill.
This luxury travel for my part was short-lived - my father received
a "means test" form, which he refused to complete, consequently I
had to have other means of travel. One other pupil had his own
bicycle and rode the ten miles daily, and I fondly imagined that
this would be the opportunity for me to have
the bicycle I ban been promised for gaining my scholarship,
but alas no such luck, a cycle was hired from Messrs, Probets'
cycle shop for a few shillings weekly, and I had to ride to and
fro for the next two years, but they were
happy and carefree days as there was little vehicular traffic
and we always arrived at school and back home before the little school bus.