Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.

My Early Schooling

I started school Easter 1925 at the age of five, at Fazeley Infant School. It was built alongside the Birmingham and Fazeley canal near Tolson's footbridge. Now called Millfield, it has been greatly enlarged with a playground full of Portacabins and catering for over 400 pupils.

Very few of the old streets of Fazeley survive in their entirety. Most of the pupils now live in Deer Park, built on the old cricket ground, which later became a speedway and greyhound track. A lot live on County Drive, on the other side of the Fazeley to Fradley canal, (which to me is Tamworth!).

And what was school like? Well, corporal punishment was common, a lot of the teachers had bamboo canes and they used them. The female teachers were, with a few very exceptional circumstances, all single. They had to resign if they married. Mrs (Granny) Taylor was an exception. Her husband, like my father, was gassed in World War 1 and she was allowed to teach. Mrs Taylor was a terror. The school was coke-fired down in a cellar and if anyone misbehaved badly she would stand no cotter (Staffordshire slang) and down they would go for the rest of the lesson. Needless to say mothers were protesting at the school gates quite frequently.

There were four classes of about 20 pupils :
  1. Mrs Taylor
  2. Miss Brierley who taught my daughter 33 years later
  3. Miss Harrison
  4. Miss Morris
The latter three were very kind and good teachers and would give presents at the end of term to outstanding pupils. The poor ones were not given a lot of attention though, they were put at the back of the class and got worse.

In the mid twenties, fevers were rife. I missed out on about a year of schooling because I had diphtheria twice, which seems impossible, so my swab could not have been clear. I was in the Bolehall Fever hospital and there were so many children in there that the gangways were blocked with beds.