Memories of Stuart Grieve

I attended Maypole CPS between 1945 & 1951. Like many children I recall the first day as being rather traumatic. Then, as others have recalled, Miss Gaspar was the head with her deputy Miss Burr. There was a Miss Bean, a late middle aged person who always wore what we took to be a tea cosy on her head. There was also a Miss Torrie whose marriage to another teacher, Mr Davis, I attended as a choir boy at Christ Church Dartford. There was also Mr Rees, a small amiable Welshman, who often seemed hard -pressed.What surprises me in retrospect is that, apart from occasional nature study, we were rarely taken on to the heath for sport.

Something which sticks out in my mind is the PE in the playground which was supervised by female students from Madame Osterberg's Physical Education College in Oakfield Lane,Dartford. Madame Osterberg was in the forefront of educational innovation in the late 19th century & had initially come to England at the invitation of the London School Board. The college she set up was where netball was first introduced into the country. The girls who taught us were turned out in airtex shirts & maroon, heavy duty skirts & put us through a routine with bean bags & hoops. We once attended a party at the college which architecturally must have been a model of its kind & had spacious well-kept grounds.

There was one particularly painful memory, which was the visits to the school dentist, I believe at West Hill Hospital.Three successive Fridays I had to undergo drilling without anaesthetic from this large bald man with steel spectacles & I was deterred from visiting the dentist for some years afterwards.

As I lived at the top of Station Road, Crayford approaching the school across the heath I could always clearly see the chimney of Bexley Hospital & the sad fact is that the topicality of Nazi atrocities caused we children to discuss whether they were burning patients' corpses if we saw the chimney smoking. As pupils we did once make a social visit to the hospital,when a Christmas party was held for us.All I recall was that the blue -iced cakes were the best I've tasted.

Every Christmas there was the Nativity play & as a choir boy I often had a singing role & for that & 'general progress' I once received a school prize, a book entitled 'African Adventure'. Miss Gaspar did on another occasion give me an award in the cloakroom with a cane. Generally corporal punishment consisted of a smack on the back of the leg, which was painful.

I've been back to the area a few times since leaving nearly forty years ago. The motorway has wrecked Dartford Heath & presumably no children travel to the new school from Crayford & indeed the links which used to exist between Crayford , the Maypole & Bexley must have ceased , not least the gang fights which ranged across the heath.

Further addition added by Stuart 26/10/2008

I just noticed a reference to the gun club in the intro to the web site & it reminded me that I & a friend trespassed there in the mid fifties occasionally. On one occasion we took possession of an elevated position for firing the clay pigeons & were quite happily firing them off when I lent forward at the wrong time & the return action of the sling mechanism caught me full in the face & knocked me flat. At this point an inquisitive & slightly aggressive alsation dog appeared & forced us to roll down the hill thro' tall ferns. I reached the bottom by a stony track on hands & knees & peered out to see my friend being seized by a large man.I'm ashamed to say that my first reaction was to lie doggo but my intentions were foiled by the dog confronting me face to face & thus we were both marched to the exit with severe warnings. I returned home with face streaming with blood & a broken nose & had to pretend to my parents that I'd fallen off my bike.

Further added 5/12/09 - re the Army Camp at Leyton Cross, Dartford Heath

After the war the army camp was used to house POWs, both Germans & Italians, who were distinguished by insignias on their sleeves. I seem to recall one such was a red diamond shape. Living at the top of Station Rd. Crayford I used to see them passing the house as they were eventually allowed out. I particularly remember playing cowboys & indians one day when a German POW pointed at my silver revolver & asked what it was. As though he didn't know! At a later stage still,I suppose, British troops who were still stationed at the camp on a couple of occasions gave me & friends a lift home in bren gun carriers in which they were roaming about tearing up the tarmac on Denton Road.

Further added 23/7/10

Your comments (made by Maypoleman on a thread by Stuart) triggered memories of the sandpit adjacent to the gun club & opposite my parents' house in Station Rd., Crayford. One day during the war I was climbing through barbed wire surrounding the sandpit in order to see a barrage balloon which had come down in the night . I ripped my leg & had my first encounter with iodine, which most children of my generation dreaded. I didn't see the balloon. But the sandpit was a great playground where you could see sandpipers nesting in the sides of the pit & occasionally adders. In the early '50s there were tipping trucks on the railway line which ran through the pit although it was no longer a functioning business. Boys would construct obstacles on the track & while some clung to a truck others would push it until it gathered momentum. The last one to jump off before it hit the obstacle could brag until the next time. Sometimes we'd be chased by a watchman & the best escape route was through a tunnel which went under where Swan Lane & Denton Rd. (I think that's what they're called) join Station Rd. The other side was another sandpit which abutted Chastilian Rd. & the A2. The watchman, Mr Deemer, sometimes occupied a corrugated iron shack at the bottom of the pit. His unpopularity was such that on one occasion he was trapped in his hut by boys firing catapults & airguns from the heights. "Just like the pictures," said one of my pals.

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