Growing-up With Southall From 1904 (Memories of R.J. Meads)


School 1916 – 1917 

                        The new North Road School was built 1915-16 and was occupied after the summer holidays. We started class 4 ( Mr. Reeve the teacher ) after the Easter holidays. By then conscription had become law and all men between 19 and 43 had to register for the Army, and Mr. Reeve was called up. There was a shortage of teachers, so Standards 4 and 5 were put together, which meant about 60 pupils in one class. A Mrs. Warren became teacher. She was the wife of one of three brothers who were plasterers but later became builders. In the old school the headmaster did not have a room to himself but a desk in the corner of our classroom, which of course did help to keep order. We were now old enough to go to the County School one morning a week, boys for woodwork, girls for cookery. We had to go normally to school, get marked in, and were allowed 15 minutes to get to Boyd Avenue. Mr. Beeley was our woodwork master and I owe him a great deal for what he taught me. it was always useful. After the summer holidays we found ourselves in the new school with Mrs. Warren and Standard 5 with a new teacher Mr. MacKenzie. Lessons went on much as usual, but all the bigger boys had to help clean up the playgrounds and do various jobs for the staff. Then Mr. Bunce the caretaker got called up, and that meant more of our time was spent helping Mrs. Bunce by keeping the boilers going to heat the school, than at lessons. 

                        Just about this time we had some Belgian refugees come to live in South Road, and some were in my class at school. By a mere chance I met one of the young ladies again in a Menin cafe whilst on a visit to the battlefields in 1927. 

War Memories 

                        Every week local men were reported killed. More land was put under cultivation. Part of Ealing Common and most of the parks were turned into allotments. My father was cultivating 28 rods, 3 allotments, one at the end of what is now Dane Road one next to the “Empire” in the Uxbridge Road and another in North Road. We all had to help, and when a small 5 rod piece became vacant next to his piece in Dane Road he persuaded me to take it on, so that I could grow plants for sale. That was the begining at 12. I am now 74 and have had an allotment in Southall for 62 years. 

                        My job as a houseboy kept me fairly busy, and among my jobs was the taking of gift parcels and magazines to patients in the Australian Hospital opposite. Mrs. Norman ( who lost her only son in the war ) had two daughters and with others used to make all sorts of things for the soldiers, using the house as a collecting centre, and poor me would be sent to deliver the goods. It soon became obvious that there would be a lot of local girls going to Australia after the war. Two of my cousins were killed, both only sons.