John thinks he knows two pupils

WHEN former Nantwich schoolmaster John Barlow saw the picture of Nantwich and Acton Grammar School pupils taken in 1936 (Old Nantwich Pictures No 4) he thought he recognised two of them. John, now of Inverness, taught for several years at the Church of England School in Market Street. 

    He sent the information to Nantwich historian, Andrew Lamberton. Referring to the grammar school pupils, John says: "I was born in 1936 so these children would have been roughly 11 years older than me. The name of the boy on the front row on the right-hand side, R.Leedham, rang a bell.

   "My father's sister, Alice, married Ernest Leedham. At some stage in his life he owned a grocer's shop at the former of a terrace on The Barony (Barony Road), roughly opposite the cemetery gates. They had two boys, John and Ron.

   "Apart from buying our groceries from Leedham's shop and having them delivered weekly, and visiting the family house very occasionally, we didn't really have a great deal to do with them. But I do remember the two boys. Ron took over the shop and John went to work at Rolls Royce or Crewe Works.

   "The age of the boy in the picture would be about right and the shape of the face and hair could be scaled up to the young man I remember when he was working in the shop.

   "The Leedham's home was the end detached house almost opposite to Mrs Jones' shop near the Peacock public house in Willaston.  Bernard's market garden was also opposite.

   "I don't know where Ron lived, but John had a house in the row of detached houses between Birchin Lane and the terraced houses near to the Peacock.   

   " 'K.Hassall' on the back row might be Ken Hassall whose family lived next door but one to us in Birchin Lane (next to Billy Day) until the family moved to a new detached house opposite the end of Birchin Lane. Later, Ken had his own house built next to his parents'. I think Mr Hassall owned an ironmonger's shop in Market Street, Crewe."


lJohn admits he might be wrong about both of the boys - but adds: "On the other hand these thoughts may be of help." 


Sharing meals with stuffed animals


JOHN also told Andrew Lamberton about the "Prep Dept" at the Grammar School. He said: "It was situated roughly halfway between the main school buildings and King's Lane, and between the headmaster's house and the 'big field'.

   "From what I remember, it was built of green galvanised iron and had three classrooms with a corridor running along the side. The head's room projected from the building into the playground on the western side. Across the end facing the playing field was a grandstand

   "A wide path ran from the main grammar school building, past the grandstand to King's Lane. Just before the junction with King's Lane and on the right hand side was the museum. This was lined with stuffed animals and birds and horrible looking things floating in fluid in glass containers. This building was used as a school canteen, which was fine as long as you didn't look up and meet the deathly stares of the creatures looking down at you.

   "Miss Grant was the head teacher of the prep. Other teachers I remember were Ruth Gilbert - who lived at The Archway in Welsh Row and, for a short time, a Miss Steventon. I think she had farming connections somewhere.

   "I can't remember anybody failing the 11+. I never thought about it before but all the prep faces disappeared - to private schools I should imagine. I can only remember one girl who went on to the big school up the road, but I could be wrong.

DABBER writes: "I, too, remember the Preparatory Department, but not by that name. To me and the others at the grammar school in 1953 (and other times, of course) it was the classroom block for the Third Year pupils (the first year at grammar school) - 3A and the three houses 3 Hodgkin, 3 Thrush and 3 Wilbraham. (3 Kent hadn't been introduced at that time). The fourth year was spent in the single-storey concrete (?) buildings across the playground from the 'Prep. Dept'. "  

AND finally, John asked Andrew about a part of his "Lost Buildings of Nantwich" book. He said: "You make a passing reference to W S Neal, an antiques dealer who lived in Pillory Street. I was very friendly with his son, David, who played the violin with me and others in Albert Jolly's N.A.G.S. orchestra. Mr Neal was more than an antique dealer. He was a superb craftsman. He could transform a dilapidated piece of furniture into something you would be proud to own. David became a doctor and ended up as a psychiatrist at Leighton Hospital."


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