Teacher recalls his school colleagues

And there's a picture of a group of Oddfellows 

Market Street School pupils

Former Nantwich teacher John Barlow with some of his pupils at Market Street Church of England primary school.


WHEN John Barlow, a former member of staff at Market Street Church of England school, e-mailed his recollections of two pupils at Nantwich and Acton Grammar School, Nantwich historian Andrew Lamberton asked for his reminiscences of the Market Street school teachers. Andrew told John he knew Frank Davenport and his wife, along with Mrs Davenport's sister, Miss Whalley, who lived in Dysart Buildings. Also, said Andrew, Gwen Davenport was his Sunday School teacher at Market Street around 1952.


JOHN BARLOW'S recollections of the Market Street school staff started with Miss Davenport who taught the top class. She was, said John, referred to by his mother who knew her when they were much younger, as Gertie. His mother first met the Davenport family in her younger days when they used to attend services at All Saints' Church on the edge of the cemetery in Middlewich Road.

   John said: "A generation later I played the harmonium for two to three evening services there. John Lake also helped out during the same period.

   "Gertie Davenport had a superb sense of humour. At the Church school we didn't have a staff room and washing facilities were shared with the children. No hot water, and Lifebuoy soap. On one occasion I was washing my hands when Gertie snatched the soap away from me. She said that I was using her very expensive rose-perfumed soap which she had left behind. But she was highly amused when I mumbled something about ****** Lifebuoy.
   "Eric Mercer was the head teacher while I was there and his wife used to help me in the hall coping with a double class for music lessons. After Eric died, Bill Brace became head teacher.
   "When Miss Davenport retired, Mary Jones took over. I think she had moved from one of the Crewe schools. She was very cheery and good to work with. She had two children of her own. David went to Goldsmiths' College in London and qualified as a teacher, but instead of following his parents into the profession he got involved with pop music. Later as "Steve" Jones he became well known as the presenter of the TV panel game "The Pyramid Game". He also did voice overs for special show business occasions.
   "A teacher who gave me a lot of guidance was Peggy Allan. Her husband had a managerial role at Calmic in Crewe. He was a pharmacist.
   "Jean Taylor was a teacher at the lower end of the junior department. Her father, ---?--- Crabtree was a surveyor or engineer with Nantwich Rural District Council.
   "Eunice Blackburn, nee Garner, taught at the lower end of the school and as far as I know was from Nantwich. She was very good at art and later transferred to the secondary modern school at Audlem Road to teach art full time.
   "I don't really know enough of the other teachers to add anything."

WRITING about the picture at the top of the page - showing some of the pupils in one of his early classes, John said: "I think the boy nearest to the camera is Michael Phillips whose father worked at Rolls Royce, possibly as a designer - but I'm not sure about that.

   "As for the girl immediately behind him - well, the name Caroline Bowyer comes to me out of thin air. I do know that I saw a photograph of her on the front page of The Chronicle when she might have been in her late teens or early twenties. She might have been 'Miss Nantwich'.
   "The classroom projected out at the back of the school. In actual fact, it was a double-sized room and quite open. The desks were in the half nearest to the windows. The other half was clear except for cuboards. The "walls" separating my room from the two classrooms on either side were really glass and wooden screens which at one time would have been opened when a large space was required. They were never opened in my time and appeared to be fixed."

Can you name any of these Oddfellows?


John Barlow believes these distinguished gentlemen are Oddfellows. His father, Sam, is in the middle of the back row, but can you name any of the others?

Market Street school memories | Nantwich and Acton Grammar School

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