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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Reminiscences of Burton Green by Joan Pulham and Angela Loughran

These are two further E-mails from former residents that I received, some years ago:

From Joan Pulham
Formerly of Burton Green now living in Cyprus
My late husband and I met during WW2 when we were both in the Royal Navy and stationed in Scotland. His home was in Berkswell and mine in South Wales. We married in '44 and our daughter was born in '46. So we were not in Coventry during the Blitz but my mother-in-law told me of how people came out of the city to sleep in her house at night at this time. Also people came out to Burton Green to live in caravans on spare land. Some of them built pig-sties and kept a pig to eke out their meat ration. Eventually, after the war, they were granted permission to build homes but only to a certain price level.

So, I will jump to 1956/57 when we were living in Tile Hill and dearly wanted to get out into 'the country'. We saw an advert for Highfield House in Cromwell Lane and went to see it. Highfield House was next door but one to the shop - kept then by the Dockers -and opposite the gardens of the Peeping Tom. It had 2 bedrooms, bathroom, large living room and kitchen and it stood in half-an-acre of land (with a little pig-sty at the bottom of the garden which was cleaned and made into a playhouse). It cost 2,500 pounds - an enormous sum of money for us when you consider that my salary as a primary school teacher (Templars', Tile Hill) was 900 pounds p.a.and my husband earned about the same. We had to find a 25% deposit and the mortgage interest rate then was twelve and a half percent. However, we managed it and spent 11-12 very happy years there.

It was a good time for us to move as our daughter was able to start the next stage of her education at Leamington College for Girls. She was able to catch a bus at the end of Hodgetts' Lane with other children going mainly to Kenilworth to school. It was known as the School Bus but would take other passengers as well. It brought them back in the afternoon.

Within a short time my husband had tackled the garden and we were getting fresh vegetables and soft fruit. There were already fruit trees at the bottom - apples, pears, plums and lovely greengages and damsons. Soon I was bottling fruit, making jam and pickles and salting down kidney beans (no freezers those days). Then came the big upheaval - we were to get the promised Main Drainage. Previous to that, Cromwell Lane residents had septic tanks or cess pits in their gardens. We had inherited a cess pit which had to be emptied about once a month. We had to order a 'Honey Wagon' from the County Council and when it was due you alerted your neighbours so that they could shut up their windows! Need I say more !! There were 2 men aboard - the driver and George, who lived down Red Lane somewhere. When they had fixed up the pipes they would get out their sandwiches to eat with a cup of tea that I made them - can you imagine the scene? It was quite a problem - laying the pipes for the main drainage - a deep ditch right across the middle of our precious garden - but well worth it, of course, in the long run. Our next project was to extend the house by having a garage with a bedroom above built on the side of the house. Then my husband decided to build us a swimming pool. How strong he was - digging out the hole and wheeling barrows full of concrete down from the mixer. He built us a little summer house down there underneath which was the filter and the heating unit. It is surprising how, if the pool is there, the number of times the English weather is good enough to swim in it. We had some lovely summer parties down there.

The years rolled happily by. Our daughter went off to college in Edinburgh.. I moved to a school in Kenilworth. I got my very own car - a pale blue Ford Anglia - and how I loved it! Before we knew it our daughter was planning to get married. The date was fixed for early August.The garden was a blaze of flowers. We had a marquee on the lawn and caterers came in, the sun shone (at least until late evening!) and we all had a wonderful day.

Crime was unheard of in Burton Green then - the only thing I remember was when we came home late one evening to find a man syphoning off petrol from my husband's car which was parked near the front gate. By the time we realised what was happening his companion had started the engine and they were away in their car.

I have to end on a sad note. Early in 1968 my husband became ill and in the December he died of cancer of the lung. I could no longer cope with the garden and, regrettably, had to sell my lovely home. I sold it for 8,500 pounds in the summer of 1969 and moved to the north of Warwickshire coming back eventually to Cannon Park. I have now lived with my partner for 12 years in Cyprus.


From Angela Loughran
Formerly of Burton Green now living in Lanzarote

My parents Sharon & Peter Loughran brought 196 Cromwell Lane over 28 years ago, a few months after they moved in Mum had my brother Lee in February 1976!. I followed in May 77. We all lived there until 2001, my parents still own the house which is occupied by my 27 year old brother Lee Loughran who along with his partner Esther is expecting his first baby in February - just a few months after he and Esther moved in - history is repeating itself!

My Dad is well known among many of Burton Green's residents as he had painted and decorated many of their houses, along with the village hall on many occasions over the years! Mum used to run the play group 25 years ago before becoming a part-time netball coach at the school for a few years!

We also owned 186 Cromwell Lane until Friday when we sold it. We own the field that runs from the back of the Peeping Tom to behind 184 Cromwell Lane.

Nowadays, my parents Sharon & Peter Loughran along with me Angela and my husband David, live in Playa Blanca Lanzarote. Lanzarote was always a favourite holiday destination of the family and my parents made the move almost 3 years ago.

We run a successful property management business and holiday lettings company in Playa Blanca and you can read all about our business at www.LanzaroteLates.com.

We would like to offer any of Burton Greens residents a 10% discount on the rental of our luxury villas in 2003 and 2004 and invite them to visit our website and email us with any enquiries!

It would be nice to see some familiar faces in these sunnier climes!

Kindest regards
Angela Poxon (Nee' Loughran)
E-mail: angela@lanzarotelates.com

See Also

Burton Green Vilage History
Memories of Burton Green in the 1950’s by Stuart Barratt
Reminiscences by Anthony Richards
Reminiscences by Rick Jowett

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Old Photographs, History and Memories of Burton Green School

The main building of Burton Green Church of England School was originally built in the mid-19th Century, on land owned by the Earl of Clarendon. The building served as both a chapel and a school. The School Sites Act of 1841 had encouraged philanthropic landowners to donate land for building shools. Some 17,000 Church of England schools were built throughout the country as a consequence.
This short video clip (2-minutes), from the BBC, explains, in national terms, how the School Sites Act grew out of Victorian philanthropy, and why so many of these newly built schools were administered by the Anglican church.

This photo of Burton Green School is believed to have been taken in the 1950s, or possibly earlier.

At the time this photo was taken there were two buildings. The main building on the left was the original building. The building on the right, built in a different style with large windows, was added later, in 1913, as a classroom for the infants.

The School Bell

The main chapel building originally included a belfry containing a bell which would have called villagers to church. The belfry was demolished in 1932, and the bell was then hung from a large oak tree just outside the school.

This photo shows the restoration of the school bell by Mr Bentley, headmaster from the late 1960s. On the oak tree, the bell was rung by means of a long pole, as shown in the photo, rather than the normal method of tolling a bell by pulling on a rope.

It is believed that the bell on the oak tree was last rung on VJ day.

The Old Oak Tree

This is the wonderful old oak tree in the school playground, that was also used to support the bell.

This photo dates from the late 1960s.

It is possible to determine the age of oak trees simply by measuring the girth at chest height.

An oak tree expands its girth by approximately 30cm per 100 years. It is possible to estimate the age of a tree simply by measuring its girth, and employing some simple rules. The full details are here:
Estimating the Age of Trees by Girth Measurement (Forestry Commision)

Miss Gibbs

Miss Gibbs, headmistress during the 1950s and early 1960s, was the  personification of the school during that period.
Miss Gibbs is shown here, being presented with a clock, on the occasion of her retirement in 1966.

This image shows the pupils and teachers of Burton Green school in 1949. Miss Gibbs is at the extreme left. You can enlarge the image by clicking on it.

History of the School

Before the school was built, children were taught in one of the villagers' cottages. This is explained in the letter just below.

Just below is the transcript of a letter written in 1902 by Jane Ellis, who had been a teacher at the school.  The original letter is held in the Warwick Records Office:
"Dear Miss Floyd,

I am very pleased to answer your questions so far as I am able.
I commenced teaching at Burton Green in July 1850 and remained there until August 1874, the school entirely supported by your Aunt all the time, the children as you say paying one penny per week, a few of the little better off paying a little more.

I was not the first governess, a daughter of Mrs Chattaway's living in the school house with her parents was the first teacher in the new building, you have no doubt heard of Mrs Chattaway as she was a great favourite of Miss Floyd's, she taught children in her cottage on the Green for years and there both your Aunt used to teach on Sunday mornings, and I have no doubt paid her for teaching some of the poorest during the week.

I cannot remember how long the room had been built before I went. You are quite right about it being built by subscription, your grandfather being the chief subscriber. A few years before I left Miss Floyd told me she had just taken means to ensure the school always being carried on and had been sending papers concerning it, but of course I don't know to whom but of course all that would be cancelled when she altered her mind in deference to your Father's wish, she told me at the time she could see it was not necessary as education would be provided and your Father thought it would save her trouble and responsibility.

I hope yourself, sister and brother are well also Miss Adkins.

With kind regards and best wishes for the New Year
I am
Yours sincerely
Jane Ellis"

The Floyd Family - Benefactors of Burton Green School

The letter above was written by Jane Ellis to 'Miss Floyd'. It includes references to Miss Floyd's aunt, Miss Floyd's grandfather (who was the principal subscriber to the school), and a Miss Adkins.

The Floyds were an important local family and farmed land at Burton Green. They lived at Beechwood House. The census records for 1841, 1871, and 1881 show who all these people were.

The census record for 1871 states that William Floyd (senior) farmed 270 acres and had 6 labourers working for him, plus a gardener. Miss Adkins was staying in the same house, and is said to be the governess of his children. One of the daughters was the Miss Floyd that Jane Ellis' letter was addressed to (30 years later when they had grown up).

The 1841 census record shows William Floyd, an older William Floyd (then aged 70, farmer). William Floyd junior also had a sister, Ann. This was probably the Aunt referred to.

In the 1881 census, William Floyd had passed away, and his wife was head of household. We can see Ann Floyd was then living next door. She is described as 'Independent', and has two servants and a groom.

Memories of Burton Green School from the 1950s

This is an extract from Anthony Richards reminiscences:
"Here I began my education. There were two classes, upper and lower. Miss Gibbs was in overall charge and took the upper, I was in the class of Miss Banks, the lower. Miss Gibbs was at the school for many years. Years later my sister, Susan, having qualified as a teacher, taught at the school, Miss Gibbs still being the head. Years later still the younger of my two sisters, Sally, became the temporary head there during an inter-regnum. (By this time Miss Gibbs had, of course, retired!). My most vivid memories of the school are the school bell which hung from a tree (it could not have been rung for years), the primitive toilet pans with no seats, the fact that slates were used in the school as well as on it, and the salvage collections. These I remember particularly because of a forehead wound (I bore the scar for many years) suffered when a school friend (with no malice, I’m sure!) threw a kettle which he had picked up from a pile of scrap metal objects donated by families to help the war effort. The intention was that the metal should be used against the enemy, not against your friends! It is good to read of the school’s academic successes in recent years. I feel that any record of my attendance at the school is likely to be found in the punishment book!"

Memories of Burton Green School in the 1950s, by John Webb
"I too went to Burton Green School, though didn't know Anthony Richards who had left before I started school.

I enjoyed my years at Burton Green School. Miss Gibbs was head mistress. I think that many pupils didn't like Miss Gibbs. I was one of the few children who liked the teachers. At playtimes I would often prefer to help the teachers with little jobs instead of going outside to play. Besides Miss Gibbs, there were two assistant teachers in my time, one of whom was a young Miss Hands.

Inside the school, on the walls, there were some large posters, many illustrating scenes from the Bible. I didn't understand what they were about. But they were impressive and I can still recall a few of them. There was a pile of them in a cupboard along with some  large mysterious books.

As a treat we occasionally had a nature walk down Hob Lane. We used to keep nature diaries which we would write every day. I liked writing my nature diary, though it was often hard to find something new to write about. Miss Gibbs used to cycle to school, from her home in Fen End. She would often tell us something about the birds or hedgerows that she had seen on her journey.

Some of the children in Burton Green used to go to Westwood School instead.  Westwood School seemed to have a different ethos. The children who went to Westwood had to do homework. 

This photo, taken in the late 1950s, shows children, including myself, who were taking part in the school play, 'Toad of Toad Hall'.

I can remember taking part in this play. I really couldn't understand what the play was all about. I knew that we had to remember strange sentences and recite them. 
"There was also a Nativity play at Christmas, and a Christmas party, which was a big event. The teachers bought lots of little presents for all the children to take home.
If I ever catch 'Songs of Praise' on TV (not a program I normally watch), and hear 'All things bright and beautiful', it reminds me of Burton Green School: we used to sing that often in the morning assembly. It must have been one of Miss Gibbs' favourites.

I would describe the atmosphere at the school at that time as relaxed. Children could grow up and enjoy themselves without any outside pressures. The main themes which stay in my mind from that time were the themes of religion and nature.
At the end of our time at Burton Green School we took the 11+ exam. As a result of that was given a free place at Warwick School. At that time about 25% of the intake to Warwick School was funded by Warwickshire County Council. Secondary education was the place where pupils could come into contact with a wide range of academic disciplines and begin to discover what subjects they could excel at."