Memories of Armstrong Street School by Jane Hyldon King
Armstrong School Memories
Jane Hyldon King
When it comes to looking back at our childhood, most relish in the fact that it was the
happiest day of one’s life, some just want to forget those days or show no interest and
lay it at rest.
For me, it was like opening up Pandora ’s Box, I couldn’t wait to go to what was referred
to as “Big School” and join my sister Christine and her friends. Although I was only at
Armstrong for two years | have some cherished memories of my time at the school by
keeping a small diary of my time there.
Going to school for me wasn’t at all difficult, I can recall so many events from my first
day starting school at Littlecoates in 1955 in the West Marsh. In 1962 I was following my
brothers Byron & John & Sister June & Christine on to Armstrong Secondary School.
Leaving Littlecoates to Armstrong was so strange, being in a mixed school environment
from the age of five then stepping into an all-girls school was something different.
It didn’t take long to realise that I preferred all girls to a mixed school environment.
There was none of the rough and tumble and bullying tactics where the boys didn’t think
twice about pushing you over outside the school ground.
What a difference being an all-girls school, we soon settled down to become young well
Having read from the media coverage in the archives of the new build of Armstrong
School in 1929, it amazed me of the old-fashioned attitude of those in power, aimed at
young ladies, when deciding to build this school was, I Quote.
“At the new school in Armstrong Street, Grimsby girls are to be in-structed in the
art of housekeeping, they will be taught how to cook, how to launder in a
thoroughly equipped laundry & kitchen. The Husbands of the future will have a
good deal to thank Armstrong Street for.
In another media coverage it was stated that Armstrong was to be the most up-
to-date school in Lincolnshire and one for which many future husbands will be
thankful. It was also quoted in the Telegraph on September 19°, 1929, that made
reference to a self-contained flat and other special accommodation is provided
for teaching girls, the art of good housekeeping, a fact which provokes interesting
comment from his Lordship “The Earl of Yarborough”.
“l am told that those who object too much time being given to instruction in
domestic subjects do so because they say girls should be given to instruction in
domestic subjects do so because they say girls should have sufficient knowledge
to earn their own living. They do not all marry, it is argued and they should be
I think that in most people’s minds there is a distinctive division between man’s
work and women’s work. Man’s is earning his living and women sphere is in the
Therefore, while it is right to educate both girls and boys and girls have
significantly well to earn their own living, at the same time we should prepare
girls to be home- makers, so that they can provide happy and comfortable homes
for their husbands or families.
That, at all events, appears to be the views of the Grimsby Education Authority.
When making these comments many was heard to say (hear, hear)
I often wonder what it would have been like in the early day’s coming to Armstrong
school, for me regardless of the attitudes of the politicians of the day; I did enjoy
cookery and visiting the school flat and spending time helping to clean it. The flat
consisted and a large kitchen with pans hanging from the ceiling with a shelf with many
different weighted irons on. There was a large sink, with drainage board and large
wooden tables. Also, there was a pantry stocked with pots and kitchen equipment of the
I remember a small bedroom with a picture of the Queen on one wall and a picture of
Jesus on the other. There was a small single bed with the old fashion green quilt or
what was known as an eiderdown on the top and a small set of draws on the other side
of the bed. As students we would go into the flat and sweep and clean and make sure it
was kept tidy. I can remember one pupil being sent there to rest because she wasn’t
The kitchen was used for cookery lessons, and we were taught how to take care of
ourselves, the importance of keeping clean and tidy and basic hygiene. Then we would
learn the basics of how to handle food and gradually we would be allowed to cook
things like stews, sausages and mash potatoes, Salads, bake scones, apple pies, jams
& lemon tarts and my favourite at the time, Coconut macaroons. Cookery was fun,
although we had to bring all our ingredients in for whatever meal we were to prepare.
For me, my domestic skills had already been taught by mother from an early age.
Coming from a large family we learnt at an early age how to cook, clean and helping
with the laundry, along with my father who taught me how to change a tyre on a bike
and look after chicken’s and clean the chicken run as well as how to grow vegetables in
our large garden.
On my first day at Armstrong, we were taken into the school hall and introduced to our
teacher. Then we were told what schoolhouse we had been put into and mine was Blue
St Cecilia’s. On arriving at my class, the first thing I noticed was the large windows
filling the class with so much daylight. Then seeing row upon row of two-seater wooden
desks, with a blackboard that almost filled one side of the class.
I started Armstrong in September 1962, and I did like the idea of having a basic school
uniform, white blouse & navy-blue skirt and a blue & navy tie with a gold stripe, although
not many pupils wore them.
My first year at Armstrong will always stand out in my mind and my first-class teacher
was Miss Parton who for many will remember was the music teacher. She was a very
tall slim lady with short black hair and wore spectacles and I can remember her always
wearing red lipstick. She was always so kind and her love of music soon resonated
throughout the school.
Most of us can look back and often relate why we enjoyed certain lessons, for me music
was a passion & she introduced many pupils to all styles of music from Peter & The
Woife to Gilbert & Sullivan. She taught us lots of tradition music, songs from Kathleen
Ferrier’s “Blow the Wind Southerly’ to Scottish I folk music.
Many former students’ I am sure will remember songs like, Cargoes, The Earl king and
songs like Lynden Lee, these songs remain some of my favorite after all the years
that have passed.
I still can remember most of the teachers that taught me and many I am sure will
remember Mrs Dixon who taught History at the school. Again, a memorable teacher who was passionate in the way she related to history and often kept us spell bound with her stories. I remember her coming into the class, she was stern and many pupils would be frightened of her, she was so strict, yet she was such a good teacher.
She would move a pupil at the front of the class out of their seat, sit on the desk with
her feet on the seat and the next hour would take us back into history, whether it was
the “Roman Empire” to the “Tudors” I was always spell bound by her style of teaching
and she remains one of my favorite teachers.
When it came to math’s, I remember disliking this subject and couldn’t believe it when I
found out we were to be taught by a male teacher. Over the years Armstrong girls had
always had female teachers, so this was a first for this school. His name was Mr
Chadwick, although new to the girl’s school, he taught in the Armstrong Boy’s
School and had been moved to work within the girl’s school.
From a young girls view he was quite a dishy looking guy and for me he helped to
understand the basics of math’s and found his teaching style helped me enormously and for the first time I started to enjoy math’s.
In my diary I kept a list of teachers that taught me and what subjects they covered, with a
list of other teachers who taught at the school.
Head Teacher Miss Disney.
Miss Parton- Music….Mrs Dixon — History….Miss Truman- Sports…Mrs
Turner…Library…Mr Chadwick — Math’s…Mrs Skins — Cookery…Mrs Hunter… Cookery…Mrs Palmer…Mrs Pickard…Mrs Mellows- Biology & Needlework….Mrs Mullhall ..Mrs Brooks….Mrs Urmarker.
Also, on arrival to the school we were ail put into one of the four schoolhouses teams,
they were St Cecelia’s-” Blue” ……
There was a tendency to put all the same family in one house, so I was selected to go
into “St Cecelia’s the same house that my sister Chris and older sister June.
It was fun being part on a house team and soon became a house captain. The houses
would come together for annual inter -sports days and we would have netball
tournaments, swimming competitions, along with competitions around Christmas and
Easter when we would have to make Christmas cards or hats, they are judged for the
best design. Over the year they would count the all the points gained from every
pupil and the winners would win the annual “House Cup”
For many years sports played a huge role within schools, with every school competing
against each other. Every school wanted to pride itself at being the best weather at
Netball, Football, Cricket and Athletics.
Armstrong was no different and I can remember for many years Armstrong being well
known for its sporting ability. Both my brother Byron and John played for Armstrong in
Football, Cricket and athletics and have many photographs of their time at the school.
My elder sister June in the early 50’s also played netball and was a good hurdler and
runner. My other sister Christine again was an excellent netball player and often played
for the senior team even though she was 2/3 years younger. She also was good at long
jump and was a good runner and even when she left school, she, like my brothers
continued to play netball and football.
When I started Armstrong, like my sister’s I went on to play netball and like Christine at
one stage played for the senior team. I also swam for the school at the old Eleanor
Street Baths following on to the new Scartho baths and remember winning a backstroke
competition and of course I also enjoyed running.
Later in transferring to Hereford school after Armstrong closed, I continued not only to
play in the netball, but was given the chance to play hockey and be part of the first
school team. I was also selected to represent Hereford School in discus & shot and won
first place in both, as well as being in the relay team for my school.
For me I thoroughly enjoyed sports and Armstrong with its tradition of sports and
coming from a family with many years of sporting traditions. I know that both my brother
won many cups and medals for different sporting achievement and ail three sister in
netball had won “The American Tournament Cup” along with junior and senior league
cups within our own year group and like my brother had many small cups and medals.
I believed this helped to shape our lives at the same time has keeping us fit and
healthy, which is sadly lacking in most schools today.
When I first arrived at Armstrong there had been many years of rumours that one day a
new school would be built, and I can remember my sister always telling me that by the
time I reached secondary school it would possibly be a new school. But after many
delays in starting the new build I did eventually get the opportunity to go to Armstrong
for two years. I was so pleased that I had had the experience of attending such a
remarkable good caring girl’s school that did have a huge impact on my life.
It is so easy to say that going to a new school gave me far more advantages in
education and yes, Hereford was remarkable school with new technology and a building
that had everything you could ever dream of. We had new sport facilities, two sports
halls, one in-door facilities and one that was open one side to the elements.
We also had huge sports fields for outside activities of football and athletics, two sets of
kitchens for cookery, with working spaces for each individual with your own cooker and
Two Science labs with all state-of-the-art equipment, and what really impressed me
were the Business study rooms with each desk opening with its own typewriter. It
was a little like an Aladdin’s cave, so coming from Armstrong school, you couldn’t help
but be in awe of the facilities.
Yes we had a new school with out of this world equipment and better life skills and
opportunities, but being part of a small Girls school, I believed it did shape the way
forward as young women.
“Snippets taken from my diary – 1964”
28th February 1964
Had needlework today — While usining the hand sewing machine and not looking what I was doing I trapped my thumb and the needle went partly through the nail, breaking the needle in two. I was very upset and my teacher Mrs Mellows made sure I was ok.
17th March 1964
Our class was selected to perform a play called “The Spophems” we had a couple of
week to learn our parts then we performed it at the “South Parade Methodist Chapel in
Yarborough Street, just across the road from the Grimsby Hospital.
Mrs Spophenm …….. Jane Hyldon
Mr Spophem………. Margaret Brown
The Burglar…………. Jean Charlesworth
The Dog……..–. Pam Bagshaw
The Cat… Linda Harmer
The Policeman……. Margaret Heart
I received my Bronze Medal Award for swimming in the hall. I had to swim 24 widths of
the at Scartho baths, jump off the second board with night clothes on and tread water
for 5 minutes. I received a medal and certificate.
Became school captain for St Cecilia’s house and presented with my badge.
Armstrong girls’ choir performed at “The Town Hall” signing songs from Orpheus & the
under World and my favourite song was “What is life to me without thee”
The choir also performed at the Central Hall jointly with other schools.
The choir was made up of young ladies from each year and both my sister Christine & I
were part of the choir and we would practice at home with our other close friends who
were also part of the choir.
During my time at Armstrong, we all went through the stage of the style of music from
singers like Del Shannon to “The Beatles”
I also had referred to a prank several of us played on our friends at school.
My sister Christine Hyldon, Diane Robinson, Janet Powell, Shelia Tyson and a couple
more, told all our school friends that we had gone down to London Airport to see the
Beatles come back from a tour abroad. They all believed us until eventually we did tell
the truth but had fun pretending we had met the “Beatles”. What it was like to be young!
So for me my memories are still quite strong and the day the school closed, there was
not a dry eye to be seen. We never lost touch with our school friends although many
went to different school and did not go on to Hereford.
During the 70’s we did have a reunion at the old school craft buildings and many former
Armstrong girl met up. I believe know there has been the odd get to gather of class
reunions over the years
During 2011 I was contacted by one of my sister Christine school friend Lesley
McCormick who was in her class and knowing that my sister had died many years ago,
was asked to approach me and invited me along to their regular get together’s.
I was impressed to see so many friends had taken time to keep in touch over the years,
but pleased that they had taken time out to invite me. Although not in their class and
two years younger, it was like going back in time and sharing stories and photographs
of our time at Armstrong School and we still meet by monthly for lunch.
This is why I was so pleased that when Sam Smith contacted me about my time at
Armstrong and family photographs. I was pleased to share my stories and take time to
help with naming so many pupils from old photographs.
I always said that one day I would write a book about living in the West Marsh and
about my times at School, but with a busy lifestyle, I just never had the time to achieve
this, so well done to Sam Smith for bringing this school back to life.
Note: This excerpt was taken from the book “The Girl from The Marsh – Achieving the Improbable by Jane.
If you would like to read more of Jane’s wonderful stories about growing up on both the East & West Marshes copies are available priced £19.95 from Alan Burley at the West Marsh Community Centre (call him on 07862277435 to arrange to buy your copy