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Displaying class year scholars throughout early Huthwaite schools ought realise they'd largely shared the same familiar rooms and furniture that retained use well into the 1970's. Claiming headmasters position in two Huthwaite schools, Mr Herbert A Simpson is one long serving teacher spanning two generations of family pupils, seeing little change before one noticeable upgrade in ink pens.

Dimensions of a typical village classroom may be judged from these early Common Road Infant School scenes. Very high ceilings were generally designed for healthily keeping rooms well aired, while allowing tall windows to maximise natural daylight. Forty eight double desks on the other hand, would somewhat cramp floor and elbow room. But strictly posing such a large number of class children may demonstrate how, and perhaps even why teachers had demanded unquestionable discipline right from the start.

HO0030 1913

Initially teaching all older boys or girls separated throughout their years in one classroom for all ages was dropped when favouring yearly mixed classes. Reducing numbers of scholars per room required another school house, although allocating two Huthwaite classrooms for each year group still marginally exceeded the national target ratio limiting a maximum thirty pupils per teacher.

Fronting every class aside the teachers desk was a large blackboard. Well aimed sticks of chalk could also be used for shocking a students attention back onto lessons being written. Secondary school recalls more alarming use of the heavy wooden blackboard rubbers being thrown at pupils, although they were not classified among a teachers typical arsenal for handing out punishment.

Blackboard Desks Rubber Desks

These furniture examples are now commanding good antiquity value. Solid wooden bench desks used in primary school could end up being commonly replaced by sturdier metal framed units. John Davis juniors may have sat on individual wooden chairs, but the originally designed desks with sloping lift up lid for storage remained unchanged, complete with top pen trough, plus an ink pot well always on the right hand side. Anyone seen favouring a left hand for writing used to be severely discouraged from ever doing so.

Memories of first year class taken by Miss Bailey can still recall learning sums on a well worn abacus, while thick crayons trained young hands to form numbers and letters, before next progressing to a chalk slate. ruler Carefully handing out all other consumables thereafter, was always accompanied by heavily emphasising their great cost. Loan of a twelve inch wooden ruler before counted back after lessons, did not however merit same care in the hands of most teachers. Apparently, they often broke when heavily smacking pupils palms or wrapping knuckles. So when my turn unexpectedly came to experience a passing blow at age six, teacher shared delight explaining not a reason why, but proud fact she wielded the latest shatterproof plastic replacement.


Loaning out ceremoniously mass sharpened HB graded pencils kind of suggested lead was worth its weight in gold. Despite name giving a toxic warning, lead pencils are actually made of graphite, mistakenly identified when discovered by 16thC metallurgists. An original pencil was simply a stick of solid graphite, very brittle and prone to breaking until managing to encase it in wood. Opportunity to handle these Huthwaite originals is therefore rare, especially when considering all the family held memorabilia dates from 1885. Lead pencil, slate board, exercise books, even school certificates, all belonged to Blackwell Road scholar Miss Sarah Ann Elliott.


After practise writing joined up letters with easily erased pencils, in last year of primary school we finally made use of those desk ink wells. Wooden handled metal nib pens from old school stock looked like they could be a direct successor of knife cut quills. Needing to be regular dipped in ink with a sheet of blotting paper always at the ready, only seemed to add a reminder onto the valuable cost of paper and exercise books. Or was that all just a ploy to encourage parents into purchasing personal pencil cases suitably equipped by gifts? LOL.

Gradually presented with coloured pencils, plus various luxury fountain pens featuring lever, suction, pump or cartridge refills, all were grand to own. Bottled ink was still messier to use however, compared to the newly affordable ball point pens that first leaked disposable progression beyond starting c1968 New Street John Davis junior terms.

Ink Pen Parker Pen
1885 1887 1885

26 Mar 19     by Gary Elliott       Updated 20 May 19