KINGSTEIGNTON CHURCH OF ENGLAND INFANTS' SCHOOL
The original school was opened in 1848 by the Rev Henry Woollcombe to educate the poor in the principles of the Established Church. It catered for children up to the age of 14.
In 1935 a three tier system of education was introduced when a new Senior School was built between Ley Lane and Chudleigh Road. The Church School became an Infants' School catering for 5-8 year olds, the Council (formerly Chapel) School became a Junior School for 9-11 year olds whilst the new Senior School catered for 11-14 year olds.
A further reorganisation took place in 1987 when a new primary school for 5-11 year olds was opened at Rydon. Whilst new building work took place at the Infants' School, pupils living south of a line running along Longford Lane and Ley Lane to Chudleigh Road aged between 5 & 11 were housed in the old Junior School in Sandpath Road. Two years later a greatly changed Infants' School reopened as St Michael's Primary School catering for 5-11 year olds.
During the years 1935 to 1987 thousands of pupils passed through the doors of the Infants' School, many following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents.
CLASS GROUP circa 1918
Headmaster Mr H Hawker and teacher Miss W Brealey with a class group circa 1918.
Mr Hawker served as the organist at St Michael's taking over from his predecessor as head Mr Thomas Butland.
For many years Miss Brealey trained the Maypole dancers for the annual Ram Fair.
CHURCH SCHOOL RELAY TEAM
Headmaster Mr Rabley with the victorious Ram Fair Relay team circa 1933. The lineup reads:- K Willcocks, F Edwards, B Edwards, D Cordell.
Behind the fence was Alec Cornall's orchard and no doubt many former pupils have recollections of scrambling over the fence to retrieve a lost ball. Wih the cross supports on the school side geting over was not too difficult but getting back over was no easy matter.
TEACHER EADIE'S CLASS SEPT 1946 (picture courtesy of Sandra Full)
Mrs Brimmicombe on the left of the pictureholding her son Royston who was part of the Sept 1946 intake for Miss Eadie's class.
This picture was loaned by KHS Committee member Jean Ellis (nee Davey) and is a Kingsteignton Church of England Infants’ School group with headmistress Mrs Annett (standing at the back on the far right) in 1951.
Back Row: Pat Prout, Jean Davey, Maurice Drew, Sheila Franks, Irene Ball, Pat Hole, David Webber, Rosemary Clausen, Jane Harris.
Middle row:- Graham Harvey, David Reddicliffe, Danny Vidler, Terry Porter, Brian Gibbs, Roddy Carnell, David Youdle.
Front Row: Pamela Stevens, Madeline Coombes, Pat Taylor, n/k, n/k, Ruth Lidbury, Pat Stoyle.
Kingsteignton Infants' School Choir at St Columba Hall Kingsteignton in 1956
Back Row:- Gillian Harrold, n/k, Barbara Mosely, Shirley Courtier, Maurice Ramsden, David Trust, Graham Walke, Keith Collings, n/k.
Middle Row:- Pat Miller, n/k, Marilyn Jones, Pamela Creech, Philip Truman, Dave Matthews, n/k, Jeff Cane.
Sitting:- n/k, n/k, Susan Taylor, David Stewart, David Mason.
Mrs Annett's Retirement
The newspaper cutting to the left from the Herald Express dated 5th July 1957 will no doubt contain names that bring memories flooding back for pupils who attended the Infants' School in the mid 1950s.
SOAP BOX DERBY 1968 (picture courtesy of Sandra Coombes)
All set for the off in this picture dating from 1968. In the background to the right I believe is Miss Chaplin.
Behind the summer house is the old WW2 Air Raid Shelter which was later used as a store.
Cutting From the Herald Express dated 21st March 1985 re upgrade of Infants' School
Miss Straker's Retirement in April 1987
Memories of my time at Kingsteignton Church of England Infants School 1957-1961
I started school in September 1957. St Michael’s was then known as Kingsteignton Church of England Infants School and catered for children from ages 5 to 8.
Like all children my first day at school was a big day for me. One thing that struck me was all the new children and their mothers whom I had never seen before. I was slightly bewildered as my mum seemed to know lots of the other mothers but to me they were all strangers. My early years had been spent on the corner of Rydon Estate and whilst I knew many of the children in the immediate vicinity and others whom I had met at Sunday school, never before had I met so many children I didn’t know.
Despite being bombarded with new faces and the inner workings of what seemed a huge building, I had the reassurance of starting on the same day as my mate Mike, who lived in Rydon Road. There were new faces on the teaching staff as well as I believe that day was also the start of Margaret Straker’s headship.
Mike and I found we were to be in Miss Chaplin’s class. As our mums left us behind, some of the children burst into tears, but I was determined to make sure that that I didn’t get overwhelmed with such emotions as I bit my lip.
Miss Chaplin was a kind and friendly lady who lived in Princess Road and rode a bicycle to school. She quickly calmed down the children who were upset and we got on with the day, as she handed out pencils and paper to us and gave us simple patterns and shapes to copy. Luckily I loved this and was soon drawing lines, patterns and shapes. I had proper sheets of paper to draw on….not the used envelopes I did my scribbling on at home!
At the end of the afternoon Miss Chaplin read us a story. When my mum collected me I was proud to tell her I could almost draw a dead straight line!
Soon we were into a routine of work in the morning and play learning in the afternoons followed by a story read by Miss Chaplin.
As new children we spent our playtime in the small playground that used to be where the secretary’s office is now. From it’s gateway we used to peer out into the large expanse of the big playground where the older children seemed to run around like young horses.
There were six classes covering four year groups when I started, taught by Miss Chaplin, Mrs Brown, Miss Marshall, Mrs McClure, Miss Straker and Mrs Quantick. What is now the school hall housed the three classrooms of Mrs McClure, Miss Marshall, with Mrs Quantick’s at the Church Street end. These classes were divided by movable wooden and glass partitions.
A door from the small playground gave access to what at that time seemed a long corridor which gave access to the classrooms. A left turn took you down the corridor to Miss Straker’s whilst a right turn took you to the others. First on the right was Miss Chaplin’s whilst further down on the left was the door to Mrs Brown’s. At the end were access points for Miss Marshall’s and Mrs McClure’s. Mrs Quantick’s class was accessed from a corridor which ran from a small play area behind Miss Chaplin’s class through to Fore Street.
Mrs McClure’s and Miss Straker’s classrooms, had a doors to steps which led down into a yard behind the school house (now known as the Church House).
The next class I went into was taught by Mrs Adams, Mrs Brown having just left. Mrs Adams rode a scooter to school and was a member of Newton Abbot Amateur Dramatic Society (NADS).
By the time I was in Mrs Adams class we were allowed out into the “big” playground. The playground had a noticeable slope from the Church Street side down to the Newton Road side. A horse chestnut tree grew in the corner of the small field (now a car park) which backed on to the playground from the Newton Road side and housed an electricity substation. In the autumn some of its conkers used to fall into the playground. These were eagerly gathered up and placed on a length of string for games of conkers. Alec Cornall’s orchard which stretched from behind the pound-house around to what is now the school playing field. The playground was separated from the orchard on its south side by a corrugated iron fence. The retrieval of any balls that went over the fence required the tricky scaling and traversing of the said fence. Getting over was hard enough, getting back was down right difficult. All the metal supporting posts and cross pieces were school side and it was difficult to get a grip on anything on the orchard side.
When I went into Miss Marshall’s I remember her getting us to plant seeds for the flower bed located around the lawn next to the brook (which now has a classroom on it). Beside this lawn, and fronting onto the corner of the large playground, was an air raid shelter left over from WW2. It had thick brick walls with no windows (the walls were built of Hexter, Humpherson’s cream coloured bricks from its Newton Road brickworks) and a thick concrete roof. When I was there it was used to store PE equipment such as rubber mats. The shelter has long been demolished but thinking of it brings back memories of the air raid siren that used to be located in Gestridge Road on a telegraph pole. It was tested from time to time when I was at school and, although I was born after the war had ended, it was a sound that I grew up with as it was the time of the “Cold War” (I was oblivious to the threat of nuclear war).
Mention of things military brings back a memory of some of the children we used to come to the school from time to time. Channings Wood Prison at Denbury was then an army base known as Denbury Camp. As with all army camps the personnel were posted there for varying lengths of time. Many of the army families had children and now and again we would get a son or daughter of a serving soldier come to the school. Their stay could last anything from a few months to a year and then they would move off to somewhere else never to be seen again.
Across the road from the school beside the Fountain Co-op (now Woods estate agency) and in front of the public toilets was a shelter with a long bench seat inside. I think it had been originally intended as a bus shelter but the stopping of buses near the cross roads led to the bus stop being moved further down the road. Old gentlemen used to sit in the shelter waiting for the King’s Arms to open. Other characters who used the shelter were tramps. One was a lady called Ethel who used to travel up and down the A380 (which then came through Newton & Kingsteignton) from Torquay to Exeter. She would often be seen sitting beside the road having a rest, sometimes at the top of Telegraph Hill, other times at Kingskerswell and very often in the shelter at the Fountain. She wore a light blue beret and would always waved to the children who were playing on the lawn near the brook. One Sunday morning, when my younger sister was being christened, she appeared in the Congregational Church (now United Reformed). It was quite a shock when we turned around to leave the church and there was Ethel sat up in the back pew! Another playground memory is of Remembrance Day on November 11th. At just before 11 ‘o clock Miss Straker would come out into the playground and at 11 o’clock she would blow her whistle and everybody in the playground would stop and observe a minute’s silence for those who had died in two world wars.
It was in Miss Marshall’s class that we learned to tell the time using a selection of cards with clock faces showing different times. We also learned to how to use money with cardboard coins of the old £ s d denominations such as farthings, halfpennies, pennies, shillings, florins and half crowns.
My mum kept some old “news books” from my time at the Infants’ School and one of my news stories recalls that Jill R had a new television. That was really something to shout about in 1958 as not every household had a TV set and the one BBC channel (in black and white) was all there was! Most families did not have cars and very few children were driven to school.
I was introduced to the National Savings movement whilst in Miss Marshall's class. Miss Farleigh used to come to the school and we could purchase National Savings stamps from her which would be stuck into the white books with red lettering which she would issue to those who wished to save. Now and again I stayed for a school dinner which cost one shilling (5p). Dinners were not cooked on the premises but at a central kitchen located elsewhere and distributed in vans to the local schools in large pots and trays. The dinners were dished out in the area situated between Mrs McClure’s class and the school house. The tables in Miss Marshall’s class were rearranged as dining tables.
Reading was learned using the Janet & John series. I particularly remember that number four in the series was named “Round and About”. The early stage books were a mixture of pictures and words and as you made your way up through the series the pictures got fewer and the words increased until you got to the stage that there were no pictures at all and you were faced with page after page of plain text with lots of words.
One thing that sticks in my memory was asking Miss Marshall how to spell "cloam" eggs when I was writing my news. She seemed puzzled and asked me what they were. I told her that my grandfather put them in nest boxes to encourage his chickens to lay. She replied that these were "china eggs" and duly wrote it down for me. Now it was my turn to be puzzled. My grandmother kept her best china in a display cabinet and I remembered her showing me a fine bone china cup and demonstrating how it rang when she pinged it. I knew those eggs were not "china", but decided to write it down as I had been told. I thought everyone knew what "cloam" eggs were!
My next stop was Mrs McClure’s class and a remix of children. Only some of us from Miss Marshall’s made this move into a class where the rest of the children were from the year group above. In this class of six and seven year olds we started joined up writing and felt very grown up!
The highlight of the time in that class was the visit to Burnham Nurseries located off Gestridge Road (where the bungalows of Burnham Court now stand). During the tour of the glass houses Mr Rittershausen showed us a banana plant and gave Mrs McClure an orchid. We had to write up a report of the trip and draw illustrations. My Rittershausen judged our efforts and mine was rewarded with a bar of chocolate!
In this class I was sat next to Steve B who lived in Captains Road. I remember that Steve sometimes caught the bus home from the Fountain and the fare was grand sum of 1d. Miss Chaplin escorted the children who caught the bus across Newton Road holding her lollipop sign saying “STOP Children Crossing”. The sign puzzled me at first as I thought the whole idea was to let the children cross the road, not stop them!
It was in this class that I had another spelling problem, this time with Mrs McClure. I aksed her how to spell Fosterville - although I used the local pronunciation of Fostival (as written on my great uncle's marriage cert). She enquired as to the context I wanted to use the word. I replied that at the weekend we had gone up to Fostival to pick up sweet chestnuts in the woods. "Where is this Fostival" she asked. " Up past Sandygate" I replied. She thought for a minute then asked " Do you go to Sunday School?". "Yes" I replied. " I think you mean you went to a festival at Sandygate" she said and wrote it out so I could copy it into my book. I was completely confused. I knew there was a Sunday school at Sandygate held in the Gospel Hall ( I passed it every time we went to Fostival). I realised that she was more confused than me so I did as I was told and write that I went to a festival at Sandygate. It was just as well I didn't say we had gone for a walk around Gappy!
The final year was spent in Mrs Quantick’s class. Mrs Quantick lived in a bungalow in New Park Road. It was near the end of my spell in that class that new building work began at the school. The County Education Committee had purchased Alec Cornall’s land so that the school could expand. My news book recorded that “poor Mr Cornall has had to sell his orchard as the school wanted it”. The corridor next to Mrs Quantick’s class which had an entrance into Fore Street was demolished as part of this new building work and the building of new kitchens alongside the classroom began with the accompanying banging and clattering. I had moved up to the Junior School in Sandpath Road by the time they were finished.
When I was in Mrs Quantick’s class I often performed an errand for my parents before school by taking an order for chicken feed down to Mr Daw’s at Lower Mill at the end of Church Street. Lower Mill was still a working Mill in 1961.
Around 1959 a lot of building development started to the north of the village. Clifford Avenue was extended to join up with Exeter Road and new shops and bungalows built along the west side of Exeter Road up towards Five Lanes. Three new roads were created, Templers Way, Abbrook Avenue and Meadowcroft Drive. Around this time a new road was also built off Broadway Road called Wolverton Drive.
When I had my eighth birthday I was Mrs Quantick’s class and old enough to join the cubs. In the spring the scouts & cubs had their “Bob a Job Week”, when they would go around asking to do jobs for a small payment towards their funds. I found that asking for a job in the bungalows in these new streets with their new gardens often resulted in being given a job to do weeding, clear stones or grass cutting. The week also gave me the opportunity to explore the village and learn where all the streets were.
I was in Mrs Quantick’s class when the Russians sent their first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, into space which caused a lot of excitement at school. When the summer term ended in 1961 so did my time at the Infant’s School. I was now headed towards the Junior School in Sandpath Road.
Kingsteignton has changed considerably since I started school. The route to school I used to take along Crossley Moor Road is no exception.
From where I started my journey to school at Rydon Estate there was just a terrace of four houses to the north (No’s 17-23). On the east side of Rydon Road was Rydon Meadow and fields stretching up to Humber Lane. Further up the road was Rydon farm and open countryside.
The quarries at Rydon (there were two) were still working and lorries went up the lane to collect the stone blasted out. Both quarries had crushing sheds where the stone was broken up to make chippings or hard core. Sirens used to be sounded to warn of blasting operations which could make our house shake. Stray stones were often blasted into neighbouring fields. The Kingsteignton Quarry Company ran the top quarry and Devon County Council the lower quarry when I was very young but when DCC stopped working the lower quarry it took over the working of the top quarry and blasted out a tunnel to connect the two. DCC continued to work stone from the top quarry and used the lower quarry as a storage depot. In the mid 1960s The Civil Defence used the lower quarry for exercises and even built a "ruined building" for simulating rescues.
The lower quarry is now used by SW Highways as a depot for salt and other storage but the upper quarry was filled in with spoil when the Kingsteignton By-pass was constructed between 1973 & 1976.
Where Rydon School and the Community Hall are, and the three houses adjacent to it, was all part of one field called Rydon Meadow which regularly flooded in winter. A spring flowed into a brook on the far side of the field and next to this brook was a long bank which enclosed Fairwater Pond – the Rydon Wellhead. My friends and I used to play in this brook and also pick watercress there. The fields were rented by Mr Cook of Blindwell Farm and we would often see cattle being driven up Rydon Road to be grazed in the fields. On a few occasions cattle came into our garden which caused a lot of excitement as they trampled my dad’s vegetable patch. To the south of Rydon Meadow, bordering Rydon Road was a small marshy field with a great oak tree growing on its hedge. To the south of the field was the last of the houses on the east side of Rydon Road and the last house was fronted by the original hedge - unlike the other houses which had garden walls. This hedge also contained a large oak tree.
On the other side of Rydon Road were council houses which all had apple trees in their front gardens which made for a colourful sight in springtime when their blossom came out.
Where Rydon Road joined Longford Lane at Crossley Moor, Longford Lane was just that, a lane. To the left of the crossroads a small field and an orchard were located on the south side of Longford Lane and where the brook came out from under Longford Lane it ran into a small plot of land that formed a garden that Mr Carnell used to tend. To the eastern side of the brook behind the boundary hedge was the orchard. Beside its northern hedge were the remains of an old cob-built cottage that was used as storage shed by the owner of the orchard.
To the right of the cross roads were council houses on both sides of the road but just past the British Legion the road became a lane again flanked by hedges until its junction with Exeter Road,
Beside the grass verge in front of the council houses at Crossley Moor was a telephone box. Very few people had telephones in those days and mobile phones weren’t even invented. Each phone box had a telephone directory which on the whole was left intact. Some people not only used the phone box to make calls, but to receive them as well. If they wanted to receive a call from someone they would give them the number of the phone in the phone box and arrange for them to call that number at a certain time. This worked as long as no one else was using the phone box when you wanted to receive a call!
Continuing the journey to school, as you swung around past the wall of Mr Carnell’s garden and turned into Crossley Moor Road, there was a large grass verge that used to run along beside the southern hedge of the orchard. On the opposite side of the road were the council houses which are still there. These have changed in that most have been rendered. Further on was a bungalow called Little Silver and a house called Enfield, then you came to a narrow field, now overgrown, where Mr Dyer’s pigs would be seen rooting around. Carrying on down the road past this field and the junction with Coronation Road you came to a narrow orchard on the left beside the brook that joined on to Higher Mill where Jack Ball kept chickens.
The Ball brothers, Bill, Jack and Nicholas ran Higher Mill as a working mill and kept pigs in a yard opposite (now the site of mobile homes but the old pig sheds are still there). Mention of the piggery reminds me of an incident which took place when I was about two. My mother was taking me in a pushchair to see her sister who lived in Whiteway Road. We had taken the route through the path field from Crossley Moor Road to Coronation Road (it is now a car park). At the time Margaret Road was being built but the footpath through what had been a field was still open. A butcher named Joe Honywill had a slaughter house behind his shop (now closed) which fronted on the Gestridge Road. As we were proceeding through the Margaret Road site a whole load of Mr Ball’s pigs came past us being driven to Mr Honywill’s to be converted into bacon and sausages. My push chair was surrounded by pigs. My mum had to wait with me in the pushchair while the pigs were directed into the large shed behind the shop.
I digress, back to Crossley Moor Road and the journey to school. There were no bungalows on the western side of Crossley Moor road, just the hedge of an allotment field which curved around beside the raised pavement which still runs beside the leat. Behind the allotment field was an orchard. What until recently traded as “The Thatched Cottage Restaurant” was still referred to as Town End and as you passed there you came to a barn with a cobbled forecourt, fronted by four elm trees. This has now been demolished and there is a bungalow there named Old Barnsyte. Further on were the ruins of Margery Farm, where Mr Sander’s geese used to graze amongst what was left of the walls old farmhouse rooms. On the other side of the road where the Bell Inn car park is now was an orchard.
As you passed the ruins of Margery Farm you came to the buildings of what was once Culchett’s Farm. The old farmhouse was empty and was demolished around 1958 but an old barn remained beside the road for many years and served as the store of Haytor Car Sales and then Buyrite Tyres.
Then you came to Haytor House from where a Mr Williams and later Mr Flello ran a dairy.
Perhaps one of the most startling changes has been the disappearance of shops along Fore Street. Henry Nicks’ newsagents, opposite the school, has gone as have the post office, Keens (chemist- now the Barber Shop), Goode’s (grocers), Broomfield’s (confectioner), Les Webber’s (barber) The Times Store (grocers), Cox’s (grocers – now The Hub), Filby’s (shoe repairs - now a hairdresser), and Ward’s (butcher).
In Newton Road Woods Estate Agents shop was The Fountain Co-op and the Co-operative Rooms above housed the library. The Lidl’s site was The Devon General Garage, and Oakford Filling station was just a few pumps at the end of a terrace block. Between the filling station and the Kings Arms ran the open brook from Crossley Moor before it disappeared into a culvert under the road before emerging beside the school.
In Church Street Mr Kernick had his stables. He used to train racehorses and you would often see him and others coming back to the stables on the horses. The pound house was no longer used when I went to school. Opposite was the wooden built Lecture Hall of the Congregational Church where I went to Sunday school. In the week it doubled up as a canteen in which the children at the Junior School had their school dinners. The Stephens family lived in Braddon’s Down and ran a dairy, whilst further down the street Mr Cornall had a fruit and veg shop.
When my mum came to collect me we would often go in to Mr Nick’s where I could spend my 3d a day pocket money and if she wanted to buy groceries on the way home we would pop into Cox’s. My grandparents lived in Tarrs Lane and sometimes we would pop in to see them on the way home. At the end of Tarrs Lane it was all fields and open countryside that stretched up over Golvers Hill to Haldon. If it was dry we would walk home via the footpath which ran up through the fields to Longford Lane. I emphasise the word dry as springs used to emerge in a field to the north of Longford Lane and sometimes this water would run across the road to disappear in the field on the other side of the lane only to emerge again near the top of Tarrs Lane where the water trickled along the lane to a drain. If it was wet and cows were in the fields the lower end of the field near the Tarrs Lane gate became somewhat muddy.
Another change from those days has been to the traffic using Fore Street. Then the lorries of clay companies Watts Blake Bearne & Co, Devon and Courtenay, HJT Transport and Newton Clays all used Fore Street as they made the journey to Teignmouth Docks. Double decker buses heading for Exeter via Teignmouth also used Fore Street and the traffic was two way all along the street!
As a Church of England school the managers and vicar Mr Hodge sometimes came to school assemblies. We always had to be on our best behaviour on these occasions.
Whitsun was always a time of excitement with the Ram Fair approaching. The three eldest girls in the final year were customarily chosen as The May Queen and her attendants and special blue tickets, giving free admission to Kingsteignton children, were handed out at school to all the pupils in the school.
The Fairwater Leat would be turned off and cleaned out. We would catch sticklebacks and minnows in the pools that were left and even eels.
Contributed by a member of KHS.
SCHOOL PLAYGOUND 1962
Raymond Stride practising his dribbling schools whilst Dennis Gibbs makes do with bouncing his ball with Ronnie Gibbs looking on.
NEW CLASSROOMS 1965
The photo to the left (courtesy of Sandra Combes) was taken in 1965 and shows new classrooms built on the former playground.
ALEC CORNALL'S ORCHARD
In 1961 Devon County Council purchased the orcahrd and Pondhouse adjacent to the school from Alec Cornall who had run a market garden business from his home in Church Street. He also had a small shop (a converted room of his house) from which he sold fruit & veg.
This photo taken in 1965 (courtesy of Neil Bougourd) shows how part of the orchard was incoporated into the school.