Molesey Local History Society

They say our school days are the happiest days of our lives. For most of us, it’s not as simple as that. We remember the headteacher we feared and the teacher we adored, the lifelong friends we made and the bullies we despised, the subjects we loved and those we hated..

Many long-term residents recall attending elementary schools in Molesey but going out of the area for their further education.

In 1929, Cynthia Chandler (née Ayliffe) went to a dame school in Arnison Road for 4-7-year-olds run by Miss Catherine Smyrk. At the age of six, she started at Ion House, Mr. Parsons’ school at 30 Kent Road. “Each Christmas, Mr. Parsons would stand tall and imposing in his frock coat and winged collar in the doorway, vividly recounting parts of Dickens’ famous seasonal story A Christmas Carol.” At age of 11, Cynthia changed schools again. She went to the newly opened, St. Joseph’s Convent in Seymour Road, run by the Sisters of the Christian Retreat (left in photo).

Sister Ignatius was very strict. “I remember having to kneel trembling at her side to recite my Latin verbs.” However, “Sister Josephine was very sweet and taught us needlework and later on she made a beautiful christening robe for my first daughter.” She has a vivid memory of boarding for a few weeks. “Meals were not of a high standard and the only food I enjoyed there was treacle pudding and custard!” At the age of 14, her parents decided that she should enter the examination for Kingston Day Commercial School which she passed and so in the momentous month of September 1939 her Molesey school days were over.

Doreen Freeman, née Hagan, remembers West Molesey Infants in 1943. “The concrete shelters in the playground were smelly with slated benches along the sides and a toilet behind a sack curtain at the end.” At the age of 7, she went to Miss Snow’s in School Road. “She was a tall lady and very strict. When she arrived at school the monitor of the day had to wait at the gate until she drew up in her car and open the door for her to get out. Whenever we passed her we had to genuflect and bob.” Doreen liked Mr Cook’s (West Molesey Junior School) much better.

“I was ahead of my class for maths and when that lesson came up I went to Mr. Cook’s office which was upstairs in the turret and he gave me tasks to do in maths.” She also has fond memories of Ray Road School “as we were treated more like grown-ups.” This is despite “getting the cane in front of the whole school because I had disobeyed the orders not to go over the no man’s land dividing the girls school from the boys’ school next door. My father had no sympathy for me as he agreed with the discipline.” She left Molesey schooling in September 1952 after passing an entrance exam to Hinchley Wood Day Commercial School.

If you would like to tell us your memories of Molesey school days, please get in touch and do come along to our ‘Educating Molesey’ evening on Tuesday 14th November at 8pm in the new St. Lawrence School building.