Rollesby school celebrates 90th birthday with special guest

Rollesby Primary School celebrated its 90th birthday with the help of a 98 year old former pupil who

Rollesby Primary School celebrated its 90th birthday with the help of a 98 year old former pupil who unveiled the new sign. - Credit: Archant

As a mere slip of a girl Phyllis Brown gathered with her playground chums 90 years ago to celebrate the opening of the shiny new village school.

This week, as a 98-year-old greying great grandmother, she joined another throng of excited schoolchildren to mark its big birthday milestone.

The former pupil of Rollesby Primary School who was there on its open day in 1923 was a special guest on Tuesday when youngsters dressed in the uniform of the time and enjoyed a tea party.

They examined old records and took a keen interest in the “punishment book” when the prospect of pain was still not enough to keep some children out of trouble.

Headteacher Louise Hinton said youngsters at the 131-pupil primary and nursery school took particular delight in the activities of a Malcolm Hinton, her namesake, who is frequently shamed in the naughty book for his misdemeanours.

Crimes which warranted a caning included throwing stones, stealing, and wetting the ceiling, at a time when children could only speak when spoken to.

Meanwhile as well as the rod there were a host of other nasties to avoid - anyone contracting whooping cough or diptheria among other illnesses getting a mention in the “measles book” which listed who had what when.

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Mrs Hinton said: “Phyllis remembered being really excited on the open day. They were so pleased to be moving in to a new school. The other one behind the Horse and Groom was so draughty that snow came in the windows. They really were delighted.

“She was amazed at how things had changed and by all the development and how big the school is now. She was delighted to meet the children and hear them sing.”

The school opened as a primary with 87 pupils and has since been a first school, growing to a primary again in the last few years under re-organisation.

The changes have meant a raft of new building to provide an ICT suite, nursery and new library.

In the afternoon parents joined their children for a tea party and every child was given a birthday cup cake.

“It was funny,” said Mrs Hinton, who joined the school in September. “All the children sang happy birthday and spontaneously did 90 claps. They were delighted and amazed that this lady was an ex pupil. They were really interested because we do not have these diseases anymore because of vaccinations and they were horrified by the punishment book, as well as a bit amused.

“It has really helped them connect with the past in a way that relates to their own experience.”

As part of the celebrations Mrs Brown, who now lives in Martham and is reckoned the oldest surviving former pupil, unveiled a new sign.

In her day the boys and girls playgrounds were separated and children had to bring in their own lunch. Phyllis’s parents had the shop in Rollesby, currently a hairdressers.

She was also present at the school’s 80th birthday when two of her great grandchildren were pupils at the school.

Glenda Tooke, 58, of Rollesby, also attended the celebrations on Tuesday. Her parents were among those at the opening and knew Phyllis while her grandfather Sidney Gaze served 66 years as a school governor.