When I took possession of some personal possessions of my dad I was intrigued to find details of a life that I had never known or appreciated. This really shouldn’t have come as a great surprise because there are many dimensions to a life but the only one that I was fully familiar with was in his role as my father. In what many would describe as an ordinary life this was a task that he excelled at I have to say!
Beyond the responsibility of being a parent I wonder what else he was like. I have been looking at his old employment records and these have revealed some interesting and important clues.
He was educated at Wellingborough Grammar School in Northamptonshire (opened 11th June 1941) during the years of the Second-World-War and I can only imagine that this must have been a huge distraction for the country with a corresponding lack of attention paid to educational standards. This must have been good fun if you were a pupil at the time and one of dad’s main interest seemed to be reading the weekly edition of ‘The War Illustrated’ but this didn’t lead to a fistful of GCSEs to help you set out in life. The school, in line with the custom of the time, was selective, which meant that an entrance examination had to be passed to get a place. Until 1945 the school charged fees for attendance but following R. A. Butler’s great Education Act of 1944, all places became free of charge. The eleven plus exam and secondary education obligations were also introduced in the Education Act at the same time.
According to the school records, in summer 1947 dad was in the fifth form remove (the school tried at this time to push the brightest boys for School Certificate in four years, but dad was clearly not in the bright boys form and took the usual five years). This extra time didn’t help a great deal because in summer 1948 he was in 5B (unexamined fifth form class) and sadly he didn’t manage to get the School Certificate. The School Certificate was not like GCSE but was a group certificate and pupils had to do well in five subjects, miss on one and tough, you got nothing, this is what must have happened to dad because no school certificate is mentioned when he left in the autumn of that year. The following term, he left to join his father’s business, a grocery store at 110 Higham Road, Rushden.