The Richard Jefferies school – a personal memory

a building under demolition

The Richard Jefferies school being demolished.

My recent post about the Richard Jefferies museum at Coate, Swindon has prompted a reader of this blog to share with us his memories of his secondary school which was named after the eponymous writer. The school is no longer with us – it was demolished to make way for New College. But of course the memories live on in former pupils like Lee. I have truly enjoyed reading Lee’s memories which are  funny, moving and bittersweet – as I guess most of our school memories are.   And Mrs Howard – I’d like to shake you by the hand. If only ALL children, from every background, could have a Mrs Howard! She clearly left a lasting and positive impression on Lee.

“The Richard Jefferies Secondary School is no longer with us, it was demolished a few years back now to make way for the New College and housing estate close by. I would love to be able to tell you who named the school after the great writer of Coate but alas I cannot. I was at the school from around 1969/73.

At the time Swindon was a boom town for kids, with the London generation mainly squeezing in to schools like Richard Jefferies, the nearby Walcott Secondary School and also Churchfields. It’s amazing to think that three very big schools were in spitting distance of each other.

I remember very well my first day at the school as I was the only boy wearing shorts and got some terrible stick for that. I remember too, Mr Adams the maths teacher, Mr Summers the PE teacher, Mr Petit in science and, my favourite teacher by miles, the English teacher Mrs Howard. She saw my interest in poetry and writing.  And though at the time I didn’t realize it, she tried hard to convince me that I should embrace this.

I was in Council care as a kid…fostered for many years, ultimately living out my young days in The Limes Childrens’ Home so I wasn’t the happiest kid to teach. But Mrs Howard did her best to make me feel special. The class was astonished to hear that I had been picked to play the King in King Canute in the school play, she did her best to get me to hold back the tide with conviction but to no avail…i was terrible and was replaced.

I vividly remember the school dinners, was I the only one to fall in love with them…who can remember the vivid taste of the school dinner salad cream, like a sweet battery acid?

Amazingly the school had a fair size swimming pool where I was bullied into learning to swim, I doggy paddled my way to red, yellow and green badges that were sewn onto my trunks.

Many of the kids around me were fairly rough and tough and from the Parks area. You had to hold your own with them. I remember the football with a tennis ball at break time, my moment of glory arrived one dinner time when Ant Adams crossed the ball for me to bullet a header in the goal, I was pounced upon by all my team with joyous celebration…it is a moment i still remember and cherish.

Most of the school went to Park/Oakfield school for their last phase of education on leaving Richard Jefferies, for me it was onto Headlands School because the Limes Home where I lived was/is in Stratton.

So what would the great man have thought of the school named after him? That is anyone’s guess. Reading Animal Farm in English was the first inkling that the world was a strange place through an adults eye…that book was both weird and wonderful to me.

So for me Richard Jefferies taught me more about myself than it taught me educationally. Many Swindonians passed through the door of this school and there must be a story to tell by every one of them.”


Tags: , , , ,

About amaatk123

Owner of AA Editorial Services - #Digitalcopywriting #proofreading #writing Blog about Swindon as Born again Swindonian #BAS Joint English Hons graduate 2014

3 responses to “The Richard Jefferies school – a personal memory”

  1. leefer (@leefer3) says :

    Thanks,a real good read if i may say so myself!

    Hope to see many more memories of our town on here.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Swindon – A hive of industry | Born again Swindonian - May 17, 2014

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Madam Renards Ltd

Theatre Productions

Art Reviews - The South-West and Beyond

Reviews of exhibitions in the South-West

Musings and a place to store stuff


Words and wisdom from the East (of Swindon)

Suzie's Kitchen

Home and lifestyle

Born Again Swindonian

A personal celebration of Swindon

swindon connect

Life as a business connector in Swindon - all views are my own


But I love a challenge!

Born Again Swindonian

A personal celebration of Swindon


Notes from an ordinary life

An HLF Collecting Cultures Project to collect and celebrate the best of Wiltshire's creative talent

Successful Software

...requires more than just good programming.

Jeanne de Montbaston

Reading Medieval Books

%d bloggers like this: