Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Micklands Primary School

At the top of Donkin Hill I turn right onto the Henley Road and head towards Caversham Park Village. I pass a shop on the corner of All Hallows Road that I also remember. It was all boarded up but I could see there was a window you could look into. I pulled up and took a look inside. Amazingly it looked like one of those disaster movies where the owners had just upped and left in a hurry leaving everything in it's place. There were rows of toiletries and various other bits and pieces of 'corner shop' stuff all over the place like a museum. I suppose one could attempt to date when the moved out by looking at the packaging designs of products on the shelves. Possibly as long ago as the eighties? The bottle of 'Matey' bubble bath on the bottom shelf could even be 70's.
My old junior school is just around the corner from here. Micklands Primary School. I guess I was only there for a few years before we moved to Cornwall but it seemed like a lifetime back then.
It was a Sunday so I felt ok about riding my bike right up to the main gates to have a look. It wasn't so fenced in back in my day but we live in different times where anything that might put children at risk has to be cordoned off.
The caretaker did come over to check me out but when I explained that I used to go to the school back in the late 60's he told me all sorts of bits of history about what had happened to the school in the past four decades, including a fire that destroyed the main hall, and the tearing down of the dangerous asbestos 'temporary' classrooms that were demolished 8 years ago. Apparently lots of old ex-pupils turned up to watch it being taken apart by men in chemical warfare suits because of the asbestos dust. I was taught in that building along with hundreds of other school children for years. Great.
The playing fields look identical and looking around I am reminded that I think I was very happy at this school. I have some good memories of playing in the woods adjacent to the playing fields. You can't get in or out of the school grounds at the back like you used to as they've built houses all around it. Also the cemetery next door has expanded massively and started to surround the grounds since I went to school here. Slightly Ominous!
Photos pinched from the Micklands School website

That's me in my new Micklands School uniform with my family at a wedding sometime about 1967 at a guess.

In the interests of trying to keep examples of illustration running through this blog, I remember reading a several books at this school. One was 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' which had a wonderfully atmospheric cover but I don't know who the illustrator was.
Others were J.R.R Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and C.S. Lewis' 'Narnia Tales' which need no introduction but again it was my first introduction to not only these epic works but also the illustrations of Pauline Baynes. Practically all of her covers transport you into another world before you even open the book and start reading. Nearly all of my mental images conjured up by reading these books are based on her illustrations.
It's interesting that Tolkien and Lewis were very good friends and they both chose Pauline Baynes to illustrate their books. Or maybe it was the publisher that chose her. Good choice in any case.

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