logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

The wider curriculum at school
in the early 1900s

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The school paid attention to the wider curriculum. In one year, for example, we were taken once a week to Barrowell Green open air swimming baths. The idea was to teach us how to swim, but I never did learn.

I hated the swimming costumes provided by the school. They were long with blue and white stripes and frills round the arm holes, and, as they were made of cotton, they stood away from the skin, making us feel colder than ever when we got out of the water.

Barrowell Green baths in the 1930s and 40s

I was taken to Barrowell Green baths in the 1930s and 1940s by my school. They were located next to the waste incinerators and presumably the surplus heat was re-circulated to take the chill off the water in the pool. However, the water was always cold. This could have been for any of three reasons:

• The heat transfer system from the incinerator may have been primitive and inefficient at that time.

• We boys were wearing only swimming trunks and had to stand around, waiting permission from the teacher to enter the water for our 'lesson'.

• It was 8am in the morning and the sun (assuming it was shining) had not warmed the atmosphere around the open air bath.

We used to be 'taught' to swim by being put into a harness and dragged through the water by one of the masters standing on the edge of the pool. This usually resulted in our swallowing large quantities of chlorinated water and scrambling out spluttering and shivering. If a teacher had first taught us how to float we might have made some progress.

The best part of the visit was the drink of hot Bovril available at one penny a cup after we had got dried and changed out of our awful clinging, wet woollen, costumes.

Tony Newman

There were also extra-curricular activities.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.