For a set of pages on what it was like to be a pupil in the
early 1900s, see Schools.
For photographs of the pupils and teachers, see Silver Street School: pupils &
the pupils and staff lived, see the top menu.
Plaque commemorating the opening of Silver Street School
in 1901, courtesy of John Cunningham. Click for a larger image with legible
text also showing details of the Middlesex county crest.
Silver Street School in Edmonton was built in 1900 and opened for pupils
in 1901, almost certainly to coincide with the surge of new housing on the
Huxley estate. The plaque commemorating
the opening is still displayed today (2009) - see the photo on the right.
My mother wrote a great deal about life in the school in its early years,
including fascinating and insightful details such as
extra-curricular activities, and
less pleasant things like disciplinary matters.
Phyllis Durbidge (born Phyllis Money) remembers
a little Miss Payne who taught at Silver Street School around 1920 and eventually
became Headmistress. She wore grey bloomers, that showed when she was on
the rostrum and when she sat on the high chair at the front of the class.
In fact she kept her handkerchief in a pocket in them. Despite her small
stature Miss Payne used to terrify her pupils when she read with great expression:
"Up the airy mountain and down the rushing glen, we daren't go a hunting
for fear of little men". Nurse Faye was the nit nurse!
Doreen Buckland, (born Doreen Buck) who was at Silver
Street School in the late 1930s recalls Miss Payne as the headmistress and
her sister as one of the teachers. Both were not much taller than those
in the top class. Miss Payne did indeed wear bloomers and each morning in
assembly these would be on show whilst she removed her hankie from her knicker
leg. We were then given instructions by her on "how to blow one's nose"!
To show how small she was: One day a girl ran downstairs and jumped on the
back of a girl standing at the bottom. Alas, it wasn't a pupil, but Miss
Payne. The culprit was Doreen's next door neighbour - Ethel Wadham (born
Frank Clarke was at Silver Street School in the
late 1930s. He reports that the school was divided into three. The lower
floor was known as the Infants the Juniors, for male and female children. The second
floor for the Junior boys and the top floor for the senior boys. There were
no toilets in the building and it was necessary to make the long trip down
the stairs and up toward the end of the playground to the "Karzy" as it
was affectionately known. The Headmaster was Mr Stevens. Other masters he
remembers were Big Willy (Mr Williams), History teacher, Little Willy (Mr
Williams) Carpentry and Mr Ambler, Geography. Mr Fullerton, the Music teacher,
could have been the W A Fullerton inscribed on the memorial tablet [below].
He joined the RAF in 1939 and became a fighter pilot.
Note that Frank Clarke's recollections show that
the terminology for the usage of the three floors changed since when the
school was built to Victorian specifications - see the labelling over
the school entrance doors.
My mother wrote as if the school was a Board
School but the Balfour Education Act of 1902 abolished school boards and
put education in the hands of local authorities. I have been unable to establish
whether this meant that Board Schools were abolished at the same time. It is
possible that my mother's terminology was a widely used hangover from the Victorian
era of a few years earlier.
According to Kate Godfrey of Enfield Local Studies
and Archives, Silver Street School was designed by the Edmonton School Board
architect, Henry Dobbs (described by George Sturges as 'a large bumptious
man whose architectural knowledge in no way equalled his bulk'). He copied
the designs of the London County Council.
The junior girls were transferred from Silver Street School to Hazelbury
School in 1931. The infants school closed in 1957 and the junior boys school
closed in 1972. The school which services the area now is the Gladys Aylward
school in Windmill Road and I understand
that it still uses the old Silver Street School building.
Plaque displayed in the Aylward School, the successor to Silver Street School,
commemorating ex-pupils who died during the Second World War. The photo
was supplied by Andrew Dickson. His cousin Jim Brown from the Fleet Air
Arm is commemorated. He was 19 when he died.
The plaque also commemorates my uncle, Horace Clarke. I was too young
to remember him but he was often talked about in the Clarke household of
my father which suffered so badly in the
Second World War blitz of Edmonton.
The R. S. Cole named on the plaque was no relation of my mother's Cole
In the main hall was a glass case containing a small African spear.
It was given to me by my uncle who served in Africa during the WW2, and
I gave it to the school around 1946.
I got the cane once for not knowing what 5 times 8 was in
How things have changed!
Photos of the pupils and teachers
show parts of the school building as
backgrounds, particularly the school hall
with its parquet floor and gas lamps, and an original
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.
It is © Pat Cryer.