Memories of Infant School

As we’re going back nearly sixty years, these memories are vague – if any other former pupils wish to add to them in the comments, that would be great.

After two years in Mexico City our family returned to Twickenham in spring 1959. I was duly enrolled at the Archdeacon Cambridge’s Infant School, Briar Road, Twickenham. The headmistress was a Mrs Nelson, who I can still picture.

The school had been built in 1860 and I don’t think too much had changed in the intervening 99 years – coal stoves for heating (such as it was) and outdoor toilets. The school buildings were demolished many years ago and Google Maps now shows the current buildings as being occupied by Richmond Music Trust, with the large playground to the rear now being used as a car park. Surprisingly, a Google search throws up no pictures of the infant or junior schools – should you find one, please post a link in the comments.

The site on the corner of Briar Road and Staines Road was, I remember, occupied by a betting shop, the building being a post-war rebuild following bomb damage. Aston Perforators was next door and just over the school fence. According to Google, the business was established in 1934 and is still trading, one of Twickenham’s few surviving manufacturing businesses.

Back then my mum didn’t have a car, so I was either walked to and from school, or taken on the back of her bicycle in a child seat. Imagine that now!

My first teacher was a Mrs Benfield, who I remember as a somewhat stern teacher. She had been a teacher there since before the war. Lessons were much as would expected for the time: the three R’s: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. We sat in lines in our iron framed desks with very formal lessons, save for the craft and painting sessions. Not to be forgotten was playtime with the third pint of milk for each child.

The school had no kitchen facilities, so for lunch we were marched in crocodile fashion (coats and hats in the winter) down to ‘The Institute’ in First Cross Road. It later became the Twickenham Preparatory School, and now the Jack and Jill Nursery School. I don’t remember anything about the meals, but in those days we weren’t expected to complain.

For my second and final year I moved up to Miss Hancock’s class. I remember her as a kindly soul: she too had been at the school since before the war. Like me she lived in Strawberry Hill and I would see her around for many years after she retired.

12 thoughts on “Memories of Infant School


    That period includes my first memories of you, Tony. I enjoyed reading about your memories of it, and amazed that you remember so much. I don’t remember much at all about Hampton Hill Primary, so perhaps that’s why you were always ahead of me at HGS.

    1. Tony Bryer

      Belated thanks for your comment. Some might observe that having a keen memory of 50+ years ago and not being able to remember something from last week is a sure sign of old age! That said, if you showed me photos of our HGS teachers I could probably accurately name 90% of them.

  2. Elaine Kibble

    Hi, my name is Elaine Kibble, nee Willmore, I went to Briar Road infants from 1960, I remember Mrs Nelson but none of my teachers names, used to like getting a sweet when I did something well, then on to Archdeacon junior next to the church, was Mr Chambers the headmaster? I remember going across to the Institute for lunch, it always seemed dark and dreary and the smell! I lived in Second Cross Road untill 1983 then moved to Sandhurst.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Elaine, thanks for dropping by. You would have been a couple of years below me. I don’t recall a Mr Chambers in any capacity. Mr Brown was Junior School head during my time, succeeded by Mr Lane.

    2. Jim Cross

      Hi Elaine
      We were in the same class at the infant and junior school. I hope you’re keeping well. It was Mr Brown as I remember, who was headmaster. He died from a heart attack, lifting his car battery. He was replaced by Mr Lane, a lovely man.

  3. Richard Taylor

    I must of started Briar Road in about 1964? I lived just around the corner in Gravel Road. The school looks like it’s been deleted from history! No photos anywhere. I remember Mrs Nelson and a ?Mrs Hancock ?Mrs Woods.

    There was a creepy locked up air raid shelter and smelly outside toilets! I remember you could buy biscuits at morning break time!

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Richard. Yes, it’s weird that Google doesn’t (from a quick look) throw up even one picture of either of the original school buildings.

  4. Alan

    Hi Tony, I started at Briar Road 1959 and remember Miss Hancock and Miss Nelson. I liked a Carol Enright there but she liked John Adams. I would spend my 2d pocket money at Ricky’s on sweets or save up for a jamboree bag. I too remember the dinners in 1st Cross Road.

  5. Stuart Maynard

    Back in the day (1950’s) I attended both Infant and Junior Arch. Camb. Schools. I saw your web page many months ago and have kept the tab as I did once come across a photo of the Junior School and playground: I have since lost it. However I have now encountered this Timeline with a tiny photo of the Junior School alongside a record of its opening in 1842. I would not know if the photo is contemporaneous, but it is not the one I saw earlier, suggesting that the tiny Twickenham Museum might have access to much more relevant data on this subject than Google! Good Luck.

    1. Pat Garnsey

      Stuart Maynard. Remember your name.
      I went to Briar Rd and the school next door to Holy Trinity Church, Archdeacon Cambridge; so did my brother Rufus. I liked Sunday School in the Church.
      Mr Foxley was a nice man . He took us for nature rambles. School dinners were awful; we used to sing “up there in the sky is a big blue potato hanging in the breeze to freeze”. I have a different email address now.

  6. Pat Garnsey

    I also remember Briar Road Infants and primary school. Those outside loos. Yuk! . Remember Mrs Benfield and Mr Brown. The dinner hall and school dinners with half cooked potatoes containing blue lumps. Miss Chislet, who was a great teacher. Mr Foxley who used to take us for nature rambles in Crane Park I also liked the church services and Sunday school. I started school in 1953.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.