The days of the slipper and ruler at Hellesdon Secondary Modern.


The time has come for the mystery apple thrower at Hellesdon Secondary Modern School to step forward.

Come clean, admit it was you, and the guilt which has hung over you like a cloud for more than 60 years will finally be lifted.

Among all your stories about life at the school, now Hellesdon High which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, was one from Robert Knights of Drayton who never actually went to the school.

His future wife went to Hellesdon and her name was Wendy Barlow. She was there from 1948 to 1952.

In about 1950 Robert, who lived at lower Hellesdon and went to the Norman Secondary Modern School, was waiting for his bus when a coach came past full of school children from Costessey on their way to Hellesdon school.

“One of the pupils threw an apple core out of the window of the coach which struck me in the eye. On reaching school my eye was throbbing and eventually I was taken to the headmaster, Mr Cushing, because I had gone blind in that eye.

“I told him the story and he immediately phoned Mr Thomas Taylor at Hellesdon school and told him what had happened,” said Robert.

“My wife told me years later that Mr Taylor had all the children from the coach on the stage in the hall and asked who had thrown the apple core. Nobody owned up so he slippered the whole coach — apparently he was a great disciplinarian and the whacking was hard,” he added.

“My headmaster took me to hospital and eventually my sight came back and I was OK. Good job it did because I wanted to join the Royal Navy,” said Robert.

Perhaps the mystery apple thrower would like to clear his conscience by coming clean. Don’t worry Robert is not seeking any compo!

I heard from Bill Kilgour, who also recalls the glory days of the slipper.

Bill, a director of Cookes Pianos in St Benedicts, Norwich, sent me a picture of the prefects of 1955 taken outside the main front entrance (now Firside). He is on the front row, second from the right.

“I did time at the school from 1951 until 1955 and well remember that if you stepped out of line you got six of the best on the backside.

“Teachers kept a flexible well worn plimsoll in their desk and would deploy this with considerable skill. I manage to stay clear of trouble most of the time but some boys developed hard posteriors through regular punishment. Happy days,” said Bill.

Malcolm Ireson hunted out a picture of the prefects from 1951.

And Eillen Bisby (Goodings) remembers that while the boys got the slipper, the girls had a smack with a ruler on the hand.

“It was very strict. I once had the backs of my legs slapped for talking when I shouldn’t have been and we once stood in assembly for such a long time after people had been talking that some pupils fainted. I think that made the papers,” said Eileen, who worked at Harmers when she left school.

That’s her on the far right on the back row and she would love to hear from any of her classmates from Form 6 in 1957.

“I often wondered what happened to everyone,” added Eileen who can be reached on […].

Happy days at Hellesdon — most of the time