St Mark's School - education and much more besides

Michael Winterman
Credit McKillop & Gregory
St Marks School 1957
With kind permission of and copyright St Marks School
St Marks School Football Team 1959
With kind permission of, and copyright of, St Marks CE Junior School

Before computers, the National Curriculum, and Ofsted, life at school was quite different to what it is today. Michael Winterman would like to share with you his memories of St Mark’s School when it was on Wyndham Road.

Getting to and from school

“But nobody ever came to school in a car, in those days.  I have vivid recollections of being at the school and loads and loads of people used to be walking up the hill …. with their mums, and sometimes with their dads, but mostly with their mums.  Or their grans.  And sometimes they would come with someone else’s mum because they lived next door to them. 

There were lots of other little children there who lived in the immediate area of Wyndham Road, and  Queens Road, and College Street, and Belle Vue Road, who  all used to be walking up the road together in the mornings, and coming home in the afternoons.  And mums used to talk to each other and, occasionally, we would stop on fine days and the mums would sit on the seat and talk and we would run across the playing field at the back of the Council grounds.”


“The teacher that we had..  Miss Rowden.. she was really nice.  She was a very smiley lady and she was always very friendly and she would get us to sort of write on pieces of paper.  And I remember her standing at the front and teaching us the letters of the alphabet. 

English was always my favourite subject.  I always used to like writing … I always used to enjoy actually forming letters and things .  And I remember the teacher saying, ‘This is a small ‘a’ and that’s a big ‘A’.  And that’s a small ‘b’ and that’s a big ‘B’, and then we got calling things ‘ay’ and ‘bee’ and not ‘ah’ and ‘ber’ and it was quite interesting and I remember feeling quite sort of grown up then”.

“We used to have to recite our two times table, and our ten times table, and our twelve times table.  And I could always do that because you always remember it parrot fashion when I think about it now.  But…if you were to ask people now, ‘What are seven sixes?’ it doesn’t come automatically to them, whereas when you did your times tables it, it came automatically because you would remember it immediately”,

“We used to actually do lots of things in the art room…. lots of big paintings, and colouring, and charts.  We used to make things with Plasticine and then we used to have paper-mâché… to make little models and things with old newspapers. One of the first things we made in there was a flower pot.  We used to have to stick all this together and … let it dry and … when it was actually finished, it was quite hard.  And then we used to have to paint it…..and we could paint it whatever colour we liked”.

Special events and activities


“When it came up to Christmas, we  used to have to go to the church at St. Mark’s church. And of course, before the ring road was there, you literally walked right up Wyndham Road, before it was altered, and over the top and down the other side.

I remember coming up towards Christmas and we made lots of little paper chains ….we cut out, and we glued the ends, and we hooked them all together. And then.. we pinned them all up, on the wall.  They used to hang these paper chains on the beams.  We made these bells and you could actually make them out of sort of crêpe paper … and we always used to get very sticky with the glue”.

“And they made this little crib. They’d made this little stable, and they put the straw on the roof and glued it on.  And we had to help.  And there was a donkey.  And they had this little manger with the Baby Jesus.  And Miss Rowden used to sit down in the corner and tell us all about the Baby Jesus, and that’s what Christmas was all about.  A lot of the children thought Christmas was just about having presents, and she would say, ‘No, no.  It’s not about having presents.  It’s about.. the Baby Jesus.’ .”

Harvest Festival

“We were going to have a Harvest Festival, and people were able to bring things, but you could only bring one thing, you could bring a potato, or a carrot, or a marrow, or something or other, or a cabbage.  When we went back to our classroom, Miss Rowden said, ‘Well, I’m going to write a little note for you all to take home for your mummies.’  And I remember this little note … my mother said, ‘Oh you’ve got to take a carrot or a cabbage or something,’ and I think I took an apple”.


Ken Edwards also recalls some school activities:

“We had a very big school garden an’ we used to grow a lot of our own vegetables and everything and, for my sins – I don’t know why – but I seemed to be quite good at it and I got a school prize for it actually. I was in charge of the compost heap. So I s’pose I started recycling at an early age, but I was proud of my compost heap and I used to even sort of tend it during the dinner hour some times”.


Michael remembers quite a lot about that!

“Mrs. Gregory… used to have this thing she would say: ‘I want everyone to be very quiet.  I want fingers on lips.’  And we used to have to sit there, like that, with our fingers on our lips, and she would look around the classroom to make sure that everyone had their fingers on their lips.  And then she’d say, ‘Right fingers off lips now.  But I want everyone to be quiet.’

Mr. King, who was the headmaster at that school then, was a very big, very gruff sort of man, and he lived in Queens Road. I always remember him because.. . he used to shout, and when the children weren’t being very quiet, he got very cross and  he would sometimes bash someone on the top of the head and say, ‘Will you be quiet!’ 

After a while, you realised that anybody that was naughty in the big school, had to go to Mr. Pye’s office. And if they went to Mr. Pye’s office they always ended up having a smack… and coming out crying and they weren’t allowed to go out to play, and they had to sit in the classroom.  And some of them would cry again, but they still had to sit there.  And you learn, very quickly, that you don’t do things that  are going to attract a smack from Mr. Pye”.

Eating and drinking

“I’d not been there very long and I heard this rattling, and there was a crate of  little milk bottles. They said, ‘Everybody’s got to drink their milk.’  I hated it.  They were very cross with me, and said, ‘You’ve got to drink your milk because you’ll never grow big and strong if you don’t drink your milk’. “

“When I was probably six or seven, they had this hall next door and some children were able to have a cooked meal at the school.  A van used to come every day, and they used to take these great big tubs out of this van, and they were always boiling hot.  And this man, who seemed to be huge, used to carry these in and put them on a table, at the end of the hall.  They were like stainless steel tubs of food and there were these ladies with big hats on and aprons on. All dressed up to scoop this food out. And then when it was dinner-time we were all told to line up and go into this hall….and we’d sit down and they’d bring the plates round. And I remember vividly, potato and swede. I can never remember what else we had with it, but we always had a big dollop of potato and swede. 

But when it came to puddings.. . I always liked the puddings. They used to have semolina pudding and another pudding called tapioca. Oh I didn’t like that!   Ooh that looked horrible! Sometimes there was chocolate semolina”.

Time to grow up: leaving St Mark’s School

‘We’ve all got to take a very important exam. And this exam would tell us whether we’re going to go to the Bishop’s School, if we’re a boy, or to South Wilts Grammar School if we’re a girl, or whether we’re going to go to St. Thomas’s if we’re a boy, or to St. Edmund’s if we’re a girl.’  And I remember St. Edmund’s was just down the road, by the church, and I remember that because my big sister had already gone there because she was three years older than me.

When it got to the last day of school, at the junior school, I remember we had a party at the school, and we all had to say goodbye to the teachers.  And I remember I took a little piece of cake or something or other in a bag to one of the teachers. I don’t know if they ever ate it but I remember taking this piece of cake, and then going down the hill, through the Council grounds and the Greencroft, thinking, ‘I don’t have to go to this school ever again!  I’m going to a big school.  But I don’t have to go to that school until September, and I’ve got six or seven whole weeks just to go and play!’  Oh and that was like the relief of Mafeking; it was wonderful. 

But I never saw a lot of those children again after that, other than the ones that lived immediately around me”.


Do you have any of your own memories of St Mark’s School to add, or some photos?

Comments about this page

  • I was at St Marks Infants (I think it was still called that, though the juniors had by then gone to Somerset Road) from 1961-63. I remember Miss Rowden too, teacher of the “babies” class. She was kind and must have been a good teacher. I remember playing with plasticine on little wooden boards, I remember learning words using flash cards and listening to a story read by Miss Rowden. The headmistress was Miss Feltham; she had her office in the corner of the “babies” classroom. Sometimes, when she wanted a bit of peace, she would look out for any naughty boys sent from older classes to be told off by the headmistress. Once they had been admitted to the head mistress’s office, Miss Rowden would say to us “quiet, all of you, and listen for the smack!”

    By Isabel Yeo (was Taylor) (15/07/2020)
  • Lovely to read these memories. Our family lived in Salt lane nr. 7. It was not a long walk to St Mark’s, I was five years old on my first attendace, in 1950. I loved to sing with our class and learned to read thanks to the teachers’ dedication to the children. I also remember a dairy that sold milk and butter. The butter was served by cutting a lump off a large slab and shaped into a half-pound patty with wooden paddles…seems so long ago…but peaceful

    By Anthony Rushton (24/10/2017)
  • I went to St Marks infant school in 1962/63. Reading other people’s comments is very interesting. I don’t remember an awful lot but I do remember my first day at school , my teacher was miss Rowland and I remember that she was very kind! I didn’t want my mum to leave me so she helped me play in the sand pit that she had in her class( may have been outside!)
    I too remember the outdoor toilets and the play area by the class rooms and I think there possibly a way through to the back playing field between two classrooms !!
    I loved that field , there were lots of daisies and I particularly remember the trains going by which caused great excitement .Cant remember any of the other teachers although I think there was Mrs Brown ( she had a son at school with us) .
    I can remember a few of my friends names but didn’t keep in touch as when I left there (due to start at junior school ) we moved away from Salisbury.

    By Sandra (19/10/2017)
  • I attended St Mark’s infant School, as it was then called, from 1935 until 1942, at that time the Headteacher was Miss Hillditch, and she was very strict, we were all in awe of her, she had red hair, with a temper to match! Mr and Mrs Penson were both Teachers in my time, they were really lovely, and I also remember Mr Scott….one of my best friends at the time was Iris Knowlton, who we all thought was very posh, as her Father was Chief Fire Officer at Salisbury Fire Station (which was then situated in Salt Lane) another friend was Patsy Toogood and all three of us used to love going out to play at playtimes, as it was called, but in class we were always separated, because we talked too much, something I had the cane for many a time, but yes looking back they were very happy days……

    By Jacky Reay ( nee Birchley) (20/01/2016)
  • Our first schools.
    When I went to St Marks school, Miss Rowden was the first class you went to. then to main school Mr Penson English, Mr King maths, Mr Scott Head master I remember walking to the swimming pool for lessons off Castle road. water temperature 52 that was cold.
    After I left St Marks I went to St Thomas school, Mr. Simmonds chemist, Mr Stone Geography, Mr Marks art,
    Mr Willams English, Mr Chamberlain Maths, Mr Rumbold English, Mr Mc kinnon music,Mr Buddon head master,
    School motto Manners makef Man by John Fry .03April 2015

    By John Fry (03/04/2015)
  • On other stories about school I remember me and a mate used to take sandwiches for mid morning break. One day I took a oxo cube and put it in my hankie and sucked it through. When my mum found the hankie a couple of days later she thought I had a accident so when I told her what it was she sent me to my bedroom. It was worth it but I never did it again.

    By John Pendle (04/01/2015)
  • I went to Wyndham Park Infants school as it was known at the time of the ring road being completed. Madame Lesasheur (probably not spelt correctly) I remember the Foxgloves in front of our classroom and as you walked past the Headmistresses office the wooden benches with a structure above where your name would be and a place to hang your coat. Underneath the bench where two rows segregated to put your PE kit and then our Classroom. This was in the garden area. We had a lovely blind gentleman who came to assemblies with his golden labrador and remember collecting silver bottle tops to collect for the blind dogs appeal.

    I remember my first walk to the school from Park Street where I lived. The rain was pouring and very windy with the beech trees dropping the shells and wearing a pink gabardine mac with matching souwester hat and feeling very anxious.

    By Chantal Gould (03/01/2015)
  • Your memories of St Mark’s are brilliant John!

    By Clare Christopher (18/12/2014)
  • My favourite time at school was playing in the playground. We used to make up gangs and I was always a cowboy. On Saturdays we used to go to pictures for sixpence, we saw a cartoon a serial like batman or Flash Gordon then the main feature, it was great. On a serious note in queens road where there are two houses opposite St marks road was the home guard club. Behind it was a apple tree we went and pinched apples, someone saw us and we escaped. Most went under the fence I didn’t, climbed over and fell on to pavement hitting my head on the pavement got home crying my mum called the doctor who said he’s got concussion but I was soon out of bed watching my friends going to school. I didn’t do it again. Another incident was when me and a mate made a trolley he pushed and I carreered down Wyndham road straight across castle street in to the rising sun pub yard knocking all the empty beer crates flying. Its a wonder I have lived so long but we had fun

    By John Pendle (15/12/2014)
  • I was about seven or eight and I got the cane for riding on the back of a dustcart which went past the headmasters house. When I told my dad he smacked my legs twice, once for getting the cane and the second time for getting caught. You were always a St marks pupil whether or not you were at school or the only other time I had the cane was when I fired a gob stopper at a girls bottom with a catapult. She got the slipper for swearing but the teacher said it was a damn good shot! I loved school.

    By John Pendle (12/12/2014)
  • Thanks for sharing your memories, John. I can’t imagine a knitted swimming costume! It must have got very heavy when it was wet!

    By Clare Christopher (10/12/2014)
  • I lived dead opposite St marks school in Wyndham road so I was never late for school I liked games and English but my best subject wes geography when it came to the teacher Mr Prater he would ask a question about where a certain place was on the map and I would always have my hand up first eventually he would say not you Pendle let somebody else answer my worst subject was writing and maths even now at the age 71 I find it hard to put things down on paper I remember going down to the swimming baths by what is now the coach station and changing to swimming costume which my mother had knitted they were horrible the pool was unheated so you went in and cold took your breath away but when you got out you felt fantastic

    By John Pendle (10/12/2014)

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