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Vera Wilson (Arkwright) - Winton High School 1956-58 (Winsford, Cheshire)

I passed my 11 plus, I was never the brains of Britain but quite quick on the uptake, and only interested in things I found easy and to my taste so when I attended Eccles Grammar the lessons on science, biology, French, Latin held nothing for me at all. The only saving grace about the school was Derek Matthews who was a red headed maths teacher. I think he had a soft spot for me and when I left he bought the whole class an ice cream by way of a party. I found the rest of the teachers insufferable.

On reaching Winton where my mates from junior school were I found it very hard to accept we were not allowed to speak to the boys. Eccles G. was a mixed school. After being found in the wrong half of the yard on several occasions (the half nearest the boys) I was sent to join the boys woodwork class. On discovering I enjoyed it (and still do) Miss Williams brought me back after a couple of days. Very unfair I thought.

I thought the maths teacher Miss Westbrook was great. I went into maths for optional on Thursdays because I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life at age 14. We used to earn house points for adding up the house books for the whole school. Miss Westbrook made me drop out after I had 10 first correct answers. When the careers officer came I said I wanted a job just to "add up"! At that time female accountants did not exist. Quite laughable and unbelievable now. And after 35 years that was exactly what I ended up doing.
Miss Westbrook once met me on the carriage drive in Worsley I was walking with 2 boys Derek Ellis and Jim C?. It was Christmas Day/Boxing Day and we were walking through Worsley when along came Miss Westbrook. Shortly after in the New Year I was summoned to Miss Williams  office and I was in Wipe out I knew full well the school rules about being with boys but Miss Williams only wanted to thank me for a calendar I had sent as a Christmas card. I cannot describe the relief. Miss Westbrook on the other hand never let me forget the Carriage Drive walk.

Miss Hawkins fascinated me with her dress sense. Neat suits, peplum jackets, smart blouses and hair well "Coiffured" I modeled myself on her in later life. The teachers who disliked me were a bit intimidated I feel. The cookery teacher who said I had to conjure up a plate of sandwiches and took 6 hours to teach me how, left me spell bound and led me to make derogatory comments about my cookery teacher who threatened to cut my hair with a knife and fork, she received a look that reverberated around the school.

Miss Littler who promised to take me on the school trip to Ambleside after all others had refused...she promptly fell off the bus platform and broke her leg preventing anyone from going (bit of a drastic way to forego the pleasure). The teachers who refused to take me abroad, fearing I would not be controlled. I have to say I was not an unruly child, my father was too strict, but I did know my rights.

Around 1957 a new English teacher named Mrs Varley arrived, her husband taught at Eccles Grammar. When I refused Miss Owen's offer to be a part of the yearly choir - Mrs Varley offered the information gleaned from her husband that I had been a soloist at church for a number of years and also Manchester Cathedral. My refusal was based on the fact I did not want to miss out on what I considered vital lessons purely to sing. Miss Williams made me sing a solo in front of the whole school thinking I would fail and it was hard to define how she felt after the event was a raging success. I flummoxed them all when my turn came to read from the Bible. So fluid and coherent.  "MOI" I feel my coming from a Grammar School had a resounding effect on both teachers and pupils.

I can only say I loved my new school, and all the friends I made. The McComas twins whose father saw me as an outside means of helping the twins pass exams.
The Howard twins, totally different to look at but in later life a stunning if diverse pair of ladies. During my last year I saw it as my wont in life to help those less fortunate. (Rather bigheaded but - hey)
One girl I really helped was Ann Mannering. She was very athletic but not academic. I tried and to a degree succeeded. Her mum thanked me profusely when our lives took us in different directions and she, I believe, became a p/a secretary. Just an aside ...Her boyfriend was named Maurice Jefferson and some 35 years later I received a call in the capacity of F.D. where I now work and I recognized his voice. He was connected with Sale Harriers, he always was a good runner, I took great delight in reminding him what he tried to do to my friend in the Palladium Cinema.

My love of maths paid off. Over the years I have been a grocer, a telephonist, a medical supply manufacturer, (best Time of my working life. - Edward Taylors, Monton) a licensee, a book keeper and finally an FD.  It has all been fab. I have met some wonderful people during my life and I am still loving every minute of it. I loved my life in Winton. The library where I spent hours swotting, the baths on Station Road where I swam for the school. I was asked to take the younger girls to swimming lessons. As I passed my house I used to call home for my swim suit, big mistake....not allowed,  Miss Hall the gym teacher who I felt (age 13) took too close a look at us in the showers, the Munich air disaster re Man U. I was the only girl in school who had a transistor radio. I was dispatched home for it and was allowed to sit in the hall with Miss Yourston?, Miss Hall and several others to keep a breast of the situation.

I left in April 1958 after 1 and 3/4 years. The words of Miss Williams ringing in my ears. "We took you in on the understanding you would stay for 4 years" I loved it but I wanted to earn money. I saw that as the way forward. I am now 60 and I think I was right....As long as you earn it you have it to spend! I have had a ball and hopefully will continue to do so...  Vera Wilson (nee Arkwright)

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