William Henry Parker At KHS 1933 - 1943
I, and my three brothers, were welcomed to Kingham Hill School in October 1933, close to my 9th birthday on the 19th October.
My eldest brother, Allen, was housed at Bradford House; second brother, Arthur, at Durham House. Myself and youngest brother, Sam, at Clyde House.
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We progressed to other houses as we got older because each house catered for different age groups. At age ten or eleven I went to Durham House, and from there to Norwich House; I think I was thirteen. The house parents at that time were Mr & Mrs Lockey. At age fifteen I chose to take up an apprenticeship, in the carpenters' workshop, under the supervision of Mr Michie.
At that time, any pupils that chose to learn a trade full-time (namely: carpenter-joiner, blacksmith, tailor or farm hand) were housed at Stratford House; the last house on the right-hand side of the road, going to Sarsden Halt and Churchill, on the corner of the lane going to, what used to be, old Plymouth House - now a private home.
The house parents at Stratford House at the time I was there (1939 to1943) were Mr & Mrs (George) Bond.
I cannot remember exactly how many pupils were housed in Stratford House, at least ten; seven worked in the carpenters' workshop. Robert (Bob) Hughes, Bill Collett, Victor Neilson, Arthur Parker (my brother) and myself, Bill Parker, Mr Bertram, Norman Howes, and farm worker, Norman Taylor. Other names I cannot recall.
House parents, Mr & Mrs Bond, were very understanding to all our needs, and Mrs Bond was a very good cook - so we enjoyed wonderful meals.
During the cold winter evenings we would have sing-a-longs, or games, and we always seemed to have something to do; there was no TV. We would write to our families or friends who had left the Hill.
In fact, I still keep in touch with a couple of Old Boys that worked at the carpenter shop - Bill Collett and Bob Hughes.
Some, or maybe all, the working pupils in Stratford House were drafted into the Kingham Hill School Home Guard (Dad's Army). Staff and teachers were the Officers and NCO's, and we had regular drill parades and wore regular Army uniforms. At night we did guard duty at the school, or our House, keeping a look out for enemy parachutists, incendiary bombs etc. Rifle practice we did at Chipping Norton rifle range.
Life at Stratford House was great because we did not have the restrictions that we had in the school houses. After work hours we could go where we pleased and most of us had bicycles (no cars) so could visit Kingham village, or Chipping Norton, provided we returned at curfew time; I think it was ten o'clock in Summer and earlier in Winter.
Saturday was the big day out to the Cinema at Chipping Norton. Catch the steam train, The 'Chippy Dick' as it was known, at Sarsden Halt station. I think the fare was sixpence return, or thereabouts. My brother, Arthur, and I would occasionally cycle to Wheatley, near Oxford, to visit our grandparents at weekends, and return on Sunday evening. The road traffic was not as busy as it is today. In one summer holiday period we cycled to our parents' home at Hawkhurst, Kent - and return.
Bill is nearest the camera
The PT instructor at the school in my time was "Gaffer" Stares - ex royal marine. He ensured all pupils kept fit and healthy. My favourite sports were gymnastics and cross-country running. My name is on the honour board in the gymnasium for 1939.
I believe Stratford House still retains its name, but may not be part of the school; could be private property. I last visited the KHS in year 2000.
Bill Parker now lives in Mooloolaba, Australia.
Article submitted: June 2007.
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