Grandad's Watton

Watton Detachment of the Army Cadet Force

Some changes of accommodation and outlook became necessary in the Watton school system. The old National School, built in 1819 and now Graham Woodyatt's showroom was slightly extended and in that building for many years generations of Watton children were introduced to the mysteries of reading riting and ritmetic under the watchful eye of headmaster Charlie Lintott, a name remembered by some of his pupils for many years after they left school. Another small new school was built at the West end of Church Walk and after closure this building became the venue for a snooker and billiards club and is now the head­quarters of the Watton Detachment of the Army Cadet Force. In the early 1920's there was a further extension to Watton school accommo­ dation when a long row of ex First World War army, huts arrived and these were used as a senior school until building started on some of the classrooms and hall which now form part of the present Middle School complex. The old army huts took on a third lease of life when they were eventually sold to Gt. Cressingham where they were re-erected and for many years did duty as a village hall.

Following the retirement of Charlie Lintott the first school came under the kindly supervision of Miss Gaze, who lived near Swaffham and arrived daily in an early model Austin Seven, and Mrs Woolsey who proceeded down the High Street towards the school door each day on a 'sit-up-and-beg' bicycle which was nearly as tall as she was. My own recollection of academic activity at this school is, I fear, rather sparse, but I do recall being taught to make a sort of curtain thing using string and a mixture of round and oblong beads. An interesting achievement I feel, but one which could have limited practical appli­cation. My more abiding memory of early school days is calling at motherly "Ma" Chamberlin's shop (now Trellgrove Insurance) for a ha'porth of aniseed balls, or, on the days when money was plentiful, a penny coconut square.

The days of string and beads of course had to pass, and succeeding years found us under the care and guidance of Miss Playle, Mr Trett, Edith Farrall (Lancaster) and "Daddy" Knights, the headmaster. "Daddy" placed no great reliance on the cane to maintain discipline, but he did wear on the little finger of his left hand a heavy gold ring, and he could, with unfailing accuracy bring that ring into contact with the fleshy part of a juvenile ear. A genuine 'clip of the lug' as we might say in Norfolk.

I sometimes think it is possible that more work was done in that school after the children and teachers went out because it was then that Billy Cooke and his wife came in. Billy, severely disabled in the First World War and his good lady were the caretakers, cleaners, stokers, gardeners, and general guardians, cleaning every part each school day and doing a full scale 'spring clean' during the holidays.

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