Teaching at the Dean School, Alresford

The following account is provided by Chris Pines, who remembers his four years teaching the Juniors at the Dean School in Alresford, from 1968-73. Chris writes:

“My first teaching post, back in 1968, was in New Alresford Junior School, in The Dean – half way down the road on the right, just after the caravan park. It was an old, 1887-built, flint and brick building, with a tarmac playground at the front of the school, and two huge beech trees, with a small grass area at the rear which also housed two huts, the outside toilets and the caretaker’s store and coal room. Just before I arrived, the infants’ classes had moved out, and were established in a brand new school building on Sun Hill Lane.

I arrived in 1968, and stayed for four years, joining – among others – the headmaster Ron Longley, deputy head Arthur Hodkin, and teachers Lionel Ginsburg, Grace Strong and Cathy Phillips. My feeling is that a lot of time was spent preparing the children for the eleven plus, and a strong “them and us” feeling was present – that may just have been my view though. My memory says that during the first year there, I caught the train from Winchester to Alresford every day, but after the railway closed, I then used the bus, going along the old Winchester road.

The building was well past its sell-by date even in the 1960s. In the winter the boys’ toilets froze up (they were in an outside building) and this produced no end of inventive solutions, which included the use of buckets of hot water etc.

A picture of the school from the www.alresfordheritage.co.uk website, which is from a Hampshire Chronicle newspaper article around the time of closure of the Dean School: Chris Pines thinks the fugure guiding the children across the road would be Mr

A picture of the school from the http://www.alresfordheritage.co.uk website, which is from a Hampshire Chronicle newspaper article around the time of closure of the Dean School: Chris Pines thinks the fugure guiding the children across the road would be the deputy head, Mr Hodkin 

My classroom was in the main building, and was a long high-ceilinged room with windows way above our heads. The children sat at old beech desks, in front of the teacher’s high desk: there was a coal burner stove with a rail around, and this always smelt of sour milk. This came from the children’s one third of a pint milk bottles, which were lined up around the fire to warm them up, for those children who liked it that way: these were then issued by the milk monitors at morning break. Several times each winter, especially in October/November, we had a minor flood when it rained – from a little outside passage surrounded by walls, where the drain regularly blocked up with fallen leaves. My job would be to take a long stick and poke away at the drain cover until the water ran away freely.

At the back of the main building, and on the rising ground, were the huts – and a small field of grass, which was used for breaks and lunch-breaks. There we buried my first class “pet” – a guinea-pig which somehow escaped from its cage one night and stuffed itself into its jar of food, where it ate itself to death. For months after the small grave was marked by little crosses that the children made from lollipop sticks and shiny sweet wrappers.

Games and sports were held in a field that seemed to be half way across the town – the trek there reduced the time we had for sports by half every afternoon! But, during the summer term we were able to take nature walks along the river path – going not quite as far as the eel-house in one direction or the swimming pool in the other, but it was always a pleasure to go past the beautiful Fulling Mill, set straddling the main river flow.

Many of the children attending The Dean came from smaller villages such as Old Alresford, Kilmeston, Beauworth, Bishop’s Sutton – so were always a wide mix of experiences and local farming backgrounds – including at least one lad whose main diet seemed to consist of whatever was in season on the farm where his Dad worked. Several of the children had special traditional skills and commitments – every year in July several of the older boys disappeared for what seemed like a long weekend, which coincided with the Alresford Sheep Fair – my guess is they were earning a few shillings helping out.

Although this was over 40 years ago, I still occasionally bump into some of the children I taught then, and have followed their (sometimes glowing) careers with interest.”

Editor’s comment:

Chris Pines went on to teach at the Winnall Primary in Winchester, where he says he spent many happy years: he also became a local City Councillor, and then eventually a Mayor of Winchester (apparently number 808!). Chris still lives in St Cross.

From Chris’s comments, one of the fascinating aspects of teaching in one area over many years, appears to be seeing how the children grow up and develop in later years, and then even teaching their children! One young lady he taught at the Dean School in Alresford, Carol, had three children who went through his classes in Winnall: similarly a young man, Clive, from the Dean School in Alresford, later became a City Councillor in Winchester, and sent his own four children to Chris’s school in Winnall. Some of Chris’s students have developed along previously unexpected lines – one runs an Art Shop, and another developed to be a well-known film star!

A further comment comes from Godfrey Andrews, still living in Alresford, and a member of the Facebook Group “I went to the Dean School, Alresford”, which regrettably only has 12 members currently. Perhaps I should say that I asked Godfrey to comment particularly on the children’s toilets at the Dean School, as I had heard rumours! He comments:

I do remember the school toilets, oh so well! They stood on their own in the small yard at the rear of the old school building. If you needed the toilet during school time you had to face the humiliation of putting your hand up in front of the whole class, to request a toilet visit and then face the further humiliation, as the teacher would issue you with the regulation ‘three sheets of toilet paper’.

I also remember one playtime when it was raining heavily and water was gushing down from a broken drain pipe in the boys’ urinal, and my friend Roger and myself were stood under the full force of the water, getting absolutely soaked. When we were caught by one of the dinner ladies, Mrs Cox, we were instantly sent to the headmistress’s office, to be punished: which meant to receive the cane. We hadn’t expected that, as Mrs Cox was actually Roger’s mother!

Sun Hill Schools:

Your Editor moved to Alresford in 1981, and my son, also called Nick Denbow, went to the Sun Hill Infants School, when Mr Longley was Headmaster there: he enjoyed being taught by Grace Strong, who Chris Pines says has now retired. If anyone else has memories of the Dean or Sun Hill Schools they want to add here, please send them in, either via the NATT website, or direct to nick@nickdenbow.com.

5 responses to this post.

  1. I remember the ‘toilets’ well. In my day (30’s) the ground behind was the school garden and Mr. Chivers took us for gardening lessons once a week.I wonder if Grace Strong was any relation of mine. Read my memories on ‘Facebook’ (I went to the Dean school.)

    Reply

  2. I also remember the toilets and the awful smell that always seemed to eminate from them! I remember Mrs Cox the dinner lady who seemed terribly fierce and her trying to force me to eat lambs heart for school dinner. I wasn’t a fussy eater and normally loved the school food but this defeated me. I also remember receiving a slap across my leg from Mr Longley which would be unheard of today. Mr Pine was one of my favourite teachers and I can still see him accidently cutting off the end of his tie in the paper guillotine and the resulting hilarity in the class.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Donna Blyth ( was Holder) on December 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Mr.Christopher Pines was my teacher in 2nd year of juniors a lovely man and great teacher I have never forgotten him I am 52 now and a grandma I wish any of my 5 grandgirls a good a teacher as he was! Donna

    Reply

  4. Posted by Sarahjane Reed on March 26, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I remember Mrs Cox and Mrs Springer, the dinner ladies. However, Mr Whitaker was Headmaster when I was there along with Mr Hodkin, Miss Shergold, Mr Ginsberg and the lovely Miss Gerrard. I also remember swimming in the Alresford Pool!! Happy days.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Richard Gibson on October 30, 2019 at 7:53 am

    I remember The Dean well. Chris was my teacher and So was Mr Ginsburg, did clay modelling in his class. Anyone Remember Mrs Hudson? There was a Walnut Tree in the Field behind the Huts.
    I have seen Chris since , in the 1980s in the pub in Winchester. I am 58 now.

    Reply

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