FORMER pupils of Chandos School for Girls in Stanmore will be reviving old memories at a school reunion later this year. Reporter TARA BRADY finds out what it was like to be a pupil there just after the Second World War.
SPAM fritters were on the menu, if you misbehaved you could get the cane and talking to boys was forbidden. Welcome to Chandos School for Girls in 1948. Chandos was an all-girls secondary built at the start of the Second World War in Thistlecroft Gardens, which later became Park High School.
But in 1948 the thought of tucking into a horrible school dinner was a far cry from the woes children had faced a few years earlier when German bombs rained down on London.
June Mangum, 71, was brought up in Kenton and attended the school between 1948 and 1952. The grand-mother, who now lives in Colchester, recalled: "I joined the school just after the war. It was a great school and considering we were living in difficult times we were quite lucky.
"I remember the school dinners the most. They weren't great. We were made to eat spam fritters, stews, fish cakes and mince meat pie. But we were given treats from time to time like chocolate steamed pudding, gypsy pie and stewed rhubarb with custard.
"They may have been hard times, but nothing could have matched the worries of actually living through the war."
Chandos School for Girls first opened in August 1939, four days before Britain declared war on Germany. By the end of the conflict temporary huts were built on top of the school's air raid shelters and small gardens were allotted to girls to grow their own vegetables. Discipline remained a huge priority and there were many rules the girls had to abide by.
Mrs Mangum said: "Our teachers were dedicated and extremely inspirational but they were very keen on discipline. It was so strict there was even a white line down the middle of the playground we shared with the nearby boys' school.
"If we were caught talking to the boys we would be sent straight to the headmistress. If you were really naughty you might get the cane but this was only in extreme cases. Otherwise, we got detentions but I never did. I was one of the good girls."
The things taught were different to what pupils at Park High can now expect to learn.
Science and maths were seen to be far less important, while more attention was paid to practical skills such as cookery and typing.
Mrs Mangum, who married and had two children, remembers: "My favourite lesson was history. I have always found learning about the past fascinating. We also enjoyed cookery lessons and we would bring our concoctions home in jam jars. There were no plastic containers.
"We also learnt how to sew and if you could type you could get a job anywhere.
"It was important we were given the practical skills needed for when we left school and entered the world of work."
And while in today's society we are hearing more and more about child obesity, Mrs Mangum remembers her gym lessons at school. She said: "We were all very much fitter back then. There were hardly any overweight people during that time. Maybe we should be learning from the past. In the playground we loved skipping, playing hopscotch, doing handstands and cartwheels.
"We had no gym kits. We just wore our navy blue knickers tucked up. We only ever crossed the white line in the playground when we walked over to the gym. We had to walk in single file but never talk to the boys."
Mrs Mangum said: "One of the highlights of the school year was the annual staff pantomime for the pupils. It was something the girls really looked forward to.
"It was a happy school and I enjoyed my time there. Britain was not long out of the war so we were just thankful not to be caught up in conflict."
The Chandos Old Girls' Association, set up in 1975, is holding a reunion for girls who attended the school between 1939 and 1974. The event takes place at Park High School in Thistlecroft Gardens in Stanmore on October 4 from 2.30pm.
Mrs Mangum, who is now publicity officer for the association, said: "We would love to see any former pupils so we can all catch up and talk about fond memories at Chandos.
"We had a reunion last year and we are keen to make this an annual event."
For more information call the chair-woman of the association, Iris Platten, on 020 8907 6082 or just turn up on the day.