MEECHING JUNIOR SCHOOL

Photo:3A cricket team in 1960. Now that would have been a great score!

3A cricket team in 1960. Now that would have been a great score!

John Weston

Photo:Children seen through the spray of a fountain.

Children seen through the spray of a fountain.

John Weston

Photo:Children building a bonfire

Children building a bonfire

John Weston

Photo:Craft Work

Craft Work

John Weston

Photo:Hazel and Jackie

Hazel and Jackie

John Weston

Photo:Out on a boat trip - teachers include Fred Cole (with the bag), Mr King (standing at the right) and 'Jab' Bert (seated, to the right of Fred Cole).

Out on a boat trip - teachers include Fred Cole (with the bag), Mr King (standing at the right) and 'Jab' Bert (seated, to the right of Fred Cole).

John Weston

Photo:Clean bowled!

Clean bowled!

John Weston

Photo:Children waiting for the train at Newhaven Town Station. Do you remember those old style trains?

Children waiting for the train at Newhaven Town Station. Do you remember those old style trains?

John Weston

Photo:Watching a conjuror

Watching a conjuror

John Weston

Memories from a former teacher

By John Weston

Arrival and first Tape Success

I came to Meeching Junior School in January 1958 and took over class 3A. We had the room upstairs at the back of the school with its own outside staircase leading down to the yard and the gloomy twitten squashed between the school building and the air raid shelters in the tiny yard of the infant school. In the classroom picture of craft work I'm not quite sure what the boys were up to; we certainly did a lot with papier maché because it was so cheap. That year we did a splendid frieze of mediaeval houses with lots of patterned woodwork. This was written up in Visual Education and led to the improvised drama which won prizes and was in part broadcast on the Third Programme (radio station).


As an extra to the imposing silver cup we won, we were given an outing to Brighton where we had a performance by an illusionist. Some lively audience reaction can be seen as various swords were passed through the body of an uncomplaining young lady. Even better, I was given £40 – almost a month's net salary in those days – to buy fireworks. Some of us can be seen building up the enormous bonfire in our garden which was the centrepiece of our festivities.

Games

Mr [Fred] Cole did most of the sport, particularly for the boys. I used to take the choir along to join him most evenings. To encourage a more considered manner of cricket I made the photograph of Jimmy demonstrating a dreadful slog with his eyes shut. Note the bail up in the air, but I can't see what happened to the ball! We used to go down to the recreation ground every Friday morning for games. I would go down in break to get things ready taking some boys to help on my motorbike. We had great fun whizzing round the field marking out pitches with stumps. I could take four boys in the sidecar, standing on the seats with the roof rolled back and at least one other on the large pillion. No one turned a hair in those days and on one occasion we all waved gaily to an Inspector as we drove past.

International Success

All through the following winter we worked on the tape program Journey so Long. This was mostly done in our own time and several scenes were done on location – but alas only in Sussex and not in the imaginary country of Beldavia, short specimens of whose language and music I invented. We made quite a good fist of it: I remember a member of staff after an assembly which had featured the central theme asking me, "Why are their folksongs so much better than ours?" After I had played the tape to an audience in Wales I happened to hear a lady going out saying to her companion that of course she had been there. It certainly became very real to us. It all won several awards including an International Grand Prix which was awarded at the BBC. As a reward this time we had an outing to a zoo in Kent. As we passed a cricket ground we stopped for a breather and seem to have colonised the scoreboard.

Next Year

Meanwhile, the choir continued to do very well at local festivals and branched out into choral speaking, a speciality of mine. It was felt that other schools would be discouraged if we won a tape prize for a third year. Nevertheless we did make a splendid piece of audio journalism. The picture of the train coming in at Newhaven station – apart from reminding local people of our generation what the front of the train should look like – records an expedition to Lewes Castle. The first part of the program item was simple and factual, but then some of us met in the evening and recorded an alarming incident of the castle being attacked with many lurid sound effects. We enjoyed the reaction when we played this back to the whole class next day. The second item was a visit to the County Show where the boys got some really excellent characteristic interviews with exhibitors which I published and have been widely enjoyed. The picture just shows children through a fountain. Excitement was provided when I got a long line of everybody with someone at the end holding an electric cattle fence; the salesman held on to the fence himself and, having gathered everybody's attention, we shook hands. Consternation – and choc ices all round!

Envoi

Sadly, I left in December 1961 after some splendid Christmas music. I had been writing articles and giving lectures to teachers in several parts of the country and it seemed the right time to move in that direction. I was fortunate to get a place at Oxford to read English and duly became a lecturer. Later I wrote Oxford dictionaries for children and a book on the italic handwriting I had loved to teach in Newhaven. In all this, and much else, I have never forgotten the boys and girls of Meeching Junior School.


Fantastic memories from John Weston. Do you remember him? Are you in one of the photos, or can you recall the events and who was there?

Andy - Editor

 

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 29/04/2016.
Comments about this page

I remember him. I was on that tape but only in the background. I played a baker selling his bread in the street; I can remember my line to this day.

"Fine loaves! Fine loaves!"

That was the beginning and end of my acting career.

By Doug Hall
On 30/04/2016

Think I can name a few from top colour photo of Cricket team. Back row left to right....John Sharwood, Paul Ashdown, not sure, Michael Parker. Front row left to right....Christopher Lisk, Christopher Chapman, Paul Blackman, Melvyn Roberton, not sure. Willing to be corrected of course.

By Paul Blackman
On 13/05/2016

I am in the 2nd. 3rd, 4th and last photos  - my name is Heather not Hazel but I remember Mr Weston very well.  I was on the tapes that entered those competitions and also in the choir.  I remember Cyril Fletcher came to present one of the trophies we won I still have the paper cutting which shows a group of us with Cyril and Mr Weston.

Mr Weston was the best teacher I ever had and went well over the time for which he was paid.  He was a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher and never forgotten.

By Heather Allen nee Woolven
On 14/10/2016

Back row - John Sherwood, Paul Ashdown, Brian Wilson, Michael Parker

Front row - Christopher Lisk, Christoper Chapman, Jimmy Reed, Paul Blackman, Melvyn Robertson - can't recognise last one.

By Heather Allen nee Woolven
On 14/10/2016

Apart from his tape recorder, and from experience, he was also handy with the slipper!

By Ian Bishop
On 30/12/2018

I don't remember this teacher at all, sounds like his class had a great time. I must have been first intake at the new school as we had some lessons at Hillcrest and some up at Southdown Road. Which meant we had I think 45 minutes to walk up there, if we were late we had to pick up flints off the football pitch. I had to do it at least once, I think I have said this before on the site. Does anyone else remember walking between the two schools?

By Terry Howard
On 05/01/2019

I remember Mr Weston.  I was not in his class, but was on one of his tapes and in the choir.  I also remember going down to the rec on the back of his motorbike, and of being told off by him many times, once very publicly!

By Tony Bannister
On 08/02/2019

My wife was a primary school teacher, she thinks she may have used one of the children's dictionaries.

By Terry Howard
On 12/02/2019

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