Oldham Historical Research Group

'Oldham Stories'

     'Oldham Stories'
by Mary Dickinson

St. Mary's School

The other night I had been to the Rep with my daughter Irene to see a pantomime. I knew it as the Coliseum and as I sat there I thought of my childhood and teenage years and how I had many happy hours there. I looked at the comfortable seats and thought of how we sat on very hard forms at the back. They were just planks of wood really but it didn't trouble us, we were happy sitting all together.

Coming out we passed my old school. I looked and said "Hasn't it changed round here." The old school looked the same though. I remember in my days the boys' playground was on top of the school. I remember it being built and we had to go to Gower St. School till it was finished. There was a lot of building going on just then. I remember the Grosvenor being built. Once we had to go on the school roof to survey Oldham. The teacher pointed out all the famous buildings.

I remember that when we were playing in the school yard the boys would kick the football over the railings and we used to keep it till playtime was over although the boys would be shouting down for it. We had to run home at night because the boys would be after us. As I stood there looking at the old building I thought of all my old friends and I wish a few more of them would write their memories of St. Mary's School.

I know we used to act out the plays we had seen at the Royal. We would have all the children sitting on the steps while we acted and we thought we were smashing. The Theatre Royal was only round the comer from our school.

We never went on school trips like they do today. The furthest we went was the Big Park, as we called it. We would walk in twos all the way to the park - no talking! Then the big thrill of walking round the greenhouse to see all the beautiful flowers. The men who looked after them deserved a medal. Then the great thrill of seeing the peacocks and waiting till their tails spread out. They were beautiful. You don't see many of them today.

But the day after, composition time came round and we knew what was coming. We had to write a composition of what we had seen. The teacher knew whether we had taken an interest or not by reading them.

They talk about big classes now but we seemed to have very big classes. When I was twelve years old some of us became Half-Timers. We would work in the mill in the momings and go to school in the aftemoons one week and the next week it would be the other way round. The Half-Timers all had to sit together for the next twelve months. I left school at thirteen years old. My education was done. What a waste! Nearly everyone had left at fourteen. Not many went on after that but I have heard about people from our school who have done very well and made a valuable contribution to Oldham.

I was always very thankful for my education and the teachers who taught us. I can still remember many of the things we were taught.

That was my night out. I enjoyed the pantomime and memories of my old school.

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