Old Uffingtonians Association (1994)

   Willesden County Grammar School                         Ex-Pupils 1924-1967                    


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Memories from 1941-45 of a fellow evacuee!

As a pupil from 1941 - 1945 I have often wondered whether I was a pupil of Kilburn Grammar School or Willesden County as I joined from Grendon Village School, Northampton.   I came to Grendon in 1939 at eleven years of age with my mother and sisters and I understood I got what was then called a 'free place' at one of the schools.   I travelled in by bus every day [that was always good fun] with my two sisters who were at the Notre Dame Convent.

I was fascinated to read the article by M.W.K. in the 1950 magazine and it certainly brought back memories, mostly happy!   Having left in 1945 I never attended the schools in London, coming back to Kingston to join the Surrey County Council's Highways Department in Guildford where it had been evacuated [including my father].
Grendon is a village about 10 miles from Northampton and adjacent to Castle Ashby.  The York Bros. bus left at 7.45 am and arrived in Northampton around 8.30 after calling at Castle Ashby, Whiston, Cogenhoe and Little Billing.  If we weren't at the bus stop when the bus arrived somebody would pop up to our house and knock to see if we were coming; many a time we ate our toast on the bus!  When I joined in 1941 the school was still sharing with the Town & County [I think we were mornings but not sure] so the bus just dropped me off at the building but when the school moved to Vernon Road, in the latter stages of the war, I had to walk from the town centre.  I still remember damp morning 'cross country' runs [they were actually round the T & C playing fields] with little pleasure.

When I got my Free Place I understood that I might go to the T & C but it was full so instead KGS/WCG accepted me.  I still have a vague impression of being interviewed by the Headmaster but can't remember his name.   I suspect I was unique in that I was not officially evacuated but living as a family in a rented house in the village where we were treated as locals, so much so that we were invited back to Grendon 1994 for a 'History of Grendon Exhibition'.  Both I and my sisters with our partners went and had a great time meeting people we had not seen for nearly forty years.

Although being brought up in a village at that time was wonderful it did mean that I never really socialised with school friends in evenings and at weekends, which again may be another reason why I didn't keep in contact plus the fact that they weren't in their homes.  I did join Squadron 5F of the ATC but again can't remember if any of the boys were also members although I would be surprised if they weren't.


John McCarthy