Red Cross Street School

Red Cross Street School
Red Cross Street School

No matter what age you are, you never forget the place of your birth or your first school. Number 1 on our Map of North Street – Red Cross Street School.

The headline above an article in the Express and Star from 1939 stated… CLASSROOM or FAIRYLAND?.. and it related to the fact that Wolverhamptons first Nursery School got underway in February of that year and was thought by some to be going into fairyland mode; when they actually taught a class of twenty, four old children, to behave with “sweet obedience” instead of naughtiness, being managed without threats or raised voices, and combing their hair and cleaning their teeth without protest.

Disbelieving mums only had to take a peek into the class at Red Cross Street School to see the children put into an environment which gave them surroundings and conditions to develop their minds and bodies.

Some said the new system was encouraging mothers to shelve their responsibilities – while others thought it was giving the child a good start in life.

Now you may have come from around north Street and had this good start in life. If so,  I hope this little tale takes you back a bit!

Aerial view of Red Cross Street School - centre foreground
Aerial view of Red Cross Street School – centre foreground

On the above photograph Birchfield Street is immediately behind the School and runs from Left from North Street to the right, where it joins with Molineux Street. As you can see from the picture North Street and Molineux Street at that time formed a triangle, at the apex of which stood The Fox Inn (The Wanderer). The base line of this triangle was Red Cross Street in which the front entrance to the School stood.

On the corner of North and Birchfield Street, was Marstons Lock Factory, which at the time of my story were busy making Mills Hand Grenades for the War effort. One hundred yards further along North Street was the entrance to the Londes at the bottom of Camp Street. the Londes led up to my home in Nursery Street.

Aerial view of Red Cross Street School - centre foreground with key
Aerial view of Red Cross Street School – centre foreground with key

This sets up the scene for my story –

On my first day at Red Cross Street School there was a police escort for me.

October 1941. Great Britain was two years into the War with Germany, evacuees were arriving in town, Air-raid shelters were being delivered to our streets but these issues did not concern me that day at No. 11 Nursery Street Wolverhampton.

Evacuees from the East End of London, billeted in Marsh Lane, Fordhouses
Evacuees from the East End of London, billeted in Marsh Lane, Fordhouses
Anderson air raid shelters being delivered by the Great Western Railway
Anderson air raid shelters being delivered by the Great Western Railway

Dad was off somewhere at work, mom was upstairs in bed (poorly I thought), and with two of my aunts and Mrs Bott from next door flitting about all this strange commotion coupled with the thought of leaving our cosy kitchen to go somewhere I’d never been was making me really upset.

Today was to be my first taste of School and the task of escorting me on that first day fell to our kindly next door neighbour Mrs Bott. A good natured lady, with a lovely Irish brogue.

Mrs Bott cleans up the backyard at No. 10 Nursery Street
Mrs Bott cleans up the backyard at No. 10 Nursery Street

Off to school. At a quarter to nine with a certain amount of unease, my coat, scarf and gas mask on my back, we left for Red Cross Street School. Down our street, along the Londes and into North Street.

Map of North Street
Map of North Street

Although the route took less than three minutes to walk, it was a dangerous one for there was the busy North Street to cross; so at the top of Birchfield St. in the front of Marston’s Lock Factory , there stood a Police constable, manning the school crossing, which in those days was the duty of the local force.

A typical school crossing scene of the day
A typical school crossing scene of the day

When we arrived at the School, I was left with a few others in the care of Miss Duncan the Headmistress. She did her best to dispel my feeling of nervousness, but as soon her back was turned I left the School and made my way back home.

Now I don’t know whether it was because I’d crossed the busy road on my own, or because she had other things to do, but Mrs Bott wasn’t very pleased having to take me back to School once more.

Looking up North Street from the bottom of the Londes 1939
Looking up North Street from the bottom of the Londes 1939

Neither was the constable, who at this time had left the crossing and was making his way up North Street on the way back to his station in Red Lion Street.

“Back we go,” He said to Mrs Bott “Ill see to him,” and took my hand. We crossed North Street again then down Birchfield Street and into the infants School.

Looking down Birchfield Street, the Marstons Building on the left, the School on the right 1970s
Looking down Birchfield Street, the Marstons Building on the left, the School on the right 1970s

After explaining to Miss Duncan, the cause of my anxiety and the circumstances at my home, which had been told to him by Mrs Bott, he left.

"The Copper & Miss Duncan" Cartoon courtesy of Paul Howe
“The Copper & Miss Duncan” Cartoon courtesy of Paul Howe

I cant remember much about the rest of that day at school except I feel as though I must have enjoyed it. And the reason for all the concern at home that day was on account of the birth of my first sister, Mary.

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36 comments

  1. Yes I also was a pupil at Redcross street school in 1942. I recall sleeping outside in warm weather, under the watchful eye of a teacher, wonderful. After being cheeky to my teacher one day, she confiscated my skipping rope, I hit the roof.After school I took my complaint to the policeman on crossing duty, who duly marched me back into school. I remember seeing them both giggling together, but I got my rope back.To this day I still am a pioneer for justice. Happy days.

  2. I READ THIS TO MY MOTHER, MARGARET WILLIAMS WHO LIVE AT 33 NURSERY STREET WITH HER 4 SISTERS AND A BROTHER. SHE LOVED IT AND PRESUMES THAT THE WRITER WAS A FRIEND WHO OFTEN CALLED FOR HER AND ASKED FOR MAGGIE. HER MOTHER SARAH (SALLY) WOULD NEVER LET HER GO OUT TO PLAY UNLESS THEY CALLED HER MARGARET. SHE SAYS THAT SISTER MARY BORN THIS DAY WENT OFF TO LIVE IN AUSTRALIA, THANK YOU FOR THIS WEBSITE, I WAS BORN IN NURSERY STREET MYSELF AND SPEND A LOT OF TIME VISITING MY NAN AND GRANDAD, AND AUNTY JEAN AND UNCLE BILL WHO LIVED NEXT DOOR TO THEM (WE WE HAD ALL PREVIOUSLY LIVED). ALL LIVE IN ST IVES IN CORNWALL NOW AND THIS WEBISTE HAS BOUGHT BACK SO MANY MEMORIES,

    THANK YOU

    JAYNE

  3. Hi Jayne.
    Thankyou for your favourable comment. I knew the Williams family very well growing up in Nursery Street, I am the same age Sheila.
    I do happen to see Betty on occasion, and last saw Jean about 30years ago. please join the forum so we can keep in touch.

  4. Hello there
    I recently stumbled on your site and it took me back to when I used to live at Dawson Street with my grandparents. Our house was one of the last few emptied before the bulldozers moved in. I remember using the shops along North St on my way back from Redcross School that I attended as a child.

    I especially remember the barbers which my granddad used to take me. I can still picture the barber boarding his shop window on big match days. I also remember the butchers and newsagents that we used often; the butcher was a big jolly fella.

    From looking at this site it brought back memories where my dad used to play football for the Fox-in pub. I also remember the Bell pub where my granddad used to drink at and occasionally take me.

    Thank you for putting this site together as it has brought back pleasant memories, which I am sharing with my children.

  5. Hi Billy

    I have been following your web site for the past year and find it really interesting, anyway I stumbled on this page (Red cross St school).
    I used to live in West St and attended the school starting around 1951 and seem to remember having the cockpit of a Lancaster bomber in the playground for us lads to play in, does anyone else remember that?.
    When I started work it was with the MEB in Clarence St, then to Major St, both sites have now gone.
    I left England in 1970 and started a new life in New Zealand, away from the colder weather, then moved again in 1999 to settle in Singapore, now its always hot and sticky but enjoy it all the same.
    Whenever we come back to England we try and look up the old places from my childhood. so this site is full of good memories for me.
    Keep up the good work with the site

    1. Thank you Brian for the favourable comment.
      You wouldn’t recognise the Wolverhampton of today although its still very pleasant A lot of the charactor has gone.
      We now have a facebook group now Lost Wolverhampton Please join our group.

  6. Dear Sirs

    My pupils have excavated and restored a WW2 Anderson Shelter and are turning it into an exhibit for a local museum.

    I was wondering if we could use the attached image on our interpretation boards.

    Many thanks

    Jeremy Bryant

    Acle Academy

  7. Thanks for te Memories Billy I love this site ;I was born in Lower Stafford Street in 1949 Opposite The Barley Mom Pub and went to Red Cross Street School ; My Ancesters ( Lawley’s ,Hoopers & The Shirleys always lived in the Area Thanks Again Carol

  8. Hello Billy, I was born in Dawson street in 1944, I attended Red Cross street infants and junior schools, I remember very clearly all the surrounding streets and the names of a lot of the people,as I still live not to far away in Tettenhall I have constant reminders of hard but very happy times. Thank you for your memories .

  9. Your welcome Maurice I remember the name I think your father was Harry Blud lived close by the Newmans My cousins the Challoners lived a little lower down on the same side. Donald Bradley is a regular contributer to our facebook group Lost Wolverhampton. please join the group.

  10. I and my family lived in Charles Street. WE attended Red Cross 1949 -1953, when we were moved to Fordhouses as our house was in the way of the ring road. My husband and I now live in Wales, though often visit family in Wolves. Enjoyed your page.

    1. Hello Irene,
      I lived in Lawnswood Ave (WV9) untill moving away aged 8 Yrs. in 1955.
      The neighbours son was Phillip Burford about the same age as me.
      Dont know but could he be a relative of yours by chance?

  11. Hello Irene – Can’t recall the name Burford in Charles Street Irene , But then again they wiped most of it off the map in the mid 1950’s
    Both my two sisters Mary and Kathleen Howe went to Red Cross Street school, about your time.
    Glad you liked the story. We also have a Facebook Group “Lost Wolverhampton” Please join our group. and keep in touch.

  12. My mum went to this school. She was born in 1935. Name was June Baugh? Anyone remember her or my nan Gladys Baugh?

  13. Hello Eileen You don’t mention were your mother lived at the time Please join our Forum or our face book group Lost Wolverhampton – Thats the place for all enquires. Bob Baugh married Betty Spence out of Dawson Street and lived in Nursery Street. Any relation?

    1. My mum lived in Bright Street, she is 80 now. My great-great-grandfather Dickie Baugh founded the Wolves team at St. Luke’s. His son also played for Wolves. I will have to look for Bob Baugh on Ancestry as I have researched my ancestors.

      1. Very interesting post Elaine I am sure I can enlarge on this I will get back to you – Dont forget our facebook Group.
        By the way were is your mom living now it sounds she may be in Sheltered accommodation.

        1. I am on the group already. My mum is not in sheltered accommodation. She has lived in Gnosall since around 1976. Thanks

  14. Hi, I went to the school in Red Cross St. in 1968, in my last year of junior school, when it became St Peter’s and St Paul’s as the school was transferred here from the school premises which had been behind Giffard House, because the ring road now runs directly below where the old school had been located.

    1. I also went to Red Cross St.,started there in 1964. The headmistress was a very patriotic Welsh lady, Mrs Davies. I remember when we were transferred to the new building in Devon rd. It seemed miles away from home in Nursery St after being on the doorstep of Red Cross St!

  15. Hi there,
    i too went to Red Cross Street school (and also to the adjoining nursery and infant school in Birchfield Stree)t, circa 1960 to 1967 and Mrs Davies was the Welsh headmistress when I was there.

    Before the school was demolished to make way for new development, I worked there part-time when it was annexed by Wulfrun College and for nostalgic reasons I took some photos of the buildings from within the playgrounds before I left. I’m glad I did because all the photos I have seen of the school since, when I have gone on to websites to look for them are pictures taken from pavements outside the school. I wanted some to remind me of what it was like to be there as a child in the playground.

    Nice that other people are remembering too.

    1. Hi Christine. I also went to Birchfield St nursery and Red Cross St School about the same time as you. In fact, I remember your name, and am sure we were friends. Are you related to Miss Westwood, who if my memory serves me right had a grocery store just off Christ Church island, and used to deliver groceries in a Morris car/ van?
      My maiden name is LUE. I have wonderful memories of Red Cross St. I can still picture the classrooms in my mind, and would love to see some photographs.

      1. Hello Angela
        Thanks for getting in touch Yours is a strange maiden name Lue. Can’t say I have come across it before in Wolverhampton. But Westwoods Grocers I recall next door to Hazel Dale Florists in the early 1960’s.

  16. Thank you for getting in touch Christine

    Red cross Street School now there’s a name to conjure up many stories.

    You are right I haven’t come across many pictures of the school on the inside and the outside views are few and far between.
    If you have some I would be delighted to see them although It would have changed a little since I left in 1948.
    Please keep in touch Christine,

    We also have a Facebook group (Lost Wolverhampton) and we find posts such as yours most interesting.

    1. Hi Billy,

      Thanks for your reply.

      I have, in the past, been interested to look at the Lost Wolverhampton website, but I won’t use Facebook or social media sites as such.

      My photos are here somewhere and I will find them to show you. I’m a bit old-fashioned and have very few photos on my PC! I will dig them out so I can show them to you, though probably not today.
      I’ve always wondered if they would be of interest, particularly to my generation.

      Bye for now,

      Christine

  17. I too, was a pupil of Red Cross Street School around 1949/50, as l lived with Mother and Grandparents at 217 North Street – just around the corner. I have vague memories but can vividly remember a Corner Shop called ‘Mabels’ on the opposite side of Red Cross Street at the beginning of Red Hill Street where there was yet another School – Red Hill Street Infants which l attended for a short time after leaving Red Cross Street Nursery School. Mabel’s was my ‘point of reference’ to collect bottles of Dandelion & Burdoch ‘pop’, Sadly, none of my Grand Parents/Parents are no longer alive so l have no family reference points to pose questions to, for any further details.

  18. My sister and I, Joan and Carol Goodwin went to Red Cross Street School, Nursery through to infants from 1952 -1960. Does anyone remember headmaster Mr David and Miss Brookshaw.

    1. I remember Miss Brookshaw as she used to teach me in the early 70’s ,a largish ,very good natured teacher. I grew up in Wolverhampton ,lived on the Birchfield Street (which was demolished to make way for the Molineux ground) and moved down to London in the 1990’s. I recently joined the lost Wolverhampton facebook site and enjoying the pics there .

  19. I was one of the pupils that moved from St. Peter and St Pauls RC primary in Paternoster Row to the school in Birchfield Street. Happy memories of the late 1960,s.
    Remember Billy Wilson,s on the corner ?
    Football in the West Park and later on at Whitesfield on the Cannock Road. Long walks to both locations.
    Swimming at Bath Street.
    What a great School.
    Thanks for the memory.

  20. Thanks for getting in touch Martin – Whites Field on the Cannock Road was St Peters and Pauls regular football pitch in the 1947-48 Season – I played against them for Red Cross Street – on a Saturday morning the score 1-1.

  21. St.Peter and Pauls RC school used Whites Field for school soccer in the late 60,s. The younger infants walked to the West Park to play football and the older juniors walked to Whites Field. We walked from Paternoster Row and later on from Red Cross Street. The walk to Whites Field took us over Lock Street and down past the Springfield Brewery and on to Whites Field. We had to carry our Top Dog boots laced around our necks.
    Did you score the goal at Whites Field in your 1-1 draw ?
    Best wishes
    Martin

  22. No, Martin, I played right back, can’t ever remember scoring a goal We played our home matches then on the Recreation Ground on Red Hill Street, the clinic was probably built on there when you were at Red Cross Street.

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