West Road  Primary School in Moorends Doncaster celebrates its 80th anniversary

Youngsters enjoy an instructive lesson
Youngsters enjoy an instructive lesson

West Road Primary School started its existence as Thorne Goole Road Temporary School in March 1927 on Goole Road in Moorends.   

The Head Teacher who commenced temporary duties was F Newton, who admitted 215 children. The school received regular visits from the school dentist, the school nurse (who inspected the children’s heads for lice), the school doctor who delivered the immunisation programme for diphtheria, the needlework inspectress, and Attendance Officer.  Attendance would often drop to 50 percent when it rained.  School closed for two weeks every October for the potato harvest.

Youngsters at play at West Road Primary School

Youngsters at play at West Road Primary School

A new school was eventually built to accommodate the growing number of children in the area and Thorne Moorends West Road Infants School was officially opened on 26th January 1939.  The school was closed to pupils for the afternoon for the formal opening ceremony and in the evening, the general public were invited into school. Students who lived on the north side of West Road would attend the new school and children who lived to the south of West Road would continue to attend the then named Moorends Infants’ School.  Miss L Stephens was instructed to take charge of the new school with a staff of seven teachers and 305 students.

Life changed dramatically for all in 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War. Sandbags, gas masks and air raid shelters were delivered to school.  On August 31, 1939, a National Emergency was declared and school closed and was to remain closed until further notice due to air raid precautions. All teachers were required to remain on duty.  School reopened on September 13, 1939 when 13 evacuees from Hull were admitted into the school.

At the beginning of the war, the government declared that ice cream manufacture should be suspended and all stocks were to be disposed of. The ice cream manufacturer in Moorends at the time, George & Sons, gave all of their ice cream away to the children in Moorends.

The school was instructed to inform all parents that in the event of an air raid warning being given while the school was in session, that they should on no account come to the school in search of their children, since this would create panic conditions. Another 33 evacuees arrived at the school and an evacuee teacher, Miss M Preston also of Hull, took charge of the additional class arranged for the evacuees.

West Road Primary School is celebrating 80th birthday

West Road Primary School is celebrating 80th birthday

On February 27, 1941, an air raid warning was given at 1.25 pm.  The children were taken to the shelters until the ‘all clear’ was given at 2.15 pm.  Wardens were on the school premises during the alarm period. Following this, black out curtains were fixed to the hall windows and anti-splinter netting applied to windows and roof lights.

Despite the effects of the war taking a toll on everyone, school tried to continue as normal. Parents were invited into school in December 1941 for the annual Nativity Play.  Parents were also allowed to visit the classrooms to see the decorations and the work children had been doing. The following day, the PTA helped in organising a Christmas Tea Party for the children.

Childhood illnesses were rife during this time. Frequent cases of measles, mumps, scarlet fever, whooping cough, chicken pox and scabies were reported.

During July 1942, a circular was issued by the Board of Education stating that ‘war conditions required for special arrangements to be made for the care of children during school holidays’. The West Riding Education Committee stated that schools should be kept open during holiday periods so long as the war lasted. This allowed parents to send their children into school during the holidays should they wish.  Summer holidays in 1942 lasted for four weeks.

An aerial view of West Road primary School with air raid shelters in bottom left

An aerial view of West Road primary School with air raid shelters in bottom left

May 1945 brought about the end of the Second World War and the school celebrated with a two day holiday. 

Hymns of Thanksgiving were sung in the school assembly. Attendance at school was very low during this period of time as victory celebrations continued in the village throughout the week. Tea parties, games and bonfires etc were taking place in the streets of Moorends until late in the evening and therefore children had been out until a late hour each night and only 54 percent of children arrived at school.

To celebrate the 80 year anniversary of West Road Primary School opening, the school held a celebration day on Friday January 25. Children and staff attended school dressed in attire from the war time period. The children took part in war time workshops and activities and the school provided a war time themed school meal. Doncaster Museum brought artefacts into school for the children to look at and learn from. During the afternoon, past pupils, staff and the general public were invited into school to have a look around. All in all, the children thoroughly enjoyed the day and learnt a lot about life 80 years ago.