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Cardinal Newman Catholic Primary School

Lead Kindly Light, Lead Thou Me On

Xavier Education Trust

Joe Schofield

From Joe Schofield

50th Anniversary - Hersham BusI started school when I was nearly five years’ old, in January 1966. My first day was also the day that Cardinal Newman opened. The school was so new that everything smelt of fresh paint, and there was still a steam-roller in the playground. In those days, cars were quite rare, so we used to take the red bus 264 from Hersham Green to the corner of Arch road – the fare was 1½ d. since Britain did not yet have decimal currency. My first teacher was called Miss Joyce. At the time I thought she was very old, although she was probably only about 25.

A memorable event occurred in September 1968, just after the start of term. After some very heavy rain, the river Mole burst its banks and much of Hersham was flooded, including the school. During morning break time we were evacuated by bus and taken back to the village as the water was starting to come up Arch road. We were quite happy because we had about two weeks off, and when we returned we could see the mark on the wall in the school hall where the water had reached. I think it was a metre or so above the floor. For the first few days all the hand-basins were filled with a bright yellow disinfectant in which we had to rinse our hands because of the risk of infection from the river water.

Around 1970 Cardinal Newman changed from being an Infant and Junior school to become a Middle school, as comprehensive education was introduced. The school was extended and lots of new children arrived who had previously been at Saint Charles in Weybridge. I remember the first day, with the new pupils all on one side of the playground, and us on the other. We soon became friends as all the classes were mixed. I left in summer 1974 to go to Salesian in Chertsey, so I don’t think many children stayed as long in the school as we did.