The Parkhouse

The Parkhouse Diaries

Memories of Bude Junior school 1983 – 1985

The school was in a poor state by the time I went there. A new school had been planned, so there wasn’t much point on spending money on repairs. The Victorian classrooms seemed huge to me and I wasn’t tall enough to look out of the window, although they let in a lot of light. The main corridor through the school had a stone floor and always felt cold. One of the older children would run through the corridor ringing a bell at the end of playtime. The toilets were are the end of the corridor, roughly where the Ivor Potter hall entrance is. I seem to remember that they didn’t have a roof, but that could be the inaccuracies of a childhood memory. 

I remember the dinner hall well. It was falling apart and had a very distinctive smell. There was a pile of gym mats at the far end, and the final year pupils were allowed to sit on them during assembly. Most assemblies consisted of being given the ‘Come and Praise’ book to sing from, accompanied by an ancient tape player. It was also very dark in there, the windows were small. There were displays all around the walls, I remember one about the Beaufort scale. I also remember wasps being a regular feature in the hall during the summer, or ‘jaspers’ if you are from this part of the world. 

The playground wrapped its way around the school and also dropped down at the back. The original wall facing The Castle is still there. There was no field or grass. The school often used the Castle grounds for things like fetes. I can’t remember any sports days until I got to the new school. However, I always hated them, so may have blocked it out. There were several temporary huts in the playground, an indication of how much the school had grown. There was one hut for the older children and another which housed the library and staff room. I spent a lot of time in the library, it was also where I started to learn the violin. The hut creaked and never felt particularly safe, the steps could also be very slippery. 

Probably the best feature of the school was the fact that it had an indoor swimming pool. This is at a time when Bude did not have a public pool. The secondary school did have a pool, but it was outdoor and not heated. The infant’s school also had its own pool, but for years it only had four walls with pupils constantly raising money for the roof! The Bude Junior school pool was opened by Tony Blackburn, roped in to do it whilst visiting Bude with the Radio One roadshow no doubt. It was where I learnt to swim. I say swim, all I could actually do for years was ‘doggy paddle’ with my feet off the bottom for a bit, but I still got my badge. The pool was freezing, not much in the way of a changing room with a concrete floor that was very unpleasant on bare feet. 

 Everyone was excited about the prospect of a brand new school. We were taken to visit it whilst it was being built, probably with some disregard for health and safety, and I remember writing about it. It was sad day when we finally had to leave the old school at the end of the Christmas term in 1985. The building was left neglected for quite a while before being redeveloped into The Parkhouse Centre we know today. For many months you could still read the message ‘Merry Christmas Class 5’ written on the blackboard of my old classroom. 

Schoolmaster Frederick Sampson outside of the school, circa 1890