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Those happiest of days!

(when a pupil had to see the Head if caught without his cap on)

Does anybody Remember Cyril Bull?

The question is prompted by the official opening last Friday of the new Foxfield, Primary School in Ragland Road, Plumstead, which now accommodates children from the century-old Foxhill School in Nightìngale Vale, now empty and derelict and waiting for the demolition men to move in.

For many years before the war, Mr Bull was headmaster of Foxhill. And what a fine school he made of it!

That was back in the days when the emblem on the school cap was a black fox on a white background and the boys — aged between seven and eleven — who went there had to answer to him personally if ever they were caught in the streets without those caps on.

It was a different world then. No comprehensive schools. Not even the ''eleven plus''. Instead, there were scholarships and those who got them were entitled to go to any of the grammar schools in south-east London.

Mr. Bull and his tiny staff — it was a tiny school with only five masters - were particularly proud of their scholar-ship record. Most year they would get half a dozen of the boys through.

And the day after the results had been announced they would all come to school scrubbed and polished and in their best suits, to be sent to Woolwich to have their photos taken.

Mr. Bull would pay for the photographs out of his own pocket. From each set of three — costing two schillings — he'd keep one himself and gave his scholarship boys the other two to take home to their parents.

FRAMED

Those that he kept he'd have framed and hung in the school corridor. In the end there was row upon row of them — which prompts me to wonder what on earth happened to those photographs now? Indeed, what has happened to the boys? And to the masters?

There was a Mr. Woolley, a craggy little man who was always making it clear that he was no relation to the famous Kent cricketer of the same name; and Mr. Pritchard, who sported a big moustache; and a Mr. Williams, tall, thin and clean-shaven.

In a way, Mr. Bull himself was like a bull-dog — squarely built with a powerful personality. He wore a spotted bow tie whilst Robin Day was still in short trousers.

SHOP


It all seems a long time ago. Most of the old terraced houses where the boys of Foxhill lived have long since been pulled down.

And with them has gone the little shop at the bottom of the hill where they bought half-penny bags of sweets and if they were lucky would find a piece of cardboard in the bag which entitled them to their money back.

Soon, too, will have gone the school playground where the boys exchanges their copies of the Wizard, the Rover and the Hotspur and which still echoes with ghostly shouts of "Six every time you knock it down."

Now Foxhill is just a little old building that has outlived its usefulness. But for several generations of Plumstead schoolboys, it harbours a lot of memories.

 

-From the Kentish Independent, 27 June 1974



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