Friends united

Class of 1962aMy friend Linda and I go back a long way. We met on our first day at Dartford County Grammar School for Girls in Kent and have been friends ever since. A friendship spanning 60 years is a good excuse for a celebration. A phone call between Linda’s husband Michael and my husband Gordon hinted that something extra special was being planned. With no clues to help we let our imaginations run riot as we tried to guess what was ahead of us. The nearest I came was when I said to Gordon – “I hope Michael has not booked lunch for us at the Grammar School.”

You can imagine my shock when we pulled up outside our old school. I realised that I had almost stumbled on the truth. Not lunch; we were to have a tour round the old school. Entering through the heavy wooden doors beneath the turret, which we had never been allowed to use before, we met our two guides. As we turned left, still with the same polished wood floors, Linda whispered “shhh”, reminding me that back in 1958 we were not allowed to speak or run in that corridor in case we disturbed our headmistress (and her cats) in her office. Lots more hustle and bustle there now.

Many beautiful new rooms have been added – IT rooms, a drama studio, science labs, workshops, a swimming pool and sports hall – yet so many of the original classrooms and corridors are still as we remembered. The main hall, where we met for daily assembly, is unchanged except that the grand piano is now in the music room and pupils sit on chairs not the floor as we had to. The classrooms seemed smaller but interestingly the lockers for personal belongings remain, complete with the original keys hanging in the locks, though now unused. We had to explain to our guides what they were used for. Their comment was,

“Didn’t things get pinched?”

The pupils are still smartly turned out in school uniform, though skirts are much shorter than we got away with and we were impressed by their good manners. It was an all-girl school in our day but now they allow boys into the Sixth Form – shock! horror! We were not even allowed on the same buses as boys in case we let the school down.

Kent is still a ‘grammar school county’ and many pupils travel from South London to attend. Whatever your views on grammar versus comprehensive I can honestly say that I learnt far more than the three Rs and although I was never a high-flyer my schooldays were of the best.

Christine Halliday

April – May 2019